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The Skills menu, showing a selection of equipped chips with storage fully unlocked.

Plug-in Chips are the skill system of NieR:Automata.

Acquisition[]

Plug-in chips are primarily acquired as random loot drops from enemies, and can also be found on some NPC android corpses (these will have a white arrow above them like a resource point, but not show a name or have a black aura like a player character corpse) acquired as quest rewards or purchased from vendors. In general, a set range of chips will be dropped by enemies in a given area, such that certain areas can be farmed by the player for a specific type of chip. For example, enemies in the Forest Zone typically drop Anti Chain Damage, Offensive Heal, Deadly Heal and Max HP Up chips. See the first link in the external links section for a chart of drop locations for specific chips.

Plug-in chip drops look similar to materials with a cylindrical glowing orange column around them, but do not have the same bright glow at their base, the column of light has clearly visible bands, and up close a chip is visible in the middle of the cylinder.

Functionality[]

The system in NieR:Automata conceptualizes skills as swappable chipsets added to the YoRHa unit the player is controlling. The player can set up three sets of chips either manually or having the game assign them automatically according to one of several presets. The chipsets are swapped on the pause menu, and only the equipped set has any effect on gameplay.

Each chip uses a set amount of "storage" from a minimum of 1 to a maximum of 31. Storage is a stat the player can upgrade from any merchant that sells Pod programs (e.g. the one by the medical bay in the Resistance Camp). The storage available early in the game is mostly locked and greyed-out. Storage upgrades allow this area to be unlocked and the cap to be increased, maxing out at 128. Chips can be set down anywhere on the storage grid that the player feels like as long as they do not overlap any other chip. The "Optimize" command at the bottom of the chip equip menu will place all chips in order on the grid and eliminate any gaps, removing the need to do this manually.

All chips aside from those in the "System" category, the "Auto" chips that only function on Easy mode and a few later ones have a set level from 0 to +8 as well, which dictates both the range of their storage cost and the degree of effect they have. Chips of these types are spawned with a random amount of storage usage within a set range: "diamond" chips are those with the lowest possible stat within that range, and display a black diamond in their name to indicate their quality. Chips given as quest rewards will also randomize their storage cost: it is possible (if tedious) to reload a save prior to turning in a quest to "reroll" the quality of the reward until a diamond-quality chip of the desired type is acquired.

The effects of most chips will stack, but only up to a certain point: if chips that would produce a greater effect are equipped, the warning "effect limit exceeded" will appear, and the effect will be capped at the maximum allowed. Level 8 chips always produce this maximum effect on their own.

Since chips become progressively more demanding of storage cost as they grow in effect, the player can either choose to retain a broad range of lower-level chips for a spread of effects, or specialize with a small number of high-level chips.

Chips purchased from merchants will always have the highest possible storage cost for their level, and so are not worth buying unless the player is absolutely desperate for a particular effect.

Fusion system[]

The player can combine or "fuse" chips at the same merchants mentioned above. This consists of combining two chips of the same level (for a price) to form a chip one level higher. Their storage cost is worked out based on the costs of the two chips rounded out, with some additions. Even numbered chips round up and odd numbers and no-level chips down: so, for example, if the player combined a Counter +1 chip of storage cost 5 (diamond) with one of storage cost 6, they would get a diamond-quality storage cost 6 Counter +2: if they did the same with that chip and a cost 7 Counter +2, they would get a non-diamond Counter +3 with a storage cost of 8. In general, the idea is to find low-cost chips to fuse to produce superior effects.

The whole formula for the post-fusion cost of a chip, noting the previous point about when to round up or down, is: (Storage cost of chip 1 + Storage cost of chip 2 + Level of chips prior to fusion) ÷ 2, where level 0 and 1 chips both count their level as 1.

It should be noted that a very high-level chip can end up having a greater storage cost than a number of low-level chips that create the same effect. This varies by the type of chip, with some like Weapon Attack Up being more efficient at level 8 than any possible combination of lower-level chips due to their effect ramping up enormously around level 5, while the most distinct example of the opposite is Combust, where two level 1 chips (minimum cost 10) duplicate the effect of the level 8 chip (minimum cost 21).

The merchant in the Resistance Camp can only fuse chips up to level 6, after which they will no longer appear on her menu. To fuse chips at higher levels, the player must find a friendly machine lifeform, known as the Canyon Machine, at the bottom of the valley in the Forest Zone and complete the Lord of the Valley sidequest, after which the Canyon Machine will become a merchant and allow fusing of level 6 and 7 chips.

It should also be noted that even Very Hard mode can be finished without the use of any level 8 chips, and so obsessing over getting them is not particularly necessary, and can be extremely time-consuming even for common chip types. Because each level of chip requires twice the number of chips of the level before it and chips seldom drop above level 3 on routes A and B and level 4 on route C/D, getting a perfect level 8 chip requires an enormous amount of grinding: even using only level 3 chips would require getting 32 of adequate quality, while with level 0 chips, 256 would be required. The amount of money required to fuse all these chips is also enormous.

