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Which really is the “best” ending? Nier Automata

NieR Automata True Ending

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Best Ending

NieR Automata Game

After completing the game (twice at this point), I am still skeptical about which ending was truly the “best” ending in terms of story. Many claim that Ending E is the best. But after Ending E, I could not wrap my head around why.

For those of you who have completed NieR: Automata completely, you all may be aware of what happens in Ending E. All the characters are restored and the player is even given the option to delete their save file for the greater good. It definitely felt like the ending, but not the best.

The reason why I felt Ending E was not the best ending was because everyone comes back to life. It was nice to see our favorite characters restored by the pods. However, I thought about the scenario that happens afterwards where their memories are restored. Assuming they have their memories up until the point they last deceased, this would mean the following:

2B – Last memory: the contamination and moving from the Flooded City into the City Ruins towards the abandoned commercial facility as YoRHa is destroyed by the virus.
9S – Last memory: Somewhere towards the end of The Tower segment.
A2 – Last memory: Somewhere towards the end of The Tower segment.

If these characters were to come back to life, this could mean that while 2B believes she accomplished her will and objective until the end as a soldier of humanity, 9S is doomed to have to harbor the secret that her efforts were ultimately meaningless. While 2B would live on believing her fight and efforts for humanity had meaning, 9S would have to tag along side her while knowing humanity never even existed. I am not sure about others, but having to keep a truth that would eliminate the ultimate sensation of fulfillment of someone I love would be the worst pain of all. 9S would have to keep feeding 2B’s ignorance to fulfill her sensation of fulfillment daily. Would he ultimately tell her? That is a possibility. If that were so though, why did he not tell her the truth before in the story? I feel he will never be able to gather the courage to tell her what truly happened.

Then which ending was the best ending? Ending C seemed like the best out of the rest. The reason is because it tied into one of the main themes this game tried to express through Ending E when players were prompted with whether they wanted to delete their save file or not to help another player. The pod states the player has been through “crushing hardship and suffered greatly” and asked repeatedly if they truly want to delete their saved data. The player can either decline the offer or delete the save game. When I deleted the save game in the beginning, I felt one of the major themes this game may have been trying to instill was “fulfillment.” Despite all the hours I put into the game, all my efforts would transcend into possibly helping someone out there who had not completed the game yet.

Unlike simple happiness which can simply happen at any given time, fulfillment is when joy has been achieved after enduring difficulties and overcoming major struggles. The main characters in Ending C did all meet their fates. However, it seemed they would have been more emotionally satisfied, whether it be a genuine sense of satisfaction or through ignorance. 2B never seemed to realize the truth about humanity’s existence. Considering her personality, she may have felt fulfilled to have died while upholding her duties as a soldier until the end. A2 was able to carry 2B’s will onwards regarding 9S’ safety which is why (depending on which character was selected at the end of Route C), A2 hesitates to kill 9S, or, simply removes the virus from his system and leaves him for the pods to take care of. 9S, after awakening, may have felt the joy of knowing he “avenged” 2B should the pods have told him A2 has deceased.

The main reason this topic was brought up was because of the author, Yoko Taro. Yoko Taro is not only an interesting person, he can also be a very confusing one. Honestly, I am new to the NieR series, I never had the chance to play NieR: Gestalt and Replicant, let alone only heard about Drakengard vaguely several years ago. There may have been some points I may have missed story wise, and playing the past games may provide more insight to the mind of the author. Regardless, I felt that despite his gruesome stories, Yoko Taro does not seem like the type of author who would simply believe that “being alive” is enough. In other words, I really wonder if Yoko Taro intended for Ending E to be the best ending just because the characters are resurrected. Granted, these sorts of stories constantly leave many ideas up for interpretation, the beauty of literature. However, I cannot understand why Ending E is said to be the best ending. The thought of 9S living a lie while 2B lives in bliss fed by ignorance would be horrendous.

It would be interesting to hear the perspectives of other players and how they felt about these endings.

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