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NieR: Automata – Evade & Perfect Evade | Mechanical Analysis

NieR: Automata – Evade & Perfect Evade | Mechanical Analysis
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NieR: Automata manages to make movement smooth, fluid, and effortless through only one button press. Its ingenuity in creating a hybrid system that encompasses the entirety of movement is a carefully well-thought-out system that complements the combat, animations, and overall pacing of the game.

Sprinting and Evading are tied to one button — R2. Standard walking and jogging is done with the Left Stick, which is common in any game with dynamic movement. The Evade is comparable to a dash and feels smooth and responsive. Suiting the name, Evading right when an enemy strikes (albeit a very forgiving hitbox and timing) triggers a Perfect Evade. A Perfect Evade allows for one of three follow-up Counters depending on the succeeding button press.

Movement progression.
Left-Stick walking into running into Evading into sprinting into faster sprint.

The most ingenious part of Evading is that it leads directly into Sprinting. During combat, Evading, if it’s not timed with an enemy’s strike, allows for repositioning either around a single enemy or from enemy to enemy. Evading occurs instantly. It interrupts any attack currently in progress, meaning (1) there’s no end lag between killing an enemy and moving to the next one and (2) there’s more opportunity for repositioning around a single enemy. Combat flows naturally with minimal button inputs from the player (see: Multi-Attack & Lock-On System) because Evade leads directly into Sprinting and interrupts any active or queued attacks.

Perfect Evade Leniency

A few examples of perfect evading.

The Perfect Evade’s forgiving hitbox and timing allows for the possibility of spamming the Evade button without any consequences. There’s usually not any true satisfaction for achieving a lenient counter like the Perfect Evade because there’s no accurate timing involved. Compare this to parrying in Dark Souls 1, where timing the parry requires accuracy so it feels good to pull off. It feels reasonable and fair. In Hyper Light Drifter, several mechanics utilize timing for both movement and combat. The movement in particular feels good to pull off and allows the player to dash around the environment.

Despite this, not only does it happen to feel satisfying because of NieR: Automata‘s fast-paced nature, but both the game’s combat and mobility benefit. The combat is fast-paced and constantly moving. The enemies, although well-telegraphed, relentlessly attack from all fronts. Having the ability to Perfect Evade without much trouble in a festival of swinging robot arms is necessary to avoid the feeling of unfairness. If a Perfect Evade doesn’t trigger, either it still feels right because of the constant movement that the game promotes, or the timing was off and the punishment feels fair.

NieR: Automata’s fast-paced and lenient system comes to a screeching halt in the Forest Zone.

Inconsistency: The Forest Spears

The spear enemies stun-locking in the Forest Zone.

Specifically the spear. The spear dismisses both the entire combat system’s purpose of being fast-paced and mobile, and the Perfect Evade’s leniency and anti-stun property. NieR: Automata had already established countless times that stun-locking attacks exist. The entire reason for the Perfect Evade’s anti-stun motif is to avoid stun-locks and to reward those who react appropriately.

As previously mentioned, having the ability to Perfect Evade when robot arms are flailing mad is crucial to the feeling of fairness. If reacted to appropriately, the player can get out of the situation. If the player does not react, more damage is dealt. The spear is severely inconsistent in this aspect since it forces the player into an unavoidable situation of having to wait for the robot to stop attacking. This takes several seconds. Several, excruciating seconds of being taken out of combat. I had to rely on random chance in the clip above where a boar and a moose helped me out of an enemy stun-lock.

Overall, the Evade mechanic is the perfect mobility solution for a fast-paced game like NieR: Automata. Perfect Evading is handled in a way that feels fair while maintaining the game’s pacing.

However, if there’s one takeaway from NieR: Automata’s Evade system, it’s that it’s the most elegant way of incorporating a sprinting mechanic that I’ve ever seen.

I would be curious to see how the game would pan out if the Perfect Evade needed precise timing and if the machines had single-strike or slow attacks to compensate, similar to Dark Souls.

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Comments (3)

  • “There’s no true reward for achieving a Perfect Evade because there’s no accurate timing involved.”

    What’s a “True Reward”? Do you only get “True Rewards” when an input needs to be perfectly timed? Do you think the purpose of perfect defense mechanics is to be arbitrarily rewarding to pull off, proportional to how difficult they are to perform?

    “Having the ability to Perfect Evade without much trouble in a festival of swinging robot arms is necessary to avoid the feeling of unfairness.”

    No, it isn’t. Bayonetta disables witch time (its version of perfect evade) on its hardest difficulty. You could stick the dark souls dodge directly into Nier Automata and it would work fine in terms of fairness. Fairness in this context is just, “is it possible for the player to always avoid the first strike, assuming they haven’t already made mistakes prior to this?”

    Plus, Dark Souls has enemies that can hit you multiple times, like the forest hunter with the claymore, like various invaders, like wheel skeletons, and a few others.

    • Author

      The true reward in question is satisfaction. It feels good to pull off a reasonable parry or counter, while the Perfect Evade mechanic takes a different, almost necessary approach and feels just as satisfying because of the fast-paced combat.

      It is necessary because the festival of swinging robot arms happens to be never-ending stun-locks. This is something I’m curious about; what if the enemy attack patterns were changed and the Perfect Evade changed with it? It would make for an interesting alternative system, although that’s why it would be out of curiosity and not necessity.

      I can’t comment on Bayonetta. I can’t see Dark Souls’ dodge working in this game. Too many things would need changed and adjusted to accommodate for it and for it to feel fair, and it’s just difficult to predict how it would turn out so I can’t truly say how it would.

      Dark Souls and unavoidable chain attacks is bad design. Nobody likes the wheel skeletons because of the multi-hit and they’re frustrating, not hard. Similar to the spears in the Forest Zone. They’re frustrating and happen to be inconsistent with the game’s design.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!

    • Author

      I adjusted a couple of sentences because of the true reward / true satisfaction being a bit confusing, so thanks for pointing that out.


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