I just beat Devil May Cry 5 and it's a mixed bag

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Humanity

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Edited By Humanity

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Devil Is in the Details

I've just finished this game after weeks of struggling with it and after having gotten to the end and dabbled with some of the post game stuff I'm really mixed on the whole affair. To clarify, by struggle, I mean forcing myself to actually sit down and play it. Of course there were also challenging sections in the game, but something about it just failed to grab me. On the surface DMC5 is exactly what I should want. As a fan of character action games it delivers butter smooth performance (on the XB1X) great visuals and an incredibly deep combat system. On the surface.. this seems like all you would want. Well, not exactly. More than ever I am now convinced the Devil May Cry series is basically a fighting game in disguise, and I'm terrible at fighting games. While character designs are great and some of the special effects are incredibly flashy, DMC5 struggles with it's levels. For hardcore fans this is not a thing at all. Because all you really want are fight arenas right? Much like a fighting game, the backdrop is not as important as the fight in the foreground and DMC5 takes this to heart. After about the midpoint I'd say they stop even pretending to design the levels - everything is a weirdly drab demon world with the same texture and minimal creativity. I'm not that hardcore, and I actually do appreciate and to some degree need actual level design. Something to keep you stimulated between the fights. Even DMC4 which was half a game and a convoluted mess of styles maintained some sort of aesthetic.. kinda.. There were castles, weird labs, a cowboy town? The levels changed, even if it was for only half the game. DMC5 is a bit of a drab city and then demon world. It is absolutely boring.

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Likewise I've never been able to fully get onboard with the DMC combat mechanics. Much like a Street Fighter, there are plenty of hidden techniques passed on from game to game that are generally not explained and weirdly enough, to a large degree expected of the player. Air juggling through jump cancels as the most basic example, or the fact that jumping up is a safer and preferred alternative to the built in dodge. I've never enjoyed the directional inputs much either. When the camera spins in a strange direction it's oftentimes hard to gauge which way is "back" to do your ground slam attack. For all the depth, and there is plenty, Dante is just a mess to play. Of course I've watched plenty of jaw-dropping videos of people seamlessly switching between all of his weapons and styles while not getting hit once and maintaining a triple SSS rank. I'm not sure what it takes to get to that level but after 20 "missions" of DMC5 I weirdly enough felt just as confused and unsure of how to actually approach combat encounters as I was when starting the game. I knew the moves, but the rules escape me. I can't seem to get a handle on how enemies will behave or how to properly break their armor.. Let me just say that Bayonetta is probably my favorite character action game and while I was never an absolute pro at it, I did feel competent and in control by the end of the game. I have rarely felt this way in DMC5 because I just can't grasp the systems for whatever reason and the game offers only surface level instructions on how to play it. I could dig through tons and tons of user tutorials on YouTube but that can't be the expectation?

Hardcore fans hate DmC and I get it. Ninja Theory did a great job of taking a franchise and modernizing it with a twist. DmC had an interesting take on a new story about the brothers, amazing level designs and a competent combat system. Tone differences aside, fans of Devil May Cry didn't really want or need those first two things. They are just getting in the way of the combat, which did not feature enough cancels and tricks to dig your teeth into. It was just a solid combat system that was fairly easy to get your head around, but it was the Mortal Kombat to a seasoned Street Fighter player.

People loved DMC5. Fans were greatly pleased with the return to form for the franchise. You had Dante! He had 4 different styles with a modifier for every weapon he got and there were a bunch of them.. and I'm happy for them. For me it felt like a very old game, with a very modern coat of paint. A lot of the menus, the way you checkpoint, the boss fights and level design were things from a decade ago and they didn't evolve one bit. The fighting is as good as ever if you liked the way it worked before, but everything around it is so incredibly boring and I found it hard to get engaged on any level. This incredibly bombastic game with some hilarious and amazingly choreographed cutscenes was so lackluster when you actually got to the gameplay. The V levels did not help things either as you stand and dodge attacks and hope your pets fight the right enemies while jamming on 4 buttons at the same time. I dunno, more than anything I continue to be perplexed by the franchise. I've never come across any other series that I wanted to like so much but I just didn't get it. I remember struggling with the combat in DMC4, coming back to it years later with DMC4:SE and now DMC5, and I still feel just as confused as to how you are actually supposed to dodge attacks or tackle bosses. It's a series that has made me question whether I even like the genre in the first place.

