Devil May Cry 5 doesn’t quite hit the same narrative highs as recent action adventure romps like God of War. It’s laser-focused on frame-perfect combos and high octane encounters which often have a lot of variables to take in. Here are some character-specific tips to help you parse all of those hectic moments.
Nero is the primary protagonist of Devil May Cry 5, and you’ll be spending a lot of time with him. His most unique abilities are housed within his Devil Breaker arms, which are like consumable, fleeting power-ups. Nero can also rev up his sword, Red Queen, for extra damage, and he carries the Blue Rose, a ranged pistol.
What skills to buy first: one Devil Breaker slot, Blue Rose’s Color Up, Red Queen’s Streak.
Nero is a well-rounded character, so bolster his wide array of strengths from the start. Streak is a crucial rushdown move to close the gap when you need to chase down enemies. A charge ability on your gun — called Color Up — and an extra Devil Breaker slot will give you some breathing room to handle any situation.
Think of Devil Breakers as a rotating set of special moves just like a fighting game.
You can use the dedicated Devil Breaker button (B/Circle) in three ways:
- Press it to initiate a basic attack
- Hold it down to unleash an ultimate ability
- Press LB/L1 for a Breakaway.
Breakaway basically detonates the arm, which cancels an enemy grab or attack chain and frees Nero from harm. The latter two skills will expend the Devil Breaker, breaking it and removing it from your inventory.
If you happen to run out of Devil Breakers, you can find some lying around in stages for free or purchase them at Nico’s shop between missions or at pay phones.
Each individual Devil Breaker has a specific special move coded to it. This is often a quick attack like a giant melee lightning blast. Some have elongated powers like a rocket fist constantly finding enemies to punch as it flies through the air.
While learning each item takes time, you need to remember one thing: If you get hit while an attack is underway, your Devil Breaker explodes. That includes ongoing abilities or single-use ones: If an effect is taking place, you are vulnerable to losing that power-up.
The rules that govern this system lead to a sort of dance with Devil Breakers. While you shouldn’t be afraid to use them, there’s also a right time to go for it. If a fight is tough, it’s OK to use an ultimate ability and break an arm or two to survive. Nearly every level provides a pay phone to call in Nico and fully replenish your stock before the point of no return. If you see a phone, a big fight is likely coming up.
The other function of your Devil Breaker arm is a grapple ability called Wire Snatch. You can use this even if all of your other arms are depleted — hold the lock-on button (RB/R1) and press the Devil Breaker button (B/Circle). If the enemy is small, you’ll pull them toward you. If they’re larger, you’ll pull yourself forward.
The Wire Snatch is not only a great tool for closing the gap (since you can’t use Streak in the air), but a perfect way to keep a combo going and put the pressure on. After a combo is seemingly finished and an enemy is flying away, hit them with a Wire Snatch to grab them back and do another combo.
Red Queen Exceed Gauge
Nero can rev his sword either before or during combat to add an extra bit of damage to melee attacks.
Press the LT/L2 button, let go, then press it again to power up your Exceed Gauge at the top left of the screen. It looks like a series of three mufflers, each of which indicates a power level. You’ll know that the gauge is powered up by one degree if there’s a flame emanating from one of the mufflers.
Nero has the ability to rev the Red Queen out of combat, but that’s not the most efficient way to fill it.
Instead, execute a series of Ex-Act revs, by pressing the rev button (LT/L2) directly following an attack. While it might take some effort to get the timing down (you can practice in The Void training mode on the main menu screen), over time you’ll start to naturally feel the rhythm of each combo strike and the window required to boost the Exceed Gauge.
If you aren’t getting the concept of revving, don’t focus too much on it. It’s mostly optional on your first playthrough. Later in the game, you can unlock the Max-Act power, which fully replenishes your gauge for a frame-perfect Ex-Act.
V is a unique character in the Devil May Cry series in that he doesn’t fight his battles directly. Instead, he’ll use three creatures: Griffon, Shadow, and Nightmare. The former acts as his ranged attack and the latter two are his muscle.
Given that Nightmare is more of a limited-use special ability, Griffon and Shadow are his core duo, and both have their own health bars. If they’re depleted, they go into Stalemate, meaning they’ll need time to recharge before entering the fray again. That leaves V vulnerable.
V also has another proviso: He needs to finish off enemies with his cane. After an enemy’s life bar is depleted, you’ll see a series of runes around the lock-on indicator as well as a ghostly aura around them. Now you can take them out with your melee attack (B/Circle), which otherwise does a nominal amount of damage. Make sure you’re looking around and taking enemies out before they regain their health and enter combat again.
To get the most out of V, micromanage your pets to ensure that they don’t overcommit to a fight. The tricky part is that you’ll be doing this while also dodging projectiles and enemy attacks.
What skills to buy first: Trigger Heart, Promotion, Breakthrough.
V is formidable but extremely fragile. To rectify this weakness, pick up Trigger Heart to extend how long Nightmare is around. Promotion allows you to ride Nightmare and rest while bosses are raining down some of their most damaging attacks. Breakthrough, a charge attack (forward and melee), will be your go-to attack for rushing enemies with Shadow and preventing them from reaching V in the first place.
