Bandai Namco has continued to work on One Piece’s license and had just released an open-world action RPG based on the popular IP last year. They are following it up with One Piece Pirate Warriors 4, which was previously one of the best spin-offs released for the series. Pirate Warriors 4 takes everything that is achieved by its predecessor and it does it far better. The game offers a story with several major arcs taken from the anime and with a playable character roster touching 40, it is truly remarkable to see for a fan of the series.
One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 is a new game in the Musou genre. If you are familiar with it, this one allows the player to fight hundreds of the same looking enemies in a level with multiple playable characters. The fun factor in these games depends on how the battle system is handled and fortunately, in this case, Pirate Warriors 4 is fantastic. Every character feels unique to control and has their special moves. The main story mode itself can take under 20 hours to beat but if you are up for additional challenges, there are other gameplay modes to tackle after completion of the campaign.
One Piece is a long-running anime and manga series so it is hard to summarize the story in just a single game. The developers have tried to do it multiple times with the various games or attempted and original story arc, but not everything has been met with praise from the fans. The release of Pirate Warriors 4 makes it clear that they opted to focus on a finely-tuned narrative that offers a good pace and deals with most of the major story arcs.
One Pirate Warriors 4 covers most of the major story elements from the anime until the latest Wano Country arc. Since this one is still on-going the developers have opted out to create their ending but sadly the results are less than great. Aside from that, most of the major story arcs like Alabasta, Enies Lobby, the Paramount War, Dressrosa, Whole Cake Island have been given their due time in the main campaign. There are close to 34 story missions to tackle each of them offering plenty of cutscenes and cinematics for the major story beats. Fans can experience their favorite battles from the show and they are easily the best part of the game.
One aspect of Pirate Warriors 4 that I feel is lackluster is the visual quality of the game. Since there have been three games released in the series so far, Omega Force, who has developed every entry of this One Piece spin-off, has opted to reuse assets when needed, likely to cut down on the time for development and add as much content as possible. You will be able to recognize these assets as you play through the game as their quality is not up to the current-generation standard. This inconsistent quality is thankfully easy to ignore because you will be busy in combat the majority of the time.
Pirate Warriors 4 delivers on its combat system and does it in spades. It never ends up feeling like repetitive even if I found most of the Musou games tend to get repetitive, it is not the case here. Part of the charm is how Omega Force has opted to utilize the unique powers and traits of every character to provide them their personality in battle. Sure, you are battling the same grunts for the umpteenth time but the story manages to retain its freshness and some cutscenes detail major plot elements. It is a constant journey to progress through levels and fight through our favorite battles from the show.
Even with such a large character roster, there are multiple special moves for every one of them. The traditional normal and heavy attacks are fine but it is the special moves that are executed after filling out a bar that makes the battles flow smoothly and reduce any repetitive that is part of the genre. Your character can also power dash through battles and together with a combination of combo attacks, and special moves, it leads to an ideal combat system that is far from flawed or dull.
The amount of playable characters depends on the story. In some of the missions, you won’t be able to switch between the different characters while in others, there will be multiple playable ones. All said, there is enough story content to keep you occupied. Not to mention beating these missions will lead to the chance to upgrade your characters, further improving their attacking and defensive skills. This can lead to some replay value if you are into grinding for higher levels but it is not necessary for the story mode.
One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 also offers split-screen co-op for most of the gameplay modes. It can be played by up to two players and has support for online multiplayer. I didn’t get to see much of it in action as the story mode can be played fine if you are alone, but if you have a partner, it is possible to enjoy the game together, either offline or online co-op modes.
This is not a game for someone new to the series because it ends up spoiling a lot of the major story elements from the show. If you have already seen the 900+ episodes of One Piece or read every manga, it could be a fun way to venture deep into the game’s world and experience the memorable story moments and fights from the anime.