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chaser324

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#1 chaser324  Moderator

I was largely in the same boat.

I think it really would be a better game if it had just focused on playing as either Dante or Nero. I never felt like I got into a good rhythm due to the character switching, and the detached nature of V's combat always felt bad.

The level design is also extremely lackluster, especially in the later portions where it's really nothing more than just a series of nearly identical combat arenas.

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Fobwashed

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This pretty accurately mirrors my thoughts. I thought the best thing about this game was it's stylish cutscenes. The action sequences especially were really fun to watch because of how ridiculous they were. The game itself got less and less interesting the further in I got so it started high and just sorta ran outta gas near the end. I distinctly remember thinking about half-way through "this game seems pretty good but I really hope it doesn't make my top 10 because if it does, this'll be a disappointing year."

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FLStyle

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GOTY as far as I'm concerned.

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Rejizzle

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Nailed it. In pretty much every DMC game I just see the story mode as a necessary chore to unlock the Bloody Palace, which does away with all that story and light puzzle solving nonsense.

DMC (the Ninja Theory game) was the only one where I genuinely enjoyed the story. And even then I played through it twice (including the ps4 rerelease) I still spent the majority of my time in the Bloody Palace.

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Relkin

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I've yet to play it, but it sounds like we've had pretty similar experiences with the franchise (Bayonetta as well), so maybe I'll remove this one from my backlog. Thanks for the read.

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FacelessVixen

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Well, I disagree, but I respect your opinion.

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csl316

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As a huge fan of most of the games, I really liked DMC 5 but felt like something was missing. Namely, more varied environments and a sensicle ending.

I played 4 and Ninja Theory's earlier this year, and realized how great yet flawed both were (although the Definitive Edition of NT's game solved just about all of my issues with the initial release).

DMC 5 continues that trend, great but flawed. I will say that the combat is probably the best the series has seen. Nero had a fun moveset, Dante was daunting but I loved how powerful he felt, and V was fun to mess with despite me still not understanding his design fully after 2 playthroughs (although I'd still end up with SSS ranks consistently on accident). It was nice to see a character select screen that made me choose who I liked more, not who I wanted to avoid.

It really might just come down to repetitive environments, some uneven pacing, and the trailers giving up too much. I didn't get too far in my Dante Must Die playthrough, but Son of Sparda already had me digging deeper into the mechanics and I loved what was there. The initial playthrough felt easy but it was fun to get taken for a ride (although harder difficulties exposed how I barely scratched the surface of the mechanics the first time around).

As a fan of the series since the original, I think they did a hell of a job. After returning for a "proper" sequel after so long, I hope they can improve even more next time around.

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glots

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Yup. I was already expecting to not care much about the story, because I’ve only ever played the first game and some of two, plus DmC, but I figured the gameplay would be enough.

...but nope, it wasn’t. None of the characters did much for me, the story wasn’t interesting and the level design was the blandest I’ve seen in long while, which was maybe the biggest reason for why I didn’t even finish the game.

Let’s talk again when Ninja Theory makes a sequel (so never, sadly).

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I enjoyed the game a lot but agree with most of your complaints, it's one of the reasons I still think Bayonetta 2 is the best character action game despite (or maybe because of) it's lower skill ceiling.

One thing I will say about DmC though is I hate how specific enemies can only take damage from specific weapons. The tone didnt bother me much but that shit really got on my nerves. Heavenly Sword also had that problem. (among many others)

(Also, that teleporting dual blade fucker from DmC turned into a lizard and made it into DMC 5 for some odd reason)

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mylifeforAiur

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Dante combos were easy enough for me: basically attack switch attack switch attack switch. And throw in a ranged attack here and there. Now Nero gameplay, I couldn't play that motherfucker at all. You can spam with Dante pretty easily, but Nero actually requires you to better handle the arm-weapon mechanics, which I never got comfortable with. I wish Nero always had a default arm weapon, because without one you feel seriously gimped. Also, Nero's dodge is really awkward, but Dante has a dedicated dodge ability--so fuck Nero.

