Game director Taro Yoko and producer Yosuke Saito sat down with Square Enix Presents E3 2015 to discuss NieR and the upcoming NieR game, temporarily titled NieR New Project, that was announced during Square Enix's conference on Tuesday. Almost 40 minutes of the program were dedicated to a Q&A for the games, including what they've learned from the last game and what they have planned for the next Nier project. Both Yoko and Saito expressed at length how fan criticism and feedback of the first game is not only being considered, but implemented into how they move forward with the next entry.
NieR was not a very balanced game; even director Taro Yoko doesn't deny this fact. There were many mixed reviews about the game and how many things changed over the course of playing it. There were numerous in-game changes in gameplay types and genres: some sections were platforming, some featured top-down combat, and there was even a segment of text-based adventure in the Forest of Myth. Despite all of this, producer Yosuke Saito made it clear that at its core NieR is an action RPG. While Yoko says he wants to continue something similar to the varied gameplay in the first game, as well as also mentioning that he has some ideas on how to approach it, the development team will be carefully considering fan feedback while developing New Project to determine what to keep from the first title and what changes to make. The return of text adventure segments in particular are being reconsidered. "I had heard that western gamers don't like text adventures," Yoko explained. "I don't want to do a direct carbon copy of the previous [game] . . . I think it gets old-- it gets stale-- if you just copy what you previously did."
The changes planned for New Project start with how their staff lineup is put together. NieR New Project staff now includes newcomers to the team such was Akihito Yoshida on character designs (Final Fantasy XII, Bravely Default). Due to Yoshida joining the team fairly late, Yoko himself is collaborating directly with Yoshida to create the designs and motifs of the characters. "Chic," "haute couture," and "blacks" are the current key words for how they plan to approach character designs, all of which are very apparent in the design of the protagonist that was shown off in the teaser. It's interesting to note that the designs of the first NieR followed a theme of pale grays and whites, countering the ideas for New Project. Could this be intentional, or is this just another of Yoko's "happy coincidences" as he directs the project?
Platinum Games is also joining the team, and there were left in charge of the development due to how renowned their work with previous action games is (Bayonetta 2, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance)—this is a clear response to the criticism from fans about the combat system in the first NieR. However, since development has started, worries have come up about the battle system being "too battle-centric" and the pace of the action being too fast, and therefore "less open to new players." A focus that the team has had since starting work on New Project has been to open the game up to players who may not have played the first NieR, both in combat and in story. Finding a balance between pleasing veteran players and opening the game to new players with their battle system is proving difficult, Yoko admitted. The team's main focus has been to make the combat simple while also making it flashy and fun to play for more advanced action RPG gamers. The ability to choose difficulty settings is being discussed internally, Saito noted, and the team would be willing to hear fans' thoughts on such a system. They ultimately want a game function that "supports people who aren't good at action games." In addition, Saito was shocked to find out the amount of female and JRPG fans that have enjoyed the original game and has explained that he wants to be able to accommodate those types of players in the sequel.
Returning to the team is highly-praised music composer Keiichi Okabe, whose work in the original NieR, according to Yoko, was "far more praised than the actual game itself." Yoko also made mention that he would like to bring back Emi Evans, the vocalist for the Drakengard 3 and NieR soundtracks, due to how much uniqueness and "flavor" she brought to Okabe's work. Saito has personally requested that, due to how beloved the soundtrack has become, New Project should have arrangements of "several tracks" from the original. That said, Yoko has stated that while they certainly want to bring out the same sort of highly beloved music as the previous game, they "don't just want another carbon copy [of the last soundtrack]" and that they want Okabe to "challenge himself and create a new feel."
According to Yoko, fan support is one of the biggest reasons that a sequel to NieR is even possible. Because of that, a lot of fan feedback is being taken into consideration for the future development of NieR New Project. Saito himself stated that the original game was "so unique and original" and he is uncertain that it can be surpassed. Yoko, on the other hand, says he has ideas planned that he feels can do so.
As a fan of the game, it's incredibly reassuring to know that they plan to fix some of the weaker aspects of the original NieR for the sequel, and news that they plan to challenge an already incredible soundtrack is very exciting. What are your thoughts on how they're going about changing things? Do you agree with their thoughts about opening up the game to more players, or would you prefer to keep NieR as a cult classic series? Let us know in the comments!
Source: Square Enix