(Missions 1 & 10)
Think Vergil.
But twice as fast.
And with no downtime.
What can I say? Dante is rightly unlike any other boss in the Devil May
Cry universe. DMC bosses, dangerous as they are, mostly walk in your
general direction swinging away blindly and hope for the best. Not so
with Dante! His attacks are precise, deliberate, and devastating.

Moreover, he actively chases you!! And I don't mean chases in the
manner of Vergil's leisurely walk, I mean he runs towards
you at full speed! Another huge difference is that,
aside from him switching styles, the battle is not
divided into clear segments with appropriate
actions. With Dante, all bets are off and
anything goes anytime!!

He is faster than you, and his
defense is neigh impregnable.
He has NO openings, and
his recovery time between
attacks is virtually nonexistent.
When fought on his own terms, he is
undoubtedly the hardest boss in DMC history!

Unfortunately, this is all nullified by Nero's stupid Devil Bringer. The ghostly appendage could grasp Dante without fearing the bite of his blade and slam him into the ground. ~_~x

I should probably reiterate here that I $%#& HATE NERO SO MUCH!! And that it's... really hard... for me to write about this battle... without spitting curses at him and wanting to kill something. I mean... first Capcom broke my heart by not having Dante as the main character, then they stomped on the pieces by telling me I can't play him as an alternate character for all the missions, and now they rubbed my face in them by forcing me to defeat Dante - as Nero - to rob me of any pride I had left! I honestly didn't think I could bring myself to do it. But... if I ever wanted to play as Dante and have my 7 missions of uninterrupted bliss... I would have to. ;_;

DISCLAIMER: I have not fought Dante on Dante Must Die difficulty, so I make no assumptions about strategy there.

Dante 1... (Mission 1)
Do we really need to establish Nero's dominance from the get go? Ughh... ~_~x
To add insult to injury, Dante here has been demoted to a tutorial. It's literally impossible to lose to him. He's obviously not being serious and it's cute to watch him tease and bow at Nero. Follow the onscreen instructions for this battle and you should be fine.

Dante 2... (Mission 10)
Things heat up quite a bit here! When the cutscene ends, immediately start running, jumping, and weaving away from Dante!! He'll chase you, but don't look back, because you don't want to find yourself on the business end of a Stinger. I know he's scary, so scream if you must. I won't think less of you.

Once you're a safe distance away, open fire and keep firing. This doesn't do any damage, but as long as Dante is distracted by the pretty bullets, he'll be less inclined to chase you. How Nero's single shotgun could deflect Dante's Ebony & Ivory, I don't know, but I hate him for it! Slowly close in the distance between you and Dante, shooting the whole time, until you are within range to charge in with Streak. Of course, if you're within range to touch Dante, he's within range to touch you! A Wild West duel scenario ensues where the winner is the one who attacks first (note: it's usually Dante).

If you do manage to charge in first, Dante will usually sidestep and quickly counter with a Stinger and/or a Helm Breaker. I have to admit his aim with Helm Breaker needs some work, but his Stinger never fails, and is often followed up by a full combo. Once you find yourself caught in one of Dante's combos, the only reliable way to break free is to Devil Trigger and throw him off. At this point you can get a few hits in on him. In that case, or if your Streak actually landed the first time, don't get carried away. Melee damage - even Devil Trigger melee damage - has very little effect on Dante.

The only thing that puts a noticeable dent in his lifebar is a successful Buster with Devil Bringer. Dante tends to either dodge or block most of your Snatch and Buster attacks, so you have to know how to time it. Use Devil Bringer when:

A) You land a solid enough hit on him to go into a combo. STOP in mid-combo and execute Buster.
B) You're approaching him with gunfire and are lucky enough to get within Devil Bringer's range without Dante charging you.
C) You miraculously deflect his sword swing and he has a split second of recoil.
D) He is blocking in Royal Guard Style.

If the Devil Bringer lands without incident, Nero will grab Dante and slam him into the ground. But more often than not Dante will parry it. The game goes into a cinematic-style sparring animation where you must pump the Devil Bringer button to raise your combo meter enough to overpower Dante (as if!). If you are successful, you knock Dante back for extra damage. If you are unsuccessful, get out of the way fast, because he'll attack back.

The only time Dante isn't able to parry Devil Bringer is if Nero is in Devil Trigger. Plus a Buster done in Devil Trigger thrashes Dante around several times for more damage. So the basic steps are:

1) Approach with gunfire
2) Streak
3) Devil Trigger
4) Start combo
5) Stop mid-combo
6) Buster

The same pattern will work if Streak misses or if Dante charges first, because #3 will interrupt him. If your Buster misses, or if you just proceed with your combo, Dante will soon slide back on bended knee to recover. At this point he is INVULNERABLE, and if you proceed to attack him you will get hurt when he stands back up.

