Review: One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 (PS4/PS3/PSV/PSTV)

one-piece-pirate-warriors-3-review-banner

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
  • Cross-Buy No
  • Cross-Save Yes
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (PS4 10.5 GB) (PS3 15 GB) (PSV 2.8 GB)
Release Date: August 25, 2015
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games America
Developer: Omega Force
Original MSRP: $59.99 (PS4) / $49.99 (PS3) / $39.99 (PSV)
ESRB Rating: T
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is also available on.
The PlayStation 4 disc, PlayStation 3 download, and PlayStation Vita download versions were used for this review.
A copy of the PlayStation 4 disc was purchased by the reviewer. The PlayStation 3 and Vita versions were provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

In the latest One Piece: Pirate Warriors game, you get to play dozens of One Piece characters through the entire story, up to and including the latest story arc, Dressrosa island.

Gameplay:
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is your basic Musou game set in the One Piece universe. Musou is generally associated with games like Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors, as they use third-person tactical battle gameplay where you fight hordes of enemies.

In One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3, there are several different modes which allow you to play through the entire One Piece saga from the very beginning. While the battles aren’t exactly like what happens in the Anime or Manga, you do get to experience the story as you play a Dynasty Warriors-type game with the One Piece characters.

ONE PIECE: PIRATE WARRIORS 3_20150915214933

For those of you who have never played a Dynasty or Samurai Warriors game (which included myself up until recently), these games are crammed with content and stuff to do, and One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is no exception.

The main gameplay consists of different battles over large battlefields. In the beginning of each battle, you’ll be presented with a map and locations of the main enemies. Also on the pre-battle screen are the victory and defeat conditions.

ONE PIECE: PIRATE WARRIORS 3_20150907005234

Throughout each battle, you’ll find hidden objectives and optional mini-bosses that will pop up before you get to the main boss. The battlefields are generally cities and locations from the series with different walled off areas.

Certain corridors or rooms will be a sort of enemy stronghold where you will need to fight waves upon waves of enemies to get a gauge down before you take over the area. Taking over areas seems to help your AI companions fight off tougher enemies while you’re doing some objective in another part of the battlefield.

… skills, coins, and content …
One sort of strange thing about this One Piece brand of Warriors game is the how it keeps track of kills. As you go through a battle you have a kill count as you’d expect. However, in this game you have a secondary kill count that’s simply labeled as an exclamation point.

These exclamation points pop up when you do your special Kizuna Rush mode. Each time you kill an enemy in this mode, you get one exclamation point. After the battle is over, these points fill up a special crew level gauge that unlocks skills, coins, and content in the Gallery.

ONE PIECE: PIRATE WARRIORS 3_20150916223213ONE PIECE: PIRATE WARRIORS 3_20150922201249

As far as controls go, they’re fairly simple but also have quite a few button combos. The main attacks are done using Square and Triangle while the Cross button causes your character to either sprint or quickly dodge an attack. The different trigger buttons have their own actions like re-centering the camera and activating Kizuna Rush mode when your gauge is full.

Even though One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is a Warriors/Musou game, it does have a lot of differences in gameplay to a game like Samurai Warriors. For example, you cannot switch between your main character and the other NPCs on the battlefield. You also cannot control them in any way or direct them to go fight certain enemies.

… your Kizuna Drive gauge gets maxed …
The fact that you have no control at all over the other NPCs can be a hinderance to you since many times you’ll be on the opposite side of the map and your ally will be close to death. When you end up in that situation you’ll get a warning that they’re about to flee the battle.

The problem is that when you’re very far away you’ll end up having to run across the entire map just to get to them and save them because unlike Samurai Warriors, you don’t have a horse at your disposal.

Even though it’s a pain to have to run and save your NPC allies, you do get a slight payoff in that after you successfully save them, your Kizuna Drive gauge gets maxed for the character you’re using.

ONE PIECE: PIRATE WARRIORS 3_20150919195545

Even though you cannot control your NPC allies, they still are able to help you out in battle. On the top-left section of the screen, you’ll have a list of all of your allies. When you cycle through them there will be the Kizuna Drive gauge. When you pull off certain combos, the ally that you have selected will fly in and do a special attack on an enemy.

Each time you pull off a combo or kill large amounts of enemies, the Kizuna Drive gauge will fill up for the ally that you’re fighting with. There are about three levels that must be filled on your Kizuna Drive gauge to max it out.

… special exclamation points …
Once your Kizuna Drive gauge is maxed out for a character, you can enter into Kizuna Rush mode by hitting the R2 trigger. In this mode, the character will fight at your side and your attack power will be strengthened greatly.