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#11  Edited By nutter

I remember a lot of hype for this one.

Started it on Gamepass earlier this week. So far, it feels like they’d have been better off with DmC2, frankly.

For the record, DmC was the only Devil May Cry game I really enjoyed. Part of it is that Ninja Theory seemed to tone it down a bit AND the game seemed to wink at how dumb it was.

The title sequence in this game...someone thinks this shit is really cool...for some reason.

I think the franchise needed a reboot and a change in direction. The whole thing just ages poorly. I thought DmC stayed true enough to Devil May Cry without being so aggressively dumb as the main series.

But hey! We’re back and just as stupid as ever! Eh...

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BoOzak

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@nutter: Not to turn this into a DMC vs DmC coversation (we've had enough of those on this site, and I like both, for the record) but when did DmC ever wink or acknowledge how dumb any of it was? I remember them poking fun at old Dante and that's about it. The boss banter was dumb sure, but it always tried to portray Dante as if he were the coolest thing in exsistance. Even (or especially) down to the end credits.

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#13  Edited By nutter

@boozak: I thought the type of stupid it was going for seemed a bit more wink-wink.

It’s just how I perceived it.

The opening cut scene in DmC felt knowingly dumb. Maybe it’s just me. The opening cutscene in DMC5 felt more like someone genuinely thought this was really cool. That doesn’t work well when the player (me, in this case) is just kinda shaking their head at the scene.

I’m trying to give the game a fair shake, but the early going feels like a Devil May Cry-ass Devil May Cry. I think this style has aged VERY poorly. Especially some of the music and humor.

EDIT: This is all SUPER subjective stuff. I can get down with some stupid (the first Army of Two, Azur/ Wraith, 50 Cent: Blood in the Sand), but traditional DMC...it’s all a bit edge-lord to me.

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It’s a good game and great in some aspects but yeah I just didn’t enjoy it as much as 3.

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I know this is an unpopular opinion but that DMC reboot form a few years ago I though was some of the most fun I had in a DMC game. It was silly, stupid and so over the top it was just silly mindless fun. It just felt like a breath of fresh air for the franchise as so many of the games were so much the same. I didn't even bother with this one as it looked like every other DMC game.

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BoOzak

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@mrgreenman: It's not really an unpopular opinion around these parts, regular DMC fans seem to be the minority here.

@nutter said:

@boozak: I thought the type of stupid it was going for seemed a bit more wink-wink.

It’s just how I perceived it.

The opening cut scene in DmC felt knowingly dumb. Maybe it’s just me. The opening cutscene in DMC5 felt more like someone genuinely thought this was really cool. That doesn’t work well when the player (me, in this case) is just kinda shaking their head at the scene.

I’m trying to give the game a fair shake, but the early going feels like a Devil May Cry-ass Devil May Cry. I think this style has aged VERY poorly. Especially some of the music and humor.

EDIT: This is all SUPER subjective stuff. I can get down with some stupid (the first Army of Two, Azur/ Wraith, 50 Cent: Blood in the Sand), but traditional DMC...it’s all a bit edge-lord to me.

That's fine, I was just curious what DmC did that felt self-aware as I seem to have the opposite opinion of yours but as you say it's subjective. It seems the specific kind of nonsense that rubs people the wrong with DMC is anime nonsense, which at times is very angsty but I also felt that way (more so) with DmC.

Regardless of tone though, love or hate the DMC formula, the reason the latest game resonated with so many people is because these types of games arent being made much these days, even Platinum seem be drifting away from this style of pure action game in favour of lite RPG games and most companies who used to make these games are making souls style action RPGs. So it was reasuring to see one as polished as DMC 5 come out.

Thats kind of been the Capcom story as of late, not trying to reinvent everything and alienating their core fan base like they did last generation. It sucks for DmC fans but Ninja Theory are still around and they have Microsoft money now so they are in a better position than ever to make something great. To be honest I doubt they even want to continue making games that they dont have complete creative control over. (who's to say they'll get it with Microsoft, but I hope so)

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nutter

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@boozak: I think Ninja Theory is making some PvP hero shooter that I have zero interest in.

