It’s taken me all too long to admit to myself that I f*cking love pirate, for years whenever I was asked the question “do you like pirates or ninjas?” I would always claim the shuriken throwers were my favourite just to be different from the masses! However, the second I was home and away from prying eyes, I would watch One Piece… NOT Naruto! I haven’t watched the anime in a while, since it has become an unwieldy beast lately with over 900 episodes, but I still have a lot of love for the characters and settings! So, when given the chance to smash out the story in a faster and downright satisfying manner, you know I was on board!
Let’s talk about One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 then! The latest entry in the series developed by Dynasty Warriors makers, Omega Force. Pirate Warriors uses the same style of gameplay to have you run about open yet maze like levels bringing the hurt to hundreds of enemies at a time! These sorts of games are perfect for anyone who just wants to feel a no stop sense of satisfaction. There’s not a lot better for your self-esteem than using Luffy’s Gum Gum Elephant Gun to knock 100 bad guys flying into next week. This however doesn’t apply to the new titan enemies who come along now and then, grow to a gigantic size and force you to switch up your tactics and assault them from a few angles! Transforming to fight a massive Kaido in the opening tutorial is a treat and makes even this educational bout a lot of fun!
However, is that enough to keep you interested in longer than a hour at a time? In my experience its not. There isn’t much substance behind the flair that this game brings. Luffy and his crew are a fun cast of characters and their story is wacky and easy to absorb but the gameplay becomes horribly repetitive very soon after starting. With no purchasable weapons or armour like in its sister series Dynasty Warriors, Pirate Warriors doesn’t give you much in terms of progression besides the story itself and a few skills which don’t dramatically alter gameplay from the base. The greatest Joy is and always will be the massive battles and knocking down baddies, but that’s about it and while its fun in short bursts, don’t expect to get hours of gameplay out of this at a time.
Like I said before the cast of this game bring all the charm and whimsy of the anime and each playable character does handle differently enough to make choosing each one worth at least a try. Trying to play all the characters though might be a challenge! With a roster of 43 there’s someone for everyone. And the split of Power, speed & technical fighters lets you jump between a few to find which style suits you best. I for one found myself all over the speed characters as I just wanted to hit more dudes faster! Being a lumbering and slow beast seems like a waste in a game with so many targets.
Of course the massive fights are the main draw but I had to give props to the game for its boss battles, rather than just have the bosses arrive mid battle like previous entries or other musou games, the boss battles in Pirate Warriors 4 take you to a separate areas to battle one on one with the man or woman in charge leaving you free to wail on them to your hearts content without any distractions! Though this is a neat way of doing things and a refreshing change, it does sometimes feel off as these games aren’t really optimised for a one on one fight so be ready to sail right pat your opponent a few times before you land a solid hit!
The story mode has been tightened up too, if you’re new to the franchise and are looking for a full tale then I’m afraid this isn’t for you, with only 8 arcs covered but each one gets all the love and attention it deserves! For example, the first arc covered is the Alabasta Arc with its amazing battles with Crocodile and story of rebellion hitting home quite well, sure the game cuts a few corners here and there but nothing that is really needed that badly, so you won’t feel like you’re missing out if you’re an old hat with the series!
Visually the game is stunning with polished models and some great particle effects and destructible environments, you’d be forgiven for assuming this along with the masses of bad guys would leave the framerate chugging along like a train with broken wheels but even on my barebones PS4 I never once had a dip and things kept running smooth as silk at all times!
All in all, Pirate Warriors 4 is a blast to play even if only in short bursts and a joy to behold, sure it glosses over a few fun moments, but the heart of the series is captured perfectly. If you’re a fan of the show or a newbie looking for a way in this is a good start and a must have for any Shonen fans shelf.
I’m giving One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 an 8/10