The ‘Warriors’ or ‘Musou’ genre has been made a name for itself and all sorts of IPs have been looking for ways to integrate themselves into the one man army game because that’s pretty much what a lot of shonen anime end up making their heroes to be.
So it’s no surprise that One Piece goes back to this genre for a 4th time, so does it make enough improvements to merit this new installment? Let’s have a closer look.
Production (3.9 / 5)
The character models for this game look decent enough, though I would say that there are some pain points when it comes to shaders and textures as they end up looking pretty rough for a PS4 game, they do manage to look great in motion however. It’s also rather impressive that even with hundreds upon hundreds of grunts around you the game does not seem to have a difficult time keeping the frame rate consistent on the PlayStation 4 except for some select cases. This makes watching big attacks pretty satisfying as the characters breeze through the nameless minions and they all take hits in a way that sells each attack pretty well.
The audio experience is about where you’d expect it, energetic music with a more prominent rock guitar riff during big moments, voices are just in Japanese so that may disappoint those looking for a dub. They also use the sound effects you would have heard in the original show.
Aside from providing you with some text dumps once in a while, the game makes use of three other ways of presenting you the story. They use image stills with a storybook presentation to fill us in on the more complex context which is fine because it doesn’t happen too often. They also make use of in-game models simply talking to each other while standing which I’m hugely not a fan of. And finally they make full-on animated cutscenes for the bigger, more dramatic moments of the story. I find the final approach pretty well done, but the fact that a good chunk of it is basically lifting from the previous title kinda dampens the impact of how well made these scene recreations are.
Their reproduction of the one-piece world is acceptable at most, as they are bland despite reproducing quirky and wild style of One Piece, but don’t really get in the way of the action.
In short, graphics could be better, but they do the job.
Mechanics (3.7 / 5)
When it comes to the buttons you press and what those buttons do, there’s not too much deviation from the Warriors formula. You can press light and heavy attacks and they can combo off each other, they added a launcher function being on the jump button to be able to mixup your repetitive approach on slaying squad after squad of punching bags.
Instead of blocking, you’re given a way of evading attacks which you have to do against bosses. This change makes combat something where there’s always something you can do to stay on the offense.
One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 makes a progression system a bit more interesting for your characters this time around, where there are 3 tiers of ‘maps’ to gain stats, skills, and other upgrades that are connected through a map of nodes. You can think of it as a sphere-grid system but a lot faster to learn.
What they did here is that they made the first tier map applicable to all of your characters, meaning one upgrade on the first tier will make all of your characters gain whatever that upgrade is. The next two maps will be character specific, where combos, new moves and special functions can be found. This way, even if you’re going to switch to a completely new character, they won’t feel completely helpless stats-wise if you’ve given a fair amount of development to the first map, and upgrading specific characters is much cheaper so swinging between different ones due to story restrictions or simply your own preference is going to be pretty convenient this time around.
The game isn’t going to deviate from much else from there, as it’s generally managing objectives around a map and fighting bosses by repeatedly hitting them with all you’ve got until they get taken down.
One thing they really should have worked on was making a lock-on that felt consistent or at the very least a camera that can keep up with your movement.
Content (3 / 5)
The more I think about it, the more I believe that this is more or less a shot-for-shot reskin of Gintama Rumble. As it covers what I would assume (I haven’t watched One Piece) the more popular arcs of the series in a way that you’re basically getting an abridged version of the story, giving you just enough to understand why you’re fighting whoever the big bad is for the next chapter. It’s a bit disappointing to see that there’s only 6 arcs when I’m fairly sure that there’s at least 20 on the manga, where they probably decided on their own version of the ending as the latest one is their last one, which doesn’t have an official conclusion yet.
What they do have a ton of is playable characters and their moves, while there are three general types, there’s a lot of variance in how they achieve their strengths. Some perform better doing air combos all the time while others do perfectly fine staying in one place and striking from a distance, there are even those who are just giants that can hit everything with a simple swing of their spear and that’s all they have to do.
Aside from the Dramatic Log, you can play pretty much the same scenarios with different characters in Free Log while Treasure Log makes its own version of events where you can play a nameless pirate through an alternate story made with the same elements of the game. So while there’s ideally a lot to explore, a lot of it is simply cookie-cutter, repeated material.
Features (3 / 5)
This Pirate Warriors game offers upto 4 player online co-op and a 2 player couch co-op for those who want to play this genre on how it usually is.
However there’s a bit of an issue for online play as stat scaling doesn’t happen at all. You can end up playing with a partner that can be so ahead of you in terms of stat progression that you may feel like you’re a henchman more than anything, or vice versa. If they had considered some sort of scaling to be applied during online play, this may have been a much more attractive feature to explore.
Honestly speaking, I can’t really say I was all that impressed with One Piece Pirate Warriors 4, I appreciate the little innovations they have applied here and there, but lack of content that makes anything other than Dramatic Log interesting to play feels like a serious flaw.
Other than that, it plays pretty decently, and does offer a fair amount of mindless fun where Dramatic Log changes things up often enough for you to either be hyped for the next fight or character to use or even moved to tears by the next heart-wrenching scene. I can’t shake off the feeling that I’m playing an alternate version of Gintama Rumble the entire time.
If you enjoy the warriors genre, and like One Piece, this is probably a good fit for you, if you like grinding through armies and hunting for unlockables that can stack hours upon hours, you’ll probably be able to sink your teeth into this title with little issue. But if repetitive tasks make you quickly lose interest, you may want to wait for a sale.
One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 feels too much like a filler episode, snagging a 3.34 / 5
Available on PS4, X1, Switch, and PC.