Five years after the release of DmC: Devil May Cry, Capcom heard the fans loud and well. In 2013, reactions towards the suggested reboot of such a beloved series clearly didn’t sit well with fans. This wasn’t the same Dante and this wasn’t what fans wanted. Myself, I enjoyed the new take Ninja Theory went with and wished for more within that universe. To say reactions weren’t polarizing is an understatement. Sadly, we’ll never see where that story goes but Capcom in recent years has been on an uptick of solid releases with recent releases Resident Evil 2 and now, Devil May Cry V.
So, upon revealing that a brand-new Devil May Cry during Microsoft’s E3 presentation last year, fans of the series were decidedly ecstatic about the announcement. Seeing Dante, Nero, and newcomer V take on droves of demonic enemies deserves fanfare. In the ten years since Devil May Cry 4, Capcom moved all development in-house and the results are stunning, photorealistic graphics coupled with tight and satisfying combat.
As it stands, this is what fans wanted from Capcom. Serving as a direct sequel to 2008’s Devil May Cry 4, once again we pick up the Red Queen as Nero or Rebellion as Dante. That is, at least for the first few missions before swapping to V, a new and mysterious character and current employer of both Dante and Nero. For the first time ever, the series introduces three playable characters, each with individual playstyles and diverging paths across a sizeable campaign set in Red Grave City.
My first impression after diving in is how pristine the graphics looked thanks to the versatile RE Engine. Playing on the Xbox One X, I’m treated to what can be described as the best graphics on a console. With last month’s release of Resident Evil 2, I thought we’d seen the pinnacle the RE Engine offered but I was wrong, and Devil May Cry V may one of the prettiest games available today. Capcom’s got a clear winner with the RE Engine and proves that the studios figured out how they could utilize the engine across different genres.
Not only that, but the photorealism provided by the RE Engine, as well as the real models scanned into the game bring a fresh breath of life into the mix. If you were a fan of the anime-like models of previous games, this one won’t resonate as easily with you, but the real models used for 3D scanning, as well as their clothes, isn’t something easily animated through traditional means.
Back to the game, Nero’s got a new robotic arm after having his Devil Bringer arm stolen from him. Thanks to newcomer Nico, the mechanic responsible for creating all the new arms capable of kinetic blasts, mid-air grabs, and arm-surfing (it’s a thing) – Nero’s as capable as ever and deadlier thanks to these new tools provided by Nico. During my playthrough, I can say I didn’t connect with Nero’s playstyle. Granted he is more hectic than the way Dante is, I couldn’t chain as easy with Nero due to the inclusion of his Devil Breaker arms. Each arm Nico’s created is a blast to use in a chaotic rumble with the enemies I came across. Smashing the Overture and launching the Punch Line at an enemy, all the while juggling another demon, only to have Nero ride his arm across the level is exciting and thrilling. Using the Rawhide as a whip, while launching a demon into the air, then dodging to another demon before crowd controlling once again, these messy encounters never get old.
As for Dante, playing as the iconic devil hunter is as fun as ever. With his trusty Rebellion and Ebony and Ivory, it’s up to our white-haired hero to save the world with Trish and Lady at his side. Hideaki Itsuno is a genius when it comes to weapon design for these characters. My personal favourites include the Cavaliere bike seen in trailers since E3. Using Dante’s dual pistols for juggling, then swapping to the demonic bike only to crash into a crowd, and then sawing demons in half is about as fun as it sounds. Dante once again gets the best weapons as you explore Red Grave City and defeat the enemies in his way, and boy is he as charming and funny as you remembered him.
Also, returning from previous games in the series, are the specialized stances Dante unleashes in battle. Through the direction pad on the controller, Dante wields four combat styles – Trickster, Swordmaster, Gunslinger, and Royalguard. When using Swordmaster, for example, Dante’s moveset expands through additional melee skills. Royalguard emphasizes defence and countering enemy attacks, dealing punishing blows to your opponent.
