An annual reminder that we can all be something bigger
This issue, as the enormous number five on the cover makes clear, is about longevity. In the fastest-moving form of entertainment on the planet, change is a necessity if you want to stick around. Yet it’s also essential to stay true to your roots. The aim of a sequel is twofold, after all: to give existing fans more of what they fell in love with, while adding something fresh in order to attract a wider audience of new players.
In this issue’s cover story, Devil May Cry 5 director Hideaki Itsuno talks about what he calls the Plus Alpha element: the extra layer of mechanical complexity that fans expect from a sequel. Yet it is also a risky business, since making an already complex game such as Devil May Cry even more so is hardly going to win over the masses. Itsuno’s answer to this problem in DMC5 is an all-new third protagonist, which puts players of all levels of experience on an even footing. It’s a smart solution to an age-old problem.
Elsewhere this month we find other creators wrestling with similar themes. What’s the secret to ploughing the same furrow, and continuing to find success? A few short years ago, Unity was the king of thirdparty game engines. Yet a resurgent Unreal Engine, buoyed by the success of its maker’s own Fortnite, has taken its place, particularly among developers making multiplayer games. Beginning on p8, we discover how Unity intends to make up lost ground. And in Collected Works, we shine a spotlight on Yasuyuki Oda, who’s been making fighting games for 25 years and shows no signs of slowing up.
However you stitch it, the real key to longevity is quality. You can mix in all the clever new flavours you like, but if the core ingredients aren’t good enough, you don’t stand a chance. Itsuno’s Plus Alpha philosophy has certainly reaped dividends, but the real secret of Devil May Cry’s success is the irresistibly stylish combat system that lies at the game’s heart. Beginning on p60, we find how Capcom is building on that foundation to deliver what already looks like the first essential game of 2019.
Exclusive subscriber edition