Capcom’s highly rated action adventure is getting a major upgrade for the PS5 and Xbox Series X but what exactly has changed?
In generations past you would’ve expected a substantial proportion of the games for the new consoles to be made up of very slightly improved versions of current gen titles. That’s just the way things have always worked but in these more enlightened times most publishers are offering free upgrades for their games. Devil May Cry 5 is one of the few that’s handling things differently though, with a new special edition that features substantial new features in addition to all the expected graphical upgrades.
Special editions have been a staple of the Devil May Cry franchise since entry number three on the PlayStation 2, which transformed a good game into a great one by rebalancing the gameplay and adding Dante’s twin brother Vergil as a playable character, as well as new features such as survival mode Bloody Palace and Turbo Mode.
The original Devil May Cry 5 doesn’t require the major readjustment that Devil May Cry 3 did but all the other elements are inspired by that first special edition. As such, Vergil not only becomes a playable character but gets his own separate option from the main menu, as you get to play through the whole of the story mode from his perspective – including new cut scenes and even a new theme tune (owners of the current gen versions can buy Vergil as DLC).
As you’d expect from the previous game, Vergil uses three main weapons: his Yamato sword, the Beowulf gauntlets, and the long-range Mirage Edge. What really makes Vergil different though is his Concentration gauge, which slowly fills up whenever he’s standing still or walking slowly and depletes when he gets hit. The higher the gauge the more damage the sword does, the more enemies Mirage Edge can target at once, and the more you can charge up the gauntlets.
It’s a neat risk versus reward mechanic, that is clearly aimed at already skilled players, but it’s very satisfying when you’re able to make the most of it and also neatly reflects Vergil’s personality. He has plenty of other tricks up his sleeve too, with his Devil Trigger now creating a clone character that will repeat the original’s moves, although only using the sword.
Vergil’s demon form is activated by his Sin Devil Trigger, which has unique moves and regenerates health, plus there’s the unexpected ability to stab himself with his own sword so he can use all of V’s summonses – the only downside being it takes a while to initiate, which leaves you vulnerable.
Playing as Vergil is the very last thing you’d want to do if you’re new to the series but he’s a very rewarding character once you learn the skills to cope with the fact that he can’t double jump and his dodges and blocks are a lot more pernickety than with the other characters. That’s entirely by design though, as Vergil’s meant to be a new challenge for those that have already beaten the main game.
The graphical options all hinge around if you have ray-tracing turned on or not, which impacts the frame rate and the resolution. So you can switch it off entirely – and get the chance to use the 120Hz refresh rate option if your TV supports it – or you can turn it on but stick to 1080p for a smooth 60fps or emphasise graphics above all us and go up to 4K but 30fps.
Given the emphasis of Devil May Cry has always been on the smoothness of the action we’d advise prioritising 60fps (the difference 120Hz makes will be imperceptible to most people) but the ray-tracing does look nice, with accurate reflections appearing in puddles, glass, and other reflective surfaces in what is likely to become a common use of the technology in the next gen.
Ray-tracing is turned off by default in Legendary Dark Knight and Turbo Mode, with the former significantly increasing the number of enemies on-screen at once – which is another nice little workout for the new consoles – while Turbo Mode increases the overall speed of the game by 20%.
There’s also Bloody Palace, a survival mode which was added last year as free DLC but is available in the Special Edition from the start, although you’ll still have to beat the main story mode first. It’s another mainstay of the series and gives you 101 floors to battle through, with victory on each one giving you a chance to gain more health, time, and extra Devil Breaker bionic arms for Nero.
Since this is only a preview we can’t offer any overall recommendation yet but the game certainly looks very nice on PlayStation 5. It always prioritised gameplay over graphical detail, which is why some ended up complaining about the bland backdrops of the original, and while that hasn’t changed the smooth frame rate or addition of ray-tracing (depending on which you consider most important) do enhance the experience.
The way the adaptive triggers of the DualSense are used with Nero’s sword are also cool, as there’s now a bit of resistance to using it, so that it feels like revving the throttle on a motorbike as well as just looking and sounding like it.
Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition will be a launch game on both PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S and will no doubt act as a precursor to Devil May Cry 6, which will almost certainly be next gen only. That’s probably some while off yet but in the meantime Dante, Nero, and the others have never looked or played better.
Formats: PlayStation 5 (previewed) and Xbox Series X/S
Release Date: 10th November 2020 (Xbox) and 12th November 2020 (PS5)
Age Rating: 18
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