While the DmC Devil May Cry demo I played at PAX contained the same levels as the one I played at E3, it had two new skills unlocked and a number of refinements from the E3 build. My skill had increased quite a bit since my first playthrough too, so here are a few things I noticed this time around.
Pause combos have a couple new tricks:
After the first two hits of any weapon, if you pause, the weapon will shine and the controller will rumble. These two indicators are signs that another press of the main attack button will set you off on your alternate combo. DmC also changes pause combos in one other way: if you switch weapons after the flash, you’ll finish the pause combo with the rest of your newly-switched weapon’s pause combo.
While this doesn’t sound like much, it’s pretty fun to start off a combo on a weakened enemy with two average-strength strikes from Dante’s standard sword, Rebellion, then finish it off with a heavy smash from the demonic axe, Arbiter.
Dante using the angelic scythe, Osiris.
Stinger is performed with a double-tap towards an enemy and an attack:
In my original hands-on piece I talked about how the lack of a lock-on threw me for a loop and kept me away from using the bread and butter of the DMC series. Well, I’ve since figured it out, and it’s double-tapping the stick toward the enemies and triangle. It felt incredibly awkward to me, and I failed the input on more than one occasion. However since it was my first time using this particular input for a stinger-like attack (I would use it in Metal Gear Rising later that day), perhaps it’s something that will get easier with practice.
Speaking of which, Osiris, the scythe, had another rushing attack that involved Dante spinning the scythe around him, and the same input with Arbiter had Dante throw the head of the axe towards an enemy.
Notes on the guns:
The Rainstorm move from Devil May Cry 3 and 4 is back, albeit in a different form. In 3 and 4, Rainstorm was a very quick barrage of bullets straight down performed with a single press of the style button in the air when Dante’s pistols, Ebony and Ivory, and the Gunslinger style were equipped.
DmC’s Rainstorm is performed with Square and X (shoot and jump) at the same time and can be performed either in the air or on the ground. The ground Rainstorm seems to provide more air than Dante’s standard jump, and while both Rainstorms are slower than their classic-series counterparts, they hit a wider range below Dante and can be cancelled out of very easily.
In fact, just about anything would cancel Rainstorm during my hands-on, from a second jump to simply firing the pistols normally.
Random note: a single press of the shoot button fires two bullets, one from Ebony and one from Ivory.
Devil Trigger and Style meter balances:
While in my E3 demo, I had a decent amount of time to play with Devil Trigger as long as I stayed in the air, I used Devil Trigger in the same (prompted) place in my PAX demo and hardly had time to get into the air… in other words, it felt a lot like using a Devil Trigger with few upgrades early on in DMC3 or DMC4. In addition, staying in the air no longer extends the length of the Devil Trigger. While I wish that I could have played with Devil Trigger a bit more in the demo, balance-wise, this is more in line with the classic series.
(I do wish I had a taunt button to fill the DT meter up more quickly, though.)
The style meter has also become a bit more discerning as to what builds your style ranking. After taking note of certain videos on the Internet, I made sure to try out repeating the same moves over and over. It looks like you can’t drop to a lower style ranking due to mere inactivity. Case in point: I managed to maintain an “S” rank even after a brief search for an off-screen enemy that caused the gauge in the corner to empty.
However, you can be knocked down two ranks if you’re hit, and the game is now fussier as to what fills the style meter. While I think the Arbiter gives the style gauge too big a boost (it’s almost a full letter grade on the first hit against the boss), the style gauge is less forgiving of repeated attacks than it was at E3.
Angel and Demon modes mold your mobility:
My previous attempt at the DmC demo was marked by failure and shame. I was taking hits, accidentally rolling across the screen in an attempt to perform Stingers, and generally making a fool of myself. This time around, I had a better grasp on how to properly use the Angel and Demon modes, and I finished the demo stage having only taken one hit.
Basically, instead of simple weapon switches, Angel and Demon modes are kind of playstyle mentalities. For instance, Demon feels very ground based. See an enemy with a shield? One grab with the Demon Pull (square in Demon mode) will stagger them, making them lower their shield. The next will bring them towards you, which allows you to dish out additional punishment. If you’re using Demon mode, chances are, your combat will be pretty grounded.
That’s not to say that the two playstyles are exclusive to ground and air. For example, the Circle button with Arbiter fires a shockwave that can launch enemies, and the Osiris can be pretty handy on the ground. But it definitely feels like the two have their specific uses, too. For instance, press Square with the right timing after you’ve performed an Angel Lift, and you’ll punch your enemy into the air, opening up an opportunity for you to lift yourself into the air and rake any enemies directly below you into the air with Circle.
Finally, something else I noticed is that when you come to grips with how the two grapples maneuver you around a battle, combat gets pretty fun. While the lock-on had me grab the wrong enemy once, the ability to adjust the makeup of the battlefield with the grapples feels like a heightened version of DMC4’s Devil Bringer when you get a handle on it.