But enough about Nero! Lets look at Dante's moves! It would be silly for me to try to list them all. I mean, come on, this is Dante! You would probably be better off opening a DMC3 or DMC4 strategy guide to take them all in. He likes to string different combos together, but there are some moves he consistently does more often than others, so I will focus on those.

GENERAL MOVES: These are moves Dante does no matter what Style he's in. On harder difficulties he occasionally switches to Gilgamesh, Lucifer, or Pandora, but most of the time he'll stick to Rebellion, Ebony & Ivory, and Coyote A.
Stinger: Dante glides in and impales you with his sword. Fast and deadly.
Million Stab: A hyper-powered Stinger.
Helm Breaker: Dante jumps high and dives down to split those below with his sword. Embarrassingly bad aim.
Shotgun: I like to spend my battles hopping around for mobility, but Dante will shoot you out of the air.
Honeycomb Fire: Dante hops back with pointed guns, twirls them, and opens fire on Nero. Unlike regular gunfire, Nero can't deflect it with his slow-ass shotgun. Jumping is unreliable too, so the best way to avoid it is side rolling. You can also interrupt him (without doing any damage) with Charged Shot (charge it when you see him hop back and get ready to fire).

In addition to his generic moves, Dante can enter into one of his four Styles: Trickster, Swordmaster, Gunslinger, and Royal Guard. He announces every time he switches Styles and his aura momentarily glows the associated color.

TRICKSTER: Probably the most lethal of the four, Dante becomes even more mobile and faster than he already was.
Dash: This puts you at a huge disadvantage in terms of approaching Dante because his attack range is doubled. He could rush towards you and Stinger before you have time to react. Watch him very carefully, don't freeze up, and keep running/jumping.
Sky Star: This is basically an aerial Dash.

SWORDMASTER: You do NOT want to engage Dante in melee when he's in Swordmaster mode because his repertoire of close range attacks doubles and his hits are more powerful. He will even start doing charged sword blasts across the room.

GUNSLINGER: Get ready to dodge more bullets 'cause there's no way you're blocking these!
Fireworks: Dante twirls his shotgun around his body, firing in several directions. Typically does this in close to mid range.
Rain Storm: Dante flips upside down in midair and fires a rain of bullets with Ebony & Ivory from overhead.

ROYAL GUARD: This is the safest mode for Nero, and the easiest to use Devil Bringer with. When you shoot at Dante, he will block all the bullets to fill up his Royal gauge, and then release all the store energy in a single focused attack. Keep firing at Dante until he stops using his red blocking shield, then jump around in front of his nose to entice him to release it - hopefully not at you. Don't get me wrong, the attack HURTS, but you have to work really hard to get hit by it. Also please note that this is the only time it's a good idea to bait Dante like this, only because it's safe to assume he will try to use Release. Provoke him like this any other time and you're shish kabob.
Royal Block: Dante puts his arm up and blocks attacks with a powerful red energy shield. When he's blocking, he's completely open to Snatch(+Buster). How does that make sense? I don't know. I can only assume it's based on the same ridiculous logic that makes Nero's shotgun deflect Ebony & Ivory.
Release: Dante releases pent up energy with a single swipe of his hand, dealing massive damage.

It is important to note that Dante never Devil Triggers throughout the fight, probably because he knows doing so would make him immune to Devil Bringer and crush Nero with his invincible aura, hehehe.

And that's that!

The first time I won this fight I was traumatized for at least a couple of days. Sure I was happy that I won, but I also felt sick and empty. The fact that Dante was just playing around and effortlessly flattened Nero in the cutscene somehow didn't make me feel any better about betraying my principles. I'd be lying if I said I never wanted to fight Dante, but I really hoped this would take place as Vergil, who I respect as Dante's equal. That's why I prefer to fight Dante in close combat as much as possible and avoid using Devil Bringer. It takes a while, and Dante is much better at the endurance game than I am, but it's a lot more fun! Of course, engaging Dante in no-holds-barred melee is suicide, so I do keep Devil Trigger charged as a panic button.

Even though it took me many attempts to win this battle, I never once got frustrated. Not because I had to remind myself that I can't get mad at Dante, but because I was overwhelmed with awe. I was being careful, and I was trying hard, and I was still failing, and that really reaffirmed my faith in his power. I cheered every time Dante won! You go, baby!! I knew fighting him was a privilege and savored every moment. I hope you do the same. ^_^

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