Devil May Cry 5: The best character strategies and unlockables

Last Updated March 8th, 2019

Devil May Cry 5 isn’t the most complex game out there. Choose a character, fight some demons, go for that SSS rank, lather, rinse, repeat. However, jumping in and button mashing is sure to get you killed; demons aren’t known for their sense of mercy after all. If you find yourself needing a little help in your trips through the underworld, these tips should serve you well, even in the game’s higher difficulties.

Basic Tips

The following tips are advice that can be applied to any character in the game.

Auto-assist will allow you to pull off maneuvers that are almost impossible on manual mode

Auto-assist lets the game’s A.I. combo for you at the expense of losing twenty percent of the orbs you earn at the end of every level. Normally, I would tell you to avoid this at all costs, but auto-assist actually allows you to pull off some sweet combos that you normally wouldn’t be able to.

For example, it will allow you to charge multiple abilities at the same time without holding any buttons. It will allow you to use lock-on exclusive moves outside of a lock-on and vice versa. It will even automatically choose the correct approach option when you are far away from an enemy. While I wouldn’t recommend using it the whole game, fooling around with it could allow you to form some sick combos that wouldn’t be doable otherwise.

In general, stick to the air

Most enemies’ attacks are locked to the ground, and almost none of them can jump and follow you in the air. This makes the air a relatively safe place when fighting enemies. Every character has a launcher of some sort, and landing it will allow you to air combo the enemy in relative safety. I actually recommend turning off “helm splitter” style attacks that rocket you back to the ground, as these will put you right back in the line of enemy fire.

On higher difficulties, don’t flail wildly

On human and devil hunter difficulties, you can pretty much mash your way through every mission. On Son of Sparda difficulty or higher, though, even normal enemies can take off huge chunks of your life bar. For normal enemies, pay attention to their animations and dodge back whenever you see them reel back for an attack. Also, try not to get surrounded as this could get you stun-locked to death.

Focus on healing and summoning enemies first

This is a pretty basic tip, but it’s easy to forget it and die on harder difficulties. Any enemy that is glowing green is a healing enemy. Focus on these enemies first, as they will just prolong any battle. There is no universal glow for summoning enemies, but they tend to be huge grotesque pod like things. Take them out so you don’t end up having to fight more enemies than you need to.

Release your lock-on to make full use of your abilities

Every character has moves that are only available when locked on, or when not locked on. While the lock-on is very useful, release it every so often to vary your moves and increase your rank.


In the options menu there is an option to zoom the camera out in battle. Do this so you can see enemies on your periphery.

Always look behind you for items

It’s hard to get lost in Devil May Cry 5. If you ever get turned around you can just click the left stick in to be pointed in the right direction. However, sometimes it’s worth it to go in the wrong direction. You can usually find red orbs, green orbs, white orbs, or sometimes even blue, purple, and gold orbs hidden away in nooks and crannies. In general, whenever you come out of a cutscene, look behind yourself first.

Get movement abilities first

While it’s tempting to start learning new moves as quickly as possible, always focus on movement abilities first. Faster dashes allow you to get out of the way of enemy attacks and double jumps not only let you find hidden items, but they double as a spot-dodge. Most enemy attacks are locked to the ground so staying in the air is an easy way to keep yourself safe.

Then focus on expanding your move-set

Once you have learned a few movement abilities, focus on buying some cheap basic attack abilities. If you find that you aren’t doing enough damage in combat, this is likely why. The more expensive the ability, the more damage it tends to do, so try and work every new move you learn into your combo repertoire.

And mix in some blue and purple orbs

Blue orbs that raise your health and purple orbs which raise your Devil Trigger meter are quite rare. In fact, you can only find fragments of them in the wild and you need to find four fragments in order to make a full orb.

…. Except you can just buy full orbs in the shop! So why not do so. These are the easiest blue and purple orbs to obtain in the game, and you should buy out Nico’s full stock as soon as you can.

Try not to use red orbs as a resurrection device… but know they are the most powerful tool in the game

In general, spending red orbs on revival when you die is a scam. The prices inflate way too quickly, and it’s essentially just a way to get you to blow your money on microtransactions.

That being said, the full res option also reduces enemy life by half, including bosses. If you enter a boss fight with almost no life remaining and have red orbs to spare, you might want to consider using this, once, to give you an easier time. Just don’t use it again, however, because you’ll be spending literally hundreds of thousands of orbs to do so.

