One Piece has had its fair share of video game adaptations. From the RPG style of “One Piece: Romance Dawn” to the adventure genre of, “One Piece: Unlimited World Red.” However, the series that embodies the combat feel of One Piece has always been Pirate Warriors. Pirate Warriors allows the Straw Hat Pirates massive combat scenes to come to life, with you in control of it all, but does “One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3” hold true to the legacy?
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 has all of the flashy moves, bountiful roster, and amazing music that the previous two games had. Pirate Warriors 3 also implements new gameplay mechanics that set it apart from the other games in the series and keeps the combat fresh and replay value high. The story follows the manga in this iteration (unlike Pirate Warriors 2’s “Dream Story”) and spans the entirety of the manga series up until the game’s release in Japan.
The story mode follows the manga canonically from the opening arc Romance Dawn, to the Post-Timeskip arc of Dressrosa. Gol D. Roger, the world’s most infamous pirate, hands himself over to the Marines. On the day of his execution his final words reveal the existence of his treasure, the One Piece. This sparks the Great Pirate Era and floods the world with people in seek of the Pirate King’s treasure. Luffy, with the power of rubber granted to him by the consumption of a Devil Fruit, sets off on his own to gather a crew and sail the Grand Line to find the One Piece and become the Pirate King.
Pirate Warriors 3’s story mode follows the series in arc-by-arc episodes, starting with Romance Dawn as its own level. This trend continues throughout the game and each episode has all of the arc’s main plot points integrated into the level in some way. The level introduction fills you in on the story up until a massive fight breaks out, You play through the fight with cutscenes thrown in the mix for exposition, and you end the arc with the boss fight associated with said arc. This method of storytelling cuts out filler combat and allows the level to revolve specifically around the main conflict of the arc. However, the exposition cutscenes during gameplay can occur far too often at points, completely ruining the flow of combat. More often than not however, a vast majority of episodes encompass the story and area stunningly and accurately with expansive renditions of each locale.
The presentation and performance of Pirate Warriors 3 actually surprised me. Every area looked stunningly accurate to the story’s description and had elevation to separate itself from Pirate Warriors 2’s flat terrain. Capture points feel more natural as well, shaping around buildings and armaments inside for a not-so-square look. Filling these areas are up to two hundred enemies at one time on screen for the PS4. Couple that with the 60 FPS the game sports in combat and it is quite a surprise that there are very few instances of frame drop. Even massive full team Kizuna Rushes keep the frame drop to a minimum, keeping the gameplay fairly unhindered.
Button-mashing gameplay is some what a staple of the “Warriors” series, but this only shows itself when the game fails to weave the story into the mix. Pirate Warriors 3’s gameplay is very high octane at its high and a slog through endless waves of nameless healthbars at its low. Luckily, the game keeps the lows to a minimum by introducing Kizuna Rush, a mode that once its unique bar is filled allows you to use combos that you wouldn’t learn until a later point, and a massive finishing move that almost acts like a screen nuke. A roster of over 30 characters, all with their own fighting style and special moves also helps diversify the game’s combat system. On top of this, each individual character gains experience which unlocks more combos and they also have a coin sheet for stat bonuses.The unique stat boosting system allows you to use collectibles earned in episodes to increase your character’s stats, and in rare cases provide them with special abilities.
Lastly, Dream Log mode is a new feature to Pirate Warriors, allowing you to sail the Grand Line with a character of your choice. At the start of each session, you’re shown a massive number of islands, some with special heroes standing ontop of them. You walk to each island in a board-game like fashion, and conquer them in a randomly generated setting with randomly chosen allies. You can back out at any time and pick a new “captain” or, delete your save and start fresh with a new set of randomly generated battles. Instead of grinding for coins in the same story mission multiple times, there will always be a new scenario making it a lot less tedious to level up your characters.
All in all, if you’re a fan of the One Piece universe you will definetly enjoy reliving the adventures of the Straw Hat Pirates and all of the little bits of fan-service that come with it. If you are someone who is interested in getting into the series and don’t want to watch 700+ episodes to catch up and don’t mind the gameplay, this is a great gateway into the story. However, I don’t think this game is for everyone as the gameplay can get monotonous when playing a level for over 20 minutes, as voice acting is only in Japanese and plot interruption can kill the flow of gameplay if you are not interested.
– Follows the story of One Piece with amazing accuracy
– Introduction of Kizuna Rush and revamped stat leveling system freshens combat
– Heavy focus on One Piece will fail to grab someone looking for a new “Warriors” game.
– Story can be overbearing at points with multiple interruptions in the middle of an episode.
Fans of the One Piece Universe will surely fall in love with every ounce of this game’s charm and each strength leads into the next for a marvelous adventure through the Grand Line.