DmC: concerns from a long-time fan (open letter to Ninja Theory)

Posted by Andyman067 (26 posts) -

The new Devil May Cry game (nicknamed "DmC") has been a point of contention since its announcement. In this post, I will address certain aspects of what we have seen so far from the perspective of a long-time DMC fan. No need for a long introduction. Let's get down to business. If you would like to comment, please do not hesitate. I would love to see every point of view.

First-off, I will not talk about aesthetics of the game in this post. I do not like the art style or character design thus far, but that is largely unimportant compared to gameplay. As the dedicated DMC gamers have generally agreed, if Dante's hair were the only problem, there would be no problem. I will limit this to concerns about the mechanics (as of Gamescom 2011).

1) The Juggles

Across the web, there have been many comments about how the combos "look exactly the same as before". This is simply not true. There are air combos, as we've seen in the Gamescom trailer, but they do not look like combos from DMC 3 and 4. They look easy. Dante stays in the air for upwards of five seconds, with what looks like minimal effort. Of course, I could be wrong. If Maurice or anyone else who saw the gameplay would like to correct me, I would be thrilled.

Another point that has been raised through many game publications such as Destructoid and Gamepro suggest that this game now greatly focuses on aerial combat, and that this deviates from the Devil May Cry's of the past. This is additionally not true - ask any hardcore DMC player what "jump canceling" is and they will show you one of the myriad of gameplay / combo videos online that demonstrate significant hang time by stringing multiple aerial attacks together with Enemy Steps, weapon switching, and Style switching. Please refer to the linked video below for an example.

2) The Frames Per Second

In many types of games, this would be unimportant. However, in DMC, 60 frames are necessary for precise play. Tameem has said that they sacrificed those frames in order for the environment to interact in different ways. We haven't seen these environmental features yet (unless the church falling apart is an example, which would be incredibly disappointing), but they should ideally be game-changing and incredibly fun to utilize, considering the immense sacrifice. What is being sacrificed or hampered is the following, among others:

* The smoothness of being able to perfectly Royal Guard enemy attacks, as the number of frames for a "perfect block" has been cut in half.
* The ability to cancel out of attacks at key opportunities and link into subsequent moves that would be normally not possible without more frames (look up any example of "jump canceled Helm Breaker")


However, the fact that the team decided that environmental changes were a worthy replacement for 60 FPS is a sign that this game is going in the wrong direction. The only way I will be wrong is if the environment adds a new layer of depth to the game. I hope this is the case.


3) The Slow Motion

In DMC, speed is key. The mixture of smooth visuals and crazy combos is what made it what it was. What you need for that is sheer speed. With the large amount of slow-mo in the new installment featured during supposedly "hard hitting" attacks, this speed seems to be completely gone. Before, the camera never zoomed in after a kill, slowing down and patting you on the back like in God of War. It kept the speed high, letting the player continue his combos and decimating the room full of enemies. It seems Ninja Theory has given up on style (indicated also by the style meter only being somewhat there), and resorting to telling the player "good job!" every time he or she does a "powerful attack". The only thing the previous games used was a passive gauge that never interrupted gameplay. Adding to this, the Devil Trigger is now apparently a single-use, which turns into a QTE (another alarming fact), while previously, the Devil Trigger served to recover health, increase speed, increase power, and provide the player with access to additional attacks and abilities.

4) The Controls

a) "Form" Switching

It was revealed that you will control Dante's "angel, devil, and human forms" with the triggers. This is identical to Heavenly Sword, a game that was severely lacking in terms of combat. This is not inherently bad quite yet, but worrying. This, when following up DMC3 and DMC4, which contained 7 and 6 Styles, respectively across all playable characters, represents a significant step back in sheer variability of gameplay.

b) Dial-a-Combo?

In Destructoid's article "Impressions: DmC", there was a tidbit that I would like to discuss (I was lucky to find it again amidst the jabs at people who know more about DMC than Maurice does):

"Some melee combo attacks see Dante shoot out shockwaves that hit multiple enemies that were unfortunate enough to stand in a row."

If this is worded correctly, this means that DmC will have largely canned combos, similar to Ninja Gaiden and God of War. Earlier DMC games did have preset combos, but this appears to be different. I will take a moment to highlight the difference.

