How to play the NieR series in timeline order

Timeline is a fleeting thing in the world of NieR.

Image via Platinum Games

The NieR franchise is a series of aRPG games that share the universe with the Drakengard series. It’s a series of stories set on a decaying Earth in which human-made androids have to battle an invasion of machines from a different world. The series is praised for its captivating story and visuals, as well as the ability to characterize emotionless nameless androids as full-fledged characters. For the narrative-minded among our readers, you might be looking into a way to play the series in a chronological timeline instead of the release order. It’s important to note that most of the NieR games can be played as standalone experiences, and as such you don’t have to limit yourself. But nevertheless, in this article, we will outline the chronological order of Drakengard and NieR games for you to enjoy in your next playthrough. We will take into account only the released games, disregarding all of the extra material such as novels, comics, and anime.

Related: That Nier: Automata “church door” mystery was a very well-done modding hoax

All NieR games in chronological order

Drakengard 3

Image via Sony

Released: 2014
Platform: Sony Playstation 3

Although the third game in the series, Drakengard 3 functions as a prequel to all of the events that follow. The game focuses on Zero and a dragon Mikhail, as they roam the world to find and kill five sisters who rule five regions. As the story progresses, the player learns her reasons, and the events of this game kick off the story of the original first game, Drakengard. 

Drakengard

Image via Sony

Released: 2004
Platform: Sony Playstation 2

The story of Drakengard follows the conflict between the Union and the Empire. You play as Claim, who is a prince of the Union on a warpath to find vengeance upon those who have deposed him. As the name suggests, dragons feature heavily in the story, and both help and oppose our protagonist. Most importantly, one of the possible endings to Drakengard is what leads to the creation of the NieR universe.

NieR Gestalt / NieR Replicant / NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139…

Image via Square Enix

Released: 2010, 2021
Platforms: Sony Playstation 3, Xbox 360 (Gestalt); Sony Playstation 3, Sony Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC (Replicant)

Looking at the titles, one might get confused about what they represent. But all of these titles represent what is essentially the same game, only released for different platforms and markets. There are slight differences in the protagonist between Gestalt and Replicant, but the story remains essentially the same. The game takes place a thousand years into the future following the events from Drakengard, during which the Earth has unrecognizably decayed and creatures known as Shades stalk the world. NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… was released in 2021 and represents the modern remaster of the two versions of the game.

NieR Automata

Image via Square Enix

Released: 2017
Platforms: Sony Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC

Probably the most famous game in the franchise, Automata follows 2B, one of the man-made androids who have been unleashed to protect the Earth from machine invaders from beyond. There is an expansive cast of characters to play and interact with, as well as a host of different endings and story beats that reward multiple playthroughs. 

NieR Reincarnation

Image via Square Enix

Released: 2021
Platform: Android, iOS

Reincarnation is a standalone mobile game set after the events of Automata. It is set in a realm gloomily called The Cage in which the player has to interact with specters and Scarecrows to relive different memories from the NieR world in a story-like format. As a mobile release, the game is markedly different from its predecessors, both in terms of gameplay and the way it tells its story. But it’ll certainly scratch that itch if you’re looking to keep playing in the NieR world.