Casually walking up to a group of enemies, as if they were kids he’s about to bully on the playground, Nero playfully counts the demons before readying his robotic arm for combat. With a few swift melee slices with his Red Queen sword and a couple shots with his Blue Rose double-barreled revolver, the enemies fall to the wayside.
It was a stunning visual that looked, and felt, absolutely amazing. Perfectly summing up how Dante, Nero, and demons of all types were returning to form in “Devil May Cry 5.” It’s been 10 years since the demon hunters took center stage in the last numbered game in the series and Capcom aims to make up for lost time when it hits in March 2019.
“We’re trying to use the jump in technology that has happened over the last 10 years, with the change from the Xbox 360 and PS3 to the current generation of consoles, to make sure the action still feels good, still feels responsive,” game director Hideaki Itsuno tells Variety. “It’s going to have photo-realistic visuals and we’ve put in extra work into making that mesh well with the animations, to make it still feel like ‘Devil May Cry.’”
When Itsuno first spoke with his boss at Capcom about making the newest entry in the classic series he was told that it would have given off an amazing first impression to prove it was valuable after all this time. While much of the classic formula that makes the series tick still remains, changes to the combat, visuals, soundtrack, story, and cast have all made “Devil May Cry 5” a huge improvement over the previous installments, a feat that Itsuno thinks is more than valuable enough.
He made it clear that even with all these improvements, they were doing everything in their power to make sure the style and humor of the series stays intact.
“Making the visuals photo realistic lets us do things we were never able to do before. The voice acting, the facial expressions, are all that much deeper,” Itsuno said. “It really brings out that humor, those performances. We’re known for those one-liners and to get the little quirks in his face so right really brings it to the point where you can play the game without sound and you could still see what the characters are feeling.”
The newest game in the series is a direct sequel to “Devil May Cry 4,” although Itsuno wasn’t clear about how much time had passed between games. It has three playable characters in Nero, Dante, and an unknown third player that’s yet to be revealed. We do know that Nero has started his own demon hunting agency that he runs out of a van given to him by Dante. He’s also replaced his stolen Devil Bringer arm with different robotic attachments after it was taken by a mysterious figure in the last game.
Those new robotic arms, known as Devil Breakers, give Nero new abilities including a way to freeze enemies in place and pull them towards him with a grappling hook-like device. They are only temporary though, making them more similar to ammo than a mainstay weapon since they can be destroyed if Nero’s combo gets interrupted or if he uses their special ability.
Devil Breakers are as easy to find lying around levels as they are to break too, adding a new layer to the combat as different arms bring different vibes to the fight. The final game will have eight types of the prosthetic, each giving Nero a new type of attack. For example, the blue arm gives him a thrusting electrical attack.
Outside the new arms, combat felt familiar. The upgraded visuals made gunshots pop and the games new dynamic soundtrack, one that changes based on how you perform, added to the intensity. “We’ve been trying to do something like this since “Devil May Cry 3,” and we’ve experimented with it in every game since,” Itsuno said. “Like making the music go faster as the style meter went up.”
The dynamic soundtrack is one of the biggest changes to the series that takes the stylish action to a whole new level. As you build up combos and fill your style meter up the music will get more intense, leading up to a special song that’s specific to each character. “It’s something that Capcom has done a lot,” Itsuno added. “Like in ‘Street Fighter 2,’ the song would get incredibly intense once one of the players’ health got to a critical level.”
Itsuno even admitted that some boss fights will have the soundtrack play out different mechanically, but declined to get specific. He also stressed that the games auto assist would make it accessible to all players so that no one would miss out on the cool moments brought on by the combination of incredible visuals and epic music.
The dynamic soundtrack, new photorealistic visuals, and prosthetic arms that add variety to the combat all point back to the core idea of “Devil May Cry.” “It’s all about playing stylishly,” Itsuno grinned. “All these elements go back to the same thing, the music, the auto assist, everything goes back to that.”