At a press event earlier this week, Capcom USA senior producer Alex Jones gave media a close look at DmC downloadable side story Vergil's Downfall, a new campaign starring hero Dante's brother Vergil.
"We knew up-front we were going to do some kind of DLC, from the very start of the project, since you basically have to these days," he said in an interview with Polygon.
According to Jones, the idea of a playable Vergil first came about when the development team was considering a co-op mode for DmC. "[We] very quickly set that aside because we wanted to just tell Dante's story in the main game and didn't want to create the additional work that making co-op would come with. But as we did press and stuff, and read some of the forums, it became clear fans really liked the idea of a playable Vergil character in some capacity."
So the team decided to create Vergil's Downfall, a three-to-five hour campaign, according to Capcom, that tells DmC's story from a different perspective with new environments and new combat mechanics.
"[Vergil] has a much more refined moveset than Dante does," said Jones. "He's more elegant. He's more studied. He's just smoother in general, as a result of their background. So he's quicker, more precise."
On the surface, Vergil looks more careful in his movements and less flashy than Dante. But Jones said the developers at Ninja Theory used much of the same combat design data and spacing when piecing together Vergil's mechanics as they did with Dante's, so while the two characters act differently, many of the same general combat strategies apply to both.
Perhaps the biggest gameplay shift when playing as Vergil comes with his use of teleportation. In combat that means he can dart around rooms, but in certain areas it also gives him control over background objects. Early on in Vergil's Downfall, players will come across platforms off in the distance that they can grab and pull towards themselves to progress through a level. It's not very different from Dante's grappling hook, from a high concept point of view, but it puts a fresh coat of paint on an old idea.
And that's one of the team's goals for Vergil's Downfall as a whole — for players to understand it immediately and for it to feel familiar to what they're accustomed to from single-player DLC.
"We knew up-front we were going to do some kind of DLC, from the very start of the project, since you basically have to these days."
Jones said that Capcom has run into publicity issues with downloadable content in the past, such as Street Fighter X Tekken's extra characters being included on the game disk, and Dead Rising 2: Case Zero being mistaken as a demo players had to pay for rather than a standalone game. So he didn't want to take those same risks with DmC.
"If you do it the standard traditional way, people understand it," he said. "They know they have to buy the game; they get it. And hopefully as a business stance, you can use it to drive sales and keep stuff off the rental bin obviously."
Plus, he added, given the story the team wanted to tell with Virgil's Downfall, releasing it as a pre-release standalone game ala Case Zero "would have given away the entire story."
Vergil's Downfall is scheduled for release later this month, and Jones said that no other future DmC DLC is currently planned, so while he can't say for sure that this will be the last content produced for the game, if something else were to come along, "it would be a longer burn" than the nine months already put into Vergil's Downfall.
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