One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 Review

By Peter Stojanov,
After initially being released in Japan for the PlayStation 4, 3, and Vita, Bandai Namco announced that One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 would be westernized and would arrive late into the summer for Europe and North America. Now the third installment is finally here and it's ready to get your heart pumping. The teams at Tecmo Koei and Omega Force did their best to pack this sequel with as many characters and story arcs as possible from the series while retaining the classic feel of a Warriors game. Will this game be the King of all Pirate Warriors or something to get tossed overboard?

The Straw Hat Crew ready for actionThe Straw Hat Crew ready for action

Pirate Warriors 3 follows the hit anime's story more closely than any other game in the series, from Shells Town all the way to the latest arc involving Dressrosa and the Pirate Warlord, Donquixote Doflamingo. For those fans of the series that have watched all 700+ episodes and/or read the almost-800-chapter manga, this is a good rehash of the story to jog the memory and relive the experience in a fun way. For those that haven't watched or are unfamiliar with the series, this is a good way to get to know the important parts of the series in a rushed manner. It may not hold all of the little details or every encounter that makes the show so amazing, but it still captures the emotional ups and downs very well.

There are different modes for players to go through and each will take some time to complete. In the Legend Log players will play the classic story, choosing to play as any of the Straw Hat Pirates as they go on each adventure and grow in strength. There is also the brand new Dream Log, in which you can choose any character that you have unlocked and ally/face-off against the most random assortment of characters. It's fantastic to see the interaction between characters who have never encountered one another in the story before, and it adds to the replay value of the game. By playing this mode, players are able to also unlock characters that are not unlockable in anything else, like Red-Haired Shanks.

Coins can increase the abilities of your characterCoins can increase the abilities of your character

Through each completed level, players will earn Skill Points and Coins that help to upgrade different aspects of each character, including attributes like health and defense. This feature is an interesting way to maintain the player's interest, pushing the player to gain as many Coins to upgrade all of the characters at their disposal. It also adds replay value to go through missions again with different characters, earning unique Coins to unlock character-specific moves and transformations.

As with all Warriors titles, the controls and gameplay mechanics are quite simple but enjoyable. The game is easy enough for anyone to get into, even if a player hasn't encountered a Pirate Warriors game before. There are two normal attack buttons that you utilize in order to chain combos together to build up Special Attack Power, then using the button for that you're able to pull off your character's signature move, or even more powerful ones through upgrades. The simplicity of these controls makes the game easier to master and a player should be able to fight on the Normal difficulty right off the bat. The Easy setting is a cake-walk; it's not advised to start off in this difficulty because players won't be able to attain S-ranks on their missions and it'll feel like there's no challenge at all thanks to the Kizuna Rush, the newest addition to the Pirate Warriors series.

Luffy and Trafalgar Law - Kizuna Rush team-upLuffy and Trafalgar Law - Kizuna Rush team-up

The Kizuna Rush feature combines your crew's skills with your own while battling across the map, creating even longer combos and bigger special attacks depending on how many characters are in your crew at the time. A crew accommodates up to four characters and this meter builds up over time while defeating enemies, allowing you to activate it and start mowing down foes with your crew and special attacks. However, by adding this, KOEI has made the higher difficulties easier to get through as you do a huge amount of damage to your opponents. This makes it feel like there is not much difference between the difficulties. There's no real challenge to the game on Easy or Normal and only a slight challenge on Hard difficulty because of the ability to put together a flurry of combinations and special attacks.

Throughout the missions that you encounter, there are different victory and fail conditions to each map as is typical with Warriors games. Players may have to keep certain people alive or escort them, which is an issue when they are unable to last very long and are located far away across the map. On lower difficulties you are provided enough time to run across to get to them, but higher difficulties become increasingly annoying, almost feeling like the player's allies aren't as strong as the difficulty setting on which you've set it, causing you to fail over and over again due to their inadequacies.