In DMC, there are some simple combos built into the weapon (/\ /\ /\ or /\ /\ - pause - /\ on PlayStation), but the majority of combos the player does are self-created. This is because the game gives them a large variety of one-off moves (High Time, Stinger, etc.) that they can chain together as they please.

In Ninja Gaiden or God of War, most of the combos are preset ( [] [] [] /\ for Izuna Drop, as an example). This limits creativity in the player, and makes every combo wholly unimpressive.

This is why there are so many combo videos for DMC*; the game gives you many single moves and says "go for it", instead of many canned combos. My point is, Maurice's description of the combo in DmC indicates that it will be dial-a-combo (maybe [] [] /\ or something, for the shockwave). This doesn't mean that the game won't have individual moves that you can combo from, as that is possible to do. Bayonetta is a good example of a game that has both many preset combos and a swath of individual moves, and that game is also capable of style**.

That's all I can think of at the moment. I will write more... when there is more to write about. There is nothing I would love more than for Ninja Theory to read this, though judging by Tameem's recent comments, that isn't likely to have much effect. There is a way for everyone to win here. The game can keep its aesthetic design if it offers deep and rewarding gameplay - something that was promised by Ninja Theory.

I will reiterate that if anyone would like to correct me on any of my assumptions, they should feel free. I would never be so happy to eat my words.

* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjsuGB3S92Q - An example of a DMC4 combo video. Note that this game should be all this and more, as it is being released many years later and should be evolving. Download the high quality version here (and note the smooth FPS necessary for some of the tricks): http://www.mediafire.com/?qnwqzwmju1w
** http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdQAHbS9c44 - An example of a Bayonetta combo video.

#1 Posted by Andyman067 (26 posts) -

The new Devil May Cry game (nicknamed "DmC") has been a point of contention since its announcement. In this post, I will address certain aspects of what we have seen so far from the perspective of a long-time DMC fan. No need for a long introduction. Let's get down to business. If you would like to comment, please do not hesitate. I would love to see every point of view.

First-off, I will not talk about aesthetics of the game in this post. I do not like the art style or character design thus far, but that is largely unimportant compared to gameplay. As the dedicated DMC gamers have generally agreed, if Dante's hair were the only problem, there would be no problem. I will limit this to concerns about the mechanics (as of Gamescom 2011).

1) The Juggles

Across the web, there have been many comments about how the combos "look exactly the same as before". This is simply not true. There are air combos, as we've seen in the Gamescom trailer, but they do not look like combos from DMC 3 and 4. They look easy. Dante stays in the air for upwards of five seconds, with what looks like minimal effort. Of course, I could be wrong. If Maurice or anyone else who saw the gameplay would like to correct me, I would be thrilled.

Another point that has been raised through many game publications such as Destructoid and Gamepro suggest that this game now greatly focuses on aerial combat, and that this deviates from the Devil May Cry's of the past. This is additionally not true - ask any hardcore DMC player what "jump canceling" is and they will show you one of the myriad of gameplay / combo videos online that demonstrate significant hang time by stringing multiple aerial attacks together with Enemy Steps, weapon switching, and Style switching. Please refer to the linked video below for an example.

2) The Frames Per Second

In many types of games, this would be unimportant. However, in DMC, 60 frames are necessary for precise play. Tameem has said that they sacrificed those frames in order for the environment to interact in different ways. We haven't seen these environmental features yet (unless the church falling apart is an example, which would be incredibly disappointing), but they should ideally be game-changing and incredibly fun to utilize, considering the immense sacrifice. What is being sacrificed or hampered is the following, among others:

* The smoothness of being able to perfectly Royal Guard enemy attacks, as the number of frames for a "perfect block" has been cut in half.
* The ability to cancel out of attacks at key opportunities and link into subsequent moves that would be normally not possible without more frames (look up any example of "jump canceled Helm Breaker")


However, the fact that the team decided that environmental changes were a worthy replacement for 60 FPS is a sign that this game is going in the wrong direction. The only way I will be wrong is if the environment adds a new layer of depth to the game. I hope this is the case.


