The great Nier: Automata church mystery of 2022 has finally been solved, and it turns out it really was an intricate mod.
Over the last week or so, the Nier community has truly kicked into gear over a mystery surrounding a video clip shared by a member on the game's subreddit showing an area that had never been seen before. This clip surged in popularity when it was shared by video game hacker Lance McDonald, leading many to question how it was possible. The answer? It was all essentially a PR stunt from three modders unveiling some impressive new tools.
The reason why it was such a mystery is that Nier's modding community couldn't find any of the files in any version of the game. When Nier Automata producer Yosuke Saito and director Yoko Taro both tweeted about the mod, but didn't clear anything up, some believed it could be some kind of marketing move for the upcoming Switch port (which is probably going to be the best way to play the game's side quests).
That didn't make much sense though, especially because PlayStation buttons were showing up in the clip. The initial poster of the clip, one sadfutago, was very unresponsive on Reddit, so it was hard to get an actual understanding of what was going on.
Eventually, a Twitch channel called ze34_zinnia was created, Zinnia being a reference to some deepcut Nier lore. And then came the grand reveal: on a livestream, footage of the supposed cut content was shown, alongside some new clips, before eventually showing a screen confirming it was a mod all along.
"Thank you," read the screen, going on to say "Everything we have shared has been completely in-game, no editing was used… Over the following days we'll be releasing the new Blender addons and scripting tools. Completely open source."
The reason this mod is a big deal is because previously it was not possible to create whole new areas in such a way, but thanks to three modders who had been working on it in secret, it now is. Speaking to Kotaku, member of the Nier modding community said "This will have quite a large impact on the community. While we already had the tools to make similar stuff, from my understanding a lot of the newer things are much more better-developed and user-friendly."
While some may have felt duped by the story, it still was quite the wild ride, and one that the Nier community will likely remember for a long while.