NieR: Automata is a weird game. Playing as androids in revealing clothing, you destroy giant robots named after Karl Marx and experience a myriad of gameplay mechanics ranging from hack-and-slash to bullet hell. Yoko Taro, the eccentric director of the series, is known for hiding Easter eggs in his games for the community to find. But in 2021, he said the “final secret” had been discovered. At least that is what everybody thought — until the church was discovered.
What happened? — “Hello how do you open the church?” read a seemingly normal question on the r/NieR subreddit posted two months ago. At first, the community was helpful, thinking this was a new player who didn’t know the game very well. They directed the user, sadfutago, to the general boss arena for Adam.
But sadfutago kept insisting this wasn’t the church they were talking about. They made a new post, this time with photos. The pictures showed an as-yet-undiscovered area of the game claiming that their friend couldn't access the same area. This is when attention started rising. Then on June 25th sadfutago posted a video showing how they access the mysterious church through a door in the Copied City.
The modding community has thrown their whole force behind uncovering what this new door and church area are. As of now, nobody knows if it is triggered by a certain quest, item, or location trigger. Of course, the leading theory is that this is a modded version of the game and a fake. However, the modding community collectively made a statement attempting to set the record straight on the church.
“We so far haven’t found any evidence in the assets that this exists, OTHER than the tower itself from late game... If this is a mod this would be the first time anyone has done something like this, and NOVODY else knows how to make custom doors like seen in the video - - it would be a relatively IMMENSE undertaking for a single individual to accomplish with various modding breakthroughs.
In short, this seems legit.
Yoko Taro openly taunted fans with the final secret, which was discovered by YouTuber Lance McDonald. Taro and the development team confirmed this was the final secret and congratulated him on his discovery. So, what does this discovery mean for NieR?
What is the purpose of the church? — Theories abound over the meaning of the church and the sudden discovery of this new secret. As mentioned, the idea that this is modded looks to be false, so that throws out the whole fake idea. But this project could be done by a larger team, even the official dev team.
Some in the community think the church is a gorilla marketing campaign from Square Enix and Yoko Taro to hype up the Nintendo Switch port of Nier: Automata which releases on October 6, 2022. The inclusion of a new cutscene as well as a mannequin with a Lunar Tear flower growing out of it. This flower is a constant in the Drakengard and NieR franchises. The church could be the start of new content being added to the Switch port.
Notably, the modding community has said they are working directly with sadfutago to crack this mystery, suggesting they know it is a real person. In addition, their copy of the game appears to be a 1.0 version with no mods.
All anybody knows for sure is that one singular player has been able to access a completely new area of the game, and no one else can open or even find the door to the church. Much like all great gaming Easter eggs, only time will reveal the truth.