It’s been five years since the last One Piece Pirate Warriors game.
If you’re a fan of pummelling pirates and other miscreants as Monkey D. Luffy and friends, that’s a long time to wait for a follow up. Though you could have played One Piece: World Seeker. But a new entry in the Pirate Warriors series is finally here, and most players will probably feel that it’s been worth the wait.
Covering the One Piece story from the very beginning, you don’t need to be familiar with the franchise to enjoy Pirate Warriors 4. And honestly, it’s easy to fall in love with its ridiculously over-the-top band of characters. They really are a strange and colourful bunch. The real attraction here though is the chaotic action, which plays with the Dynasty Warriors template and ends up feeling surprisingly unique.
“It’s easy to fall in love with its ridiculously over-the-top band of characters”
Out are Musou attacks, replaced with special abilities that you obtain as you play. You can equip up to four of them, and they are accessible like special moves in other anime-based games from Bandai Namco – by holding the right shoulder button and pressing a face button. And there are other differences too, like being able to dash and launch your opponents up into the air for epic aerial combos. Combat in One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 might just be the deepest of any warriors game yet.
Perhaps the biggest change though, is that notable enemies – leaders, bosses and suchlike – aren’t just meatbags for you to wail upon until they go down. They have armour bars, and only by depleting them can you make them vulnerable to damage. And after a while the armour bars top up again. It makes the flow of combat rather different, with you having to whittle down their armour while avoiding their attacks, then go in for the kill while they’re vulnerable. There’s actually an element of strategy involved, rather than just rampant button mashing.
You’ll go up against some bosses that are gargantuan in size, too, forcing you to further change how you play. You’ll need to dodge their powerful attacks and mount a counter effectively to succeed. Needless to say, One Piece Pirate Warrior 4 isn’t just your typical warriors game. It really does try to mix the formula up and offer you something new. Even the environments are highly destructible this time around. It’s fun blasting foes into building and watching them collapse.
Dramatic Log is where One Piece Pirate Warriors 4‘s story plays out across a number of arcs filled with missions. You’ll take control of various One Piece characters, with new ones becoming available as you progress. Upon completion of missions you’ll earn berries and medals, both of which can be used to upgrade your characters and buy new abilities and skills along with growth maps. It’s quite an addictive loop, and with multiple difficulty levels available it’s suitable for all.
“One Piece Pirate Warrior 4 isn’t just your typical warriors game”
Unlocked characters can be used in Free Log and Treasure Log. Free Log simply allows you to play through missions you’ve already completed in Dramatic Log, while Treasure Log is where players will spend the majority of their time after completing the game’s story. Here the difficulty levels are fixed, with missions instead split into ranks. With later episodes getting very tricky indeed, it’ll take players quite a while to power up their characters and complete every mission thrown their way.
For those who don’t like to battle alone, online co-op is supported. Rather than being a separate mode, you can simply have players join before you jump into a mission, or jump into someone else’s. It’s a fun way to enjoy the game with friends and can make tackling some of the game’s strongest foes a little more manageable.
“One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 is one of the best and most enjoyable games based on the hit One Piece franchise”
There are some aspects of One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 that aren’t all that great though. The camera is one of them. It’s fine until you lock onto an agile enemy, then you realise that it does a terrible job of tracking them. Sometimes you feel like you just have to hammer the buttons and hope for the best as they disappear off the screen. Also, the visuals are all over the place. For the majority, One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 looks very nice indeed. Occasionally though, you’ll be horrified by its horribly pixelated shadows. Other than that, there’s just the usual Warriors game bugbear – repetition.
Still, it’s clear to see that One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 is one of the best and most enjoyable games based on the hit One Piece franchise. It has a terrific roster of characters that are brought to life like never before, its story is ridiculously entertaining, there’s plenty of content, and the action has been tweaked in ways that make it feel surprisingly fresh. Whether you’re a fan of Warriors games or One Piece, One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 is easy to recommend.
One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 is available on PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC. We reviewed the Xbox One X version with code provided by the game’s publisher.
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