Explaining the fundamentals of Devil May Cry 5.
Welcome to the DMC5 Combat Guide. This guide is targeted at players already familiar with the basics of DMC5 and are looking for more information to provide insight into the more nuanced components of the game. As such, tutorial information the game already offers sufficiently will be glossed over or only discussed briefly.
The information here is comprised from tons hours spent playing the game and experimenting. The Official DMC5 Japanese Strategy Guide was also used for the more stat based information about DMC5 such as boss HP values.
This guide will not hold back on spoilers, and will assume you’ve finished the game at least once so read at your own digression.
Devil May Cry 5 is a pure Action Game centered around player expression. The true beauty of the game is that it is effectively a combat sandbox; it gives you a boatload of tools and just tells you to go out there and play stylishly. The player is given a lot of freedom in how they can choose to play the game.
But at the same time, I think that if this is your first Stylish Action Game, it’s quite easy to play through the whole game once and still feel a bit lost. You can have fun at any level of play, sure, but it’s easy to feel like you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing in fights, or not know what the game really wants from you to play it properly.
But that’s the thing. It’s a game about player expression. There’s no ‘what I’m supposed to be doing‘ or ‘how2 play it properly‘ if you’re told to express yourself. There are optimal ways to kill enemies and surefire ways to deal high damage, yes. But how you do that, or whether you even choose to play like that is up to you.
The basis for expressing yourself is first understanding the ‘language’ of the game. In other words, how the mechanics work and where the true depth of the combat system lies. The game doesn’t do the best job of piquing your interest in its combat system if you weren’t already invested. It also doesn’t do a great job of bringing you up to a level where you can start expressing yourself. So this guide will aim to lay the building blocks for you to get the most out of DMC5 if you are willing to put in the effort to improve.
Devil May Cry 5 has several difficulty modes. The difficulty you play affects enemy aggression levels, enemy attack patterns, player damage output, enemy damage output and more. Some difficulties also have their own gimmicks.
- Human – Journalist Mode. The game’s easiest difficulty. Don’t play this.
- Player DMG 1.5x
- Enemy DMG ~0.5x
- Low enemy aggression
- Devil Hunter – Normal Mode. The game’s standard difficulty for first time players.
- Player DMG 1.0x
- Enemy DMG 1.0x
- Normal enemy aggression
- Son of Sparda – Hard Mode. The game’s most fair difficulty.
- Unlock: Clear Human or Devil Hunter
- Player DMG 0.75x
- Enemy DMG ~1.25x
- High enemy aggression
- Enemies gain new attacks on this difficulty and higher
- Mission set pieces change from this difficulty and higher. Late game enemies will appear earlier on.
- Dante Must Die – Very Hard Mode. The game’s hardest difficulty.
- Unlock: Clear Son of Sparda
- Player DMG 0.5x
- Enemy DMG ~2.0x
- Very high enemy aggression
- All enemies can now Devil Trigger. This increases their defense and damage output (seems to be +50% each).
- Heaven Or Hell – The game’s joke difficulty.
- Unlock: Clear Dante Must Die
- The player as well as enemies all die in 1 hit.
- Uses a lives system where you have 3 lives per mission. Consuming lives counts as a Continue.
- Hell And Hell – The game’s unforgiving difficulty
- Unlock: Clear Dante Must Die
- This difficulty is the same as Son of Sparda but has one huge difference
- The player dies in 1 hit.
- Uses a lives system where you have 3 lives per mission. Consuming lives counts as a Continue.
- [DMC5 Special Edition Only] Legendary Dark Knight – The game’s 1vs100 brawler difficulty.
- Player DMG 1.3x
- Enemy DMG ~1.5x
- High enemy aggression
- Extremely high enemy count
Note: You can clear a difficulty prematurely by beating Urizen in the Prologue or in Mission 08.
The Bloody Palace mode is a survival tower style mode where you have to beat 101 floors in succession. The floors keep getting harder the further you go and this mode serves as a fun test of skill. Continues are not allowed, but you can suspend a run after a floor and exit the game so you can keep playing another time. If you have a cloud save feature on the platform you’re playing on, you can use this to backup your data and save scum so that you can reload it if you die in the palace.
The Void is a practice mode and a heaven sent for improving at the game. It’s recommended you make use of this as soon as you think you have a problem with any enemy type or want to experiment with your attacks and their properties. Or to practice stringing combos together.