If you hit the Circle button, which normally executes a special attack in regular mode, you’ll pull off a special multi-character combo attack on an enemy. These special attacks not only do great damage to bosses, but pretty much take out all of the enemies in the general area. As mentioned before, all the characters killed in this mode will give you special exclamation points.

ONE PIECE: PIRATE WARRIORS 3_20150907013157

The battle system is pretty much the main type of gameplay of the game, but there are several modes. The first is the Legend Log, which is the main story mode. This starts out in the very beginning of the series and takes you step by step through the entire series up until the latest point. For those of you who are unaware, the One Piece series has been running since 1997 and is still ongoing.

The different battles in the Legend Log are beautifully depicted as a ship’s helm with a ship’s wheel that you can use to switch between battles by going left or right on the control pad.

… the ability to pick up rare coins …
There’s a small legend near the bottom right of the screen that shows all the battles you’ve unlocked, and they’re grouped by main story arc or chapter. One thing to note about the Legend Log is that you’re limited as to which characters are available to fight in each battle.

The second mode in the game is the Free Log which is identical to the Legend Log, except you can play the level as any character you’ve unlocked up to that point. As you play through the Legend Log you’ll unlock different playable characters.

I haven’t quite determined whether or not you must defeat the characters to unlock them or if you simply unlock them by completing the battle that they first appear in. I do know that certain characters are only unlocked in the third mode, the Dream Log.

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The Dream Log mode has the same battle system as the main story log, except the battles don’t really match up with the story at all. You pretty much go from island to island doing battles and it gives you the ability to pick up rare coins and unlock different characters and other content.

While the gameplay is usually pretty solid I did encounter a few problems that I thought were worth mentioning. The first and probably the most annoying problem is the intermittent sluggishness of the characters.

I haven’t been able to pinpoint when the problem happens, but it seems that sometimes you’ll be walking along with your character and they’ll start to hesitate and can barely move. I don’t know if this is caused when there is a dialog event happening, but it seems to happen a lot.

… barely get my character to move …
So far, surprisingly, I only noticed this issue while playing the PS4 version. I spent just a little bit of time playing the PS3 and PS Vita versions and I didn’t encounter the issue. That’s not to say that it does not exist, I just cannot verify it.

When the sluggishness/hesitation problem isn’t happening, your character will walk smoothly in the direction you point them. If you push the analog stick in the same direction for long enough, they’ll go into a sprint.

I found that I’d be playing for a little bit and then all of a sudden, I could barely get my character to move. This can be mitigated however by pressing the sprint button to go directly into a full sprint, but it is really annoying and becomes frustrating to deal with when you’re just trying to move around and fight.

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Another problem, one that I also had with the Samurai Warriors game I played, is when an event happens. Sometimes the game will launch into a dialog scene which takes you right out of the gameplay.

I don’t really know how this issue could be fixed, because it is an important part of the game, but I wish it could kind of hold off somehow until you’ve finished fighting.

I believe I’ve seen other games handle this issue by putting a mark on the map to go to the next story event. Perhaps this would be a better solution than to jerk you out of the action to show you an event, and then just plop you back into the exact place and time you were in before the event.

While the event issue is a problem for me, it’s probably not going to be a problem for people who are used to playing these types of games. However, for people who are brand new to this genre, it’s worth mentioning so that you know to expect it.

… this will pretty much spoil the entire series …
The good news is that there’s actually a setting to not replay the events after the first time you see them. So if it becomes too much of a hassle, you can always turn this on and only have to deal with the issue one time. However, there are other parts of the battle that pause the gameplay, so it’s not completely avoidable.

Even with these issues, overall, this game is just a ton of fun to play and has a massive amount of content. As a huge One Piece fan, it’s really great to be able to experience the story from the very beginning and be able to play as tons of different characters. I counted thirty-seven different characters that are unlockable in the game, but there may be even more that are hidden.

If you are brand new to One Piece, you need to be aware that this will pretty much spoil the entire series for you. However, with that being said, there are a lot of different points in both the Anime and the Manga that are not included in the game, so I think both newbies and fans alike will be able to play and still get something out of the Anime and/or Manga.

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Just to expand a bit on the whole spoiler aspect of playing this game before seeing everything in the Anime or Manga. The Anime has over seven hundred episodes and only about half of them have been dubbed into English. The Manga is also massive and has eighty volumes and counting, spanning nearly twenty years.

All of this content is both time consuming and possibly very expensive to experience. Playing this game does give you a slight advantage in that, for around sixty dollars, you can get a general summary of the story and get to know who all the characters are while you go through the Anime and/or Manga.

So while it does spoil the main plot points, it still leaves a lot of great moments to be experienced by watching the Anime or reading the Manga.

… hair, fur, real skin tones, and textures …
Visuals:
The visuals in the PS4 version of the game are just simply gorgeous. I kind of hold Dragon Ball XV up as my benchmark for PS4 anime games and One Piece is probably just as beautiful as that.

