["How To" is a recurring feature in which we demonstrate techniques designed to improve your game, and make your skill set a bit more stylish. This time out, we’ll help explain DmC: Devil may Cry's weapon-parry system, and how to utilize it to tear apart bosses and tougher enemies.]
Parrying is nothing new to the Devil May Cry series. It is a gameplay mechanic that has existed since the original Devil May Cry was released back in 2001, which allowed protagonist Dante to deflect certain projectiles and melee attacks with well-timed sword strikes. All Devil May Cry titles that followed implemented this type of weapon-parry, in some form or another. DMC3 introduced a dedicated block/parry ability with its “Royal Guard” play style. This style allowed Dante to enter a defensive stance, reducing the damage he took from attacks. Timing a block in sync with an enemy’s attack resulted in a “just” block, which deflected all damage directed at Dante and stunned the attacking opponent. DmC: Devil May Cry, Capcom’s reboot of the Devil May Cry franchise developed in collaboration with Ninja Theory, reworks the style abilities introduced in DMC3 and unfortunately, Royal Guard didn’t make the final cut. What it does instead is expand on the weapon-parry system that has been an underlying part of the combat in all previous games.
In essence, Dante must time his attack to collide with an enemy’s own attack. The resulting clash forces the enemy to recoil, allowing Dante to get a few hits in without fear of retaliation. Parrying looks stylish, and results in a few unique attack options when successfully utilized against bosses. Unfortunately, the game does a poor job of rewarding players for utilizing parries during non-boss encounters. In a hectic fight with many enemies, timing an attack to collide with an enemy’s can feel like a crap-shoot: the timing is unique for every attack, clusters of enemies can often make it difficult to see attacks coming, and you are awarded a disappointingly small amount of style points if you do successfully parry.
For normal enemy encounters, abusing Dante’s “Demon Evade” is much more practical and rewarding than parrying. Combat in Devil May Cry games is generally evasion-oriented, and the demon evade in DmC rewards players for pulling off tight, well-timed dodges with a huge style bonus and temporary strength buff for Dante. Good use of the demon evade will make it easier for players to tear-apart enemy hordes and earn more style points than parrying ever will.
Unfortunately, this holds true for boss fights as well, as Dante can do an absurd amount of damage to them with well-timed demon evasion, turning even the final bosses into mewling pussycats. If one were given the option to parry a boss’ attack, or demon evade and counterattack, the latter option would generally reward players better than the former.
So why parry at all? Well, because it’s a feature in the game, firstly. Why not try and utilize all the tools the game puts at your disposal, after all? And secondly, utilizing a parry can actually make some boss fights easier, as it can force an opening that demon evasion cannot.
See, parrying successfully will force any enemy to recoil, bosses included. Several bosses use attacks that make them difficult to harm until said attack is over. Parrying such an attack will force the boss into a recovery animation prematurely, allowing Dante to go in for the coup de grâce rather than warming a bench while waiting for an attack to end.
Regardless of what players decide to parry, though, the most important factor when it comes to parrying is patience. Because parrying utilizes weapon clashing rather than the dedicated instant-block of Royal Guard, players are at the mercy of Dante’s attack animations, rather than the easily cancelable, reflex-based defense in DMC3 and DMC4. So players must compensate for Dante’s start-up swing by anticipating incoming attacks and attacking a bit early. Rather than pressing the block button as an attack collides with Dante, players will generally want to attack just before an attack collides with him. And since the attack speed of enemies varies tremendously in DmC, players will need to be willing to take damage and eat a few deaths to get a hand of the mechanic.
Fortunately, the mission ranking system in DmC is by far the most lenient of any in the series. Deaths amount to little, so long as players acquire all collectable items within a level and earn sufficient style points during combat.
Finally, a “pro tip,” so to speak. Dante’s longsword “Rebellion” has the fastest basic attack in the game. While not instantaneous, is can be used to parry much more reliably than any other weapon Dante possesses, sans the angel scythe “Osiris’” and its “Prop Shredder” attack in specific situations. So stick with Rebellion for parrying, for the most part.
Now, without any more delay, let’s take a look at the enemies worth parrying in DmC: Devil May Cry. Be warned, there will be spoilers below. If you don’t want to know what Dante will be facing off against in DmC, turn away now.
The first boss in the game, the Hunter is essentially a giant monkey with a knife. He will slash and thrust at Dante with his knife, but he telegraphs his attacks obviously. Keep your eye out for the white flash, which indicates that he is winds up a swipe. Parrying these slashes will force the Hunter into a stun state, allowing players to jump at his face and deal damage to him without him retaliating.
