There are a bunch of places to start, but this one comes by way of a very particularly excellent request. It’s hard to quantify this value to outsiders, but those familiar with the series probably know, Stinger is one of these game’s defining moves.
So let’s not prance around and be awfully wordy about it. What is Stinger, for the uninitiated?
Stinger is a gigantic lunge of a stab. The essential mechanism of it is such: it has a long range, which it travels until it strikes an enemy or reaches its maximum distance. If it strikes an enemy, Stinger will not travel its full distance, which means that the move can be performed when the player is next to the enemy, or far away from them, to which it will have the same result when it hits the enemy: it will knock them back a set distance.
As you can see, the move itself isn’t very complicated. If anything, it’s counter-intuitive, right? I shouldn’t need to reiterate that the attack can be used to close distance with the enemy, but what good is that when the instant you strike them with Stinger, they will be knocked away from the player?
If you answered with “it isn’t good,” well, you’re correct. It’s not. That isn’t to say that there are no ways we can use Stinger to our benefit, but we needn’t focus on that minutiae, yet. The point of the matter at the moment is that simply put, a distance closing attack, a rush if you will, that knocks back the intended victim, isn’t very useful to the player.
What then is there to do with it?
So if that answer was ‘remove the undesirable effect’ you’re right. The best way to use Stinger in Devil May Cry, is to not use Stinger. ‘Wait, what’ – right? Without going into details that are useless here, Devil May Cry 3 solved the original problem presented by the first game’s Stinger by allowing the player punctuate the end of the rush with an attack that only dealt damage and hit stun but did not actually knock away the enemy unless the entire attack string was completed.
That was cheating, right? Like, really, we solved the problem by not creating it, essentially. It’s like celibacy as pregnancy prevention: technically, it’s right, there’s no arguing it, it can solve the problem, but it doesn’t, does it? We’re human beings. If we can do it and not deal with the consequences, well, that’s the sort of complex problem people live for!
You’re allowed to criticize me absolutely and completely for the first actual solution I am offering, because it’s effectively the same thing. We know that if the player strikes the enemy, they will be knocked back. So what if the player doesn’t strike the enemy with the active hitbox that will result in knockback? Well, the above, clearly.
But what does it actually accomplish? Well, we know that Stinger will travel a set distance until it hits an enemy, but as demonstrated, it doesn’t have to hit the enemy with the knockback hitbox, rather, collision is detected from a variety of means, including the player character’s already existing collision hitbox. If we skim beneath a falling enemy as we initiate one of Devil May Cry’s rushes, such as Stinger, our rush will be stopped short and, generally, end behind our target with the right timing.
That, still, is an unsatisfactory answer, isn’t it? I’m still being something of an ass if I leave us with, “Well, the simple answer is to not hit your target with Stinger,” aren’t I?
The answer to that took four games, but the solution was found in a pretty strange place, as you can see. By adding an aftershock that deals knockback towards the direction which Stinger travels while in Devil Trigger, Devil May Cry 4 provided an effective use for Stinger that created new uses for the tool and solved the problem of its usefulness in a variety of ways with the Devil Trigger Stinger. This is besides, of course, the drill-like property Stinger possesses in Devil Trigger, giving the player a different sort of knockback in addition to more damage.
There is, however, another property worth noting with Devil May Cry 4, and that is that Devil Trigger Stinger is extremely quick. So quick, in fact, that from a Helmbreaker, Dante can Stinger underneath the enemy and end up ahead of them, like so.
Alright, that about wraps it up for going over this particular tool, but it’s really not fair to just set things off. There’s gotta be an example, so let’s put it all together and wreck some face.