Limit and disposal[]

Though this is stated nowhere in the game, the player can only carry 99 chips of all types at any given time, after which any further chips will fail to be picked up in the same way as any other surplus inventory item, and will be automatically discarded if given as mission rewards. There is no actual counter for how many chips the player is currently holding, so regularly cleaning junk chips out of inventory is a good idea.

So that the player is never placed in a position where they cannot pick up a chip they want, a "Destroy Chip" option is present in the skills menu. This allows a player to remove chips from their inventory to pick up new ones, though unlike selling them at a vendor there is no compensation for doing this other than the freed-up inventory space. Chips that are destroyed cannot be recovered.

As a temporary buff[]

If the player is connected to the network, corpses will appear in the game world indicating locations where characters of other players died while connected. Choosing to "retrieve" one of these corpses will provide a significant amount of healing, a small amount of money, and also temporarily apply the effects of three of the chips that player had equipped when their character died, chosen at random and excluding System chips and the other chips that do not have levels. This buff still cannot exceed the effect limit.

Loss[]

In routes A and B, if the player character dies, all chips in their equipped chipset other than system chips are taken from them, along with all experience gained since their last save, and placed on a corpse at or near the location where the death occurred. The body will be shown with a blue marker on the minimap: it looks like a standard player character corpse, and will show the player's name and death message. In a manner similar to the Dark Souls games, the player has a limited amount of time to return to their body and use the "retrieve" or "repair" command (repairing still recovers the chips) before their chips are permanently lost, and they will also be lost if the character dies again before the chips are retrieved.

The game does not, however, drop an autosave on death, and so the player can simply reload their last save and restore all of their chips if they feel so inclined.

After route B is finished, this mechanic ceases to apply: death instead requires reloading the player's last save, and chips are no longer lost under any circumstances (aside from using chapter select to go back to the A or B route).

Chip types[]

System[]

System chips construct the elements of the HUD.

Name Description Storage use Location
OS Chip An android's central system. Removal means death. 2 Given at start of game
HUD: HP Gauge Displays the player's HP gauge. 2 Given at start of game
HUD: EXP Gauge Display the EXP gauge and amount of EXP earned. (Note: gauge only shows total XP, not XP to next level) 1 Tool merchants
HUD: Skill Gauge Display the Skill Gauge. (Shows a Pod program's cooldown time.) 2 Given at start of game
HUD: Enemy Data Display enemies' levels and HP. 2 Given at start of game
HUD: Mini-map Display the mini-map. 2 Given at start of game
HUD: Objectives Display text showing your current objectives. 1 Given at start of game
HUD: Text Log Display the text log. (Note: this is the display in the bottom-right that indicates what items have been picked up) 2 Given at start of game
HUD: Save Points Display an icon in areas where you can save. 1 Given at start of game
HUD: Fishing Spots Display an icon in areas where you can fish. 3 Tool merchants
HUD: Damage Values Display the values of damage dealt and received. 3 Given at start of game
HUD: Sound Waves Display a sound analysis graph. 3 Tool merchants
HUD: Control Auto-hide HUD elements in certain situations. 3 Given at start of game

Attack[]

Attack chips affect offensive abilities. This does not include hacking abilities (see Hacking).