Luffy's Gum Gum Rain attack on a huge large amount of enemiesLuffy's Gum Gum Rain attack on a huge large amount of enemies

On a more positive note, splitscreen and online multiplayer is fun and easy to start, even allowing for players to pick up another controller and begin playing mid-mission. You won't have to begin from the start in order to have someone join -- just pick up a second controller and press start. There are also Rescue Requests that are issued by people online when they feel like they are stuck in a game; this great feature allows players to accept and gain bonus rewards for helping out a fellow player, adding to the experience.

The maps were well-thought out and the enemy placements made it a challenge to get across the map. It also feels like a different area every time that you move around and does not feel repetitive in the slightest as is the case with a lot of games. It almost feels, by moving from the bottom of the map to the top, that you're adventuring through an entire arc of the One Piece universe. This is something that many players can appreciate as they won't feel like they're playing through a long series of repetitive environments, making it a fresh experience half-way through a chapter. The amount of enemies that are able to fit on screen at once is also quite impressive, only chugging while under the pressure of two players taking down enemies via splitscreen.

Red-Haired Shanks, a Pirate EmperorRed-Haired Shanks, a Pirate Emperor

There are a variety of different cutscenes throughout the game -- ones that are fully cinematic and some that are featured in a comic-style display. The cel-shaded characters and anime-accurate environments look phenomenal. The cinematic cutscenes capture the look and feel of the show well, adding in lines on the characters' models that represent the intensity of the movements. However, the comic-style cutscenes barely have any movement, only showing images of the scene with slight movement here and there. This is somewhat disappointing as what could be a touching moment is ruined by a pause in the cinematics to put in images, disrupting the emotional impact.

The voice acting performed by the Japanese cast is exceptionally done, as usual. Players will be amped when the characters express excitement and will be taken on emotional rollercoasters as they project the feelings of characters' happiness and sadness. It's a disappointment, however, that Bandai was unable to get the Funimation voice cast for the game, making it another in the series to not get English audio support. Many fans in the past have requested this to be done, as it has been done for every Naruto video game released thus far. One Piece holds the top-spot in terms of popularity, so this is a moderate downside to this game.

The thick outline and cel-shading makes Nami look amazingThe thick outline and cel-shading makes Nami look amazing


The trophies for Pirate Warriors 3 are straight forward, although they are time-consuming. The amount of fun that the player will be having, however, makes it feel like these trophies are simply earned naturally by playing through the different modes instead of attempting them purposely. It's a relief to not have to worry too much about trophies for games like these as players tend to not want to worry about having to complete seemingly impossible tasks in order to unlock them. This makes the game feel like you can just focus on the fun aspect rather than worrying about any important requirement to fulfill.

Summary

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is a must buy for fans of the series and is certainly something to consider for players not familiar with the series. It presents One Piece's story with beautiful graphics and stellar voice work from the Japanese voice cast, but there is no English voice acting. The gameplay is easy to understand and is difficult on higher difficulties, but it still feels like the higher difficulties aren't much of a challenge thanks to the addition of the Kizuna Rush feature. The maps are crafted extremely well with care taken into making it feel fresh in every different area. The Trophies are time-consuming but feel like they're naturally earned by playing through the different game modes, making players not worry about them. All of these aspects put together make this iteration of the Pirate Warriors series the King of them all.
4.5 / 5
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3
Positives
  • Follows the story closely
  • Beautiful cel-shading and graphics
  • Gameplay is easy to comprehend and fun
  • Kizuna Rush is a great addition to the series
  • Multiplayer is easy to start and fun, with mid-session joining available
Negatives
  • Gameplay doesn't offer that big of a challenge
  • Escort and rescue missions are tedious due to weak AI allies
  • Only in Japanese with English subs, no English audio
Ethics
The reviewer spent 20 hours sailing the seas as One Piece's greatest warriors and earned 25 of 40 trophies. The reviewer will be adventuring further into the Dream Log to take down the toughest enemies of the game. This Playstation 4 copy was purchased by the reviewer.