Newcomer V is quite a mystery. V plays unlike any other character in the series and his gameplay style is one I enjoyed more than I thought I would after seeing demos and reading impressions. Knowing how difficult Hideaki Itsuno found V to be when designing his character and abilities brings me joy knowing that the decisions the studio made were the right ones.
Playing as V is a blast. He isn’t physically strong by any means and instead relies on his tome and demons he is able to summon. Through three different demons, V is able both melee and magic damage. Known as familiars, there are three V commands. Griffon, a birdlike monster that can fly around and shoot out electrical long-range attacks. Shadow is a panther-like and shapeshifts into several different blades, spikes and more. Finally, the familiar Nightmare is autonomous but uses the Devil Trigger bar. While slower than the other familiars, Nightmare is the most powerful and is even ridable by V.
All three familiars are equally satisfying in combat but cannot finish enemies. V needs to avoid damage and teleport to the enemy for the final blow, earning red orbs, and his finishers are some of my favourite of all three characters.
A first for the series, Devil May Cry V introduces multiplayer. The cameo system features either Nero, Dante, or V make a guest appearance in each other’s game. If you’re playing as Nero for example, you’ll come across V dealing with enemies in another section of the same level. You’ll be notified it is another player or their ghost data through the UI and depending on the mission, will fight side by side. At the end of the mission, a prompt appears asking for a rating for the guest player and whether they were “Stylish” when fighting demons.
All of this ties into building your Stylish Rank. The better your combos look and the higher your grade at the end of an encounter, the more Red Orbs you earn at the end of the mission. Another thing to mention, you’ll want to perform your best combos too, because by doing so, you’ll hear Devil May Cry V’s entertaining soundtrack. What I mean is the better your combo, the more the music plays through the background. While minor riffs start at “Crazy,” it isn’t until nailing that “Apocalyptic” Rank that you hear the catch theme, Devil Trigger, for example. It’s a nice touch for those who learn the intricacies of the combat system.
Most importantly, Devil May Cry V proved a consistent 60 frames per second and native 4K on the Xbox One X. This is an extremely fluid and responsive game.
As it were, Devil May Cry V takes place several years after Devil May Cry 4. The enigmatic V enlists help from Dante and Nero after a series of demonic attacks begin around the world. Nero’s gone and opened his own Devil May Cry agency in Fortuna and works with Nico, a mechanic. One day during dinner, a mysterious man appears and severs Nero’s Devil Bringer arm, stealing the Yamato sword together. Leading him to Red Grave City, our devil hunters encounter their strongest opponent yet; a demon by the name of Urizen and the reason for the demon invasion.
For the first time as far I can remember, this is the first game in the series where the story is front and center. Seeing Capcom focus on not only the gameplay but the heart of the series through an impressive story that while still cheesy at times, is pack full of drama, too.
In previous games, Devil May Cry certainly featured a learning curve. In Devil May Cry V, I didn’t feel this was an issue. Thanks in part to the new Gold Orb, which revives your character with full health and full Devil Trigger, I never felt the odds were against me.
Five years after the release of DmC: Devil May Cry, Capcom heard the fans loud and well. In 2013, reactions towards the suggested reboot of such a beloved series clearly didn’t sit well with fans. This wasn’t their Dante, and this wasn’t what they wanted. Myself, I enjoyed the new take Ninja Theory went with and wished for more within that universe. To say reactions weren’t polarizing is an understatement. Sadly, we’ll never see where that story goes but Capcom in recent years has been on an uptick of solid releases.
Smoking Sexy Style!!
Devil May Cry V takes the series to new and exciting places but keeps the thrilling and creative gameplay fans of the franchise love. Nero, Dante, and newcomer V are a blast to play as and the numerous upgrades each character and their individual arsenal is expansive. In what is one of the best-looking video games on console thanks to the wonderful RE Engine, exploring the demonic landscape of Red Grave City is often exciting, weaving hidden secrets through the spoiled urban sprawl. Devil May Cry V proves Capcom understands the power their series holds with their fanbase, and after the DmC debacle understand that what wasn’t broken shouldn’t be fixed.