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Diving Deep Into Devil May Cry 5 with Game Designer Hideaki Itsuno

After a crowd-pleasing reveal at E3 2018, fans were treated to their first look at Devil May Cry 5’s gameplay at recent gaming events on both sides of the Atlantic. Even if you didn’t have the opportunity to pick up the sticks at gamescom 2018 or PAX West, one thing is clear – the game looks darn good. I ran into Game Director Hideaki Itsuno and Producer Matt Walker during a DMC5 pizza party(!) at PAX West, where we talked about the style and practicality of making a visually pleasing title. Here are some insights from the director, via translated by Producer Matt Walker:

Q: What’s the reaction to the DMC5 demo been like at gamescom and here at PAX?

A: From what we can tell, everyone’s really enjoying the demo, and so that has been an incredible driver for us on the dev team, to keep working on the game and make it even better.

Q: The Devil May Cry series has always been visually impressive, but DMC5 represents a massive leap over DMC4 – even beyond the expected generational leap in graphics. How are you thinking differently from a design perspective about how to use all that horsepower you have at your disposal?

A: The way we’ve approached the graphics for this game, our idea was that we don’t want to just be compared to other AAA titles. We want to – hopefully if we’re good enough, to be compared to Hollywood films like “Pacific Rim” or “The Avengers”. And ideally, we want to be on that kind of level with this game, so that’s what we’ve been striving for on the dev side.

Q: Something I noticed during the demo’s Goliath boss battle: Yes, the Goliath is huge and detailed, but the sequence took place in a constantly changing environment; first on a rooftop, then in an enclosed area, then bursting through the floor, and finally outside. Is this type of visually-impressive, dynamic environmental set piece something we can expect throughout DMCV?

A: We do have a lot in store. What we’ll say for that specific battle – we put a lot of effort in trying to make that something spectacular. We had some people work hard on the physics, for instance, and we found some ways to really make the physics work not just on a graphical level, but to still be achieving a high level of performance. So, that’s part of the reason that this boss really pops.

Q: At gamescom, Digital Foundry seemed to be impressed with the textures, the shadows, and especially the framerate of what they played of the game. Can you talk about why the fluidity of 60 FPS is so important to the Devil May Cry series?

A: There’s no doubt that from a graphical perspective, 60 frames looks good. From our perspective, more than that, we have fans saying to us, ‘we want you to make the kind of game where we can respond at the timing of 1/60th of a second.’ And so, we want to be faithful to those people. We want to say OK we’re going to give you guys the kind of experience that you’re hoping for, the kind of experience where it is balanced so that you can respond at that kind of response rate.

Q: I don’t think it’s my imagination that Nero takes up more real estate on screen than in previous entries in the series. Is that accurate? With new horsepower what new care and details are you putting into the character models?

A: That was definitely one of our goals for this game, having characters that look as good as they possibly can. I went to the team and said “to the fullest effect we can, without affecting gameplay, let’s bring that camera up so that we can really get a good look at those characters.” The way they move, the way they look, that all plays a key role in how stylish it’s going to look as well. And we decided not only that but also to put a lot of effort into creating fluid transition animations. Because we have these animations, we can have the most responsive gameplay but still make it look AAA top class.

Q: Recent and upcoming Capcom titles like RE7 and the upcoming RE2 remake look incredible. Are you working with those other Capcom teams to raise your game?

A: We really lucked out because we had RE2 being developed on the same engine at the same time. We’re able to take advantage of the advances we’re both making at the same time. RE2 is focusing on trying to make something as realistic as possible. We’re trying to make something that looks realistic and good, but also pops stylistically. While we were focusing on that, we were making advances on the engine, they were focusing on realism and making advances there, and we were able to cross-pollinate. What they put in the engine we’re able to take, and vice versa.

Q: What’s been the experience working on Xbox One X, the most powerful console ever made :)?

A: That’s right, it really is the most powerful hardware on the market. Thanks to that, we had no problems getting 60FPS out on this hardware at 4K. It didn’t take much effort on our part at all. This is the lead platform, whenever we show anything, we show it on [Xbox One X], with reason. It’s such good hardware! *enthusiastic thumbs up*

Nero, Dante, and the rest of the Devil May Cry 5 cast comes to Xbox One on March 8, 2019.