You can unlock Dante Must Die mode early

Normally you need to beat the game on Son of Sparda mode to unlock the ultra-hard Dante Must Die difficulty. However, you can unlock this difficulty early on by unlocking the game’s secret ending. How do you do so?

In the prologue, when you go into your first fight with the Demon King Urizen, it seems like you have to die. After all, dying continues the plot. However, this isn’t the case. You are woefully outmatched and Urizen has much higher stats than he does when you face him later in the game. However, he is beatable. Successfully defeating him will not only get you a secret (and anticlimactic) ending, it will also unlock Devil Must Die mode, since the starting difficulties are obviously way too easy for you.

On Dante Must Die difficulty and above, enemies have their own Devil Triggers

You might be wondering what the purple glowing enemies are in Dante Must Die difficulty and higher. These are normal enemies with their own Devil Triggers. Devil Triggered enemies have higher health, deal higher damage, and even use some moves that you may not have seen before. In short, they are super difficult to defeat. Use your own Devil Trigger to counteract their boost.

Play boss fights like Punch-Out!

On Son of Sparda difficulty and higher, you might find that you are doing very little damage to bosses, yet they are able to take huge chunks off your health bar. The reason? Most bosses only have a few frames of animation that allow them to go into hit-stun, and it’s usually after they throw out an attack. In short, you shouldn’t just rush in blind. Instead, wait for your opponent to attack and counter to do the most damage, just like Punch-Out!

Used ranged attacks in Heaven or Hell mode

Heaven or Hell mode, which unlocks after you finish the game on Dante must Die difficulty, gives you a limited amount of lives and no life bar. You die in one hit. However, enemies also die in one hit. When playing this mode, completely change up your strategy and rely on your weakest, quickest, ranged weapons (like Ebony and Ivory.) Even the smallest hit will completely obliterate any enemy, including bosses. So just stay back, dodge, and pepper them with bullets.

You can only increase your vitality 14 times

Your health bar can only be upgraded 14 times but you can find more than 14 blue orbs. Not only can you buy them in Nico’s shop, you can also buy them with microtransactions. Just note that once your health bar is maxed out, you will be wasting your money, red orbs, or time in searching out blue orb pieces.

Don’t forget your taunt!

Having troubles getting that SSS rank? Taunt! While it leaves you open to damage it greatly increases your rank for doing practically nothing. If you are flush with red orbs enough to buy your favorite character’s special taunt, even better.

Nero Strategies

Nero is the most straightforward character in the game, having access to most of his move-list at all times. However, he can still be tricky to use properly, especially when it comes to Devil Breaker management.

Don’t hoard your Devil Breakers

When it’s revealed how fragile your Devil Breakers are, you might be tempted to hoard them. However, they only do you any good when being used for attacks, and are some of your most powerful attacks to boot. Weave Devil Breakers into your combos and, if you are stuck on one you don’t want to use, either detonate it with your break away attack to do a ton of damage while gaining invulnerability, or use it’s charged attack to deal heavy damage to the enemy all at once. You’ll find more than enough replacement Devil Breakers on the ground to compensate for the trashed ones.

Another note on break away: if Nero gets grabbed in any way, always use this move. It basically is a get out of jail free card, getting you out of hit-stun, grapples, combos, and much more.

Stock up on Devil Breakers that fit your fighting style

Nico has a recommended list of Devil Breakers for each mission, but honestly she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She always favors basic Devil Breakers and assumes you’ll be detonating your breakers at an even clip, and picking up new ones as you go. It’s much better to just stock up on your favorite Devil Breakers, as you’ll get better mileage out of them due to mastering their move lists.

Always bring a Tomboy and Ragtime once you unlock them

If there are any Devil Breakers that should always be in your lineup, it’s Tomboy and Ragtime. Tomboy triggers an install state that greatly increases the damage of your sword and gun attacks, basically acting as an all-around power-up. Ragtime creates a bubble of slowed time that even affects bosses. Use this to freeze them in their vulnerable frames, and deal more damage than you would normally. Combining the two by using Ragtime’s powered-up time stop followed by Tomboy’s install is a quick way to defeat most bosses even on higher difficulties.

Master the art of revving your exceed mid-combo

If you are revving your exceed while running around doing nothing, you are doing it wrong. Instead, time your revs after each sword swing to instantly build exceed meter for free. With Max-ACT, you’ll actually build your exceed meter to full, giving you access to some powerful moves.