3) The Slow Motion

In DMC, speed is key. The mixture of smooth visuals and crazy combos is what made it what it was. What you need for that is sheer speed. With the large amount of slow-mo in the new installment featured during supposedly "hard hitting" attacks, this speed seems to be completely gone. Before, the camera never zoomed in after a kill, slowing down and patting you on the back like in God of War. It kept the speed high, letting the player continue his combos and decimating the room full of enemies. It seems Ninja Theory has given up on style (indicated also by the style meter only being somewhat there), and resorting to telling the player "good job!" every time he or she does a "powerful attack". The only thing the previous games used was a passive gauge that never interrupted gameplay. Adding to this, the Devil Trigger is now apparently a single-use, which turns into a QTE (another alarming fact), while previously, the Devil Trigger served to recover health, increase speed, increase power, and provide the player with access to additional attacks and abilities.

4) The Controls

a) "Form" Switching

It was revealed that you will control Dante's "angel, devil, and human forms" with the triggers. This is identical to Heavenly Sword, a game that was severely lacking in terms of combat. This is not inherently bad quite yet, but worrying. This, when following up DMC3 and DMC4, which contained 7 and 6 Styles, respectively across all playable characters, represents a significant step back in sheer variability of gameplay.

b) Dial-a-Combo?

In Destructoid's article "Impressions: DmC", there was a tidbit that I would like to discuss (I was lucky to find it again amidst the jabs at people who know more about DMC than Maurice does):

"Some melee combo attacks see Dante shoot out shockwaves that hit multiple enemies that were unfortunate enough to stand in a row."

If this is worded correctly, this means that DmC will have largely canned combos, similar to Ninja Gaiden and God of War. Earlier DMC games did have preset combos, but this appears to be different. I will take a moment to highlight the difference.

In DMC, there are some simple combos built into the weapon (/\ /\ /\ or /\ /\ - pause - /\ on PlayStation), but the majority of combos the player does are self-created. This is because the game gives them a large variety of one-off moves (High Time, Stinger, etc.) that they can chain together as they please.

In Ninja Gaiden or God of War, most of the combos are preset ( [] [] [] /\ for Izuna Drop, as an example). This limits creativity in the player, and makes every combo wholly unimpressive.

This is why there are so many combo videos for DMC*; the game gives you many single moves and says "go for it", instead of many canned combos. My point is, Maurice's description of the combo in DmC indicates that it will be dial-a-combo (maybe [] [] /\ or something, for the shockwave). This doesn't mean that the game won't have individual moves that you can combo from, as that is possible to do. Bayonetta is a good example of a game that has both many preset combos and a swath of individual moves, and that game is also capable of style**.

That's all I can think of at the moment. I will write more... when there is more to write about. There is nothing I would love more than for Ninja Theory to read this, though judging by Tameem's recent comments, that isn't likely to have much effect. There is a way for everyone to win here. The game can keep its aesthetic design if it offers deep and rewarding gameplay - something that was promised by Ninja Theory.

I will reiterate that if anyone would like to correct me on any of my assumptions, they should feel free. I would never be so happy to eat my words.

* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjsuGB3S92Q - An example of a DMC4 combo video. Note that this game should be all this and more, as it is being released many years later and should be evolving. Download the high quality version here (and note the smooth FPS necessary for some of the tricks): http://www.mediafire.com/?qnwqzwmju1w
** http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdQAHbS9c44 - An example of a Bayonetta combo video.

#2 Posted by The_Laughing_Man (13629 posts) -

Still dont like how much dante looks like the head dev. 

#3 Posted by RandomInternetUser (6789 posts) -
@Andyman067: Agree on every point.  I'm still cautiously optimistic, but I do worry it's going to turn out not-so-good.  I enjoy the Ninja Gaiden (Ninja Gaiden specifically, most games with the dial-a-combo system aren't nearly as fun to me) dial-a-combo system, but that's just not what DMC is.
#4 Posted by nomorehalfmeasuresdoctor (143 posts) -

If you define hardcore by how good one is at the game I am not the best/most hardcore Devil May Cry player as I can't really do with really any proficiency the crazy moves and combos in these videos. However, I enjoy all the games despite my lack of skill with DMC3 being my favourite. With all that being said I liked Heavenly Sword for what it was. A fun action-adventure launch game for the ps3. I did not like the combat in Enslaved, at all. It wasn't exciting nor the least bit fun to control your character as it seemed incredibly stiff and automatic in the worst ways possible. I have no faith in Ninja's Theory's ability to make a DMC game without a ton of help from Capcom. Which begs the question why didn't they just make it themselves? If you don't believe me play Enslaved or watch youtube videos.