  • Weapon Attack Up increases the direct damage of physical attacks, including Shockwaves (see below). Maximum effect is +100% damage.
  • Down-Attack Up increases the damage of the mid-air strong attack from 2B and A2, and the final hit of 2B's light mid-air combo. Maximum effect is +100% damage.
  • Critical Up increases the percentage chance of a critical strike from physical attacks (ranged attacks cannot crit). Critical strikes deal enormously greater damage than standard hits (in the region of five times more, though the damage is massively randomized), so even a small percentage boost results in an enormous increase to overall damage output. Maximum effect is +30% crit chance. The effect limit will not prevent a weapon with a Critical+ ability from further increasing the overall crit chance.
  • Ranged Attack Up increases the damage of Pod weapon fire and special attacks. Maximum effect is +100% damage.
  • Shock Wave adds a projectile "sword arc" which is fired on every physical attack and deals a set percentage of the damage of that attack. The level of the Shock Wave chip increases the percentage of damage dealt by the projectile, though the precise amount of damage dealt is not displayed in the chip's description. The Shock Wave still counts as a physical rather than a projectile attack, and so is affected by Weapon Attack Up, not Ranged Attack Up. Shock Waves cannot cause critical hits, and a kill with a Shock Wave does not count as a kill with the weapon for purposes of levelling up weapons with Machine Brand. Maximum effect is 1,250% of the damage of the level 0 Shock Wave.
  • Last Stand increases attack power by a set amount if the player character's HP drops below 25%. Maximum effect is +100% damage.
  • Counter adds the ability to perform a counter-attack against any melee attack (including the electric spark attacks of Rampaging machines) by tilting the movement stick toward an enemy right as their attack connects, rather than by striking to hit the enemy's weapon as they swing (which player characters can always do). If successful, the player can then attack to perform a counter-hit in the same manner as after a perfect dodge. The level 0 chip does nothing else, while at higher levels a successful counter will also deal a percentage of the damage the enemy's attack would have dealt back to it: this damage is not level-scaled, and so Counter can deal damage even to enemies so over-levelled that all of a character's actual attacks do 0 damage to them. Maximum effect is 250% of incoming damage. Counter is handled mechanically by giving the player character invincible frames to prevent damage, and so also protects against attacks by other enemies. Note that like Taunt Up, Counter is either bugged or not described correctly as it does not function the way the effect limit says it does. Counter's effect does not stack, rather only the effect of the highest-rated Counter chip the player has will be present if more than one is equipped. Counter requires the attack to actually hit, and so cannot be executed during the invincible period of Anti-Chain Damage.
  • Charge Attack increases the damage of the charge (hold strong) attack for 2B and A2 when using large swords or spears as their heavy attack weapon, and the charge (hold light) attack for 9S. Maximum effect is +400%.

The following chip has no level, and can only be purchased from Devola or Popola once the two become vendors.

  • Continuous Combo provides a "dodge offset" ability, meaning that dodging will not reset a combo animation that is in progress (ie, if the player does two strikes and then dodges, their next strike will be the third strike of the animation).

Defense[]

Defense chips provide effects such as damage reduction and extra methods of healing.

  • Melee Defense increases defense against physical attacks. Maximum effect is -80% damage.
  • Ranged Defense increases defense against projectile attacks. Maximum effect is -80% damage.
  • Anti-Chain Damage creates a period of invulnerability after being hit during which the player character cannot be hit again, with the duration increasing as the chip levels up. Does not work when controlling a Flight Unit or a hacked machine lifeform, and does not stop the continuous health drain from A2 using Berserk Mode. Maximum effect is 6 seconds of invulnerability. Counter will not function during this invulnerable period.
  • Resilience prevents attacks from knocking the player character down or staggering them if they have more than a certain level of health: the required health decreases as the level of the chip increases. Maximum effect has the effect active if the character's health is greater than 5% of their max HP.
  • Max HP Up increases the upper limit of the character's hitpoints. Equipping these chips will require the use of healing to fill the gauge, as it is not automatically filled. Maximum effect is +100% HP.
  • Offensive Heal heals the player character for a percentage of the damage they deal to enemies, with the percentage increasing at higher levels. Does heal a Flight Unit, but has no effect if controlling a machine lifeform. Maximum effect is healing 100% of damage dealt. The heal is rounded down if it is a fraction, so early in the game a low-level chip may cause a constant stream of zero-HP heals when using Pod A's gun.
  • Deadly Heal heals a percentage of the player character's health every time they or a companion character with them kill an enemy, with the percentage increasing at higher levels. Note that detonating an enemy via hacking will not trigger this chip. Does heal a Flight Unit, but has no effect if controlling a machine lifeform. Maximum effect is 100% HP healed per kill.
  • Auto-Heal will start to automatically replenish the player character's health after 6 seconds of taking no further damage.Cannot trigger while A2 is in Berserk Mode due to the constant health loss. As the level increases the rate of replenishment is increased. Does heal a Flight Unit, but has no effect if controlling a machine lifeform. Maximum effect is 18% of health healed per second.
  • Damage Absorb gives a percentage chance that a percentage of damage received from an enemy attack will be automatically healed: the percentage healed and the chance of healing both increase as the level increases. Maximum effect is a 50% chance of healing 200% of damage received. Damage Absorb can still heal damage that reduces the character to 0 HP, meaning that it can allow the character to survive a hit on Very Hard mode.
  • Reset provides a chance that, on reaching 0 HP, the player character will be revived with a certain percentage of their maximum HP restored. There is no animation for this, the character's HP bar will just change to whatever Reset sets it to if the chip triggers. As the level increases, the percentage chance of revival increases and the amount of health restored increases. Like Damage Absorb, this chip still works on Very Hard, and allows the character to survive a hit in that mode. Maximum effect is a 50% chance of restoration with 80% of max HP.

Support[]

Support chips affect gameplay in other ways. Certain chips can only be equipped in Easy mode.

