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When it comes to the Nier games, you’d be hard-pressed to find a series that is as convoluted and lengthy when it comes to its timeline.
Sure, the games in this series are connected to one another, but it isn’t immediately certain how this is the case, besides some recurring characters. I aim to break that down for you entirely in this Nier timeline explained guide.
With this definitive timeline, you’ll be able to know everything about the entire Nier universe. If you’ve always wanted to know when Nier Automata takes place, how long is it after the original Nier games, and so on, you’re in the right place.
I’ve played through both of these games multiple times and have a solid understanding of the events that occur. Let’s get started with this Nier timeline explained guide.
Bottom Line Up Front
The Nier timeline is unlike anything else you’ve seen before in video games. It doesn’t even begin in the real world (or, well, technically it does) but, instead, in a fictional parallel universe. It switches back and forth, eventually getting to the modern-day 2003 Earth that some of us knew in the past.
From there, it branches off and turns into this story about viruses, pandemics, replicating humans, and all sorts of weirdness. It takes place all the way from 2003 in the real world to well into the 12000s. It is a fascinatingly long timeline, with the original Nier and Automata set quite far apart from one another.
Nier Timeline Overview
Nier doesn’t have the most complex storyline in the history of video games, but it certainly makes up for that in its timeline. Rather than be set over a few decades or centuries or even millennia, this series is literally set over the timeframe of a whopping 10000 years.
That is unlike anything I’ve seen in a game, and it’s pretty crazy. This huge timeline makes it so that the two games currently set in the universe are tough to keep up with. Despite being in the same timeline, they don’t seem that similar to one another.
This is due to the massive timeline that exists across the two games. It allows for some rather unique and distinct tones to their storylines. It also allows them to deal with some story beats and foundations that are pretty different from one another while still being related to each other.
This is only made worse by the fact that the original Nier has two different versions with Gestalt and Replicant. It is an intriguing premise and one that could presumably continue in a third Nier game someday. To help you out, I have finally broken down the timeline for you. But it begins with another Yoko Taro series.
It Begins with Drakengard and Ends with Mobile
Before the fabled developed and Nier creator Yoko Taro would ever work with Square Enix on the Nier series, he made certain other games that came before it. The most notable of these were the Drakengard games. In all honesty, these titles were not nearly as popular or successful as the Nier games.
And this goes for both the original Nier and its renowned and highly successful sequel, Nier Automata. That said, before you can ever look at the Nier games’ complicated timeline, it is even more complex because it doesn’t start with the original Nier.
Instead, it begins with the Drakengard games and the events that occur within the PS2 and PS3 titles. Yoko Taro is a wild dude, and there is no video game developer quite like him. His games are seemingly all connected to one another in some way or another.
In addition, the timeline doesn’t end with the core Nier titles but a mobile game, too. There is a lot to unpack in this timeline, but I think I came up with the best version.
Timeline in Chronological Order
Let’s begin with an explanation of the complete Nier timeline, including all of the games that are connected to it. This is so much more than simply an explanation of two Nier games, as there is so much backstory to it.
Now, as for how I came up with what I consider the currently definitive timeline, it has to do with the 10th Anniversary box set for the Drakengard and Nier series.
Through this box set, we learned a whole lot about the official timeline. Now, I threw in some of my own ideas, though, regarding pieces not featured in the official timeline like Yoko Taro’s other games that are confirmed to be in the same universe as the Nier titles.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at this wild series and how everything fits together in chronological order. Please remember that there are going to be spoilers for basically every single major game that Yoko Taro has worked on.
I will try to avoid some specifics but, yeah, you’ve been relatively warned about what is going to happen from here on out.
Iberian Peninsula and Drakengard 3 Events (Midgard)
Beginning in the year 856, the events of the Drakengard series happen. At this time, an earthquake happens in the Iberian Peninsula that brings with it the destruction of the Roman Empire, magic, dragons, and other things that make this a separate world from our own and the Nier series.
This world is known as Midgard, and the events of Drakengard 3 happen. For the purposes of this timeline, we only care about Ending E which leads to the original Drakengard. This tells the story of Zero, a magical girl who is destined to murder her sisters in cold blood.
She murders them successfully, changes the state of the world, a virus breaks out, and it all leads to the events of the first Drakengard.
Drakengard Events (Midgard)
Again, for the purposes of this, we only care about the events in the E Ending of Drakengard. In the year 1099 in the Midgard world, it tells the story of Caim and his fight against the evil in his world. It leads him through the Cult of the Watchers and eventually to the Queen-beast.
In this ending, they fight the beast and break all of time and space, leading to Caim, the dragon he is riding, and the beast ending up in our world.
