DmC Devil May Cry feels like a rather different affair from the Devil May Cry you’re used to, when you first start playing it. There’s no lock on, no Taunt button (at least in the demo), and (like Marvel vs. Capcom 3) there’s a designated button for launchers. Not that this is a bad thing.
Combat in the original Devil May Cry games has always revolved around the R1 button as a lock-on button or modifier. Using lock-on allowed you to use Stinger and High Time, the series’ lunging stab and go-to launcher moves, respectively. To me, that modifier (although, not technically a lock-on in the very first game) has always defined the series.
DmC Devil May Cry does away with this. The R1 and L1 buttons are now both an evade technique, which, like their spiritual predecessor, the dodge roll, provide Dante with some precious invincibility frames. Dante can evade in any direction, cancelling whatever move he’s in the middle of to do so. He can also evade in the air, which, while not providing as much movement as the surprisingly generous ground evasion, still provides a decent amount of invincibility.
Because of this change, getting a handle on DmC’s combat took a little getting used to. While aiming Dante in the right direction works much better than I initially expected, not having the lock-on feels odd. Just by instinct, my fingers kept reaching up to hold R1, which just made me evade towards whatever I was trying to lock onto. To be honest, by the end of the demo, I still didn’t know how to use Stinger. That said, I was impressed by the fact that, in the middle of an air combo on one enemy, I could turn towards another, and shoot him out of his attack animation.
Once I got used to the new controls, I found I wasn’t inadvertently dodging into enemies I wanted to attack, and I was having a good time. Dante seems to have taken a few tricks out of Nero’s book. Some of the additions are simple, like the fact that Dante’s new standard sword combo is four hits instead of the traditional three, or that Dante now has Nero’s "Roulette" technique to knock enemies further into the air. Quite simply, once I got used to it, outside of the lack of lock-on, basic combat felt like classic Devil May Cry. Some of the commands, like the projectile-launching sword technique Drive (Hold Triangle and release) are taken straight out of the older games.
More complex, however, is the fact that Nero’s Devil Bringer from Devil May Cry 4—basically a grappling hook which Nero could use to grab smaller enemies or pull himself to larger ones—has been divided into two types of claws for Dante. Let me explain this in a bit more detail.
Holding L2 (activating Angel mode) and pressing Square, will make Dante pull himself towards the enemy you’ve targeted. In contrast, holding R2 (Devil mode) and pressing Square will grab the enemy and pull him towards Dante. If you press X again after either of these, Dante will either punch the enemy skyward (in Angel mode), or kick them away (Devil mode).
Naturally, the first thing I tried with the claws do was one of my favorite things from Devil May Cry 4. I focused on one enemy, constantly grabbing him with the devil claw and enemy stepping (think using the enemy as a platform to jump off of) to get as high into the sky as I could. Eventually, I got to a height at which the game simply wouldn’t let me use the devil claw anymore, so I returned to the world below by using smashing the enemy to the ground with the Demonic axe Arbiter.
Air-combos are a major part of DmC Devil May Cry’s combat in general. Between the designated launch button (Circle), the two claws, and the fact that Dante’s new Devil Trigger (activated with L3+R3) launches all surrounding enemies into the air and keeps them floating in slow motion, it seems as though DmC wants to keep the player air-comboing as much as possible.
Again, DmC Devil May Cry is similar, but different from the previous games. Because I kept trying to grapple to enemies using the DMC4’s Devil Bringer command (R1+Circle, which just led to another damn evade), I wasn’t particularly good at staying airborne and moving from enemy-to-enemy mid-combo during my hands-on time. That said, I like some of the things the game is trying to do—such as the fact that the more effectively you fight in Devil Trigger, the longer it lasts.
Food for thought:
1. You can move the camera freely this time around, a first for the series!
2. There is a lot of fucking swearing in this game. The boss I fought, the larval-looking Succubus told Dante she would "Rip [his] head off and shit down [his] neck." Maybe she’s a Duke Nukem fan?
3. Speaking of the rapport between Dante and the Succubus, they mock each other throughout the entire fight. Dante is constantly dropping puns. It’s incredibly cheesy, but it made me laugh.
4. While I enjoyed the combat, I’m not fond of the platforming in the demo. A lot of it is simply using the right claw at the right color-coded point. As far as I gathered, falling into a bottomless pit will hurt Dante and teleport him back to a checkpoint in the platforming segment, but it won’t kill him.