The Next Devil May Cry had better rock, baby!
Those of you who get my amazing pun above are no doubt familiar with the Devil May Cry series in one way or another. The reason I’m writing this article is to share my thoughts on the upcoming entry in the series and the legacy the previous games have left behind. Devil May Cry, like most Capcom series, has its ups and downs, but for the first time ever, I am dreading the release of the upcoming entry in the series. From what that reveal trailer showed, as well the developer’s attitude combined with some questionable actions by Capcom, the fate of DMC is not looking good at all.
Right, first thing I want to talk about is the history of DMC. As far I’m concerned, the original DMC was the game that gave birth to modern 3D action gaming. There was simply nothing like it when it launched way back in 2001 and it’s amazing that the game began as the next Resident Evil. The original Devil May Cry is one of the few games that literally changed the medium. Onimusha dipped its foot in the water, but it was the original DMC that took it to the next level. The game was very well received and the expectations for the sequel were immensely high. Now, DMC2 was in every way possible, a legitimate disappointment as a sequel to the original. Everything about it was a step backwards from the original and when a new idea reared its head, it was over shadowed by the mistakes that had been made. Some of the core ideas made their way into DMC3, but they were completely re-visualised and taken to a different level.
DMC3 would be subject to expectations too, but information as to the core mechanics of the game was not plentiful up until its release. It was clear that the dual character approach had been done away with, the level design looked way more in touch with that of the original and the combat seemed to be a similar case. DMC3 was both completely different and exactly the same to the original. The quality of the level design, enemies, weapons and the way all of it fit together was a huge improvement over DMC2. However, this game was widely scrutinised for its ruthless level of difficulty and made it so it couldn’t be enjoyed by everyone. Which is a shame as DMC3 brought the franchise back to where it should be. So once again, attention shifted to the next DMC game, could it retain everything that made DMC3 great and not be excruciatingly difficult. Short answer would be no, the inclusion of a new protagonist and further change of the gameplay mechanics caused a divide among fans. Rightfully so in a lot of ways, mastering DMC3 was an immense challenge, and those that did had a right to feel betrayed by the decisions made in DMC4.
DMC4 simply made the most money out of any DMC game before it, but again, wasn’t considered to be a completely successful sequel by fans, due largely in part to the inclusion of a new main character and Dante not being the focus. Which once again, brought about the anticipation for the next DMC game, could Capcom manage to successfully combine all that is write with DMC1, 2 and 4 and create the perfect DMC game? Or as I would put it, the sequel that the original so rightfully deserves.
So let’s look at what we know about the upcoming DMC title. It’s being developed by Ninja Theory, will most likely run on the Unreal Engine and is another prequel. On paper, that doesn’t sound good, throw in the fact that Capcom (from what I know) are not doing as well as they should be, they intend to market this game to a new audience and are aiming for double the sales of DMC4. Then there was that trailer... I’m not going to get started on that but I’ll just say it has me worried. The DMC fan base has stuck with the series throughout its missteps and it seems very cold for Capcom to chose this new direction and seemingly abandon them. Especially when you consider that all the ingredients for the perfect DMC game already exist in the games they’ve already made, they just need to combine them correctly.
For the record I will say that I think this new DMC game will be a disappointment to the fans. It might make money, get rave reviews and all that jazz. But DMC fans will be let down by it, how can they not be. All information thus far leads to the conclusion that they have no intention of preserving the core aspect of the DMC games, its gameplay. That is what has kept me playing DMC for the past ten years. I do believe Capcom are making a mistake with this game, they are taking drastic action when they really don’t need to. DMC is not a franchise that needs rebooting, it simply needs revising. A move like this really suggests desperation on Capcom’s part and if they aren’t careful, they could very well end up killing one of the greatest game franchises to come along in the past decade.
To get technical for a second, the Unreal Engine is simply not a good choice for an action game. Now before all of you put on your Arkham Asylum hats and yell at me, hear me out. DMC is known for its over the top and insane combo gameplay. It has a level of depth few action games have, a level that doesn’t present itself right away, it has to be discovered. Those that do discover it and learn it reap the rewards. Also, the Unreal Engine is not known for its reliability, something that is absolutely essential in an action game, especially DMC. And lastly, I am not ragging on Ninja Theory at all here, but their track record for action games is not great when considering the action they are handling here. The action is the only thing keeping DMC alive at this point, and if that goes, there will simply be nothing left to salvage.
As always is the case with DMC series, the next game will carry a lot of expectations. However, there are so many unnecessary uncertainties when looking at this game. They are swapping developers, and the one they have chosen is not the best to replicate the DMC formula, they are swapping engines, when they already have a polished and better engine to use and more importantly they are changing something that nobody asked to be changed, the gameplay. I can only hope that this game is the biggest surprise in gaming history, otherwise I cannot see the DMC name recovering again.