In this Devil May Cry games ranked featured article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the very best this series has to offer. It’s not often you find a video game series that stays true to its spirit while meeting the ever-increasing demands of its market. The gaming environment changes rapidly, and it’s difficult to remain relevant while standing out amongst the crowd. In most cases, franchises lose the very thing that made them unique in the first place, and are doomed to endless reboots and remakes in an attempt to regain that original spark.
It’s all the more impressive, then, when a series like Devil May Cry comes along and shows the world that it can be a hit time and time again. Although the series has seen its fair share of criticism, it’s delivered consistently high-quality games full of thrilling action and dark themes that keep fans coming back for more.
This week, we’ll be taking a look at all six Devil May Cry games and ranking them from worst to best.
Devil May Cry Games Ranked
Starting with #6, let’s work our way down to the #1 best Devil May Cry game ever made.
6. Devil May Cry 2
- Developer: Capcom
- Release Date: January 25, 2003
- Platform(s): PS2, Switch
Starting our list is Devil May Cry 2, the ill-fated sequel to Devil May Cry. With the first game being such an immediate hit, many fans understood that it would be difficult for the sequel to live up to the hype. Even with those concessions in mind, however, Devil May Cry 2’s severe drop in difficulty and drastic changes to the main character’s personality left it doomed to fail.
The story follows Dante’s long battle against Arius, a businessman who aims to summon the demon Argosax to achieve immortality and conquer the world. Taking the job on the flip of a coin, Dante must work with Lucia to take down Arius before his goals are realized, all while protecting her from her dark destiny and the truth of who she is.
Although the gameplay of Devil May Cry 2 has been criticized for being less challenging than that of its predecessor, there are a few elements introduced that have since become common in future installments. The first of these is an evade button, which allows players to avoid incoming attacks from enemies. The game also introduces mid-air combination attacks and weapon-change buttons that let players cycle between their weapons without needing to visit their inventory.
Overall, Devil May Cry 2 takes the lowest ranking on our list due to its commercial failure. The game was a letdown in a number of ways, and future installments would go on to reassume the spirit of the original game and the challenging and strategic gameplay players missed in the sequel.
5. Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening
- Developer: Capcom
- Release Date: February 17, 2005
- Platform(s): PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Switch
Next on the list is Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening, which successfully avoided the second game’s mistakes. Not only that, but it also introduced customization elements that added a whole new level of interest and complexity to the game. Interestingly enough, the game’s North American release was criticized for being too challenging, with the game’s “normal” difficulty being equivalent to the Japanese release’s “hard” mode. This adjustment was later fixed in the special edition, though it’s interesting that Capcom briefly overcorrected in their efforts to avoid their previous missteps.
After a message from Dante’s brother is delivered in the form of a demon attack on his shop, Dante rushes into the halls of a mysterious tower to challenge Vergil. He eventually meets a woman named Mary, who’s seeking revenge against her father for the role he played in her mother’s death. The two join forces in their respective battles, but must eventually face a betrayal of epic proportions and the death and destruction that accompanies it.
The game’s customization elements come in the form of new gameplay styles. Players must focus on various techniques and weapons, earning experience points in different styles and unlocking corresponding moves and abilities. The combat system changes slightly with these new mechanics, allowing for linked attacks and a limited two-player option when using the Doppelgänger form. The game also expands the ranking system to include “SS” and “SSS” and introduces a second weapon swap button for melee weapons.
4. Devil May Cry 4
- Developer: Capcom
- Release Date: January 31, 2008
- Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Mobile
Next up is Devil May Cry 4, which revolutionized the series by introducing a second protagonist, Nero. Although other characters aside from Dante had been playable in earlier installments, Nero was the first to be given a central role in the story with unique abilities distinct from Dante’s. The game was extremely well-received as a result, especially considering the gameplay variety provided by dual protagonists.
Nero is a young demon hunter and member of the Order of the Sword, a religious cult that worships the demon Sparda. After Dante murders the leader of the Order, and a group of demons attack the Island of Fortuna, Nero is sent to take down Dante and restore peace to his island. But he soon discovers that Dante is not his real enemy, and must work with him and his newfound power to thwart the Order’s dark and demonic conspiracy.
Nero and Dante each offer unique play styles that keep gameplay dynamic and exciting. As Nero, players can charge their sword attacks for extra damage and additional style points and use the power of his Devil Bringer arm to grapple and kill enemies. As Dante, players can swap between several distinct fighting styles mid-combat, harkening back to the customizable styles of Devil May Cry 3, albeit with more freedom. The game also introduces a new currency used to buy new abilities for both Nero and Dante.
