Good news, everyone: the long-awaited fifth mainline installment in Capcom’s Devil May Cry franchise is fantastic. It is a return to form to rival the quality of its equally triumphant Resident Evil 7 from two years ago, and it’s heartening to see such a beloved franchise come back and make such an impact after what felt like an unbelievably long hiatus.
Unfortunately, though Devil May Cry 5 gets many things right, it also falls into a few of the pitfalls of modern video game development, most notably through its use of microtransactions. For now, these premium store options are few and far between, so are they worth the controversy?
When news first broke in September of 2018 that the then-forthcoming Devil May Cry title would be including microtransactions, fans were quick to cry foul. Given that Devil May Cry 4 dropped when the Xbox 360 was in its heyday, such consumer-unfriendly practices weren’t yet the norm and thus weren’t included in any other major DmC release.
The game’s structure could easily be manipulated to force excessive grinding and incentivize microtransactions, so fears that the series could devolve into either a major slog or an abhorrent pay-to-win experience were entirely justified.
DmC 5’s in-game buyables went live about a week ago, and, all-in-all, there doesn’t seem to be much of a reason to raise the alarm. Sure, their existence is at least slightly annoying, but offerings are so sparse and non-intrusive that they may as well not even be there to begin with.
We’re only really dealing with a handful of purchasables in total; a smattering of both red and blue orbs ranging from $1-10 depending on volume. The most egregious example here is the pack of a million red orbs retailing for $20 — that’s both excessive and totally unnecessary.
As those currently playing through the new title will no-doubt be aware, blue orbs are used to increase total health, while red orbs can be used to purchase character upgrades. It’s fairly standard stuff, and the base game can be thoroughly enjoyed without ever requiring gamers to open up the store page. After all, this isn't Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.
Yet, the slightly more cynical will be quick to point out that these purchasables could be used to help out those struggling with harder difficulties. Devil May Cry is a notoriously difficult series — the North American release of 2005’s Devil May Cry 3 was so tough that Capcom later had to release a more forgiving edition — and there’s no doubt that buying extra health and upgrade points can ease the burden of Dante Must Die mode.
While micro DLCs and small add-ons like this can be annoying, the prevailing argument in their favor is that no one is forcing anyone to spend an extra dime on the game. Everything is more or less balanced so that a lack of ancillary monetary investment won’t inhibit the overall experience. Sure, this is roughly akin to selling additional heart pieces in a Zelda title, but it’s not so bad that the credits can’t roll without breaking down and tossing a few extra bucks Capcom’s way.
The issue now revolves around what the publisher may be planning to include as DLC in the future. While DmC 5 provides players with an excellent experience, it could be corroded by an onslaught of small DLC weapon and skin packs, and the introduction of some borderline pay-to-win gear could sully the gameplay for players unwilling to open their wallets. Such was arguably the case with the aforementioned Resident Evil 7, as, while the base game was great, Capcom eventually offered so many tacky little bundles of in-game items that it hurt the base experience.
Only time will tell if Devil May Cry 5 employs more antagonistic monetization practices in the future, but, for now, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The extra premium packages currently available for download really aren’t all that necessary for even semi-competent players, and they presently only serve to unbalance the title’s difficulty for those who overindulge.