One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 Review – How Much Warriors Is Too Much? (PS4)on September 29, 2015 by Oscar TK
One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 is the third instalment in the Pirate Warriors series, so obviously they’re doing something right to be able to bring the series this far. There’s actually quite a lot different with this one, and in many ways it’s hard to say that Pirate Warriors 3 isn’t the best entry in the series yet, because it is. It’s packed with content, and as far as Pirate Warriors goes it’s the purest Warriors game in the series yet.
Unlike Pirate Warriors 2 which told an original One Piece story using the Pirate Warriors formula, Pirate Warriors 3 takes it back to the source material. The core of the game, Legend Mode, takes you through all of the One Piece story to date, from Luffy’s early fights against Morgan, Buggy the Clown, and others while assembling his crew; to the epic later story conflicts of Impel Down, Marineford, and Dressrosa. The later story arcs definitely lend themselves well to the Warriors format, and it seems to just work. One Piece in general just seems to fit the Warriors format really well, and it just feels right.
There’s some concerns regarding how well the One Piece story can be told through Warriors gameplay, and of course you’re always going to miss out on some of the nuance of the original story with something like this. But, it actually does a fairly good job at covering the whole story, though it feels as if more time is spent on the later story arcs, perhaps because the earlier stuff has already been covered in the original Pirate Warriors.
In every chapter there’s a sizeable amount of story, told through full cutscenes, comic-style cutscenes, and simpler text and character model back and forths – with the game being fully voice acted in Japanese. On top of the basic story elements there are also story beats that happen called “Treasure Events” which occur after having fulfilled specific conditions, often related to the story beat they portray, for example in Alabasta encountering Mr. 1 while playing as Zoro. It’s great for fans to relive their favourite key moments in the One Piece story, and also for those less familiar to get into it.
The gameplay itself is pretty standard Warriors-style fare. You play as a character of your choice (the Legend Mode selections being limited to story relevant choices) along with your own army and allies, having to take on an army made up of hundreds of weak enemies, slightly stronger enemies, and strong one-off unique character officers. You need to capture bases and push your territory forward. There’s not a whole lot of strategy involved besides making sure you capture areas as you move through the maps and make sure you hand the big enemies a whoopin’ so they don’t do the same to your weaker friends. It’s a lot more of a pure Warriors experience than some of the earlier titles, especially the first Pirate Warriors — how much you enjoy that will be down to you.
My only real issue with the scenarios is that a lot of the time, because each Legend Mode chapter is representing a large chunk of One Piece story, your actions on the battlefield feel quite restricted. You may take over a few areas in one section of the map only to have them instantly whisked away from you for story related reasons. This makes sense, but it means that in Legend Mode you feel a bit restricted and wary of taking on the challenges in your own way in case you’re just wasting time. This is less of an issue in later stories, where it doesn’t feel like the game is quickly rushing through a lot of plot points. Map-wise, a lot of the environments feel quite samey and bland, and the areas for the most part don’t have a lot of personality.
The kizuna system is the only real major innovation in Pirate Warriors 3. On the surface it’s just a retooled version of the support gauge from Pirate Warriors 2, but in reality there’s a lot of depth to it, and it’s a core element most of the game is built around. One of the game’s grading systems is based around how effectively you used kizuna, with the others being the more standard “kills” and “time”. Kizuna allows you to have an allied character materialise out of the air and add their own special attack to your own by pressing the final button in a combo again, once you’ve levelled up their character’s gauge to a certain limit. This can build up even more, allowing you to use “kizuna rush” when you’ve built up maximum bond, enhancing all of your moves as it depletes, and allowing a special combination attack with your ally, and other friends if you’ve built up a bond with them too. At different points some of your allies will be able to become heroes, activating special battle-changing powers once they’ve reached a new maximum bond limit, such as bombarding the battlefield with projectiles, or healing everyone. It provides a tactile feeling of progression to every battle.
Pirate Warriors 3 also has 2-player co-op gameplay, both local and online. The online is structured into the gameplay in a pleasingly passive way. It connects you online when you’re browsing the menu of, say, Legend Mode, and will then alert you to players who have made a “rescue request”, marking the chapter with a little “S.O.S.” life ring. Similarly you can request a rescue yourself, and it matches you up in a lobby. There’s no option to jump-in mid match, which could have been cool as it would be a true “rescue”, but what’s there is still pretty good. Though it does usually just make everything quite a bit easier, it can also make it harder to rack up points yourself, usually resulting in a lower score, which seems like a fair compromise.
There are a ridiculous amount of characters in the game (well, 37), allowing you to play as pretty much every character in One Piece anyone cares about, though their are some notable omissions such as Coby. Still, those characters are at least available as Support characters. These characters are heavily upgradeable, and just delving into getting them into shape is a game experience on its own. Quite a few characters will be unlocked over the course of Legend Mode, but some need to be unlocked through Dream Log mode, a massive extension to the game that allows you to take on different challenges on islands, as any character you want. Some of the islands are guarded by certain characters, which when defeated will unlock them. The Dream Log adds a crazy amount of content, but it lacks the variety of something like Hyrule Warriors‘ Adventure Mode. It’s mostly just more of the same.
There’s a huge amount of content in One Piece Pirate Warriors 3, but more of the same is pretty much (almost literally) the name of the game. There’s a huge amount of One Piece love in the game, and fans will definitely eat it up. It’s not hard to say that Pirate Warriors 3 is probably the best Warriors game yet, just in regard to how much is packed in. It eschews some of the gimmicks of previous entries in the series, focusing on a pure Warriors experience. But it’s so pure that it seems lacking in variety, every battle pretty much turning out the same, and in Legend Mode discouraging you from experimenting by punishing you for straying off the path. It’s highly polished, slick, responsive, and a whole lot of fun — but the real question is how much you can cope with doing the same thing over and over again.