The game also has an Auto feature. This allows you to play the game with 1 finger and the IQ of a carrot. Use this to deliberately delete the fun out of the game. Might as well close my guide too. orz
There are 7 style ranks during battle: Dismal, Crazy, Badass, Apocalyptic, Savage, Sick Skills and Smokin’ Sexy Style. Style ranks is generally a measure for how ‘well’ you are playing.
Actions that gain style:
- Landing different attacks
- Taunting enemies
- Enemy Step
- Dodging through attacks with perfect timing
- Parrying incoming attacks
- Reflecting enemy projectiles
- Guarding enemies with Dante’s Royal Guard
- Guard breaking enemies
Actions that lose style:
- Taking damage
- Performing the same attacks in succession
- Not attacking or idling
Each attack you land gains Style Points. But there is a short time after landing the attack where it gets locked out from earning more style points. This system is in place to prompt you to not do the same thing over and over.
If you want to clear battles with high style points, try to not use high damaging attacks on enemies until you reach at least S grade.
Each character has access to a Devil Trigger (DT) state which is a powerup that gives them access to HP regeneration, more damage, powered up attacks and in the case of V, another means of attack. Devil Trigger can be activated when you have 3 DT blocks or higher. DT Blocks are earned through the exact same actions that gain style listed above with the addition of taking damage.
Similar to the style rank, playing well rewards you with more DT blocks. This gives you fuel to continue playing well and stay in control of the battle. Different characters gain and use Devil Trigger in different ways, but the more of it you become able to earn, the more aggressively you are able to use it.
The game has 4 status effects that the player can be inflicted with:
- Burn: Damage over time for 20sec. Remedy by rolling or jumping.
- Frozen: Encased in ice for 7sec. Move the left stick to break free or activate Devil Trigger.
- Electrocuted: Slows movement for 15sec. Dispel with Devil Trigger.
- Heavy Stun: Become unable to act for 10sec. You take double damage in this state. Move the left stick and mash buttons to break free or activate Devil Trigger.
DMC5 has several damage types namely Slash, Pierce, Blunt, Fire element, Ice element and Lightning elemental damage. Different character’s weapons inflict different kinds of damage. What kind of damage a weapon inflicts will be listed in its corresponding description in each character’s overview page.
Enemies have different affinities to different kinds of damage. Some enemies have weaknesses and some have resistances. This may affect how to they respond to different types of damage when they are being combo-ed.
Moves such as Stinger are considered ‘special moves’ because they have a specific input. Hold Lock-on, move the left stick towards the target then input the melee attack button. An obvious thing to state is that the moves are always performed with directions relative to the target. This means that the direction you input on the left stick can change depending on the camera and the position of the enemy on the screen.
Certain attacks on certain enemies can be parried, or clashed with. You strike at the same time and if the hitboxes overlap, you cancel out their attack with a loud clang type sound. Parrying is one of the defining characteristics of the Cavaliere boss fight, but many other enemies can be parried too.
You can also send certain projectiles back at enemies. This follows similar logic to parrying attacks.
Parrying earns you style and makes you feel good. Some enemies like Fury also demand to be parried, so it’s important you know what Parrying is and how it functions. Attacks useful for parrying will be listed in each character’s overview page.
Some enemies have shields or try to guard and you can break through this. Many of the blocking type enemies try to parry you if you don’t break through their guard in time. Certain moves on each character have special properties suited to inflicting guard break. When you break through their guard you will hear a glass shattering sound and you will have an opening to deal damage.
Some enemies have energy barriers that block against ranged attacks. These tend to be enemies that fight from a range too. When this guide discusses guard break, it is completely unrelated to these energy barriers. Energy barriers typically prompt you to get around them by getting in close.
Where’s The Invul?
A very common complaint for DMC5 was that it doesn’t have a dodge button. But all ground Jumps and Side Rolls have invul (Note: not double jumps). In addition to this, each character has quite a few more ways to remain invul while attacking. Each of these abilities has been highlighted in each character’s corresponding overview pages.
The basic idea of a combo in Devil May Cry 5 is to keep an enemy launched or unable to fight back until they die. But given how this game is a combat sandbox, the sky is the limit in terms of how much you can style on an enemy in a combo before they die. Either way, combo strings are how your offense manifests and they can be thought of as rewards for conquering an enemy’s gameplan.
There are many factors that influence how you approach combos with different enemy types.
Enemy Weight Classes
Every enemy type has a specific weight class. This ranges from Light, Medium, Heavy or Super Heavy. The kind of weight an enemy is, will dictate what kind of histun type reaction it will have to incoming damage. Lighter enemies will react to almost all attacks, but Heavies might not be juggled by weak gunfire while they are falling.