Use your gun to break enemy defenses

Nero doesn’t have many heavy hitting physical attacks that can break enemy defenses. When an enemy is blocking your every attack, use your gun’s charge shot. This multi-hitting attack can put enemies into stagger states allowing you to follow up with sword combos. It can also knock those giant scissors out of the hands of those annoying scissor ghosts.

Upgrade Wire Snatch

Nero’s Wire Snatch grapple ability is his main method of locomotion in battle. Upgrading its range allows it to reach across the entirety of most battle arenas. Invest in this ASAP.

Your grapple ability pulls smaller enemies to you and you to larger enemies

When using Wire Snatch, it’s worth it to remember that any enemy Nero’s size or smaller will be pulled to him, while any enemy larger than Nero will cause him to be pulled to it. Keep this in mind so that you don’t accidentally pull yourself into the middle of an enemy swarm.

Nero’s Devil Bringer is identical to his Buster Arm

After you beat the game, Nero gains access to his Devil Bringer. Unfortunately, the Devil Bringer has the same move set as his grappling Buster Arm. The animations are the same and everything. This means there’s no reason to buy Buster Arms after completing the game once, as you essentially always have one equipped.

V Tips

V has a unique gameplay style in that he spends most of his time running away and letting his demons do the work. He’s also the easiest character to play, able to rack up easy SSS ranks with just a few simple tips.

V starts with a double jump and glide

While Dante and Nero need extra red orbs to unlock their movement tools, V starts with a double jump (as long as Griffon is alive) and glide. The only movement tool you really need to unlock is his dash and special shadow dash, which can damage enemies and break environmental objects.

Use Griffon and Shadow at the same time, overlapping their inputs

While Griffon and Shadow make use of the same ranged attack and melee attack buttons Dante and Nero use, they operate differently. Most notably, they can attack at the same time, and should always be doing so. By overlapping their inputs, you can execute two special attacks at once, quickly depleting enemy health and raising your rank. So long as V doesn’t get hit, attacking with both his beasties will be a quick road to a SSS rank.

Use your movement abilities to keep Griffon and Shadow safe

It might seem like Griffon and Shadow are just sitting ducks while attacking enemies, but this isn’t true. V’s movement abilities double as dodges for his beasties. Double jumping will immediately call Griffon to your side, while dodging horizontally will call Shadow to your side. As a bonus, both Griffon and Shadow heal up fast when near V, so use this to manage their health after they take a big hit as well.

Nightmare is a free res for Griffon and Shadow

It’s tempting to save V’s Devil Trigger until the whole bar is full, but it’s not particularly worth it to be a hoarder. Activating Devil Trigger instantly resurrects Griffon and Shadow (a process that usually takes quite a bit of time). It also makes then invincible for the duration. Only a few attacks will build up the requisite three bars needed to use Devil Trigger again, so by using it in short spurts like this your summons will never be off the stage for long.

Nightmare can destroy objects and reveal hidden passages

V’s Devil Trigger is the only one that is worth using out of battle. Using it near crumbling buildings will cause Nightmare to Kool-Aid Man through them, revealing hidden passages and secret items.

Don’t bother mounting Nightmare

One of V’s abilities allows him to mount nightmare and take direct control of him. It’s not worth it. Don’t waste your red orbs. His attack rate is incredibly slow, even when mounted, and he does the same attack whether mounted or unmounted. It’s better to let the A.I. do its thing, and keep V out of harm’s way.

Buy his Devil Trigger Enhancing abilities

V actually has several Devil Trigger enhancing abilities, including one that makes his Devil Trigger last longer, and another which makes it more likely for enemies to drop white orbs, which restore his Devil Trigger bar. Pick these up as soon as you can to maximize his time with Nightmare at his beck and call.

Dante Tips

Dante is by far the most complex character in the game, but this complexity can be easier to handle by focusing on a few key abilities.

Focus on Trickster and Swordmaster styles first

Before you invest in any singular abilities, invest in your style. Trickster will allow you to quickly teleport in and out of enemy range, and Swordmaster adds new attacks to literally all your melee weapons. Since you will be using melee attacks as your primary method of damage dealing, you should just about always be in Swordmaster style.

