Not many series manage to stand the test of time and remain relevant in the ever-growing market of video games. Some lose their way and deviate from what made them successful after only a couple of entries. And only select franchises, like Devil May Cry, maintain their momentum and integrity over the decades, by evolving rather than changing.
Devil May Cry has certainly suffered some rough knockdowns, be it due to troubled development processes or changes in developers altogether. But practice breeds perfection and only just recently, in March 2019, we were treated to a spectacular entry in the series with Devil May Cry 5. And despite some hiccups, this franchise boasts a persistent habit of making a stylish comeback.
From what started out as a mere prototype for a new Resident Evil game, the series has come a long, arduous way. With its appealing protagonist, stylish combat and challenging boss battles, Devil May Cry differentiated itself from the zombie apocalypse of the late nineties. And today, demon-slayer Dante has become almost synonymous with charisma, witty one-liners, oversized swords and unnaturally white hair.
With six unique stories released across almost two decades, we’re coming excitingly close to celebrating a huge anniversary. In this expansive list, we rank the 6 currently released Devil May Cry games in order: from worst to best; from the very bottom of the demon world to the glorious pinnacle of Temen-ni-gru itself. And starting at the very bottom we have…
6. Devil May Cry 2
For anyone familiar with the series, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. It might be debatable whether Devil May Cry 2 is the worst story-wise, but in terms of lacklustre action, it takes the metaphorical cake. Or pizza, to coincide with Dante’s favourite food.
Receiving the torch from the excellent original, the sequel brought back Dante and introduced a new playable character: Lucia. It featured the same grim, gothic environments, but this time, bigger and more expansive. What looked great on paper though – two playable characters with potentially different scenarios – was actually far from it. And definitely nothing of the sort that we later experienced in Resident Evil 4 between Leon and Ada.
Though both characters boasted varying sets of skills, playing through their stories seldom felt unique. It hardly placed a new perspective on the plot, which was already marred by a subpar villain: Arius. And Lucia’s inclusion, in particular, felt redundant, which is likely why she hasn’t returned to the series ever since. Even Dante himself changed from a witty loudmouth into a rather grim-looking and silent character.
Despite new weapons and skills, combat was a downgrade as well. Worst of all, this entry lacked the high difficulty of its predecessor, and sequels as well, for that matter. Even on a Hard difficulty setting, completing Devil May Cry 2 did not pose a significant challenge.
Unimaginative characters, enemies and environments made for a largely forgettable and disappointing experience. And this would often drive the final nail in the coffin for a franchise, but thankfully, four games later, it’s still going strong. We have its successor – Devil May Cry 3 – to thank for it.
5. DmC: Devil May Cry
When it comes to deviating from previously established characters and lore, DmC: Devil May Cry takes another stale slice of the pizza. And were it not for the relatively solid combat mechanics, it would more than likely reside at the very bottom of our list.
While this reboot by Ninja Theory remained true to the demonic action of the series, its story and characters left a lot to be desired. Dante lost a lot of his signature appeal with this now dull, reimagined version. From a charismatic, handsome and intelligent man, he turned into a brash and selfish punk, possibly still going through puberty.
But it wasn’t just Dante who experienced an unusual overhaul. Other characters, even fan-favourite – Vergil – didn’t stand out as particularly memorable or likeable, either. And Mundus, the Prince of Darkness from the original game, now promoted as Demon King, ruled over the human world as a powerful businessman.
DmC: Devil May Cry featured the same fast-paced and rewarding combat as its brethren. Conversations still contained the familiar humour of the series, and boss battles were as spectacular as ever. But the significant changes to beloved characters and their personalities left the story completely redundant in the overall arc.
Due to so many inconsistencies with the rest of the games, it felt too foreign, even for a re-imagining, and showcased just how much a simple change in hair colour could affect a character. It had several good ideas under the belt, but failed to execute many of them properly.
4. Devil May Cry 4
We now get to the point where none of the games are bad, just one is better than another. Being the first title of the 7th console generation, Devil May Cry 4 had the weight of the world on its shoulders in terms of expectations.
Returning to the pizza analogy, this one was like having a new topping: something you’ve never tried before. A topping you were reluctant to try even by merely looking at it. And that something was none other than Nero.
For the first time ever, the series experienced a change in protagonists and that’s never an easy pill to swallow. But the mysterious link between him and Vergil, presented Nero as an intriguing attribution to the rest of the cast
Though understandably so, Devil May Cry 4 focused too much on newcomer Nero, and too little on Dante. But In doing so, the plot also shed more light on Vergil’s sword, Yamato, and Nero’s mysterious relation to it. Along with the battle against the religious cult of The Order of the Sword, it provided a rather memorable narrative. Dante himself had aged slightly, but still retained his blabbermouth attitude in the face of danger.
