'Devil May Cry 5' Director Says It's the "Right Time" for Series' Return

Hideaki Itsuno has returned with the latest entry in a franchise he launched nearly 20 years ago and has completely retooled the combat system and introduced a new multiplayer component.
'Devil May Cry 5'   |   Courtesy of Capcom
Hideaki Itsuno has returned with the latest entry in a franchise he launched nearly 20 years ago and has completely retooled the combat system and introduced a new multiplayer component.

It's time to once again face your demons.

The Devil May Cry franchise returns with the first numbered entry in the long-running hack-and-slash series since 2008. Devil May Cry 5, set to bow Friday, brings back fan-favorite characters Dante and Nero, along with new playable character V, to hack their way through hordes of demons in the first entry in the series made for the current generation of consoles. 

Hideaki Itsuno, who has directed every entry in the series (though not for the entirety of 2003's Devil May Cry 2), is back at the helm for the new game. The veteran game developer has a number of tricks up his sleeve for Devil May Cry 5, which he says he's eager for fans to get their hands on, including a new multiplayer mode called the Cameo System and a revamped combat system that emphasizes "style."

Itsuno caught up with Heat Vision ahead of Devil May Cry 5's launch to discuss how he keeps the franchise fresh, what influences him (hint: Mad Max: Fury Road), how the game's new multiplayer mode works and the "low threshold, high ceiling" approach he and his team take to appeal to both newcomers and veterans to the series.

What keeps bringing you back to the Devil May Cry series?

I felt like there have been fewer action games in most recent years and I wanted to put another title in the genre in front of players. As a director of a long-running franchise, I think it’s only natural that you start having the itch to work on a sequel after so many years.

Are there any influences from other games you worked on that you’ve brought back to the DMC series for Devil May Cry 5?

I haven’t actually received much influence from external action games. I did, however, use Monster Hunter: World as a reference point in how quality-of-life improvements were implemented from previous iterations. Naturally, when working on the latest title, I heavily referenced previous series games, specifically Devil May Cry 4, Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition and 2013's DmC: Devil May Cry. In order to tap into the fundamentals of action games, I also frequently go back and play the Ghouls ‘n Ghosts series to get a feel for the roots of the genre.

This series has a very cinematic and fluid feel. Do you draw influence from sources outside of gaming?

Hollywood heroes strike a fine balance between realism and fantasy which was a concept I heavily drew from. In regards to most recent films, I drew inspiration from Mad Max: Fury Road in terms of its scenario writing and tempo.

The combat in DMC 5 is slightly different than in previous entries. What’s new and what can fans expect in terms of combat from the latest game?

Each of the three playable characters fights completely different from one another, adding a whole new level of depth and complexity to the combat. Nero’s “Devil Bringer,” a physical manifestation of his demonic power from Devil May Cry 4, is now an anti-demon combat arm dubbed the “Devil Breaker.” There are eight different types of arm options that can be swapped to add more variety and excitement to the combat. Dante’s also got some new additions to his arsenal of weapons, as well as some new combat systems to create a flurry of new combos. The third character named V, who is brand-new to the franchise, fights from afar by summoning three different types of demons.

Can you explain the multiplayer Cameo System in this game?

The thought process behind implementing the Cameo System is adding some extra flare to the single-player experience. How it works is, during your playthrough, you’ll have moments where you can see another person playing onscreen. At the same time, your gameplay will also be reflected in someone else’s play session. I like to think of it as kind of like going to the gym. Working out alone obviously has its benefits, but you’ll be way more pumped if you’re working out alongside others and you’re able to see each other’s performance and progress. There are also moments where you’ll be able to fight alongside each other against adversaries as well.

Even if you’re not able to match-make in real time, someone’s replay will be saved on the network and you’ll be able to check those out. If you’re playing offline, you’ll be able to see replays created by myself and other members of the development team. Once you’ve completed a mission, you’re able to rate other players’ performances as “Stylish!” or not. Depending on the rating, you’ll be awarded a Gold Orb that can help you progress along the game if you’re having trouble. We’re hoping it’ll be a good opportunity for more interactions within the community, where people can take the opportunity to friend those who they’re impressed with.

It’s been a while since we’ve had a new DMC title. Why is now a good time for a fresh Devil May Cry game?

With the decline in volume and competition in the action genre, it felt like the right time to jump back in. There were narrative elements that I wanted to manifest in a brand-new Devil May Cry title, which was one of the big reasons that I wanted to jump-start the project as well.

How has Dante evolved as the series has progressed?

I believe the fundamental core and personality of who Dante is hasn’t changed over time. He has that level of natural charisma that I think any of us would love to have. It’s something the development staff is always very conscious of in making sure that element shines through. In terms of progression, we always take special care in making sure any weapons or systems tied to him fit his character while being exhilarating and fun.

How do you live up to the expectations of established fans and, conversely, how do you bring new fans into the series?

One of the big things to always look out for is making sure you’re not removing or drastically changing something that players were able to do in the past. Satisfying veteran needs and raising newcomer interests seem like opposing ideas, but they’re actually very much related. The one element that we’re always conscious of in development is to “keep the threshold low and make the ceiling high.” We want to keep the threshold low so that regardless of who you are or how much experience you have with the franchise, it’s easy for you to jump in and have a good time. It’s something we’re conscious about in other elements aside from combat as well, whether it’s the graphical integrity, initial tutorial, or narrative composition. However, no matter how low we try to keep the threshold, we try to keep the ceiling considerably high for veterans who want to really have something to chew on and master, in order to be the most stylish of players.

DMC 5 includes in-game purchases. What type of purchasable items can fans expect, and why did you include these?

The purchasable items are the Red Orbs, which you can also obtain just by simply playing through the game. The objective of providing Red Orbs as purchasable items is to offer the player the option to cut back on playtime if they so desire. We wanted to give players more options on how to enjoy the game since everyone has different desires and needs. This type of purchasable item existed in Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition and was received well. The game itself is balanced without these purchasable items in mind, and it’s a purely optional incentive that isn’t necessary by any means. If you try out the game for at least an hour, I’m confident that you’ll find that the game is well-balanced.

Are there any particular enemy types or boss battles you’re most excited for fans to see?

I really want anybody trying out the game to make it to the very end. That’s really where we poured a lot of energy in creating all the scenes we wanted to showcase.