The next gen version of Capcom’s stylish action game adds Vergil, ray-tracing, and new game modes for a surprisingly reasonable price.
By the end of the Xbox 360 generation the Japanese games industry had been made almost irrelevant, as companies failed to adapt to new technology and trends and even Sony struggled to assert their dominance. Things have gone much better recently though, from the increasing influence of previously minor players like FromSoftware to the resurgence of old masters such as Capcom. The latter has already announced two new games in Resident Evil Village and the mysterious Pragmata but their first next gen release is the definitive version of Devil May Cry 5.
Like most Japanese publishers, Capcom spent most of the Xbox 360 era trying to mimic Western companies, often employing third-rate Western developers to make their games for them – rather than relying on their own much more experienced teams. They regained their confidence not just by moving production back to Japan but by rejuvenating dormant or failing franchises such as Resident Evil, Monster Hunter, and… Devil May Cry.
Once one of their most popular franchises, the original Devil May Cry pioneered the modern style of third person action game more recently championed by Bayonetta (PlatinumGames’ Hideki Kamiya created both franchises). There’s never been many other games like them though – and certainly no others as good – so it was a particular relief that Devil May Cry 5 was both an excellent game and a financial success.
Ever since Devil May Cry 3 there’s been a tradition of special editions being released a year or so after the initial launch, and they’ve always tended to do the same thing: make Dante’s brother Vergil a playable character and add extra features such as survival mode Bloody Palace and an even higher level of difficulty. That would have been perfectly welcome for Devil May Cry 5 even without the next gen, but since this is a launch title on both new consoles Capcom has also taken the chance to get in some practice with next gen effects like ray-tracing.
We’ve been more impressed than we expected with ray-tracing so far, especially amongst the shinning skyscrapers of Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and while the effect is not so obviously front and centre in Devil May Cry 5 it’s great for puddles and reflections, as well as dynamic shadows that suggest Resident Evil is going to have a field day with the technology. Although admittedly this doesn’t quite compensate for how uninteractive the backgrounds are, with only a very limited amount of destructibility.
Loading times are obviously very much faster than before (although that’s true with backwards compatibility as well) and you have essentially three graphical options: native 4K resolution at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps, or no-ray-tracing and 120fps. We found the 60fps option to be the best compromise between performance and visuals, but, as long as you have the right kind of TV, the choice is up to you.
When it comes to Vergil, you get to play essentially the whole main campaign from his perspective, including new cut scenes and story elements to flesh things out. Something which will particularly appeal to those that resented being forced to constantly change characters in the original version.
Playing as Vergil is not something the game expects a new player to be doing (for the current gen versions he’ll be released as paid-for DLC later in the year) as he’s considerably more difficult to use than the other characters. His dodges and blocks have much less margin for error and he can’t double jump, while the power of his attacks are dependent on a concentration gauge – which increases as you stand still or walk slowly but drops the more you’re damaged.
Start doing badly and it’s very hard to make a comeback because your level of concentration will be rock bottom. But that creates a very old school Japanese arcade feel to the action, like when you’d die in R-Type and suddenly all your power-ups are gone and you’re all but powerless.
Vergil is far from that though and is able to instantly switch between using his sword, gauntlets, and long-range Mirage Edge attacks. Meanwhile, his Devil Trigger move creates a clone ally that uses a sword, while his demonic form regenerates health and has the ability to use all of of V’s summonses.
You’ll need a lot of practice before you can get confident with him but it’s a rewarding moveset that also neatly reflects Vergil’s arrogant personality.
The other additions include survival mode Bloody Palace, which has been a part of the series almost since the beginning and while a test of patience as much of endurance, once you get near the end, is now a non-negotiable inclusion as far as most fans are concerned.
Other traditional additions include Turbo mode, where the whole game runs 20% faster, and Legendary Dark Knight mode which drastically increases the number of enemies on screen at once. This is implied to only be possible on the next gen formats, which we can well believe when you’re being accosted by dozens of highly detailed monsters.
Although the special edition is also being released on Xbox Series X/S the PlayStation 5 version does take advantage of the DualSense controller, including the obvious gimmick of when you start up Nero’s sword there’s some resistance to the triggers – to make it feel even more like you’re revving the throttle on a motorbike.
With a sensible mid-range price tag Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition is an easy game to recommend, whether you’ve played the original version or not. Some might complain that other last gen games have offered their upgrades for free, but the amount of effort involved in inserting Vergil into the game negates that criticism. We’re now more hyped than ever to see what Devil May Cry 6 might look like on the next gen and that’s precisely because this special edition is so good.
Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition PS5 review summary
In Short: It might not change anything fundamental, but this special edition not only looks and plays better but has an impressive amount of new content too.
Pros: Vergil is great and doesn’t feel shoehorned in at all. Ray-tracing works well and the new performance options are very welcome, as are the new game modes. Core game is still great.
Cons: The camera and lock-on are still a bit too fussy and the non-interactive backdrops seem even more sterile with the improvement in graphics.
Formats: PlayStation 5 (reviewed) and Xbox Series X/S
Release Date: 10th November 2020 (Xbox) and 12th November 2020 (PS5)
Age Rating: 18
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