2003 (Real-World Earth)
In the afternoon, Caim, the red dragon, and the Queen-beast teleport to Earth in the year 2003 in the middle of Shinjuku and battle it out. The beast loses the fight, and the dragon is killed by the Japanese Self-Defense Force.
The world intervenes and meets about the truth behind the incident. Near the end of the year, a mysterious virus breaks out and causes all victims to melt into something like sodium chloride, similar to what happened to the beast. Every victim of it dies.
The virus, known as the White Chlorination Syndrome, reaches all-time levels in Shinjuku. Martial law is declared in Japan, and Shinjuku is sealed off, but not before images of a white beast appear online.
The disease declines some, with the victims becoming fewer and fewer. More research is being done to find a solution to this problem.
Attempts are found to explain the disease and why some victims simply melt from it while others go crazy. An unknown group tries to attack and steal the body of the red dragon.
Not much happens here other than a bizarre object known as the black dot appears over Shinjuku and its Wall of Jericho at one point.
The Wall of Jericho falls, and white beasts are released, attacking and killing everyone in their path. They are led by another beast that has red eyes. These beasts, known as Legion, cause the White Chlorination Disease to reappear and infect all across Japan.
The United States and Japan worked together to fight back against the Legion. In the end, it is decided to, unfortunately, drop a nuclear bomb on Shinjuku to try and destroy the source of the beasts. It seems to be a success, and Shinjuku becomes now known as Ground Zero.
It is finally determined that the dragon and beast came from another world through magic. The root problem of the virus comes from otherworldly elements that don’t exist in our world. The virus spreads once again, this time causing the Legion and the Syndrome to happen all across Asia.
The location of the red dragon is attacked once again. This time, the mysterious enemy is victorious, blowing up the facility and taking the body for their own. The dragon’s whereabouts are now unknown.
More investigation into the mysterious otherworldly element known as Maso continues. In the end, scientists come up with Project Gestalt. It involves breaking apart the soul and the body of a human to save someone. In addition, magic is born out of using the Maso energy.
Project Gestalt continues and is shown to the whole world. Unfortunately, it isn’t too popular with society.
A new virus vaccine known as Luciferase is created. It is determined that this works best in saving younger kids, not adults, from the virus. In the end, a new group is formed known as the Hamelin Organization. They are there to train teens to become vaccinated warriors to fight the Legion.
More research is done to try and help humans to learn more about how to use magic. Meanwhile, the public isn’t too happy with the Hamelin Organization and the idea of teens fighting for their very lives.
The fighting keeps going as the Hamelin Organization kids and the Legion war. Meanwhile, Japan falters further as society begins to crumble.
The world is further affected by the onslaught of the Legion. Society as a whole begins to crumble, and poverty becomes the standard in nearly every country. This leads to even further conflict in various countries.
The first Replicant is born. How it works is that the person had their soul split from their body through Project Gestalt. In turn, the soul was taken and placed into a Replicant body where they were able to continue living. This leads to further expansion of the project.
A weapons research facility that works on humans and how Maso affects them has an incident in which experiment Number 6 goes out of control. Experiment Number 7 had to be used to defeat Number 6 and put it away for safety reasons.
Hamelin Organization finally succeeds in taking out the Red Eye, commander of the Legion. In the process, the soldier who killed Red Eye dies as well in battle. Fortunately, these sacrifices lead to seemingly winning the war.
Even though the Legion is no longer a problem, the White Chlorination Syndrome only worsens as more people are infected. Project Gestalt begins all over the world, starting with the rich.
Androids are used to monitor and facilitate the world while the souls are in sleep mode, and the Replicants await their time for project completion by taking out any remaining Legion enemies.
Grimoire Weiss and Grimoire Noir are created as living books that are there to help finish Project Gestalt all across the world at once when the time is right.
2049 (Nier Gestalt) and 2053 (Nier Replicant)
The years differ depending on if it’s the story of Nier, the father, or the older brother. Regardless, Grimoire Noir is used to create other books that are then used for experiments on poor people and those in need.
Nier, the father or older brother, and Yonah, his daughter or sister, arrive at one of the experiment points to get help. They are attacked by Gestalt, which goes crazy and becomes monsters.
Yonah is infected, but they save her soul and put her in sleep in exchange for Nier agreeing to be a Gestalt and offering up Maso, whom he has for the foreseeable future.
Everything changes one day when the moon is wrecked. This leads to massive changes in the world, including the Earth’s axis changes.
The empty Replicant bodies on Earth start to gain intelligence and learn about the world around them.
Replicants begin to create entire societies, towns, and countries. They are not at all like their original bodies since they are essentially different people with different motivations, emotions, and cultures.
Though the Legion is few in number, fights still happen. Legends are born, including of Jerusalem, and the wish you can have come true there.