Story aside, this entry featured the same stylish combat of its predecessors, while also introducing new mechanics. Particularly Nero’s demonic arm which he used to throw demons around and perform gratifying combos.
By no means was it as good as Devil May Cry 3, but most of the important aspects were solid and it delivered an overall great action experience.
3. Devil May Cry
You know what they say: you never forget your first. And that statement holds true with the original Devil May Cry. It’s like a classic Margherita: nothing fancy, but tastes helluva good. Set within a dark and gothic environment of Mallet Island, this title offered something entirely different from the usual Resident Evil games by Capcom.
Intended to become a new entry in the Resident Evil series, Devil May Cry introduced us to a cool new character — Dante — on his quest of defeating the Prince of Darkness, Mundus. As opposed to fighting tank controls in narrow corridors, this title was much more focused on action and bravado. With its rewarding style system, it motivated players into performing complex combinations with a vast arsenal of demonic weaponry.
Most levels culminated in a spectacular and often brutally difficult boss encounter, but thanks to the deep combo system, they seldom felt unfair or unsurpassable. Stylish and extremely difficult, Devil May Cry didn’t give players any reprieve and even offered an Easy Automatic mode for anyone who died three times during the Normal playthrough. Back then, it already established the high difficulty level which the series is now known for.
Behind all that style and bravado was a surprisingly good story with many memorable characters and intricate relationships between them. Some aspects of the story were not entirely clear at the time, like the mysterious persona of swordsman Nelo Angelo. But everything fell into place once Capcom released the top game on our list.
2. Devil May Cry 5
With the most recent addition to the series, the team at Capcom made a phenomenal return to form. Devil May Cry 5 brought back our favourite characters and introduced an incredible ensemble of newcomers.
Following the lacklustre reboot, it brought back every beloved aspect about the series: witty characters, stylish combat and boss battles of colossal proportions. It still focused slightly too much on Nero, but with many new characters entering the scene, it felt more balanced than Devil May Cry 4 in that regard. And the ageing Dante’s struggle against Urizen was everything a fan could ask for, which greatly compensated for any missteps.
Over its 20 action-packed missions, it featured hectic combat against new and already familiar enemies. Certain bosses from past entries even made a return, totally fitting to the new story. And once again, Dante had the opportunity to mock a poor demon puppy.
Devil May Cry 5 also introduced a passive, yet very appropriate co-op mode to the series. It often brought players to a single arena, pitting them against a large horde of demons. But afterwards, once the dust settled, everyone went their own separate way. It didn’t feel forcefully tacked on, like so many games opt to do nowadays and rewarded cooperation with useful items.
With devastating weapons, fast-paced combat, energetic metal and grandiose boss battles, it lifted the franchise to its former heights. And if you’re still not convinced why Devil May Cry 5 is among the best entries in the series, then check out our review here on TheXboxHub.
1. Devil May Cry 3
Though only by a surprisingly slight margin, I still consider Devil May Cry 3 to be the best in the series. After the disappointing second entry, it served as an outstanding prequel to the rest of the games. It portrayed a young, brash Dante (well, brasher) who had not yet come to grips with his true power. It also provided some much-needed backstory to Dante’s brother, Vergil, who became one of the pivotal figures in the Devil May Cry universe.
Coupled with some of the best characters in the series, the story gave birth to an ongoing rivalry between twins: Dante and Vergil. And the impeccably directed encounters against Vergil are still among the most epic scenes even 15 years later. Fighting him was not only challenging, but also emphasized a different part in the story and in Dante’s progression as a character.
In addition to the best, most in-depth story in the series, Devil May Cry 3 featured nearly perfect combat and boss battles. Every conversation and encounter was meaningful and bosses were not just mere obstacles in your way. Many of them, like the tri-headed beast Cerberus, and chatty swords Agni and Rudra, were exceptionally memorable. It all showcased just how impactful a prequel can be if done correctly, and Capcom nailed it.
Action-packed combat, the signature humour of the series and the devilish soundtrack formed a perfect concoction. Not only is it the best entry in the series, but it also comes first chronologically. Which means you can enjoy the story from its very origins by playing the best game among the six.
And that concludes our list of ranking all 6 Devil May Cry games in order. Feel free to let us know how right or wrong we got it. And if you’re still on the fence about getting into the story or don’t know where to start, check out our review of the Devil May Cry HD Collection on Xbox One.