#5 Edited by Catolf (2653 posts) -

This dosen't seem like a letter.. I was expecting: "Dear NT blah blah blah..." (not saying this is blah but not what i was expecting to call it an open letter.)

#6 Posted by CheapPoison (743 posts) -

*applause*

I must say this is very well thought out and completely valid.

Not having considered all this.; i am kinda worried.

#7 Posted by Dogma (986 posts) -

I applaud you for your hard work to actually explain what you feel is wrong with the game (what you thinkg will be wrong). I may not agree with you BUT that is because I am not a big DMC fan that loves to create combos and advanced tricks. I have no reallt problem with the new game and the direction it's taking. Based on what you are saying Devil May Cry seems extremely frightening for newcomers. This may be the reason Capcom want to change things, to make it more accessable to draw in a bigger audience. Will they suceed? Who knows but by the way you present Devil May Cry it seems very hard to get into.

I also read a quite interesting preview/interview about the game that I thought I would share. They talk about the framerate for example and they also talk about Capcoms role in development.

http://www.vg247.com/2011/09/13/capcom-the-great-dmc-defense-starts-now/

#8 Posted by Andyman067 (26 posts) -

@Dogma said:

I may not agree with you BUT that is because I am not a big DMC fan that loves to create combos and advanced tricks.

Well, I can understand the game looking very similar if you never became skilled at the games. But there are problems, like I've pointed out, that make it worryingly different.

Based on what you are saying Devil May Cry seems extremely frightening for newcomers.

It's not at all. It takes a long time to become good, but that's exactly how it should be; easy to get into, yet difficult and rewarding to master.

This may be the reason Capcom want to change things, to make it more accessable to draw in a bigger audience.

They can do this easily without compromising the meat of the game. In earlier games you can set it on "easy automatic" and look stylish without putting any effort in. But they should never make the game worse to cater to a larger audience. That is inherently bad.

It should also be noted that as of the TGS trailer released on the 14th of September, some of my assumptions seem to have been proven wrong. The dial-a-combo theory seems to have been squashed and Dante appears to fall from the air much faster than in the Gamescom trailer. Both of those things are good.

#9 Posted by MikeGosot (3227 posts) -

I fuckin' love DMC. I loved the weapons, the styles, and SPECIALLY the level design and style. I do not like the direction they are taking because it simply does not seem fun. I hope i'm wrong.

#10 Posted by Dogma (986 posts) -

@Andyman067: I do agree that to serve the lowest common denominator is a bad thing. You only get quite bad stuff from that. You would think that there could be some middle ground where it both accessable and give room for drastic improvement on those that dedicate time into the game.

To be honest i really dont remember hon easy DMC could be. I allways thought of it as a quite hard game even if you choose normal difficulty. I don't want to play on the stupid easy option like in Bayonetta though where they demand almost no input from you.

#11 Posted by Enigma777 (6084 posts) -

Yo, fuck that game. Dont waste your time.

#12 Edited by Djratchet (669 posts) -

Glad to see an actual intelligent argument that isn't just DANTE LOOKS FUGLY.

I'm hoping this game turns out good. If not in the sense of a good DMC game, hopefully it will just be a good game in general. But I really want to believe that Ninja Theory can give us both.

#13 Posted by CheapPoison (743 posts) -

@Dogma said:

Based on what you are saying Devil May Cry seems extremely frightening for newcomers. This may be the reason Capcom want to change things, to make it more accessable to draw in a bigger audience.

Would be great if it works out. I just have this slight fear. There are quite a few other games kinda similar so i hope they won't lose their niche.

They already ditched the style it seems (hard to know for sure but does seem to go for a radical different tone. So fingers crossed for gameplay.

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