Dante has always been a charmer, but there’s something especially cool about how the seasoned hero appears in Devil May Cry 5.
“Don’t send a boy to do a man’s job,” he quips to DMC newcomer V at one point – and there’s something knowingly earned about that swagger. It almost feels self-aware, like he knows he’s been away for too long and is about to be welcomed back by his adoring fans. He wears that slightly rubbish, fluffy facial hair in the way only a man who knows he’s already god damn cool can.
After a decent full-level hands-on with an upgraded Dante in Devil May Cry 5, we’re proud to report that he is absolutely the real deal. Devil May Cry 5 is built for the fans, its developers say, but Dante is the member of the cast who is clearly most prominently made for those with an existing love for the series.
As such, he’s more immediately complex, with the ability to switch between a slate of melee and ranged weapons on the fly allowing players in the know to create more custom combos quickly. Beyond the weapon options there’s also styles to switch between, and these choices interlace brilliantly and in a way that’ll be familiar to long-standing fans and fun for newcomers to experiment with.
Nero essentially has three options – melee, ranged and his arm. Within these three options there’s a lot of finesse, of course, and therein lies Nero’s hidden depth – but with Dante, the depth of combat is much more overt right from the off.
Dante has the same basic options in a sense, but then has further choices within those categories. Take melee for instance; in this demo he had access to boots for rapid kicking attacks, a sword for a more balanced approach and my personal favourite – a giant motorcycle that Dante rips in two, using each wheel like a chainsaw to grind enemies to dust.
Needless to say it feels bloody good in action. The camera perhaps relies on lock-on to keep up with the hectic movement a little too much just as it did for this Dante back in the day, but in pretty much every other respect Devil May Cry 5’s combat feels like a roaring success.
The concept of ‘game feel’ is a nebulous one and difficult to put into words, but let me put it like this: when you get up to speed and hit a rhythm, Devil May Cry’s combat feels bloody amazing. It looks just as good to match, too.
There’s no pun intended when I echo Kirk’s previous DMC5 hands-on and say the devil is is in the details – the game needs to run smoothly, look good and feel stylish – and it carries those burdens seemingly effortlessly. The pumping soundtrack that ramps up and layers in more instrumentation the better you’re playing is what ties it all together, the final touch that pulls you into that utterly glorious trance-like state of demon-smashing combos.
Probably one of the things that’s impressed me most about my time with Devil May Cry 5 thus far is just how different each member of its cast feels once you finally hop into their stylish boots. Dante doesn’t just have different weapon options – there’s a completely different weight and speed to his movement, and that clearly means players will eventually develop favourites to play as.
In an interview that you’ll be able to read in full here on VG247 next week, Devil May Cry 5 director Hideaki Itsuno and Producer Matt Walker explained that the game plans to lean in to those character distinctions in mission design. Some missions will be built with specific characters in mind, while others will let you choose exactly who to tackle it with. Sometimes you’ll be choosing between two of the protagonists – other times, all three.
Speaking of that third playable character – while Dante and Nero already feel more than different enough for the reasons noted above, that appears to merely be the tip of the iceberg. In that same interview Itsuno and Walker told me that new boy V will play in a manner quite unlike any other character in the DMC series – something which makes sense given that he appeared weak and even needed a cane to walk in the story sequences of the Dante demo.
That meek appearance has me wondering if he could be a spell-slinger or something, but regardless of what it ends up being a third unique play-style is an exciting and intriguing extra – especially given how bloody cool Dante feels in this new iteration of the series.
Dante may have been away, but it’s been worth it. His little alternate-universe detour in DmC was well worth the price of entry anyway, but after this hands-on it’s clear that the ‘real’ Dante has benefited from the sabbatical and the lessons learned from DmC just as much. He’ll be back on the scene more permanently when Devil May Cry 5 launches for Xbox One, PS4 and PC (with newly confirmed system requirements) in March.