I really can't go back to the older games after DMCV. I tried going back and finishing 3 and that just ain't happening with all that jank. 4 is a maybe.
It is very not cash money to read something like this, but... I understand. These last couple of weeks I've been coming to grips with the idea that Devil May Cry 3 might not be the greatest video game ever made any more, and it's a big deal for me. For the last fourteen years it has, of course, been a universally acknowledged truth. You hear the words 'greatest video game ever made' and you immediately think, yep, that's DMC3 alright. But now? How do I even live in a world where DMC3 might no longer be the GOATest of all time?
I do think there are a few things DMC3 still does better, though. I'll just bullet-point-erise them, because these are all just minor nitpicks between two of my absolute favourite games (EDITOR'S NOTE: This turned out way longer than I expected it to be ):
- I still think DMC3 has the perfect video game story. The story exists to serve the video game, and the video game perfectly intertwines with the story. The way you, the player, gain power and fluency with the controls matches up perfectly with how Dante awakens and grows as a person, the three Vergil fights serve as perfect milestones marking the game's three acts, the sense of accomplishment at having defeated your ideological opposite through the power of humanity and friendship and all that good anime stuff is just unparalleled.
I really like most of DMC5's story, particularly the characterisation of all the main characters. Dante is a perfect mix of happy-go-lucky Uncle Dante and the more serious DMC1 incarnation, Nero is an excellent step up from his DMC4 "KYRIEEE!" self (while still keeping that hothead side we love), and Vergil actually gets the best of all of it. My favourite moment in this game is when Vergil, thinking he's going to solve all his problems by using Yamato to remove his 'worthless' human side, wakes up on the floor and realises in horror that the human half was just as much a part of him all along. Much as I love him, 3's Vergil isn't exactly the deepest character out there, and the fact that they gave him some genuine character development here is wonderful. Also I love love love Nico, she's the best.
Buuut I just don't think 5's ending holds up. Nero and Vergil barely speak, Vergil faces zero consequences for destroying a city and killing the millions of people in it, the idea that Dante and Vergil are now 'trapped' in Hell doesn't really fly when Vergil still has a sword that cuts portals to anywhere. I'm also not a fan of how Trish and Lady are used; basically just for leering adolescent almost-naked scenes and the occasional reaction line. Trish and Lady were once actual characters in this series, not just Dante's weird sexless harem. (Oh no this was a three paragraph bullet point)
- DMC5's level design has received a lot of criticism, and at first I didn't get it because I don't really have a problem with 'corridor full of fights' design in an action game, but then on my second or third playthrough I started thinking "Where am I right now?" and not being able to come up with an answer. In DMC1 and 3 you're in this big castle or tower, and you always have a good sense of where you are, where you're going, what you're doing, but in 5? You're kind of just jogging down grey, sometimes green-y grey, sometimes brown tunnels for two thirds of the game. You're inside the demon tree, and it's all one big organic mess where each level blends into the next. Where am I? I... I guess it's the tree again. Am I at the bottom? The top? I don't really know, man.
- DMC3 was great about giving you unlockables as you kept playing through the game, not just new difficulties but costumes that added a whole lot of replay value. DMC5? I didn't unlock anything until my third playthrough, and it was a costume for V. I didn't unlock anything else until my fifth playthrough; a costume for Vergil who isn't even a playable character! I never unlocked anything for Nero or Dante, because Capcom locked their alternate outfits behind pre-order DLC, and then didn't even sell it separately until a couple of days ago. I had the privilege of paying $2.95 for it yesterday. Great.
OK, I'm going to talk about it: DMC5 has microtransactions and I think they're bad.
Now, I don't think DMC5's monetisation scheme is any worse than, say, your standard Ubisoft stuff, but it's certainly not any better. You can play a thousand hours of DMC5 without ever being forced to open your wallet, sure, but the same is true of any Assassin's Creed game with 'timesaver' transactions or EA game with cosmetics or whatever. I don't think it's any coincidence that DMC5 introduces a whole lot of new mechanics that make Red Orbs more desirable than ever in the same game where you can buy them with real money. Check this out:
- In DMC4 you could re-use the same currency to buy all the upgrades for each character, whereas in DMC5 they all draw from the same pool of Red Orbs. It took me three and a half playthroughs to get enough to buy almost all of each character's moves.
- The reason I say 'almost' is because each character now has a super secret taunt that costs 3,000,000 Red Orbs, which you aren't going to get through normal play. It'll take a few hours of farming to earn that much, or moments with your creeeedit caaaaard.
- To do that farming you use Dr Faust, a new weapon that actually uses Red Orbs to do damage. You can earn more Red Orbs than usually buy using it, but you can also blow a few hundred thousand Orbs in moments with some of its attacks. The same currency you can buy with real money.
- Worst of all is how death works in this game. On dying, the first option presented to you is to revive on the spot by paying a certain number of Red Orbs, and the most expensive tier will revive you with full health and actually damage the enemy you're fighting. You can spend Orbs, that you can buy with real money, to win fights in this game. Even on Dante Must Die (and it's significant damage, too). Your credit card hits harder than any weapon in the game. Now, of course, you never have to choose that option, but you do have to intentionally refuse the option every time you die. You can't just restart from a checkpoint, you first have to say "No, I don't want to use Red Orbs to revive", then you wait through a death animation, then you hit 'CHECKPOINT', then you wait through a load, then you run back to the fight, skip the cutscene and start the fight again.
I think it's a real shame that some of this stuff is in the game. I don't think Itsuno was rubbing his hands together with vindictive glee, trying to fleece as much money from the players as possible, but what can you say? This stuff is in there, it is what it is. I'm not going to pretend DMC5's microtransactions are any more virtuous than any of the stunts Ubisoft, EA or Activision have pulled over the years just because this is my dream game. Whenever a game slaps an extra price tag on a certain element you have to question whether it was designed to encourage extra spending.
On a lighter note, here's an incredible gif: