Devil May Cry 5 Interview -- Developers Talk Nico, Gameplay, Reviving Capcom's Franchises, and More
Devil May Cry 5 Director Hideaki Itsuno and Producer Matt Walker shed light on gameplay and characters, with an additional dive into nostalgia.
Devil May Cry 5 took the world by storm after its reveal at E3 2018, and Capcom has provided several chances for press and fans to try the game at trade events.
With a release date basically around the corner – which seems to be the norm for the publisher nowadays – DualShockers talked with Director Hideaki Itsuno and Producer Matt Walker, to get more insight on the game and on what we can expect from the return of the beloved series.
Giuseppe: I will admit that I really appreciate the auto-assist system. It’s great to allow noobs like me to enjoy the game without looking too horrible at it.
Matt Walker: It’s great right? The thing is that it feels good. The way the music changes as you increase your style rank, the way the UI changes, all of that is just a way to…
G: Make you feel empowered?
MW: Yes, exactly. It makes you feel empowered for doing the combos and then it makes you want to try on your own. It’s not intended as an easy mode. It’s just a way to show you how to do the combos and how to increase your style rank, so you can learn and you can gradually go “ok, I’m gonna try to do this on my own.”
G: Are you still tweaking it? At times it feels like it keeps you in the air a bit too long.
MW: That’s part of it. It’s not that you shouldn’t be in the air. It dates back to the original Devil May Cry when we first had it, and it all started with a bug.
G: With a bug?
MW: It was a bug. They found out that when an enemy was launched in the air, if you kept attacking it, it would stay in the air. That’s when they kind of realized that it was actually cool. That’s the genesis of that gameplay for Devil May Cry.
G: I see, but the auto-assist seems to keep me going in the air when there is no enemy to hit.
MW: I think if it’s doing moves, that’s the intent. But the fact that you feel that way is exactly what I meant before about the auto-assist. The idea is that you go “this is how I use the combos, I get it now.” You realize that with auto-assist on, the game is doing certain things, but you don’t want to do that. You want more control, and then hopefully you’ll want to learn how to do stuff on your own.
G: Speaking of that, have you thought of having a mid-level setting? Like having full-auto, full-manual, and something in the middle?
Hideaki Itsuno: That’s interesting, because actually, what we have now is kind of already the mid-way. At one point we were trying it so that it would evade for you. Then we realized that was really an easy-mode button. If it evades for you, then you literally just mash the button and win. So we took that out. It would also do Break Age moves, which is when you hold the button down with Nero, and it sacrifices your Devil Breaker. When it was doing that, we found that it was ok from a combo perspective, but players would feel that they didn’t enjoy having the game breaking their Devil Breakers without their consent. So we also took that out.
We do feel that the auto-assist is on a mid-way setting right now because you can still do specific moves on your own if you enter the command.
G: Have you thought about having a command display like in fighting games’ training mode, teaching you exactly what buttons you need to press to reproduce what the auto-assist is doing?
HI: That’s a really good idea. It’s not in the game, but if we ever make a Devil May Cry 6 we might certainly consider it. It makes a lot of sense.
G: The series had a bit of a divisive history over the past few years. Many seem to get tired of the tried and true formula and want to see something new. Then when they do get a new formula, they miss the old one and want to go back. Do you think it was beneficial for the series to have had something different like DmC: Devil May Cry by Ninja Theory?
HI: Now that you mention it, that does seem to be a thing. People ask for something new and then when they get it, they miss the old. I’m the same way myself. We didn’t necessarily think about that when making this game.
We worked with Ninja Theory in Cambridge to try to do something new with DmC: Devil May Cry. We have certain team members, including myself, who were involved directly with them constantly. On the other hand, we have certain team members on Devil May Cry 5 who didn’t work on that project. They were working on other stuff like Dragon’s Dogma.
We kind of have two camps that came together to make Devil May Cry 5. We all think that there are some wonderful things that we and Ninja Theory did right with DmC and we want to learn from that, bringing that to Devil May Cry 5.
Then we have the members who never worked on DmC, that also feel like “you know what? We want to see if we can do even better” sending a bit of a challenge out to everybody else including Ninja Theory, about what an action game should be.”
G: It’s been a while since the last mainline Devil May Cry game. How nervous were you when the game was finally revealed?
HI: We did like four or five rehearsals for Microsoft’s press briefing, so we thought that we wouldn’t be too nervous. Then we went backstage and the trailer came up. We created that trailer very specifically with a couple of things in mind: we wanted the audience to realize what the game was only gradually as you see the Capcom logo, then the music kicks on, you see Nero and Nico, and the van, then the van pulls up and you see “Devil May Cry“. The intention was to have people on the edge of their seat and see if they were going to be excited.