  • Fast Cooldown reduces the time it takes for a Pod to complete its cooldown time after using a special attack. Maximum effect reduces cooldown time by 50%. Also reduces the cooldown time of a Flight Unit's missile barrage.
  • Evade Range Up increases the distance a player character can evade (this requires the evade button to be held down rather than tapped). Notably, it also increases the number of invincible ("I") frames in the evasion animation by the same percentage. Maximum effect increases evade range and I-frames by 200%.
  • Moving Speed Up increases the player character's run and sprint speeds. Maximum effect increases movement speed by 20%.
  • Drop Rate Up increases the rate at which enemies drop items such as chips and materials. It does not appear to have any effect on the quality of what is dropped, but the increased quantity will by its nature result in more drops of desirable items. Maximum effect increases drop rate by 90%.
  • EXP Gain Up increases the amount of experience gained from defeating enemies. Maximum effect doubles EXP gain.
  • Vengeance provides a chance that a hit will also deal damage to the enemy that delivered it. It is similar to the additional effect of Counter +1 and higher, save that the damage to the player character is not negated. Increased levels both improve the chance of dealing damage, and increase the percentage of damage dealt to the enemy. Maximum effect gives a 50% chance of dealing 200% of the enemy attack's damage back to them.
  • Overclock slows down time for a period after a Perfect Evade, in a similar manner to past Platinum titles Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising. Of note for time-based challenges is that it does not slow down the timer. Maximum effect is 5.5 seconds of slow motion for a perfect dodge.
  • Taunt Up increases the effect of a taunt (repeatedly flash the Pod light as any character, or hold light attack as A2), adding a percentage buff to damage dealt both to and by the taunted enemy. Note that like Counter, Taunt Up is either bugged or not described correctly as it does not function the way the effect limit says it does. Taunt Up's effect does not stack, rather only the effect of the highest-rated Taunt Up chip the player has will be present if more than one is equipped. Maximum effect is +500% damage dealt and received.
  • Auto-Use Item will automatically use a healing item if the player character's health is at 30% or lower: at higher levels, it will also provide a percentage increase to the healing effect of that item. It will always use the lowest-quality healing items in the player's inventory, and there is a delay of around 1 second between taking the hit and the chip activating, during which time it is possible to take another hit if no Anti-Chain Damage chip is equipped. The delay appears to be to allow other healing chips priority in triggering, specifically it seems to be so that if a unit self-destructs, Deadly Heals from enemies killed by the self-destruct will be applied first to avoid wasting healing items The chip will use as many healing items as are required to increase the character's health above 30%. Will not trigger if A2 is in Berserk Mode until after the mode ends. 2B starts the introductory chapter with an Auto-Use Item +1 chip equipped. Maximum effect increases effect of the healing item by 200%.

The following Support chips do not have additional levels, and can only be purchased from vendors. The player starts with all of the Easy mode chips in their inventory.

  • Auto-Collect Items draws in pickup items in the same manner that is normally done with money, removing the need to manually pick them up.
  • Bullet Detonation causes a bullet that hits the player character's weapon or the character themselves to explode, clearing out any other projectiles in a large area around it. The effect is the same as the "bullet rupture" effect on several weapons.
  • Evasive System automatically slows down time when the player character is close to enemy projectiles.
  • Item Scan displays all resource points that do not require the Pod Scanner to find, all items dropped by enemies, all of the non-player android corpses that contain plug-in chips, and all chests on the minimap. Resource points and NPC android corpses with chips are blue dots, while chests are two blue rectangles set at right-angles to each other. Obviously, has no effect if HUD: Mini-map is not equipped.
  • Auto-Attack, Auto-Fire, Auto-Evade, Auto-Program and Auto-Weapon Switch are chips that only work in Easy mode, They are supposed to function as "training wheels" that can be turned on and off using the lock-on button. Notably, they also work in the Hacking minigame, and can be used to very easily beat the Arcade Challenge Mode since they make it literally impossible to be hit.

Hacking[]

Hacking chips provide additional effects to hacking, and therefore do nothing unless the player is controlling 9S. These chips are unlikely to drop before playing as 9S, though it is possible in some areas.

  • Hijack Boost increases the level of any enemy that 9S is controlling remotely, including those in the Forest Colosseum DLC. Maximum effect increases the enemy's level by 9.
  • Stun will immobilise a hacked foe (if they are not immediately killed) and emit a powerful blast. As the level increases, both the size of the blast and the duration of the stun effect increases. Maximum is a 5-second stun and a 25 meter blast.
  • Combust will set fire to a hacked foe, dealing damage over time. Maximum effect will have the enemy burn for 7 seconds.
  • Heal Drops Up increases the chance that an enemy defeated by hacking will drop a health item on death. Maximum effect is a 100% chance of dropping healing items.

The following chip has no level, and can only be purchased from Devola or Popola once the two become vendors.

  • Death Rattle has enemies killed by hacking emit death cries when they explode. It provides no actual bonus and is purely cosmetic.

External links[]

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