One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 is not only the fourth game in the Pirate Warriors series but also one of many in Omega Force/Koei Tecmo’s popular Warriors series. For those in the know, it began many moons ago with Dynasty Warriors. Given the original title was released more than 20 years ago on the original PlayStation, technology has clearly advanced leaps and bounds since. The gameplay in this latest title has not.
But is that such a bad thing?
What made Dynasty Warriors so damned good was the feeling of absolute power in the face of an army.
One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 Review
As the chosen player, you would often find yourself facing down hundreds of enemies, and you would use your trusty weapon to take them out in great sweeping arcs.
As you fight your way around, you would take down bosses in order to gain control over that section of the battlefield, slowly exerting your influence until you are able to take out the final boss. Rinse and repeat. It was simple, but it worked – there wasn’t too much to monitor, and all you had to do was focus on pulling off your special moves in order to take down waves of enemies faster.
Well, 21 years on and OPPW4 still follows this exact same formula, and for the most part, it still works! As a character from the One Piece universe, you have ridiculous abilities at your disposal, and more than that, you are one tough cookie.
This style of game really caters to that feeling of empowerment. Enemies crowd around you in their hundreds (which I guess is an improvement that modern-day tech can afford), and you can knock them all down or flick them up into the air with a single press of a button. Then you can pound the life out of them with subsequent button presses.
However, the real problem here is that it doesn’t seem to matter. You can mash buttons to your heart’s content and end up victorious nine times out of 10. There just doesn’t feel like a need to be strategic. Sure, you do need to take heed of the win conditions or the notifications that “such and such party member” is being overwhelmed, but if all you want to do is beat down the hundreds of enemies on screen, most of the time all it takes is button mashing.
There are bosses, of course, and these bosses do have a shield gauge. The game teaches you to dash out of their way and attack their weak spot while they attempt to attack you – even going as far as suggesting this is the only way to damage them. But I didn’t find that this mattered. All I needed to do was continue to button mash and I would break their shield and start hacking away at their life.
Still – it’s fun in its preposterousness. The simple fact that you are taking on hundreds of enemies on your own and absolutely destroying them is as fun now as it was 21 years ago. Possibly even more fun – because one thing that makes OPPW4 so special is the speed at which you move and the bombastic abilities that you can pull off.
There are three game modes that make up the core experience. The first, Dramatic Log is essentially the main campaign, but it’s not a single story arc, it’s a bunch of mini-story arcs that have played out in One Piece comics. This makes them bite-sized and a whole lot of fun. And there are six of them, each telling a major story arc in the lengthy One Piece backstory.
Completing each island (which comprises one story arc) will unlock it for play in Free Log. The main difference between the two is that the Dramatic Log missions can only be played by set warriors, while Free can be played by anyone that players have unlocked.
The third and final mode is the Treasure Log. In this mode, players choose their character and fight their way through a number of scenarios. These don’t follow story arcs, and simply provides a way for encounters that might not occur in the manga to play out within the game. They are generally quicker than story missions, but there are so many of them. In fact, there’s plenty of content here to keep any One Piece fan busy for a long time, with characters and costumes to unlock by achieving S ranks in missions.
All three modes can be played in Online Co-op as well as 2-player local split-screen, but we weren’t able to test this out.
And when it comes to the presentation… I’m kind of divided.
In some places, the game looks great – loading scenes and animated cutscenes are glorious and crisp. But the game itself? Plain and jaggy. Expect to see multitudes of the same looking enemies over… and over… and over… and over again. Sometimes even in different colours! Still, it’s understandable for a game of this type and is likely the reason that so MANY of them can fit on the screen at once, so… no point complaining.
And the voice acting is sublime, with the real voice actor reprising their roles to make it feel even more legit.
Put simply, One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 is a stupendously enjoyable game even in the face of its problems. This isn’t the type of game you would play for a challenge, but it’s certainly one you would play just to feel like a badass. Especially if you’re a One Piece fan.
One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 was reviewed on Xbox One using a digital copy provided by Bandai Namco.
Game Title: One Piece Pirate Warriors 4