Devil May Cry 5 is somewhat of a homecoming for the series. After being re-invented by the British developer Ninja Theory in the excellent DmC: Devil May Cry, Capcom's sword-swinging, monster-juggling action game returns to the hands of his Japanese developer. Developed by an internal Capcom team, the fifth entry in the series feels as if they want to be as familiar as new.
That intention is sent home from the beginning. Seconds in my hands-on with the GamesCom demo I noticed that sound effects were immediately pulled out of the first game. If that did not immediately evoke the nostalgia of the PS2 era in the series, the new and improved Nero would certainly have been. Although he returns from Devil May Cry 4, he has released the fear and replaced it with a stingy attitude and a confident swagger. He may look like a new Nero, but he certainly behaves like old school Dante. Since Devil May Cry 3 director Hideaki Itsuno accompanies the project, it is not surprising that there are striking similarities between Nero and the young Dante.
Capcom relies very much on his origins in Devil May Cry 5, takes the familiar and adds a small twist, and this is most noticeable in the combat mechanics. At first glance, it seems like little has changed: you attack with a sword and guns, use evasive rolls and jumps to escape from sticky situations and cut a unique mechanic to create synergy between all these individual components. However, the biggest gameplay shake-up is in that unique mechanic: Devil Breaker. In Devil May Cry 4, Nero's arm – then called Devil Bringer – the glue that held the game together, allowed him to snatch enemies from a distance and drag them to him, or himself anchor and throw over the battlefield. Although Devil Breaker can also be used for that purpose, it can not be trusted indefinitely.
Instead of a weird, demonic arm infused with supernatural power, Devil Breaker is a prosthetic arm, and – for whatever reason – they can be found in the different environments of the game, waiting for Nero to get them off the ground. snatch and attach to his stump. Devil Breakers have unique features, some restore the gripping ability of DMC4, others give Nero the ability to release an explosion of electricity that is deadly up close. They also end up in a strange and strange territory, with a few devil breakers capable of unleashing a barrage of laser beams or launching a rocket in their switched-on state.
Crucially, Devil Breakers are finite, and you will not always have one. They each have a limited mileage and once they bottom out, Nero is left with only one arm to the fight. Devil Breakers can also be detonated manually, creating additional damage and combo potential. For fans of the series and veterans of the genre, the chances offered by this system will undoubtedly be exciting. Capcom has not revealed all types of Devil Breakers that will be in the game, which means that their unique features remain a mystery. If my time with just two of them is an indication, this system will open the door to deep, rewarding, probably very complicated battles – although there is a simplified control scheme for those who want fast things to happen quickly.
My biggest collection point of Devil Breaker, however, was that it adds a new layer of strategy to the experience. Traditionally, Devil May play Cry games about empowering the player by giving them more weapons, swords and other outrageous weapons as they progress; they were about making options, instead of deleting them. By making Devil Breakers a finite, vulnerable source, there is a greater sense of tension at every encounter. That one, uncertain variable means that from one skirmish to the next, important strategic considerations always have to be made. You can not just let the muscle memory take over, as you would do in most of the character action games of this kind.
Together with this new, dynamic fighting system, Capcom has improved the way the game is presented. Devil May Cry 5 immediately feels like a more cinematic experience than its predecessors, with its camera pulled in close to the action and a more realistic visual style for a slightly grounded look. And although this certainly seems to work, Devil May Cry 5 does not shy away from the scandalous, campy moments of the series. In one scene an ambulance falls on Nero, but he is perfectly positioned to wriggle through one of his open doors. It tumbles over the ground and hits a wall; a few seconds later, Nero kicks a door open and runs out casually as if nothing had happened. It is the kind of totally ridiculous, over-the-top cinematic moment that is just as crucial to an authentic Devil May Cry experience as a smooth fight.
Early signals are promising for Devil May Cry 5. The little that we played ran the fine line between bringing new ideas and catering for nostalgia. Although we only experience part of it, it is easy to see the building blocks of a really interesting and diverse fighting system. However, it will be interesting to see how the game tackles storytelling and characterization, which are traditionally the most inconsistent elements of the franchise.
You can watch Devil 5 May gameplay in the video above for 20 minutes. Capcom has confirmed the release date of the Devil May Cry 5 on March 8, 2019 for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Capcom has also released a trailer with more of Dante, who can now transform a motorcycle into a dual-wielded weapon.