3. Devil May Cry
- Developer: Capcom
- Release Date: August 23, 2001
- Platform(s): PS2, Switch
Devil May Cry is the thrilling first installment of the eponymous series. The game was met with incredibly positive reviews, becoming an immediate hit that kicked off the hack-and-slash franchise that continues to churn out high-quality games. The game initially began as the concept for Resident Evil 4, but the unique style continued to develop until the game’s producer convinced Capcom to fund it as an independent project. The game was rewritten to include allusions to the Divine Comedy, launching the story into what it is today.
The campaign begins as Dante’s attacked by a woman named Trish, who claims to be testing his power in preparation for the return of the demon emperor Mundus. Dante believes that Mundus is responsible for his family’s death and agrees to join her in her efforts to stop his return to power. As he fights his way through the demons plaguing Mallet Island, Dante discovers that his quest may be more personal than he originally assumed.
Since Devil May Cry was initially intended to be a survival-horror game, its gameplay includes many puzzle-solving and exploration elements in addition to the hack-and-slash action. The combat is mainly combo-based, with players receiving a ranking (ranging from D to S) at the end of each level based on completion time, item usage, currency gathered, and style. Style points are earned by performing longer and longer attack chains without taking damage.
Although the game did receive critical acclaim, there are a few factors that keep it from earning the coveted “SSS” ranking. Players found the story to be a bit short and the characters somewhat underdeveloped. In fact, it’s theorized that the game’s difficulty was increased to give the campaign the illusion of being longer. The game’s difficulty would remain a point of contention in future installments, though the lore would develop further to offer a complete picture of Dante’s story.
2. DmC: Devil May Cry
- Developer: Ninja Theory
- Release Date: January 15, 2013
- Platform(s): PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
DmC: Devil May Cry is a brief reboot of the series, carrying characters and themes over to an alternate reality. This fact wasn’t received well before the game’s release, and many fans of the franchise were worried that Ninja Theory would make too many changes to Dante and the gameplay. These worries were ultimately unfounded, as the reboot offered a truly incredible experience that remained true to the core spirit of Devil May Cry.
In this alternate reality, Dante is a young man whose demon-hunting career is just beginning. He’s harassed constantly by the demons of Limbo and the authority figures that they control in the mortal plane. When a run-in with a demon leads to Dante allying with his long-estranged brother and a woman named Kat, Dante must embrace his newly-discovered destiny and take down the evil that threatens the world.
DmC: Devil May Cry introduced changing environments, with hidden areas and hostile triggers that serve to harm or otherwise impede players as they move through spaces. The gameplay also incorporates Dante’s identity as a Nephilim, introducing new movesets in the form of Angel and Devil modes. Combined, these provide more fluid combat and a greater range of possibilities for combos and style points.
1. Devil May Cry 5
- Developer: Capcom
- Release Date: March 8, 2019
- Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
Closing our list with the highest ranking of all is Devil May Cry 5, the latest installment in the series. The game returns to the pre-reboot Devil May Cry narrative, following Dante and Nero while introducing a new character known only as “V.” The game was a critical and commercial success, with many fans praising the return to form and the engaging gameplay brought about by the unique fighting styles of each of the three protagonists.
The story begins with Nero, who has lost his Devil Bringer arm and the sword Yamato to a demon named Urizen. Nero is overpowered and convinced to escape by a mysterious man named V, and must continue his pursuit outfitted with a new, mechanical arm called the Devil Breaker. He and V meet up again and seek out Dante, who was subdued and placed into a magical hibernation in his own quest to fight Urizen. After awakening Dante, the trio must uncover their connection to one another in the face of an overwhelming enemy.
The gameplay remains conceptually similar to earlier installments, adding in a few new mechanics relating to each of the protagonists’ fighting styles. Dante’s style is relatively unchanged from Devil May Cry 4, but he now has access to a handful of new items that can vary his gameplay, including a set of twin buzzsaws that can be combined into a motorcycle.
Nero plays somewhat differently as well, as his Devil Bringer arm has been replaced with a mechanical prosthetic. Players can use this new Devil Breaker arm in various ways, including grappling enemies and freezing them in place. Replacements and upgrades for the Devil Breaker arms can be found throughout the world, a helpful mechanic considering the relative fragility of the prosthetics.
Finally, the introduction of V as a protagonist establishes a new fighting style, one which revolves around controlling demons during combat in favor of fighting enemies directly. V’s demons include an eagle with ranged lightning attacks, a panther for melee attacks, and a golem for more powerful attacks.
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