I consider myself to be a massive fan of the Devil May Cry games, having played every single entry in the series multiple times over with the intention to still play them many more times again even in 2018. I need my annual fix, and I am going to break out my PlayStation 2 yet again for another run at the now 16 year old debut title.
That’s because these games are fantastic hack and slash titles, to the point of being addictive even, and no other game or game series has as of yet managed to beat the sensation of stacking up SSS combos quite the way Devil May Cry does. (For the record I am aware that the Bayonetta series exists, and while it is phenomenal in it’s own right, it’s just not quite the same.)
And while Devil May Cry 4 might not exactly be my favorite game in the series, it was still a lot of fun to play except for one tiny little gameplay mechanic that never quite managed to click with me, and actually made a large portion of the game very frustrating to play. I’m talking of course about Nero’s sword Red Queen’s Exceed system.
The concept behind the mechanic is simple: you press a button to rev up the handle on the sword to charge up your Ex-Gauge, which can be found to the left of the heath bar. There are three different levels of the Ex-Gauge, and each one makes the sword glow a brighter red than the previous indicating the increased amount of damage each new level deals as well.
Once charged, the next Ex attack will not only deal a tremendous amount of damage even to the more stronger enemies you encounter, it will also look and function differently then before. Simple enough to understand, right?
But now bear with me here, because I acknowledge that this might be a divisive opinion within the Devil May Cry fandom, but I personally really hated the Exceed mechanic. It definitely had its moments when it worked, often times purely by luck on my part, but mostly it just bought the flow of combat to a grinding halt.
So there are two different ways to charge the Ex-Gauge. You either stand in one area while you build up charge for the gauge, being able to only move very slowly as you do so, or you manage to press the Exceed button during a very narrow time frame after an attack to achieve either the MAX-Act or the EX-Act actions. If you press the button perfectly after an attack you achieve MAX-Act which maxes out the Ex-Gauge, and if your timing is not exactly perfect you achieve EX-Act, which instead only charges one level of the Ex-Gauge.
Now It’s not exactly convenient to stand in a room and rev up the handle while you’re completely surrounded by enemies. And it’s even less convenient when you attempt to initiate the MAX-Act or the EX-Act and mess up slightly on the timing, which then results in your combo being broken as Nero stands motionless in front of the enemies like an idiot because he then resorts to the default revving animation to charge the Ex-Gauge.
And none of this would have even been a problem to begin with if Nero actually had access to other weapons like deuteragonist Dante has, but he doesn’t. You’re forced to play with Nero for the majority of the game and the only other weapons you get access to are the Blue Rose and the Yamato, one of which is ranged and the other is almost exclusively used to activate your Devil Trigger ability.
So as excited as I was when Devil Mar Cry 5 was announced at E3 2018, I was also kind of disappointed when I saw that Nero still makes use of the Red Queen since you can see him revving it’s handle in the trailer. This leads me to believe that the Exceed system will be making a comeback in the game.
My excitement for the game has not waned because of this, but I do hope that developer Capcom will be revamping the whole system to make it less of a pain to use in combat. And if not, at least they can give me other weapons to use this time around so that I don’t have to be stuck with the Red Queen for the majority of the game.