One slight difference in this game, as opposed to Dragon Ball XV, is that the character models are less cel-shaded and also have very extreme textures.

You can sort of see the textures here on Zoro's shoulder.

You can sort of see the textures here on Zoro’s shoulder.

 

It was a bit off-putting to see Zoro and Luffy with these hard core textures at first, but I quickly got used to it. It’s a bit jarring at first but there’s just something about seeing the characters as cel-shaded anime for so long and then seeing all of them in polygon form with hair, fur, real skin tones, and textures.

The PS3 and PS Vita versions look pretty good as well. Obviously, the game doesn’t run as smooth on the older platforms and may not have the same level of physics, but it’s still pretty competent.

As far as visual performance, most of the time the game runs at a very steady frame rate, but there were a few times where it dipped a bit.

The drop only happens once in awhile, typically when you’ve slaughtered many enemies at once and there’s a notification that pops up to tell you how many kills your character has. Either way, it isn’t a major problem that changed my enjoyment of the game.

You can sort of see Luffy's shirt here looks almost like leather.

You can sort of see Luffy’s shirt here looks almost like leather.

 
Audio:
The audio in the game is pretty good. There aren’t any things that really stood out to me as far as surround sound goes. I think it does a pretty good job of using the back speakers to immerse you in the battle.

The game is voiced in Japanese only and does not include an English voice track. It’s kind of unfortunate because I really like the Funimation voice actors in the English dub.

The soundtrack is pretty good with lots of different music. There is one track though that plays over and over while browsing the menu, and it can become a bit grating.

Since there is so much music in the game, I kind of wish that the menu music would switch up a bit to break up the monotony.

… put out an SOS to get help with a battle …
Online/Multiplayer:
While One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 does have an explicit Online mode, online play is also integrated into the main story mode (Legend Log) and the free play mode (Dream Log).

As you play the game and finish a battle, as long as you have PSN play activated in the options menu, you’ll see that someone has put out a Rescue Request every now and then.

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The Rescue Request feature allows you or other players to put out an SOS to get help with a battle. When you are in the main battle select menu of either the Legend or Dream Log modes, you might get a notification that someone needs help.

You’ll see a small life preserver icon to the left or right of your wheel. You can then navigate the wheel until you see the life preserver indicator near the middle of the screen. When you’ve gotten to the episode where help is being requested you’ll be prompted to press the Square button to answer it.

When you answer a Rescue Request, you’ll be taken to the battle screen and from there you can see the requestor and their stats, as well as the difficulty setting of the battle.

… jam packed with content …
Then, you’ll be able to select your characters. If you’re in the Legend Log, you’ll be restricted to the characters available for that specific battle. If you successfully win the battle, you’ll get special rewards and also get points added to your Wanted Rank.

I found the feature to be quite useful for battling tough enemies as well as gaining lots of experience and money. There is one battle in particular where you have to fight Aokiji and he seems to be extremely overpowered. I was able to do a Rescue Request and both myself and a random player managed to take him down without too much trouble, so it really was a great help to me.

The actual Online mode allows you to set up a session to play with a second player. However, I couldn’t quite tell if you had to set up one session at a time or if the second player is able to stay connected between battles.

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Overall, I didn’t have a problem with the Online play, the only exception being that a couple of times the room was full before I could connect. And I think there was maybe one time where the host got disconnected and we got booted from the online session. Other than those connectivity problems, once I connected to someone’s session, I didn’t experience any lag or slowdown at all.

The game also has local split-screen two player co-op. Before you enter a battle in the Legend Log or Free Log modes, a second player can hit the start button on their controller to play along with you.

Conclusion:
Overall, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is a great game and it’s jam packed with content. So far, I’ve played over sixty hours, and my Gallery is about fifty-eight percent complete.

Hopefully the couple of issues that I have can be taken care of with a patch. I would probably recommend this game first and foremost to fans of One Piece and Dynasty Warriors. I am only at the end of the CP9/Water 7 arc in the Anime series, so this has been fun for me to meet the new characters and try to get caught up on the main story.

I found that each individual character has its own special moves and effects, so it’s really tough to get bored of the combat. Even though the battles seem pretty repetitive, playing with the different characters and mastering each one’s ability seems to add new life to the game.

For people who are new to the series, and even those who haven’t played a Musou-type game before, this one provides a pretty good introduction to the genre. The game also doesn’t seem to have the crazy amount of dialog that Samurai Warriors Chronicles 3 had, so if you have tried other games in that series, and were put off by the Japanese history aspect of it, this might be a better one for you.

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is a must have for One Piece fans, and is a fun, beautiful, challenging, content-packed game. I highly recommend it.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4 and the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

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