I don’t think the ending is strictly offering ‘salvation’ so much as offering a hope that they might somehow make different choices and save themselves. I think that’s the point of the bit at the end about whether the outcome might just be the same again.
That’s my reading of it, as well.
I noted this before, but Yoko Taro said before the game’s release that Automata would have a happy ending. What “happy” means in the context of a Yoko Taro game, based on my interpretation, is something that’s still very bittersweet. 2B, 9S, and A2 will be able to continue living and have a chance of a life outside of the circular hell that was YoRHa’s war with the machines, and so there’s hope that things could be different. But at the same time, they’re still who they are, and can they ever truly be happy in a world they were only ever built to fight and die in in a pointless conflict?
Those two lines sum up the entire experience of playing Nier: Automata.
Reviving this because I did ending E recently and I want to put my thoughts somewhere.
I have fairly limited time to play games, so I played Nier is infrequent, longish chunks, so I’m not sure how fair my main criticism (its pacing dulls its emotional impact) of it is. Ultimately I think I agree with Patrick on the spoilercast- that talking about its themes and events make it sound harder hitting than it is. That’s not to say I didn’t love some of its harder moral choices, unique style and player accessibility, as well as the way it poked at the fourth wall over and over. (And the outfit change is ). I just wish that we could given the least sympathetic characters (2B, Adam and Eve) a little more dialogue, because I felt like I was being told about their feelings post-their respective twists more than seeing them. Maybe more sections in the style of Devola and Popola’s would help.
As for ending E- I was also one those people who said no because I hadn’t satisfactorily completed the game, and it does weigh on me that I need to make time to “complete” the game, otherwise I’m being selfish. I feel however, that E will be much more powerful going in knowing what’s happening, and fully content with that finality.
Since this just got bumped Square Enix recently announced they are going to be selling vinyl pressings of Gestalt, Replicant & Automata with album art by Sui Ishida (creator of Tokyo Ghoul).