I love Overwatch, but to get me into PvP these days takes some magic.

Frankly, there are too many games and too little time, so if I never see another DmC or I’m not into the new Ninja Theory game, I always have a massive backlog of stuff to pick through.

I’m genuinely happy someone like Ninja Theory is making something potentially so different from their past several games, even if it doesn’t appeal to me.

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Humanity

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Thanks for all the replies everyone, it is comforting to hear people have similar experiences.

To be clear, I'm not trying to invalidate DMC5 or anyones enjoyment of it. Considering the super positive response it would be crazy to try to somehow argue that it's a bad game and those who enjoy it are wrong somehow. The whole blog is kind of my meditation on this inability to get with this franchise despite giving it so many chances.

The comparison to fighting games stems from a very similar situation where I had tried to learn to play Street Fighter in the past. For a long time I observed matches of SF4 on YouTube and was really enamored by it all. Specifically I watched Gootecks and Mike Ross on their weekly Cross Counter TV show where they sat down and basically played the game online, switching off the stick between fights. They were both very good players who participated in tournaments at the time so they knew all the characters. It was mesmerizing to watch as they picked any character and actively analyzed their enemies, adapting their techniques to come out on top. This made me want to play the game, but the problem was that I have always been and continue to this day to be trash at fighting games. Something in my head is not wired for it. I made the most honest effort I could. I bought a low quality stick to get me started. I went on the Shoryuken website and looked up combos. I sat down in the practice room and drilled down the basics, links, basic transitions, basic combos.

Nothing.

Nothing absolutely worked. I just wasn't getting it. I knew I had to punch low and then do a quarter circle forward into a medium kick but the thing that was supposed to happen wasn't happening - and the game wasn't really telling me why. Was I too early with the press? Did my stick input register incorrectly? There are some tell-tales like if you hit too early they block and if you hit too late something else happens but it wasn't enough. After weeks of sitting there and not getting anywhere or entering matches online and just panicking and forgetting even the basics or how to throw out a fireball I finally called it quits.

In a very real way this resembled my time with the original DMC games. After Bayonetta I went to DMC4 and tried to love it. I remember trying really hard. Did the whole routine of looking up the combos and something about it all evaded me. DMC4 was also a lot more punishing with it's frame inputs. Max Exceed was notoriously difficult to pull off even for seasoned players and some of the Buster Arm counters also required split second timing. I didn't like the camera, the directional inputs made me fumble with execution in tense situations and I just couldn't get it. Nero was difficult enough but Dante was just Mount Everest. I did beat the game, even despite the brutal (for an inexperienced player) boss rush near the end, but I never felt satisfaction or elation at doing so. If anything I felt relief of being done with it.

DMC5 was a lot better and thats a testament to it's fighting system. By the end of the game I actually started to prefer Dante over Nero because of the options he presented me in every combat encounter. Still, even after 12-15 hours of the single player campaign the best I can say is that I learned how to cheese some enemies rather than stylishly stomp all over them. It's been a strange journey for me to want to like and understand DMC and I don't know when I'll call it quits. When the next game in the series comes out I will probably play it. I even had a bit more fun and luck with S ranks in the bloody palace, probably because it's just such a pure setting for combat. That said I went back to the very first Nero level where you fight a blood sack with tentacles... and after all this newly gained experienced I still had a hard time figuring out how to dodge out of the way when I've inadvertently gotten stuck in a mid-air combo? At the end of the level I got an S which I felt was entirely unearned and once more I asked myself "what am I doing wrong?" This is something that I never really felt when playing Bayonetta or the new DmC game, where at all times I knew why I got hit or what I could have done to avoid an attack. It is a clarity I would like to one day experience in DMC proper.

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Karmosin

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DMC5 is my GoTY so far, and it cause it goes back to what made me love the franchise to begin with: The way the combat feels. Now I love Bayonetta, but I will say that the kind of flowy battle system that it has, and so many has started to adopt, DmC included, never was as fun to me as that of DMC3 and 4. The way I feel, is that flow in DMC kinda has to be achieved by the player rather than given to them on a platter. Actions have to be made with intention. While in Bayonetta I mostly mash out different combos without really thinking about what I was doing, since jumping around between enemies is rather unforgiving, in DMC5 I put more thought into how my combo is going to displace the enemy in relation to myself and the others.

I guess I just feel that when you pull off something cool in DMC, it feels better.

And trust me, I'm not a pro player or anything, but I still vastly prefer what DMC gives me. And while I thought DmC was alright, despite horrible bosses and the colour-system, it was always sad to me before that that was what the series was gonna be from then on (Which turned out to not be the case). Not only that, but that it was steeped in the kind of self-serious and angsty aesthetic which permeated through that game was not really something I enjoyed.

I'm not sure I get the whole dodging thing though. The side-roll and jumps are more than servicable maneuvers for that end.

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#20 Teddie  Online

It's the only action game that's ever clicked with me, and I had an absolute blast with it. I agree with most of your points.

If this whole game was just post-game Nero I would have had way more fun with it. Dante is too much for me to keep track of and remember (speaking of fighting games...), V was way too easy to use without me ever understanding how to use him (I made it to the last level of Bloody Palace with him on my first try and still didn't feel like I could get out the moves I wanted). I remember a lot of people disliking Nero for being too limited/simple, but that's exactly why I could wrap my head around him and feel like I was properly in control by the end of the game.

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mcbisquick

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I fall into the hardcore fan camp, because DMC5 was exactly the game I wanted from Capcom for many years. Concluding a story I've been invested in since 3, perfecting a combat system that I think is the best in all of action games while providing new features with it. 5 is now my favorite game in one of my favorite series (and easily my GOTY so far).

But I totally get why its take on action isn't necessarily for everyone. While I think it's more approachable than fighting games by and large, I can see where you're coming from in that classic Devil May Cry has always been about throwing yourself into a sort of grind. The emphasis on its grading system and increasing difficulty options is all about mastering its combat. It's why the level design might not impress you, because the series always prioritized the structure of enemy waves in terms of numbers and variety.

But that mastery is a lot of where the satisfaction comes from for me, and I feel like Ninja Theory never had a firm grip on that in their game.

DmC's "simon says" color coded stuff was an arbitrary limiter to your options in a fight, whereas classic DMC leaned harder into the "Here's an ever expanding arsenal of weapons and abilities, so experiment" approach. Maybe that means your first playthrough isn't the smoothest, because you're still figuring stuff out. But it also makes the game more rewarding to me because I've been playing it off and on since it came out throughout the year, and I feel like I'm learning something new every time I boot the game up. It's a cool feeling, but does require some dedication that maybe other action games don't demand as much of.

DmC played alright in its own respect. There were cool moments to be had. But it's super easy compared to the classic series, and I never felt compelled to go back to it and actually get better like I did with DMC 3, 4, and now 5.

I also hated the writing in that game a lot. Like, a lot. But that's not really worth ranting about at this point.

Sorry for the long two cents here. I just love DMC 5 and I love talking about it. Like I said, I think you do have a point in so much that DMC 5's most rewarding aspect will come to the people willing to dive into it over and over. To see how weapons and abilities can combo effectively, to go for better grades on higher difficulties. Other character action games mostly aren't trying to do what DMC does, but for me that's probably why I missed it so much over the years.

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TechnoSyndrome

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@teddie said:

It's the only action game that's ever clicked with me, and I had an absolute blast with it. I agree with most of your points.

If this whole game was just post-game Nero I would have had way more fun with it. Dante is too much for me to keep track of and remember (speaking of fighting games...), V was way too easy to use without me ever understanding how to use him (I made it to the last level of Bloody Palace with him on my first try and still didn't feel like I could get out the moves I wanted). I remember a lot of people disliking Nero for being too limited/simple, but that's exactly why I could wrap my head around him and feel like I was properly in control by the end of the game.

You could always remove Dante's weapons until you get to a number you can wrap your head around. I know a lot of people who just used two melee and two guns like DMC3, or you can even just use one weapon if you wanted. I roll with all four of each nowadays but there was a learning curve where I had to just stick with three of each until I got all of those under control.