Devil May Cry 5 Hands-On: Accessible Yet Deep, and Nero Is Somehow Not Annoying

Day one of Gamescom 2018 and we're already talking about a Game of the Show contender.

From the outside looking in, the Devil May Cry series doesn’t seem easily accessible. I can hardly tell my Nero from my Dante, and what the hell’s going on with the van itself being a sentient character? Devil May Cry 5 at first looked like it would be for “fans of the series” only, for those that already know the characters and the world they inhabit. But playing Devil May Cry 5 at Gamescom 2018, I was pleasantly surprised by how easily accessible the game actually is.

There’s a piece of paper for the control scheme of Devil May Cry 5 next to the demo station, but it’s barely got anything on it. You simply need to know the individual attacks of Nero on the face buttons of your controller, and you’re basically set. There’s your hand cannon, your sword, your Devil Breaker (cool demonic arm thing), and jumping. And that’s it. There’s no complex button layout to remember, and certainly not any crazy combo moves requiring more than two button presses for you to memorize in Devil May Cry 5.

It’s clear that Devil May Cry 5 wants to be as accessible as possible, without sacrificing combat depth. And, although there are precious few attack buttons at your disposal, they all feel excellent to use. The hand cannon can be used to hit enemies from afar, your sword can be used up close and personal, and the Devil Breaker packs one hell of a punch, either as a quick attack or in its charged up, area of effect attack version. No, Nero hasn’t exactly got a massive arsenal of weapons at his disposal in Devil May Cry 5, but each weapon feels heavy and powerful, the hand cannon staggering enemies caught in its blast radius, and demons buckling under the strength of charged Demon Breaker attacks.

Chaining combo attacks together has fortunately been made effortless, so you can do what Nero does best: kill demons. Switching from any of the aforementioned attacks chains them together in one smooth motion. It’s possible to hit home with one relentless attack after another on demonic enemies, without feeling like you’re ever resorting to button mashing. Jumping and weaving your way through demonic crowds feels easy, but that doesn’t necessarily sacrifice the challenge of the game, as I found out when I got pummeled into the ground by the final demonic boss of the demo.

Remember when Scalebound was a thing? Back then, nobody could stand the white-haired protagonist, with his headphones and quick quips and annoying grin. Take one look at Devil May Cry 5’s Nero, and at first you might see worrying similarities. That’s some painfully white hair our young protagonist has got there, and his sassy remarks aren’t much better. But, thankfully, Nero mostly avoids falling into the insufferable young hero role in Devil May Cry 5.

Sure, Nero’s still got the ego of a college quarterback, but he’s not *entirely* irredeemable. Our protagonist gives glimpses of something that he’s hiding behind all the charisma, as he runs through a devastated London, with the ashen figures of men, women, and children surrounding him. I could be entirely wrong, but here’s hoping that Capcom is laying the groundwork for a more down-to-earth hero.

Devil May Cry 5's Nero is actually pretty likeable.

Coming out of the Gamescom demo for Devil May Cry 5, one of my first appointments, I'm confident Capcom's latest will be one of the games of the show. DmC 5 plays like a breeze, chucking you headfirst into the action without having you memorize endless combo moves that you’ll forget 20 minutes later. Each and every weapon on hand for Nero feels unique: the hand cannon, sword, and Demon Breaker can all be used one after the other in quick succession sure, but you’re able to turn to them so easily in the heat of combat that you feel empowered as a demon slayer, like an anime version of the Doom Slayer.

Devil May Cry 5 is set to release near the beginning of 2019, and last we heard, the game was roughly 75% complete. If everything holds together from what I’ve played so far at Gamescom 2019, it’s certainly shaping up to be one of the more remarkable games of a stacked first quarter in 2019. For more info, head over to our Devil May Cry 5 Guide.

Tagged with Analyses, Capcom, gamescom 2018.

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