Devil May Cry 5 was a very long time coming. Ever since Capcom released Devil May Cry 4 over a decade ago, die-hard fans have been clamouring for a true successor to the series, and not what Ninja Theory had in mind for the reboot - which wasn't all that bad, but didn't capture the spirit of the franchise that well. Along come Microsoft's E3 2018 conference, where game director Hideaki Itsuno took the stage to finally unveil a true sequel, seeing the return of an aging Dante and Vergil's unconfirmed (but totally confirmed) son, Nero. To quench our thirst while we wait for the full package, Capcom graciously released a demo to try out on PlayStation 4 along with Xbox One. And does it live up to the hype?
This is a difficult question to answer, since the demo only really gave us what appears to be the first mission of the game, complete with the tutorial boss fight, Goliath. What immediately caught my eye was the upgraded visuals. Detailing on the landscapes looks astonishing, from the reflections on shiny surfaces to Nero's various snarky facial expressions. There's a clear effort to bump it up significantly in graphical fidelity for the modern consoles. Capcom knocked it out of the park with the look of Resident Evil 2, and it seems like they've done it again here.
In terms of gameplay, Devil May Cry 5 is still very much true to the spirit of the series. At its core, it's a hack and slash with an assortment of flashy moves - one even has Nero gleefully riding around on a rocket - but it feels, for better or worse, how a current-gen DMC game should. The graphics are astonishing, yes, but the gameplay hasn't lost its identity. The realism in character designs and environments doesn't detract from the fact that it's still, at heart, absolutely stylish and bombastic in all the right ways. Nero cracks jokes in between fights, while sarcastically taunting enemies with quippy one-liners that he surely picked up from Dante.
The demo gives us a slice of Nero's gameplay, and his interaction with Nico, the "smithy" that crafts your Devil Breakers. Since it's unexplained who took Nero's Devil Bringer arm (as seen in the reveal trailer), Nero now parades around with a mechanical arm called the Devil Breaker that's capable of various skills and abilities, depending on what Nico has available in her shop - which is actually just her impenetrable van. You can access Nico's shop by finding telephone booths hidden around each level, to which you can call her in.
The Devil Breaker is definitely going to be a huge selling point for how the gameplay evolves, as a lot of these abilities, ranging from flying rocket punches to electrical surges, all differ in their functionality and use. The electrical surge ability, for example, makes quick work of one enemy while chain-linking the electric strike to surrounding foes. Playing around with the varying skills that the Devil Breaker offers will open up plenty of unique builds, but not too in-depth as to take you out of the more simplistic hack and slash formula.
Enemy design is par for the course, with hellish vanguards dressed in black garbs with large scythes roaming the urban streets. The most visually impressive enemy came in the form of Goliath, the first (and probably tutorial-based) boss that you will encounter in the game. He's an enormous brute of an enemy, favouring ground pounds and quick punches with Area of Effect attacks fired off from his belly/mouth. He devours cars around the environment, then turns them into projectiles that he fires at you. He can also pick up rubble from destroyed buildings to throw at you. It's a clever mechanic as it forces players to be weary of his positioning at all times, as a rogue flying piece of rock can hurt if you're not watching his every move. Unfortunately, he's not too challenging of a fight, but since he is just a tutorial boss, I'll give him a pass. The only devastating attack that he has involves a giant tornado that covers a large chunk of the area, so be weary of that.
The demo didn't offer much else after the fight, as it ended there. We did get a chance to experiment with the Devil Breaker, and solve a rather simple gateway "puzzle", but the demo boiled down to just showing off what the final game has to offer - and it seems like it might be something special. I was initially skeptical about the microtransactions that Capcom would be adding to the game, but I never doubted the gameplay, and ultimately this is what fans come to expect from the series.
Devil May Cry 5 is on track to being a stellar game, at least from a gameplay and visual standpoint. It's great to see Nero and Dante back in action, with promises of some surprising twists and turns in the story. Let's hope that the story delivers more Devil May Cry 3, and maybe less Devil May Cry 2. The king of the hack and slash is back, and meaner than ever.
Devil May Cry 5 releases on March 8, 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Writer. Enthusiast of all things geek. Legend has it he completed Final Fantasy VII without a memory card.
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