Multiple playable characters have been in the Devil May Cry series ever since DMC 2, with Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition packing in a whopping five playable characters.
Devil May Cry 5 keeps up this tradition, but the differences between its three characters are more pronounced than ever. So much so, that these three characters practically make Devil May Cry 5 feel like three self-contained games within one.
The first of these characters is Nero, the fiery youth introduced in Devil May Cry 5. Nero’s combat is the simplest of all three, and it’s entirely based around juggling and combos.
The centerpiece of Nero’s moveset is his Devil Breakers, mechanical arms that add some fantastic diversity into his combat.
There are a number of Devil Breakers you can use in Devil May Cry 5, like Punch Line which lets you shoot out a rocket arm that tracks and continuously hits enemies, Ragtime which shoots out an orb that slows time in a specific area, or my personal favorite Tomboy which lets you attack the arm to Nero’s weapons and super-power their attacks.
Mixed in with these are various other abilities that Nero has like charging up his bullets to do explosion damage, or using the wire in his arm to grapple enemies and pull them closer or himself to them.
All of this allows for a ton of variation and different playstyles, and the Devil Breakers create a great risk-reward kind of system.
You can use the Breakers as much as you want, but if Nero takes even one hit while using one that arm gets broken and he equips the next. If you don’t play things smart in battle you run the risk of having all of Nero’s Breakers broken, leaving him with only his basic moveset.
Nero feels like a smooth evolution of how he played in DMC 4, with so many options available, all of which are easy to string together into cool-looking combos.
If Nero’s the beginner character, though, Dante is definitely for more advanced players. Like past games Dante can swap between four different styles on the fly; Trickster, Swordmaster, Gunslinger, and Royal Guard.
All four of these have different functions and moves associated with them, for example, Trickster lets Dante speedily dodge attacks, while gunslinger opens up new ranged combos.
On top of these styles, Dante can equip up to four ranged and melee weapons at any time, also swapping between them on the fly.
Considering all of these weapons have their own combos, and special attacks that open up with styles, there’s an absurd amount of options for Dante.
However, the character allows for even more playstyle customization, encouraging you to find the style and weapons that work best for you.
Each of Dante’s weapons also feel incredibly distinct, like the slow and lumbering motorcycle blades Cavaliere, or the incredibly quick combo-driven gauntlets Balrog.
Dante then has two different Devil Triggers to use, adding even more complexity into the mix.
Despite the differences between Dante and Nero, the third playable character in Devil May Cry 5 is where things really get shaken up. V is a brand new addition to the cast, and his combat style is unlike anything in the series before.
V can’t fight on his own, instead relying on three different demon familiars to do his fighting; a ranged bird demon named Griffon, a close-range panther named Shadow, and hulking behemoth named Nightmare.
Griffon and Panther are mapped to the attack buttons, but you can move V in independently. Meanwhile, Nightmare is called in using Devil Trigger, but acts on its own will as a destructive force shooting out laser beams and slamming the ground.
V’s combat is a fascinating change from the other two, as it’s all about placement and navigating V around the area, while attacking with his familiars.
You also need to manage the health of Griffon and Panther as well as Devil Trigger, adding a slight resource-management layer in.
V’s combat may not be as high-octane as Dante and Nero’s, but if effectively works to break up the pacing of the game and provide some nice variation.
These three characters are so different that it takes time to adjust when you swap back and for the between them, but it also helps keep Devil May Cry 5 fresh through the entire experience.
There are so many abilities to learn for each character that there’s no way you can do it in one playthrough, encouraging you to play again on higher difficulties with more combat options.
Multiple characters is something seen in quite a few character action games, but Devil May Cry 5 puts so much time and thought into its three characters that it puts other efforts to shame.