QGriffon’s attacks are either quick button presses with rapid-fire bullets or holds with more area of effect payoffs. against single targets. The default for groups is hold attacks, which charge up a large series of lightning bolts that blast the area.
Griffon’s attacks are either singular button presses for rapid-fire bullets or long presses with area-of-effect payoffs. The quicker, weaker attacks are good for single targets. A long-press attack will charge up a series of lightning bolts that blast an area, making it great for groups of enemies.
Unlike the two other playable characters, you can use ranged and melee attacks at the same time because they’re technically two minions. There’s no disadvantage to spamming Griffon.
In and out of combat, V can hold down the jump button to glide with Griffon. Locking on and pressing back and the jump button will call in Griffon to pull you away from combat with a sort of aerial backward dodge.
Shadow is your vanguard and your primary means of protection. Control Shadow just as you’d control Nero. This minion is capable of combos and directional attacks just like other Devil May Cry characters.
It’s tough to really get this mentality at first, especially since you’re surveying fights at a distance with V. To drive it home, use the lock-on feature often and practice basic combos with Shadow. One easy combo is forward + attack to rush with Breakthrough, backward + attack to launch them in the air, then subsequent neutral attacks.
If you’re being pummeled, don’t be afraid to stop the offensive and give Shadow some breathing room — especially if a boss is readying a destructive attack. By letting off Shadow’s button, you’ll call it back and allow it to heal. Once you’re ready, you can instantly have Shadow pop back in.
V’s Devil Trigger gauge determines when you can call on Nightmare. Once you have three bars, you can unleash it, but it’ll only stick around until the gauge is drained. In this state, Nightmare kind of does its own thing. It’ll strike enemies with its fists and use a powerful beam attack that sports a delay, thus requiring a fair bit of setup to hit. For bosses, wait to call in Nightmare until the boss has settled down following a series of attacks.
After purchasing the Promotion skill, V can ride on Nightmare, allowing a small respite from attacks and direct control. You can still independently control Griffon and Shadow, as well as queue up Nightmare attacks with the B/Circle button.
Unlike the other characters’ Devil Triggers, when Nightmare is out V does not regain health, so don’t rely on it for a boost.
Dante is playable from mission 10 onward and mostly retains his Style-heavy kit from Devil May Cry 3 and 4.
Dante can swap to different Styles using the D-pad. Each different Style dictates his moveset and adds extra abilities. Trickster is movement-based, Gunslinger focuses on ranged attacks, Swordmaster deals with close combat, and Royal Guard is a reaction-based defensive state. Style abilities are either baked in by default or initiated with the dedicated Style button (B/Circle).
You can play in one Style the entire game or change between them constantly.
What skills to buy first: All of the level one Style upgrades.
Dante lives and dies by his Styles, which influence every one of his weapons and moves. The first all-encompassing upgrades for each style are relatively cheap and add extra abilities into the mix. Buy them right away.
Trickster is a good default Style to be in and the most straightforward of them all.
When you press the Style button, Dante will dash in the direction of your choice. This is essentially an elongated dodge that doesn’t require a lock-on. It can also be used in the air after obtaining the first Trickster upgrade.
If an enemy is off-screen and you hear a projectile revving up or coming your way, already being in Trickster will allow you to quickly sidestep it. With Trickster, you’re able to weave in and out of combat quicker than any other character, so take advantage of it.
Gunslinger is a tricky Style to know when to use, but it’s almost always effective. It’s a ranged attack-focused Style, so your play style will determine how often you switch to it.
However, it’s important to realize when the Style might come in handy. Use it when you’re tasked with killing groups of weaker enemies, or when you need to maintain your distance from melee-oriented ones. Whittling down enemies that have heavily choreographed ranged attacks and instant speed melee skills at a distance is always the safest course of action, especially on higher difficulty settings that can take large chunks out of your health.
By using Gunslinger in those cases, you’re adding more base firepower to your ranged attacks. You’ll have plenty of time to change to Trickster to dodge as they attempt to close in. At that point, it’s safe to yo-yo back into Gunslinger.
During tougher boss fights, it isn’t a bad idea to stay in Swordmaster since of your strikes are going to be in a close combat situation. The addition of more combos to the mix will not only help your damage numbers but also your style score.
While on the offensive keep Swordmaster handy. If you find a boss reeling or otherwise incapacitated, Swordmaster will deal more damage faster than Gunslinger, and you won’t need the defensive abilities of Trickster or Royal Guard.
Royal Guard is the most difficult Style to master. It requires frame-sensitive precision, and the payoff isn’t as immediately obvious as the other Styles.
To truly grasp Royal Guard and its parry capabilities, you’ll need to learn the timing of enemy attacks and watch their animations to know the moment they connect. Holding down the Style button to constantly block is an option, but hitting the button at precisely the right moment will raise your Royal Guard gauge. This lets you unleash a powerful counterattack.
This is not a stance you’re going to be staying in. Rather, it’s something to switch into while you’re defending. Use it for a parry or two, then swap back into an offensive style.