A Replicant man brings his lover’s body to the graveyard of the original Red Eye to wish for her resurrection. It succeeds but results in his death at the hands of his lover, who is now the new Red Eye leader.
The new Red Eye wages war against the world once more. Thankfully, a group of four Replicant people and an android stand against the Red Eye and defeat her. They are even able to take the Maso in the world and send it back to its original universe and complete this first stage of the project.
All of the souls finally awaken in the world, looking like shadowy monsters known as Shades. Some unite with their Replicant bodies, while most Replicants fight back against what they consider monsters.
More Gestalt souls go crazy once more, and Gestalt Nier does nothing to help them, realizing the truth of his stuck situation.
3361 (Nier Gestalt) and 3465 (Nier Replicant)
Gestalt Nier, the original one, takes control of both of the main grimoires and kidnaps Replicant Yonah, the daughter or younger sister of the Replicant Nier protagonist, with the help of androids Devola and Popola. Thus ensues the fight between the two main characters.
3366 (Nier Gestalt) and 3470 (Nier Replicant)
Emil and Kaine are two companions who assist and help Replicant Nier in his quest to save his daughter or younger sister, Yonah. This is where the various endings of Nier happen, too.
In Ending A and B, Replicant Nier defeats Devola, Popola, and Gestalt Nier, the Shadowlord. Gestalt Yonah is lost forever because of this.
In Ending C, Replicant Nier is forced to kill his friend Kaine.
In Ending D and E, which is more likely to be the true ending, Replicant Nier defeats everyone as before, except Kaine, and sacrifices himself to save her life.
Given the death of Gestalt Nier, his Replicant, and the defeat of the androids, Project Gestalt fails completely. Humanity is doomed to die in time with the Gestalt souls perishing someday.
For some odd reason, Replicant Nier is brought back to life.
A Human Heritage Investigation Committee was created to learn about the past of humanity and create records based on it.
The androids create the Human Heritage Reclamation Management Organization as a subsidiary of the original committee. They wish to find Old World history and objects and restore them.
The final Gestalt soul perishes. Humans are now entirely extinct on Earth.
Android creation facilities stop working. As such, androids begin to dwindle in number as time goes on.
An independent faction of androids begins. They don’t care about the extinct humans who created them and wish to progress their own agenda.
The independent androids and human-following androids war with one another. In the end, the independent faction sets up Australia as its chain of command.
Aliens are seen for the first time on Earth and begin attacking. The Army of Humanity is created by the androids to stop the alien invasion.
The aliens take over much of the world, including the North and South American continents. During this time, they start creating countless machines. The Army of Humanity begins taking shelter in space stations and storing Old World relics on the moon.
Also, during this time, Emil clones himself over and over to stop the alien invasion.
The Army of Humanity continues its fight against the aliens and machines from the command of their 12 space stations above Earth.
During this point in the war between androids and machines plus aliens, a new weapon is created by the Army of Humanity. It is known as the “Dragon,” whose goal is to stop the forces and save one particular country.
During this time, too, the android known as the Accord is built. This android would go on to be a significant part and narrator for Drakengard 3, somehow finding itself in the alternative parallel universe where the Maso energy first came from.
The Junk Heap is a location that some Nier Automata players may know well. During this year, some unbelievably large object flies out of the explosion that happens here and into space.
Right around this same time, the war takes a massive turn as the machines begin to control roughly 80% of all of Earth. Though the machines don’t invade the rest of the planet, the Army of Humanity is unable to take back the lost lands as the machines keep expanding their numbers.
The aliens start to leave Earth a little bit at a time.
Oddly enough, the machines turn on their alien masters and creators for some reason, eventually killing all of the remaining ones. Later on, the machines create an underwater city known as Atlantis.
Also, during this time, a large machine appears and destroys many androids in a massive battle before disappearing. In addition, the Forest Kingdom is formed during this time, too. During the 8th Machine War, the space station Kaguya is lost.
Labo eventually replaced Kaguya and focused on new weapons research and deployment. Later on, the first Forest King dies, and a new machine lord is made for the Forest Kingdom. Finally, in the year 11,932, Labo worked hard on a black box that was used to create the first Yorha android.
The giant Engels machine deploys for the first time and destroys thousands of androids. Soon after, the first Yorha android arrives on Earth, and the 13th space station for humanity, the Bunker, is built.
The 14th Machine War starts during this time, leading to the Pearl Harbor Mission. 16 Yorha units try to stop a machine server, and all eventually fall except for the legendary A2. During the year 11,942, 9S is built, and the Atlantis machine city soon returns.
Also, during this time, the first report of machines collecting the dead bodies of their fellow machines is seen.
11945 (Nier Automata)
The events of Nier Automata begin. 2B is sent with five other units to stop a Goliath machine and is the only survivor. She meets 9S in the process, and the two join together.
