Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition Review

Ray tracing with style.

As sure as tick follows tock, as certain as Dante and Vergil’s brotherly rivalry will see them embroiled in demon battling adventure, a Special Edition of Devil May Cry 5 is here. A next-gen exclusive (well, they’ll be current gen in a matter of hours and days), this release adds Vergil as a playable character, with increased difficulty, extra game modes and some fancy-pants new graphical options.

For those who’ve already played DMC5 on current systems (or read the plot synopsis on Wikipedia), you’ll already know how Vergil factors into the original game and, look… his connection has been quite clearly marketed by Capcom now, but in case you have remained unaware, consider this your SPOILER WARNING for the original game. The Special Edition (and the Vergil DLC for the original release coming in December) lets you play through the main game as Vergil.

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And that main game remains fantastic. From our original Devil May Cry 5 review, Nick wrote:

Each character has a raft of abilities at their disposal, giving people ample opportunity to find something that suits their play style – and Smokin’ Sexy Style is the name of the game. Stringing together combos, swapping weapons mid-combat and utilising different abilities raises the classic style rating that pops up on the right hand side when you do something cool. I’ve never been fantastic at maximising this in previous games, but something clicked in DMC5.[…]

The silly arguments on whether the original DMC or DmC is better can stop now, because DMC5 is here and it’s bloody brilliant. This is a proper return to form for the series, something that fans of both can get behind.

Those who’ve played Vergil in previous Special Editions will find that an awful lot about him is familiar. He has three weapons to choose from, the Yamato blade, Beowolf gauntlets and the Mirage Edge in place of the Force Edge. His Devil Trigger, meanwhile, summons a doppelgänger with a Yamato that will try to mirror your moves with the main Vergil, doubling your potential damage output for a short time.

Vergil’s unique Concentration gauge also returns, rewarding players that approach the game with considered action as opposed to the button mashing that I (to my discredit) often find myself slipping into in action games. Staying still in combat and not moving unless necessary plays into Vergil’s character, boosting the power of whatever weapon you’re currently using.

Of course, he can also transform, stabbing himself in the stomach to pull V from his body and perform all of V’s summons at once, or morphing into his demon form through the use of his Sin Devil Trigger.

As well as new content, the Special Edition offers some new technical flourishes to savour as a release that’s exclusively targeting the next generation PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S. Capcom have taken their already cutting edge RE Engine and sharpened it even further. The game’s exceptionally human character models, the way they turned real world costumes into game assets, the highly-detailed environments also hold up and feel at home on the next-gen machines.

Choosing the like-for-like graphical experience, DMC5 SE can target a full 2160p at 60fps on the new consoles, but it can also go much further than that. Ray traced reflections, lighting and shadowing is also an option, but this comes at the cost of forcing to either halve the frame rate to 30fps, or sacrifice resolution for 1080p60. We’d pick 1080p60 over 2160p30 in this case. The other option is to go for high frame rates, with screens and TVs that have a 120fps mode allowing you to play at an almost locked 1080p120, furthering the fluidity of the game’s silky smooth animations.

We tested this on PS5, but to get 120fps mode to actually work with our loaned Asus VG279QM monitor, we had to have our capture PC as a go-between to spoof display settings for the console. This isn’t on Capcom, it’s on a system level, where the Xbox Series X has better support for 120fps output to a wider range of displays.

Recognising that performance and responsive gaming are the real priority for this game, ray tracing is actually automatically disabled in Legendary Dark Knight difficulty and Turbo Mode. The default setting is also to have ray tracing turned off.

Speaking of which, those difficulty modes. Turbo Mode is as you’d expect from previous Special Edition releases, making the game play 20% faster than before. Legendary Dark Knight difficulty, however, is something else entirely, throwing much larger numbers of enemies at you. It’s kind of crazy, almost amusing, going from encounters where you’d typically only deal with half a dozen at a time to having to stepping into an arena and seeing two dozen of these enemies and those from later in the game all spawning in at once. It completely changes the tone of the game’s battling, especially when in close quarters.

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Summary
DMC5 Special Edition for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S builds on the excellence of the original release. It's not the most essential purchase, since you will soon be able to buy Vergil as DLC for the original release, but with some new game modes like Legendary Dark Knight difficulty and the new graphical options making the game smoother/prettier than ever before, it's sure to be tempting for fans of the series. Our original review score follows.
Good
  • Adds to the already phenomenal Devil May Cry 5
  • Vergil offers a different approach to combat, familiar to DMC fans
  • Plenty of choice between ray tracing, resolution and frame rate
  • Legendary Dark Knight is barmy
Bad
  • Doesn't feel like an essential purchase, when Vergil DLC is available for the current gen release
9
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I'm probably wearing toe shoes, and there's nothing you can do to stop me!