The NieR fan community has been in an uproar over the last several days, following the saga of a “secret church” area supposedly discovered five years after the game’s release. Now the secret of the NieR Automata church has been revealed. As it turns out, it’s neither an elaborate hoax, nor a bit of viral marketing for something new to do with NieR. Rather, it’s a bit of both. According to its creators, the whole event was a complex, engrossing stunt designed to show off a powerful new set of modding tools.
You can read more about the beginnings of the stunt in this post. But to summarize, an anonymous player going by “sadfutago” began posting videos and screens a never-before-seen church area supposedly found in NieR Automata‘s Copied City location. Many were left wondering whether the thing was a hoax or actual, newly-discovered content in the game. The case for it being “legitimate” was bolstered by the fact that at the time, NieR Automata modding tools and techniques were widely considered incapable of fashioning entirely new areas as demonstrated in the videos and screenshots posted. Combined with cryptic references to the rest of the NieR franchise, some suggested it was a viral marketing trick to promote the upcoming Switch port of Automata, or even a new NieR game.
Things reached a fever pitch yesterday and today, as more and more elaborate screens and videos from the secret NieR Automata church were shown, referencing titles like Drakengard 3 and showing off assets seemingly imported from that game into NieR Automata‘s engine. By then some, including veteran modder and “Final Secret” discoverer Lance McDonald, had concluded that this indeed was evidence of a “bleeding-edge” modding project rather than anything official. But without definite confirmation, speculation continued.
The climactic moment came when sadfutago updated their Reddit profile with a link to a Twitch stream, as well as some broken Japanese promising that the stunt was “not an ARG (Alternate Reality Game)” and “not official”. Then they went live, broadcasting themselves playing through a lengthy, newly-constructed gameplay sequence, created with a new set of modding tools. The creators of the NieR Automata secret church were users DevolasRevenge, Woeful_Wolf, and RaiderB. The team thanked the community, and apologized for “misleading everyone”. According to them, they were going for “a cut content/secret, not ARG” in their construction of the stunt.
The NieR Automata church creators also promised that they would make the tools open-source, so the wider modding community can benefit from a set of tools capable of doing things previously available only to NieR Automata‘s developers.
In the end, while the saga of the secret church turned out not to be related to anything “official”, it did inaugurate a new era in NieR Automata modding, and provided some excitement around a beloved game.
NieR Automata is available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. A Nintendo Switch port is due out on October 6, 2022. Those who might want to play content created with the new tools will need the PC version of the game.