As a series continues to grow in popularity they generally receive an anime and/or a game. The struggle with licenses is, the name is typically enough to make or break the experience in most people’s eyes and so many elements need to come together, the sheer number of characters and voice actors in a series like One Piece or Naruto alone is huge, resulting in gameplay taking a hit. Some series have turned to Omega Force, the company behind Dynasty Warriors, in hopes of getting an enjoyable experience and faithful handling of the series. Thus far their work has been good, with some series being better than others, with One Piece: Pirate Warriors continuing to improve. With the latest entry, they hope to tackle everything up to Wano, the faraway land where the manga is currently at but is it time to revisit the franchise or should they wait until they finish Wano.
Similar to the last entry, the story starts with Kid and Luffy going up against an unphased and disinterested Kaido. Fans of the series know he is one of the strongest pirates, has an illustrious career and effortlessly overcomes your efforts. Upon defeat, things wind back to the beginning where we see Gol D. Roger giving his iconic speech about One Piece that starts the age of pirates. This is also where things get a bit rough.
Given the overall length of One Piece, this entry is an extremely abridged version of the story. So much so that, after a roughly eight-minute-long overview, the adventure begins with Ace’s introduction and trying to escape Smoker. For those curious, this is about 154 chapters into the series or close to 100 episodes for the anime. A lot has occurred and, more importantly, even more, has been skipped. As a result, newcomers will simply not get the full experience or even a good understanding of the series. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 tries to make up for this by giving the latest arcs full representation.
Fantastic characterization and world-building has made One Piece one of the most successful manga of all time, possibly second only to Dragon Ball, but this makes it extremely difficult for a game to effectively cover. There is no shortage of characters to show, even being conservative this probably totals 50 or so, with even more scenes and events that need to occur to match the experience. All things considered, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 handles this quite well. You won’t get the full experience, though enough is there to at least grasp the current situation, characters, setting and more. Surprisingly, where it lacks in story, it makes up for in gameplay.
At this point, you should be, if nothing else, vaguely familiar with how Dynasty Warriors play. There are a couple of attacks, pushing buttons in various orders will result in different moves, there are a handful of special moves and plenty of braindead enemies. The fun is typically the rush of power, or in this case, being able to dominate with extremely powerful abilities, gadgets and sheer force of will.
Where One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 starts to stand out is the amount of polish. There is a great presentation, everything is communicated extremely well and officer fights are a little deeper. Now you have to break armor, they gave certain enemies additional mechanics and more. For the most part, it just means you’re smacking them 10 times instead of seven, but I can’t fault them for making this experience different from the 10 or so other titles I’ve reviewed over the years. It also allows One Piece to feel more alive, not unlike how the Legend of Zelda and Fire Emblem versions embodied those particular franchises, as much Dynasty Warriors.
Those looking for a bit more will have costumes, level system, and medals that can be used to progress in a wide variety of stats to power your characters up. There are also optional missions, additional situations where you have to do a wide variety of tasks against a number of characters throughout the series and even online play to take it to the next level. Characters also fall into specific types, which dictate how they play and their ideal advantages and disadvantages.
Best of all, character move sets feel a bit more fleshed out. A lot of this is likely due to more characters finally showing what they can do and a larger pool of moves to pull from. Though, even Luffy went from a relatively simple punch, punch, sweep fighter to someone that utilizes more of what he has to offer. It will still get tiresome seeing the same 20 moves defeat thousands of enemies but it will take longer to hit that point.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 Review – Verdict
The best way to describe One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is the best version you could hope for. Regardless of where story and gameplay lack, it’s impossible to cover anything, especially when there will be more in the future and a lot of the faults are a result of this being a Dynasty Warrior game. If you can get past that, this is a wonderful tribute to One Piece and allows some of the latest and most expressive arcs shine. At least enough to think it is worth considering.
[Editor’s Note: One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]