We were standing backstage and sure enough, everybody went silent. When “Capcom” came up you could hear people going “oh… what is this?” and then when “Devil May Cry” came up everybody in the audience went nuts. It was so cool! All these people were screaming and they were so excited. He and I were backstage and we both went “Yes!” We were so excited as well because people received it as well as we hoped.
We eventually went off stage, and we were still kind of nervous from being on stage, feeling that we talked too fast during the announcement. We looked at the internet and everybody was super-excited and super-happy. It’s been great because everybody has been really positive about it, and we’re really thankful about that. We’re so thankful that people have been so wonderful to us. We’re really lucky.
G: The game seems to have quite a focus on new characters, including Nico and V. What made you want to introduce new characters in such prominent positions within the cast? What was your philosophy when designing them?
HI: It depends on each character. About Nico, we have Nero, and Nero has Kyrie, but Kyrie is incredibly important for him, so much so that he doesn’t want to put her in any kind of danger. We wanted a character who would be able to go with Nero and be there for him. That’s how the idea for Nico came up. At the same time, we wanted a new kind of heroine character. We wanted one who was going to be sassy, the kind of sassy that we hadn’t yet seen in the Devil May Cry series.
About V, one thing we can’t talk about yet is how V fights. We came up up with that idea — how he is going to fight — before we actually thought about any other detail for the character.
G: Speaking of V… I might be wrong, but he looks younger than Nero and Dante. I’m wondering if there is going to be some kind of generational handover between them?
HI: That’s an interesting view. Unfortunately, all I can say today is that I look forward for you to see the story and see what’s going to happen.
G: This may be going a little far afield, but now that you’re bringing Devil May Cry back, is there any other franchise that you’d personally like to reboot, continue, or bring back in some way?
HI: If I was allowed, I’d love to make Rival Schools 3.
G: YES! [standing] Oh… sorry about that.
HI: [Laughs] I’d also love to make Dragon’s Dogma 2, Capcom vs SNK 3, Street Fighter Alpha 4, Power Stone 3… If I could, even Street Fighter 6 would be amazing.
But the big one… the one that we need to get resolution on is Rival Schools because in Japan there are three years of high-school. We have seen the first two years for these kids, so the third one would be their last year in high-school. Wouldn’t that be cool? You end it on their graduation ceremony.
G: If you ever make Rival Schools 3, please make sure that the west gets the full game this time around, not just the fighting part.
HI: If we ever get that opportunity, that would be the goal, and we’ll make sure to localize it in as many languages as we can too.
G: As you said, Nico is completely different from the heroines you had before, and also from most heroines you see in other games, especially in Japan. Is that something you specifically aimed for, or it happened naturally?
HI: You don’t see characters like her in many Japanese games. That’s something we kind of thought about. Not just in Japanese games, but especially in Japanese games you have these very specific archetypes. You do kind of have the same variations of male characters and the same variations of female characters a lot of the times.
One of our thoughts was “ok, let’s try to do something a little different with her. That comes from the sassiness. As a guy who gets the chance to interact with all kinds of people all the time, it’d be cool to hang out with a girl who is that sassy, smokes all the time, points out your flaws, and gives you crap when you need it. There is something cool about being around that kind of person. That’s where Nico comes from.
G: I noticed that the game involves an extreme attention to graphical detail. For instance, Nero’s van includes some crazy details. Is that something that we can expect across the whole game?
HI: It isn’t just the van. We tried really hard to create the best and most photorealistic graphics that we can. What happens is that if you do that without putting the same kind of care and detail into everything, it stands out. Since we were trying so hard to do this, suddenly everything needed that much detail.
G: Have you ever thought to make Nico playable?
HI: We never thought to make her playable. The way we see Nico, she’s not the type to go out there fighting. She is the one who gives you crap. “You’ve gotta be better at fighting! You’ve gotta be careful with the merchandise!”
The idea is that you’re going to play as Nero, and that’s part of her appeal. She’s not the one who goes out there to fight. She is the one that tells you that you gotta man up and improve your game.
If you want to see more about Devil May Cry 5, you can enjoy some recent gameplay videos focusing on the Devil Arms, a video showing Dante in action on Xbox One X, another showcasing the Japanese voice cast, the latest screenshots, and the latest trailer.
Devil May Cry 5 releases on March 8th, 2019, for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. If you’d like to reserve a copy, you can already pre-order it on Amazon.
Incidentally, the game won basically everything it could win, including both Game of Show prizes at our DualShockers’ Tokyo Game Show 2018 Awards.