Times have changed since the release of the first Devil May Cry, so Ninja Theory decided that Dante needed to change with them.
Feathers were a little ruffled when gamers saw the redesigned Dante for the reboot of the Devil May Cry series, but Ninja Theory's creative director Tameem Antoniade believes that the redesign is more in keeping with the spirit of the DMC games than sticking with the old character would have been.
Antoniade said that the essence of the Devil May Cry was "cool," and that when the first game came out, it took everything that was exciting about action cinema and fused it all together. But what was cool in 2002 when Devil May Cry was released, wasn't cool any more, and for the game to have the same vibrant energy, it had to draw on new sources of inspiration. "If Dante, dressed as he was, walked into any bar outside of Tokyo, he'd get laughed out," he said. "And I feel like now, for Devil May Cry to have [the] same impact, it needs to draw on new things. New music, new ways of cinematography, new fashion."
It's not just Ninja Theory that wanted a new take on Dante either, Capcom USA's lead producer Alex Jones said that Capcom pushed the studio to do something different. He said that the early designs weren't all that different from the classic look, and that it wasn't until Jones asked for something that Ninja Theory thought would make Capcom angry that he started to get the progress he was after.
Jones and Antoniade also pointed out that DmC was an origin story, and so Dante might change over the course of the game, something that may allay some fans' fears. There's still plenty of time to win over doubters, although some will be much easier than others.
Update: It seems that one of the new things that has inspired Dante's redesign is the recent reboot of the James Bond series. Speaking to Eurogamer, Jones said that the new Dante was a rougher, more inexperienced version of the character than in previous games, much like Daniel Craig's character in Casino Royale.
"When you see the Casino Royale remake," he said. "You see Bond before he's actually killed anyone, and it's a really traumatic event. He's rough-hewn, he's not polished or debonair, but you can see the essence of what that character will become. That's what we want to do with Dante. The core of him is there, it's just a rougher version. It's a becoming. He's not fully actualised."