You should be in Trickster any time you are moving or dodging and in Gunslinger any time you are trying to keep your distance. Royal Guard isn’t particularly good. While it allows you to block and counter attacks, most of its abilities cost Devil Trigger gauge. Not to mention, there are some attacks that are unblockable and must be dodged anyway.

Find the Kalina Ann in Mission 11

There is only one optional weapon in the game, and that’s the Kalina Ann hidden in Mission 11 during the crumbling building section. This rocket launcher packs a punch, but even if you miss it you will eventually gain the upgraded Kalina Ann II from Nico which is better than it in every way. So why bother picking it up? Because doing so will allows you to dual wield it and the Kalina Ann II. Yes, dual wielding rocket launchers. And you thought dual wielding motorcycles was absurd.

Understand each weapon’s function

Dante’s weapons are not interchangeable. Each has a purpose, and using a weapon outside of its intended purpose is a great way to get hit.

His sword is his jack of all trades weapon. It eventually unlocks phantom swords, which can attack as he does something else. The Balrog allows him to attack with his hands and fists. This has the worst range in the game, but the best hit-stun, so it’s great when you are focusing on one enemy at a time. The King Cerberus has lots of range and a huge move-list, but doesn’t do as much damage as his other weapons. It’s great for linking together combos when enemies get slightly out of your range. Finally, the Cavaliere is big, slow, and unwieldly, but does a ton of damage and breaks through enemy shields.

Similarly, his guns have their own functions too. Ebony and Ivory are horrible at doing damage, but can keep the enemy in hit-stun at range in order to let you close. The Coyote fires slowly, but breaks defenses and can hit multiple enemies at once. The Kalina Ann, Kalina Ann II, and Double Kalina Ann are high damage dealers, really the only fire-arms that can compare to Dante’s melee weapons.

Finally, Dr. Faust’s main purpose is to farm Red Orbs.

Useless weapons become useful with the right style and upgrade

Because Dante has so many weapons and styles at his disposal, many of them simply won’t work right out of the gate. You may find a melee weapon or firearm just isn’t doing damage. If this is the case, try switching styles and dumping a few more red orbs into it. Ebony and Ivory barely make a dent in enemy HP bars, for example, but in Gunslinger style with their Charge Shot ability learned, suddenly they become a threat.

If you aren’t using your Devil Trigger, dump it into your sin bar

Dante eventually learns a second Devil Trigger, his Sin Devil Trigger. This bar fills as he takes damage, but you can also dump your Devil Trigger bar into it. You should always do this, unless you need Devil Trigger’s HP regeneration ability. A full Sin Devil Trigger bar essentially lets you stock up a SECOND Devil Trigger in your normal bar. This allows you to either use both Devil Triggers one after another, or two Sin Devil Triggers in a row, if your Devil Trigger bar is long enough.

Dante is the best red orb farmer in the game

Don’t use those microtransactions! Just cheese the system with Dante’s Dr. Faust weapon.

You’ll need to max out your Gunslinger style and your Dr. Faust in the ability menu first. Then go into any battle and start spamming the lock-on style ability (by default this is R1+O on Playstation and RB+B on Xbox.) Dante should spin his hat in circles and won’t expend any red orbs while doing so (which he normally has to while using Dr. Faust.) Each enemy hit by this attack will drop TONS of red orbs allowing you to earn almost a hundred thousand every minute!In my opinion, the best place to do this is the final Mission 13 checkpoint. Lower the difficulty to avoid the threat of dying, spam until everything is just about dead, and then choose to retry from checkpoint to do the battle all over again. You can also pick up Dante’s “More Orbs” skill to make the farming even more efficient.


The unlock system in Devil May Cry 5 is fairly simple.

Beat the game on a lower difficulty and you’ll unlock a higher difficulty, and a few extra perks like weapons and moves. Beating the game on Human or Devil Hunter unlocks Son of Sparda mode, Nero’s Devil Trigger and Devil Bringer, and Dante’s entire weapons arsenal (except for the Kalina Ann if you haven’t found it).

Beating it again on Son of Sparda unlocks a new move for Dante and the Dante Must Die difficulty. Beating it on Dante Must Die unlocks “super” costumes which grant characters infinite Devil Trigger, along with the Heaven or Hell difficulty, which makes all enemies and you die in one hit. Finally, beating the game on Heaven or Hell unlocks Hell or Hell difficulty, in which you die in one hit, but enemies are as tough are they were on Dante Must Die difficulty.

That’s all the tips we have for you today. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.