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Nier: Automata 'secret church' mystery leads to mod tools and memes

Pranksters have recreated the area in Half-Life 2 and other games

2B poses wearing a giant sword in a Nier: Automata screenshot.
Image credit: Square Enix

For several weeks, a Nier: Automata player has caused intrigue and excitement by posting mysterious images and videos from an area no one had seen before. Was it a secret area? An unfinished area? A hoax? Viral marketing? A mod? If it was a mod, it was far more complex than any so far. Turns out, that's because a group of fans have secretly been making their own mod tools, and plan to release them soon. In the meantime, I've enjoyed pranksters memeing on the mystery by creating secret churches in other games, including Half-Life 2 and Super Mario 64.

As a Reddit thread recaps in detail, a Reddit poster named "sadfutago" has been trickling facets of an increasingly large mystery since June. They talked about a secret door through the back of Automata's Adam boss fight in the beautiful whitebox city, leading to a church. Then they started posting videos getting into the area, and videos exploring it, and videos fighting a mysterious big baddie in it. This was all quite confusing.

While no one else was able to find any such area, making a hoax seemed likely, the videos looked very convincingly Nier. But Nier: Automata has no official mod support or tools, so mods have not got far beyond substituting models and textures—certainly not adding giant new things. But it would've been a huge effort to recreate all this outside the game. So what was it? In a Twitch livestream today, a team revealed this was in-game, made using unofficial mod tools which they have created and plan to release soon.

Their Twitch channel didn't archive the stream, so here's one viewer's re-uploadWatch on YouTube

"We have been loving all the discussions and theories - it has been an amazing journey," a message from the team said in the stream. "It has been inspiring to see the community come together after so many years, it has made all the hard work well worth it. We hope everyone had a good time, we certainly did."

They did apologise for "misleading everyone", explaining they wanted to evoke cut content or a secret, not make people think this was an official ARG hinting at big new things. But the end result is great.

They say they plan to release "the new Blender addons and scripting tools" used to make this "over the following days", along with the mod files for the secret church. They have another mod coming too. Unless this reveal is itself a prank, in which case: got 'em.

I didn't follow the mystery beat-by-beat because wild speculation doesn't interest me, but I have enjoyed other people memeing on the mystery by copying it in other games. Here's a Super Mario 64 hack adding a secret church:

And in Duke Nukem 3D:

Half-Life 2, too:

Video game pranks and hoaxes tend to be boring—especially April Fool's Day jokes—but I am always here for people who actually make their daft jokes real. The creator of the DN3D level even released it publicly, though that download link is dead now.

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