Knowledge of an enemy’s weight class is vital to keeping them juggled and killing them in one full combo.
More information can be found in the Demon Database.
Similar to weight classes, each enemy has a sort of ‘armor’ stat. This refers to how many hits of attacks they can absorb before they start to get flinched or get launched. This typically increases with weight classes and also increases with enemy Devil Trigger activation on DMD difficulty.
This is a core component of starting combos on heavier enemies. You’ll need to internalize how many ‘hits of armor’ an enemy type has before you can launch them and start a combo. Some characters also offer tools that work as armor burning attacks or launchers that are more consistent for heavier enemies.
Hitstun is a fighting game term which refers to the animation of a player or an enemy taking damage. In Devil May Cry 5, there are many different kinds of hitstun for enemies. Familiarizing yourself with how they look and function will help you form an offense and tackle some of the game’s more tricky enemies.
Below is a brief list of hitstun types. Which moves inflict which kinds of hitstun will be listed on each character’s respective overview page.
- Flinch: Standing or flying enemy winces and flinches in response to damage. This means you’ve broken through their armor.
- Stagger Flinch: Similar to above but they stagger for slightly longer.
- Crumple Stun: Standing enemies do a stagger flinch and then crumple to the ground. Useful for certain enemy types.
- Launched: Enemies get launched directly upwards off the ground into the air and can be followed-up with a combo.
- Juggle: Damage reaction to attacks while in the air. They flinch in the sky without much loss in altitude.
- Ground Bounce: Airborne enemies are sent downwards onto the floor and then bounce back up. Whether they will actually bounce or not depends on their weight type.
- Knockback: Knocks enemies away from the player towards the ground. Lighter weights can be picked up out of this.
- Rising Knockback: Similar to above but there is a height gain on the knockback.
- Sent Flying: A powerful knockback that sends enemies far away at high speed.
- Hard Knockdown: A special knockback that certain enemies can’t teleport out of.
- Heavy Stun: When enemies get ‘dazed’ and are unable to act for a few seconds.
Importance of Enemy Step
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Enemy Step is the bread and butter of air combos. Enemy Step functions as jump canceling and is extremely important in creating stability for aerial combat and finishing enemies in one combo.
To use Enemy Step after purchasing the ability, you need to be near an enemy in the air and then press the Jump button. This works during an attack which effectively allows you to cancel it and chain into another attack.
This is where Devil May Cry 5 starts to get a bit complicated and hard on execution. But once you become able to jump cancel attacks, so many doors become opened for you to expand your playstyle.
Ultimately, executing combos is the product of practice, effort and study. That will take time. It is for that reason that you’ll need to spend a healthy amount of time in the Void to lay down the fundamentals required. Devil May Cry 5 is a game that really rewards your efforts as long as you have a plan for what you want to do.
The camera is a big deal in Devil May Cry 5. Primarily because special moves in the game requires camera-relative direction inputs. But also because the camera rotates on its own when enemies go out of view or when you push the camera closer to a wall or surface.
It is recommended you check the in game options and turn up the camera sensitivity so that you have more snappy control over it. You can also choose to pull it closer to the player or draw it further out to see more. You can reduce its tendency to spin behind the player too.
There is also an unwritten rule in the game that states that non-boss enemies are not allowed to start attacks while they are off camera. This means that you can deliberately miniplate the camera to have troublesome enemies do nothing except move around to try to get on screen. Having the camera closer to the player is more effective for this. However, if they start an attack while they are on screen and you turn the camera to put them off screen during the attack, it’s fair game and you’ll probably get hit from off-screen.
If you want to play this game competently you need to be able to master camera control to some degree. Try to get used to turning it while you are playing so that you can be more sure of your directional inputs.
HOW TO GET GOOD AT DMC5?
The simple answer is that you just need to keep playing the game and have fun. The detailed answer is too hard to give because of how exponentially complex this game can be at higher levels. There is so much that one person can improve on in this game that you can end up playing it for a very, very long time.
To give a more useful answer, it helps if you are able to identify areas you think you need to work on and then try to formulate a plan to improve upon that. Try to play with the intent to get better and grow as a player. Set small achievable goals for yourself that will keep you motivated. Try to take away the most you can from every play or practice session and you should get better at the game as long as you keep at it.
The most important factor is to have fun. If you’re having a good time, you will become fulfilled from improving and continue to find enjoyment the more you play. Also remember to take care of yourself. Stretch your hands frequently and don’t overwork yourself.
Never give up.