One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4
For over two decades, One Piece fans have followed the Straw Hat Pirates navigate the treacherous waters of The Grand Line in search of Gold Roger’s fabled treasure, The One Piece. The seemingly never-ending journey has delivered countless iconic moments in it’s pursuit of being, arguably, one of the greatest animes of all time. Now, for the fourth time Bandai Namco and Koei Tecmo’s Omega Force, creators of the legendary Dynasty Warriors series, have made it possible to replay these iconic moments in God-like fashion. This is our review of One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4.
New Combat Mechanics. Exhilarating, Non-stop Action
In most video games, the story is typically the most important part. However, for a few select titles, the story tends to take a backseat to incredible, uber-satisfying gameplay. That’s usually the case for any Omega Force title. Odds are if you ask 100 gamers what Dynasty Warriors was about, most would only be able to tell you about the gameplay. In no way should that be considered a diss, but more of a testament to how memorable their unique brand of combat is.
The One Piece: Pirate Warriors series adopts this unique style of play by pitting the beloved characters of the One Piece series against the villainous pirates and Marines they encounter in large-scale battles. These large-scale battles often see thousands upon thousands of enemies take up zones across the environment, requiring you to liberate them. Half the fun of One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is the dominant way in which you’re able to conquer enemies and claim zones.
Unlike the previous games in the One Piece: Pirate Warriors series, the fourth game allows players to take to the air to deliver seemingly unending combos with the new Aerial Action mode. I actually really loved this addition, as I was able to decimate loads of enemies in successive strikes. Even better was the smooth way in which I could land combos, cancel moves, and start combos over, making aerial attacks feel non-stop, much to the chagrin of the pirate pawns. That said, there are limitations on which characters are able to successfully use Aerial Action. I found characters like Luffy and Sanji easy to manage in the sky, while characters like Zoro, Usopp, and Law were better off keeping their feet firmly planted.
I also really enjoyed how easy the skill trees were to navigate. They’re split into three different “maps”. The first is for every character, across the board, whereas the next two were solely for individual characters. By using berries and various medals, acquired in battle, you could upgrade and unlock everything from life, defense, attack, combos, and even skills and special abilities. After purchasing these upgrades, I immediately saw results with battles becoming more satisfying and rewarding.
One of my favorite parts of One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 was how unstoppable it made me feel. With countless enemies coming at me and insanely powerful abilities at my disposal, I felt like I WAS an anime character. In fact, I often tested myself to see how long I could keep my hit count going and managed to get my count past 10,000. There’s just something really satisfying about performing an onslaught of attacks, defeating enemies with ease, and taking zero damage.
That is, until facing off against the powerful villains the One Piece series has to offer. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 does them justice, as none of them are slouches. Characters like Crocodile, Aokiji, and Kizaru were especially challenging.
After playing countless hours of One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4, I was left ultimately satisfied, with a smile on my face. The action is non-stop, explosive, strategic, challenging, and just overall fun. Mix that in with the beautifully designed landscapes and cinematic storytelling and Pirate Warriors 4 is just a really fun experience.
Highlighting the Most Profound One Piece Moments
The One Piece anime series has been going for over 20 years. It’s been one of the most profound series of our generation, with its remarkable characters, storylines, and consequences that have lasting effects.
Pirate Warriors 4 tries to cover as much of it as it can, but with such a vast catalogue of episodes and limited amount of space allotted for the game, they aren’t able to cover all of it. As a result, the story mode mainly focuses on the big moments that happen in Alabasta, Enies Lobby, the Paramount War, Dressrosa, Whole Cake Island, and a Wano arc that only serves to end the Pirate Warriors 4 campaign. However, since the Wano arc isn’t complete in the series it’s a poor imitation of it.
The story also features the same Japanese voice actors that have been voicing this cast for two decades. Their involvement is a nice addition and seeing their characters in the game’s graphic style is really satisfying.
All that said, while the game does a good job of highlighting the bigger moments of the series, it’s no substitute for the actual anime/manga series. It’s more like spark notes, they show the important scenes, without much context. So, if you’re new to the series, you may not quite understand everything that’s going on. It’s definitely a game that’s more for those that are avid fans of either the anime or the manga to play through some of their favorite parts.
However, if you’re not bothered too much by spoilers One Piece: Pirate Warriors is actually a good introduction to the series. You meet the characters, get to know a little about them, and witness some crazy situations that make you hungry to know more. Everytime I sat down to play, I had this overwhelming compulsion to go back and watch the anime.
Over 40 Unique Characters & Combat Styles
Did you know that there are over 900 named characters in One Piece? There are, making your parents' complaints about keeping up with all the characters in Game of Thrones pale in comparison. Thankfully, in One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4, the number of playable characters is drastically reduced to a little over 40.
Unlockable and playable in the story campaign, each character has their own unique feel and style. The styles are actually separated into three categories Power, Speed, and Technique. I found the Power style characters to be the easiest, while the Speed characters were fun to play with but sometimes a bit too fast. Their attacks had a chance to miss targets, altogether. Technique characters, on the other hand, were the toughest to play with. When playing with the likes of Usopp and Law, I had several moments where I just wanted to turn off the game, walk away, and just watch One Piece. The problem with technique style characters is that the simple button scheme these games employ doesn’t translate as well to them. Their attacks and movements often felt bogged down and sometimes irrelevant. They did get easier to play with over time, but they were definitely the hard difficulty of characters. I much preferred my Luffy and Whitebeard power types.
Each of the 40 characters aren’t just solely limited to the story mode, though. Every character you’ve unlocked is able to play in the other modes One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 has to offer, Treasure Mode and Free Log. Free Log is the free play game mode that lets players battle across landscapes, using any unlocked characters. Treasure Mode is more of a mission-based mode, used to uncover more unlockables and break up the monotony. However, the main attraction for the game is the adapted story.
Should You Play It?
Ah...the $60 question. Should you play One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4? If you’re a fan of the series in any way, then yes. The game does the story justice in every facet. I would’ve loved to have more context, but the reality is only the anime and manga have time for that. However, based on what was conceivable, the story is every bit of what One Piece fans have come to love.
If you’re a fan of Dynasty Warriors’ musou style of gaming, then it’s undoubtedly a must-buy. I hadn’t played a musou game in a ridiculously long time. After having an absolute blast playing Pirate Warriors 4, I struggled to figure out why it had been so long since I had played one.
For those unfamiliar with the One Piece franchise, it may be hard for you to justify schelling out the $60. This isn’t exactly a game for people completely unfamiliar to either the series or musou games. Pirate Warriors 4 does its best to explain who these characters are, but it’s so brief it would be hard to have a real connection with them. Thus, making those impactful moments hard to emotionally understand. So, with that in mind, I do think you should play it, but not yet. Watch some of the series, get a crash course on YouTube, and wait for the price to go down a bit.
Overall, though, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 was an absolute treat to play. The combat was exceptional and the story was adapted as beautifully as can be. Big thanks to Bandai Namco and Koei Tecmo’s Omega Force for the opportunity to check out One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4.