The second notable parry is a counter against the Hunter’s peculiar grab. He will occasionally jump on the ferris wheel and shoot his grapple gun into the ground before Dante. A demon hand will then materialize and grab Dante. Attacking this hand as it opens will result in a unique parry animation, which has Dante knock the demon off the ferris wheel, stunning him.
The third parry of note can be used when the Hunter shrouds the area in black fog. The demon will be out of Dante’s reach and will throw his massive knife across the stage repeatedly in an attempt to damage him. Attacking the knife as it is about to collide with Dante will result in a cinematic parry that has Dante reflect the blade at the Hunter, which dispels the fog and stuns him in the process.
She has several swipe attacks that can be parried with good timing. Parrying the Succubus will force her to lose her balance and fall over temporarily. While she is vulnerable to damage following a parry, she is also susceptible to a cinematic demon grab attack at this time. Using a demon pull on her will have Dante smash her head into the platform, leaving her stunned and helpless for a few moments.
The gimmick to the fight with Barbas is that he cannot be harmed so long as the glyphs on his platform are active. Striking at the glyph with the Eryx gauntlets will deactivate it, exposing Barbas to damage and limiting Barbas’ own attack options.
All of Barbas’ long-range attacks can be parried. Doing so will stun him briefly, allowing players to attack him for a few seconds before he raises his defense again. Players are better off using this time to run between and deactivate the glyphs, as Barbas will not attack until he recovers. Barbas tends to be very aggressive with his attacks, so parrying is very useful for this fight.
The key to damaging this disgusting demon infant and exposing Lilith (the true target in this fight) is to strike his third eye. Normally, players would need to use the demon pull to reveal a weak point on the infant’s back. When the baby takes sufficient damage, it will flinch and open its third eye. Parrying its attacks will force the demon to open this eye prematurely.
His most basic attack is a swipe with his withered and malformed arm. Parrying this attack will knock the demon off balance for a few moments, allowing Dante to nail it with a combo before it recovers.
A more cinematic parry can be used when the infant uses its projectile attack. It will summon a giant disco ball and hurl it at Dante. Dante can reflect the orb with a well-timed slash, knocking it back at the demon spawn and stunning it for a few moments.
Mundus is a powerhouse: none of his melee attacks can be parried. However, his fireball attack can be reflected back to him for damage. During the second phase of the fight, Mundus will fire a volley of fireballs. This volley can be parried successfully, but the timing is awkward and doing so isn’t all that useful. Parrying the entire volley will do great damage to Mundus, but it is safer and more effective to evade the fireballs and attack at him with Rebellion when he leans into the platform.
Most of Vergil’s attacks can be parried. Parrying his attacks will often force an opening, allowing players to damage to him without having to deal with Vergil’s own pesky parry.
Vergil will summon phantom swords to shoot at Dante. These can be parried by standing at medium range and attacking when the sword flashes. This is the most useful attack to parry, since he summons swords regularly and parrying will almost always leave Vergil open to a combo or two. Don’t fret if Vergil starts summoning more than one sword. Reflecting one back at him will dispel any others he has summoned.
Butchers and Dream Runners
There are a few useful parry applications in combat outside of boss fights. Two enemies in particular are considerably easier to deal with when parried: the hulking Butchers, and the lithe Dream Runners.
The buzzsaw-wielding Butchers are a pain to deal with at close range: they are hyper aggressive, deal enormous amounts of damage per hit, and are deceptively fast. They are less aggressive at long range, occasionally throwing their projectile attacks as they lumber towards you. So keep them at long range. Reflecting their projectiles at them with a parry will stun them, allowing you to dash in for a heavy combo before they can recover. Or, players can capitalize on the stun by focusing on other enemies instead.
Osiris’ Prop Shredder is actually very useful against a Butcher’s projectile attacks, so use it over Rebellion for this particular enemy.
Dream Runners are agile blade-wielding demons that teleport around the environment and have a variety of melee attacks that they use to great effect. They are also unique in that they are the only enemies aside from Vergil that can effectively parry Dante. This makes them tricky enemies to fight one-on-one, and nightmarish to fight when combined with other enemies.
Parrying their attacks is a sure-fire way to force an opening. Their teleport is the easiest of their attacks to parry: charging an Eryx gauntlet punch when the Dream Runner disappears and releasing the blow when it reappears guarantees a parry. Be sure NOT to use Eryx’s uppercut, though. Dream Runners have an aerial parry that they can use, even when being comboed. Eryx’s uppercut strikes multiple times, and each strike can potentially trigger the Dream Runner’s parry. Stick to straight punches for a less risky parry.
Players can also opt to use Rebellion to parry the Dream Runner. Much like with Eryx, players will want to attack as the demon reappears from a teleport. Players can easily follow the parry with a quick combo before the Dream Runner recovers.