This article will contain spoilers for some of the endings of Nier: Automata, so be wary!
There are a lot of endings in Nier: Automata. 26 endings, to be exact (one for every letter in the alphabet). Most are joke endings, mostly achieved by abandoning an objective. Five wrap up the main campaign. One is the reward you receive for defeating a secret grueling boss. While I played through the game’s five primary endings and saw a handful of its joke ones by accident, I wasn’t able to see them all in my own playthroughs. Luckily, I found a long Youtube video to help with that. And if you’re still reading at this point, beyond this is 100 percent spoiler territory, so you’ve been warned, again.
When Nier: Automata winds down in your first playthrough, resulting in ending A, it’s only just the beginning. 2B makes an offhand comment about machines and androids and the fact that maybe they’re not so different after all. 9S, hacked into a large machine, lifts 2B up in his hand, and they smile at each other (or rather, we assume 9S is smiling… since he is possessing a machine). The credits role, and I’m greeted with a note that tells me that there’s so much more to uncover, and four more primary endings overall to greet me.
But some of the joy of Nier: Automata comes not through its subversive gameplay, flavorful contextualization of its world (like currency being the corpses of your enemies), or the layered, haunting tale it weaves; but in its oddities. Like when I walk away from an objective, and it’s suddenly a game over with the explanation, “9S suddenly lost interest in 2B. No one knows why—he just didn’t care anymore.” Nier: Automata has drama and intrigue, but it also has a sense of humor. Below are some of my favorite weird endings bubbling within Nier: Automata, from Ending E’s erasal of my beloved save data (R.I.P.), to an impromptu fishing trip.
Ending E: the [E]nd of yorha
Ending E is only unlocked after seeing both endings C and D. I'm interrupted by the Pods, who question if I want the androids to live. I answered yes, watched the "true ending" cutscene. And afterwards, was flung into an incredibly challenging round of bullethell madness… through the credits themselves. Luckily, the credits checkpoint, and towards the end, I was asked if I wanted help from a mysterious vessel. I accepted the help, which net a strong squadron of other bullethell projectiles at my side, as we wove through orbs and fired at “Production” and other names and titles in the credits. As I ebb through, I notice that with every hit, I’m notified of someone’s data disappearing. They’re all Japanese names, but I assume they’re other players. I only learn what caused this later.
After the credits, I’m asked by the Pods if I would be willing to sacrifice my save data to help another player in need. I sat on this idea for awhile. What if I wanted to return to the game? But also, what if a player is at their wits end, and the ghost of my save data can help them? Putting selfish reasons aside, I opted to give up my save data, even if, as the Pods tell me, it might be used to help someone I detest. And so I sat back watched my menu evaporate, as it slowly deleted all my experience, abilities, weapons, and finally—the save data itself. The original Nier did this too, but having not played the original, I found witnessing this action firsthand to be incredibly profound.
The cutscene for Ending E opens with the quote, “Everything that lives is designed to end.” Which, as I watched my formerly lived-in save data get deleted from this world, felt especially poignant. I was later booted back to the start menu, where I saw a “new game” and no “continue.” It felt as if the game urged me to not recollect the 40-something hours I spent with the game; as if my time spent with the game was only a dream, and had never materialized. And so, my experience with Nier: Automata was wiped away without a trace. No qualms. No ifs, ands, or buts. And all that’s left of it is a fleeting memory, and the words that I can muster to jot down about it.
Ending K: aji wo [K]utta
There’s a resistance member named Jackass that was the bane of my existence through my time with Nier: Automata. She constantly urged me to fight machines, y’know, for "science." And in Ending K, she baits our demise once more. I check my email inbox, where she’s messaged me about a fish she wants us to try for “science” to see how it affects YoRHa units. We try it, and a loading screen pops up, signaling our demise. “Having consumed the mackeral, it didn’t take long for the android’s bodily fluids to congeal,” noted the ending's text. ““It was good though,” the android thought as consciousness faded. “Exquisite even, no wonder humans eat them.”” Jackass fed me a fish that literally killed me. Typical Jackass.
Ending L: [L]one wolf
Most of the joke endings that transpire are of you, of whichever character you may be playing as at the moment, running away from a pressing objective. Usually the text that you read after your “ending” notes about deciding to take a break for a change, or needing to clear their head and go for a calming walk despite said relaxation leading to others’ inevitable demises. In Ending L, 2B and 9S are proposed to fight the machines trying to break through the gate on the way to Pascal’s Village. Instead of fighting though, you can just run away. In this ending, 2B decides she wants to do something else for a change: fishing! “Yeah, that’s it! Fishing! With a smile on her face, she packed and headed for the coast,” reads its ending. Though we learn, ten years later, 2B was inevitably hunted by machines and YoRHa assassins, surprisingly leading to a life she enjoyed more than her prior one.
Ending N: [N]o man’s village
Ending N is chilling. Pascal, the friendly machine who has shown you nothing but hospitality throughout the entire game, is the head of a village full of peaceful machines. But you could ignore their kindness, and slaughter them instead. As you quietly hack and slash your way through the stagnant machines, they cry out for help, in agony. “Don’t kill,” they say. “I’m sorry,” they apologize, despite doing nothing wrong. By its end, the game “ends,” and you’re told that the village remains haunted by the deranged sounds of an android’s laughter. And it left me feeling uneasy, even as it tied back into the game's central theme of the consequences and reasonings for killing others.
Ending U: deb[U]nked
Sometimes, an ending can emerge from doing something foolish. If you wish, you can have a self-destruct function enabled for if you get yourself in a tricky situation where going back isn’t an option. But if you self-destruct while in the space-bound Bunker, it’s game over. The Bunker is destroyed. The structure “explodes in a spectacular fashion. But hey, it sure did look pretty from Earth!” And the stonefaced Commander is said to be somewhere floating in the abyss of space, always “with a stern look on her face.”
Ending Y: head[Y] battle
Ending Y is the most “ending” ending of all the side endings. (And I know I noted that there were spoilers in this piece, but I’ll refrain from naming any characters for this final, secret boss ending.) You achieve Ending Y after heading off to face a foe in the desert: an enormous, level 99 boss. You overcome them, talk to the character about their life. Then the world ends. For a fond farewell, the game explains, “[They] caused their fusion reactors to go out of control, turning the planet into a big chunk of rock, tumbling through the vast vacuum of an uncaring universe.” Perhaps, this is the most Yoko Taro-esque ending of them all.