One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 on PlayStation 4
Games placed on popular anime are nothing new. Whenever a series gets popular enough, there is someone out there trying to turn it into a video game. This may lead to too many games, but every now and then you come across something that truly tries to do the base material justice. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is one of those few games that comes out every so often.
At first glance, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 looks like nothing more than Dynasty Warriors using One Piece character skins. But the moment you pick up the controller, you will feel that it’s its very own thing. Each character in the large 30+ roster feels like no other on the list. This is mostly due to the Devil Fruits that imbue a majority of the fighters with superhuman abilities that change their very bodies.
But, as you may have noticed by the title, this is the third entry into the One Piece: Pirate Warriors series, so if you’re a returning fan you have been made aware of this already. When it comes to sequels, it’s what has changed that proves to be the deciding factor. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 has had the benefit of learning from the two games, and it becomes clear when you experience the adjustments made to the experience.
The first entry followed the anime’s storyline, while the second game went off on its own “dream” tangent but improved the combat and team functionality. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 borrows the best parts of each while also adding something of its very own to the mix.
The story in One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 takes players from the very beginning of Monkey D. Luffy’s (the main protagonist of the series) journey. From the moment he sets out from the East Blue, through the acquiring of each member of his crew, all the way up to the Dressrosa arc where he must face off against his most terrifying foe yet. Unlike the first entry in the series, Pirate Warriors 3 actually does a great job of filling in spaces between some of the larger plot points in the series. Characters that never made their way into the series before now get to show their faces, and fights are filled with more diverse foes.
The Dream Log isn’t gone either. While One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 certainly stepped it up with adhering more closely to the actually story of the series, the game found a good use for the Dream Log from the second game. This time it’s a large challenge map that players can use to unlock some of the best fighters in the game such as Kuzan and the never been used before Shanks. These are more challenging missions for players to test their best characters in as they work towards some seriously difficult boss fights.
Combat has seen an upgrade with the introduction of the Kizuna Rush. This mechanic allows players to call in several of their sidekicks in the middle of battle for powerful combos or huge, screen clearing special attacks. Each character has also received upgrades based on their progression in the anime and manga up to the Dressrosa Arc, making the characters more powerful, and adding a bit more strategy to encounters. Clearing thousands of enemies in a single mission is still a major factor, and it looks prettier this time around as you utilize a larger arsenal of attacks and abilities.
Boss fights are a more grand affair as well, with them being more powerful, and each having new combat mechanics that will force players to be more aware of the fighting spaces during battle. Dodging is more important now than before, and you’ll never want to be caught in the variety of area attacks.
The only aspects where One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 didn’t seem to change are customization and mission structure. Though there are RPG elements throughout the game (you level up characters unlocking new combos and skills for them), most aspects of the game and its fighters are set in stone. The progression of each character is relatively linear, something that fans hoped would change for the third release in the series. Coins are still present, and are used to upgrade abilities, but you don’t have a say in what they upgrade since everyone requires specific coins. It feels like a missed opportunity.
Mission structure falls in the same boat. Every mission plays out almost exactly the same, and the fact that there are so many, and they take quite a bit of time if you haven’t powered up a lot yet, makes their monotony stick out like a sore thumb. The missions are fun, yes, but after a while you can’t help but fall into a pattern and just drone through levels.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 definitely learned a thing or two from its predecessors, but it failed to build on some of the core features that needed a bit of attention. The improved combat, and the inclusion of an actual story alongside the Dream Log were great moves, but the lackluster mission structure and rigid nature of the character progression definitely works against the game.
If you’re into Dynasty Warriors levels of mass combat and are a huge fan of One Piece then this game is absolutely perfect for you. If you’ve been a fan of this particular series since the beginning, the new additions are nice but the game as a whole may feel too similar. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 does a better job of respecting the story and characters, but remains extremely safe on the gameplay front. Fun to play, but far from being the truly great gaming experience it can be.