One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 Review
Five years after One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 hit the scene, Bandai Namco’s One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is now upon us. Is this Musou worth picking up, or will the older entries suffice? Check out our review and find out.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 Review
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 follows the story of Luffy on his journey to become the king of the pirates. You actually start near the end, as Luffy and another pirate captain named Kid take on the king of beasts Kaido. The area acts as a tutorial for the basic gameplay mechanics where combat, dodging, special moves, and boss fights are all on display. For a Musou warriors game, it has some depth to the combat. After you finish up the tutorial, you go back in time to start the game properly. Just note that the Wano Arc content (the Kaido stuff) in this game is made for the game, and is not canon to the series.
The game does skip a lot of the earlier arcs of the story, beginning properly during the Alabasta Arc. It is a trend that the campaign follows pretty heavily; Skypiea, Thriller Bark, Punk Hazard, and others are all skipped over. Odds are you’ve already either played these arcs in previous games or know the story enough not to care that much anyway. There are cutscenes in-between the arcs to tell you what happens as well. Unfortunately, the lack of story arcs means the roster suffers from missing characters such as Enel, Geeko Moriah, and Perona.
The lack of certain characters is amplified by the common enemy type of pirate commander, navy commander, and other generic commander types. Still, the playable roster is mostly fun to play. The Strawhat pirates play the way you’d expect. Zoro is strong, Sanji is quick, Usopp is technical, and Luffy can feel broken in Gear 4. The Admirals, Vinsmokes, Four Emperors, and most of the Warlords are also playable. I did see that there is a character pass you can purchase, but it doesn’t say who is coming. Nevertheless, one can expect plenty more characters and costumes.
I think the lack of characters is made up by the new combat mechanics. The most significant difference here is the dodge mechanic. Dodging attacks of bosses and high ranking enemies is required to damage their armor effectively. On top of that, you have four character-specific super moves, and you can change them out when you learn new ones. Luffy can change to Gear 4 Snakeman or Bounceman, Zoro gets many of his sword style attacks, and other characters get different moves. These minor changes made this some of the best Musou combat I’ve played in a while.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is also helped by the growth map each character has, which you can think of as a skill tree. There is a generic one that gives points to everyone. Each character also has two additional maps that improve that character specifically and add new combos and special moves. You unlock skills by spending money and unlocking coins. You can get the coins by beating down regular enemies and named enemies. If you are looking to max out everyone, you will be grinding for a long time. By the time I finished the campaign, I hadn’t even finished Luffy’s growth maps.
Outside of the story missions, you can play the Treasure Log. These serve as side missions and “what-if” missions. The first one is a Sanji versus Zoro battle type of deal. You also have mini fights that happened in the story arcs. Usopp being worth 500 million in Dressrosa is one, and you need to protect him. There are three tiers of these to beat in all. To get to the second tier, you have to clear the first tier, and so on. If you want all the moves and all the characters, you have to finish all of them. The best part about the Treasure Log is that you can play anyone you have unlocked. I had the most fun with these, since I could try out new characters frequently.
I also want to mention that these types of games often focus on high KO numbers, but this entry takes things to the next level. When you clear a level, you are rewarded based on time and KOs. There are times you can get 2,500 KOs and only get a B with the max being S. Some missions I was racking up 5,000 knockouts because of how many enemies can be on screen at once, and also because Whitebeard is absurdly strong. Not a complaint or anything, just something I noticed as a longtime Musou fan.
I did have a couple of issues with the camera when I was near a wall. There is a lock-on system, but it is a bit funky. You lock-on and look at the target, but then don’t stay looking at them, really odd. There is online co-op, and that was laggy for me. Not sure if that was just because the internet was crap at the time or if it was the game. I didn’t have any bugs, crashes, or any frame drops that I noticed. For the purists out there, the game is in Japanese with English subtitles.
While the missing story arcs are a disappointment, One Piece fans should be more than satisfied with One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4.