Other significant events happen during this year, including the destruction of the Bunker and the creation of the machine’s Tower. A battle ensues between 9S and A2 following 2B’s virus infection.
After the battle’s conclusion, the Tower is sent into space, and the virus is eradicated. 2B and 9S are eventually brought back because of this.
SinoAlice (Theoretically after 11945)
SinoAlice is an underrated mobile game for Android and iOS. Yoko Taro created it, and it involves fairy tale characters in their darkest forms as they fight back against evil. It’s twisted and disturbing, but you should check it out if you love the vibes of some of the darker robot parts in Nier Automata.
Anyway, SinoAlice had some Nier crossovers that involved fleshing out characters like 2B more. She is playable in the mobile game, so it takes place sometimes in the middle of Nier Automata. However, it doesn’t have too much of an impact on the main timeline; it is simply a side story for fans.
Pascal, leader of the peaceful machines, creates a long-awaited truce with the Army of Humanity.
Yorha: Dark Apocalypse (Final Fantasy XIV)
Unlike SinoAlice, this next game doesn’t have a clear place or year in the official Nier timeline. All we know is that the Final Fantasy XIV crossover event with Nier, known as Yorha: Dark Apocalypse, takes place during the renowned Shadowbringers expansion and as a direct sequel to Nier Automata.
During these events, 9S returns, and there’s a new hero who turns out to be the villain in 2P. There are many versions of her, and it is up to the player, who gets to explore some of the Nier world, to help stop this invasion of these crazy androids.
It is a wild storyline involving dwarfs and the like, but it lets the player spend more time with 9S beyond the main Nier Automata arc. I highly recommend checking it out, as it is some of the best content available in Final Fantasy XIV, which is arguably the best MMO ever made.
The machines rebuild the networks that connect all of them.
Noble machines first make their appearance as they grow even more in intelligence.
The countries and lands of the machines grow more intricate and involved. This leads to strife between machines of differing beliefs. Eventually, the first-ever true machine civil war happens.
Finally, there is Nier Reincarnation. This is the mobile entry in the Nier series and only the third game that exists in this franchise directly, minus all of those crossovers. I understand, first and foremost, that not many people played this game, but that is a darn shame.
You should absolutely go out and play this mobile title, as it has everything that you know and love from the Nier franchise. With that said, Nier Reincarnation is the most complex game to pin down in terms of where it takes place in the timeline, but I have an idea.
I have played and almost caught up with this mobile game. It involves a young child who is stuck in this strange place known as the Cage. She is guided by a monster and experiences the lives and stories of so many different people throughout the Nier timeline.
There is even some crossover with the characters you know and love. If I had to guess, I would say that Nier Reincarnation is the latest entry in the timeline. It involves events from the original Nier, characters throughout the entire timeline from start to finish, and, of course, Automata, too.
It seems that this game is possibly even further into the future (like thousands of years later) and involves this Cage area that stores all the memories of humanity and the androids. This is my theory, of course, that is unconfirmed because it could just be in this strange spiritual realm where time is irrelevant, too.
Question: What Order do the Nier Games go in?
Answer: There are, technically, only three main Nier games at this time. It goes in this order: Nier (including Gestalt and the Replicant remake), Nier Automata, and likely the Nier Reincarnation mobile game afterward. But there are other games involved, including the Drakengard series and Final Fantasy XIV.
Question: Are the Nier Games Connected?
Answer: Yes, all of the Nier games are connected in a few ways. There are shared characters between them, and they take place on the same timeline. That said, the connections are pretty barren beyond that, as they usually are so far away from one another that you can play one without the other.
Question: How did Humans go Extinct in Nier?
Answer: This is a massive spoiler for the entire series. But it is revealed in Nier Automata that the canon ending of the original Nier involves the defeat of the Shadowlord, which results in the failure of Project Gestalt, which is meant to save humanity.
Because of this, all humans went extinct roughly a thousand years after this occurred.
The Timeline of Another Platinum Title is Depressing
Was that Nier timeline enough to send your mind swarming and have you pondering over it for days? I know it has me in a whirlwind coming up with it. There is so much that happens from start to finish and so much more room for countless other stories to be told.
Things could take place between Nier and Nier Automata, a new game could be even before the original Nier, or there could even be a new title set well after the events of Nier. For now, though, we will have to wait and see. In the meantime, there is another game’s timeline to check out.
The developer of Nier Automata, PlatinumGames, made another game called Babylon’s Fall with a rather unique timeline.
The game came out, was quite disappointing, and ended up having a short timeline, with its full online server closure announced not too long after its release. Find out more about this depressing timeline on why Babylon’s Fall was destined to fail.
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