Capcom’s newest entry in the Devil May Cry series has a lot going for it. The best script in the series, beautiful visuals, fast-paced gameplay, and even its conservative use of microtransactions have built Devil May Cry 5 up to be one of the best games released this year. So why in the world did they decide that it needed a half-baked multiplayer aspect?
Devil May Cry 5’s multiplayer isn’t what’d you’d think it is in the traditional sense. You don’t party up with friends and get to tearing demons a new one side by side. You don’t go into a matchmaking menu and play a gaudy 5v5 Team Deathmatch either (that was last attempted with Anarchy Reigns, which turned out awful due to its reliance on MP). Instead, Capcom opted to return to familiar territory and adapt a multiplayer mode they first introduced in the polarizing Resident Evil 6.
As you might already know, Resident Evil 6’s multiplayer of course had the traditional two-player co-op akin to its predecessor, but this time around it introduced converging story paths. In levels where you and your partner would come across another duo of player characters, you’d be matched up together with real players in that exact moment, given you’re both on the same level at the same time, like the final boss where Ada assists Leon in taking down the horrendous dinosaur mutation. Back at release when the game was new and had an active player base, it was all very seamless and gave the game an interesting but overall pointless edge.
Devil May Cry 5 takes the same concept, converging character moments, and briefly shows you a player character controlling one of the three protagonists. In most cases, the players will be separated, never really seeing what the other is doing aside from some distant sparks and particle effects. The only telling sign that your co-op “partner” is doing any good is the appearance of an S-Rank by their name, which hovers to the left of the action. This helps when it comes time to grade them at the end of each co-op mission, but you should totally give everyone a “Stylish!” ranking anyway, as it gives the recipient a Gold Orb (an extra continue).
This reward system is super broken, as it gives you one of the rarest items in the series for practically nothing. While earing Gold Orbs will always feel good, more levity should be put into grading. A simple choice between “Stylish!” and “Don’t rate” just won’t cut it when something as precious as a continue is on the line. Maybe tipping Red Orbs would be a better fit? Or having a middle ranking for rewarding orbs, then only having the “Stylish!” option unlock if a certain Stylish Points/Ranking was achieved during your time “together.” There are a ton of ways Capcom could expand and improve upon the rating system where you’re not screwing up the game’s economy because a guy you saw for 0.5 seconds summoned some kind of flashy particle effect in the distance, so out of the kindness of your heart you gave them a free continue.
The single instance where everyone finally comes together like an actual co-op multiplayer mode is during Mission 13. For its entire duration, all three protagonists descend into the demonic Qliphoth tree, making their way down layers and layers of combat arenas. Combos can be juggled between players, and small objectives like taking out enemy spawn points can be split subconsciously between the three of you. Meanwhile, the least friendly of you can rush ahead and descend faster if you have no interest in teamwork. The level itself is probably the weakest in the game from a design standpoint but interacting with players in a Devil May Cry game does have an interesting appeal. I’ve even been able to get a few friendly taunt matches started with some players. It definitely has the potential to be a good co-op experience, but with it being the only mission in the game where all three characters converge, the novelty wears thin upon multiple plays.
The best use for this mode would likely be in the upcoming Bloody Palace update. The ability to party up with friends or matchmake with strangers to take on the multiple levels of the Bloody Palace would make perfect sense and give the currently unfocused multiplayer more brevity. That’s what my money is on anyway. Capcom is on a roll this year and I doubt they’ll leave Devil May Cry 5’s multiplayer as it is when there’s so much potential yet to be explored.