Review: One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3

Release Date
PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Steam
Publisher / Developer
Bandai Namco Entertainment Europe S.A.S / Koei Tecmo Games
1-2 players (online/offline)
PEGI 12+

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3, from Bandai Namco, is the latest instalment in the One Piece: Pirate Warriors series. Pirate Warriors 3 is the first game in the series to be released on the new generation of consoles; with the increase of power the PlayStation 4 provides, it allows for more enemies on-screen and faster-paced action. The game is also the first in the series to see a PC release via Steam.

Pirate Warriors 3 takes us back to the very beginnings of the One Piece story. Fuschia village is where the game opens, the hometown of Monkey D. Luffy and the location of the fated meeting with Red-Haired Shanks, who lost his arm saving Luffy and bestows his infamous straw hat onto him. The story follows each major plot point of the series, recruiting crew mates as you go, and culminating in the most recent story arc of One Piece against the evil Donquixote Doflamingo on the island kingdom of Dressrosa. The story elements and cut-scenes play out in manga styled form fully voiced in Japanese, allowing you to kick back and re-live all those awesome One Piece moments.

If you have played any of the Warriors franchise games from Koei Tecmo then you’ll be in familiar hands with Pirate Warriors 3. Each chapter of the story is played out in missions, the basic formula in each mission is a layout of territories that can be controlled by either you and your crew or the enemy. As you proceed through the mission, enemies will come and go, as well as crewmates, each bringing with it a specific task. Ultimately, take down the enemies as they appear and eventually you’ll face off against the boss and clear the mission. Missions are constantly changing as you’re playing them so it’s important to pay attention to the tasks you must complete to proceed, whether it be defeating a specific enemy or saving a crewmate. Extra tasks can be completed during a mission that will gain you a higher completion ratio, thus unlocking more coins.

Coins are used to increase the stats of your characters; each mission will yield a selection of coins, as does defeating powerful enemies. Each character stat requires a combo of different coins in order to be increased. After each mission, the coins you receive can automatically be applied to your current character but will have to be added manually to any others. Money in the form of Beli, One Piece currency, is also earnt during missions and used to level up characters that you haven’t been using or for purchasing items for the Gallery. Skill Posters are also earnt from missions and allow you to use the character you unlock a Skill Poster for; they also come with a selection of different skills that can be unlocked through using that character during missions and completing the requirements.

Multiplayer is available as you would expect, two players can play together locally or you can play online, but only up to two players again. There’s an SOS feature that allows you to request help for a particular mission or to help someone on a mission. While it’s a nice feature so far I haven’t seen the need for it, you can set up an online game with a friend easy enough, and if you want to play with other people, it’s there.

Outside of the main story mode you have, as usual, a free mode but also a mode called Dream Log; this mode allows you to play as your favourite character on a grid-like map of islands, each island containing a mission. As you conquer islands, you open up boss islands where you’ll be able to unlock more characters and coins. The most interesting feature of Dream Log is the randomised nature of the missions making the replay value in this mode very high. Unfortunately, however, you won’t be able to play this mode online with a friend as it only supports local co-op. A shame and a missed opportunity as this mode will easily keep you coming back for more.

While feeling a lot easier than the first Pirate Warriors game, it’s certainly a bonus not having to deal with those annoyingly frustrating QTE’s that plagued each mission, and you can always turn the difficulty up to hard for a challenge. The gameplay is a lot smoother than previous entries in the series and the new Kizuna attacks make for a really interesting playstyle. Kizuna attacks allow you to use a partner attack of sorts with a character taking part in that mission; while fighting, you build up the level of your partner which allows you to pull off some really awesome special attacks.

In keeping with the visual style of previous instalments this newest entry raises the bar even higher, no doubt thanks to the PlayStation 4’s capabilities. Even with hundreds of enemies on screen, quality is maintained and to great effect; there’s nothing more satisfying than pulling off a special and taking out hundreds at a time. A Japanese audio only outing, but with subtitles available for English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. This may be a negative for some, but I find nothing more enjoyable than hearing the Japanese voice cast shouting out their special moves… Gomu Gomu no Bazooka.

A tried and tested formula that’s hard to beat, no new evolutionary additions in this instalment but a series of refinement that makes for one of the best Warriors sub-franchises to date. Being the first title in the series to be released on the new generation of consoles everything has been amped up to get the most out of the new hardware. One Piece fans will enjoy the story mode that goes back to the series beginnings, following it to the most recent story arc in the manga and the whole raft of new characters it brings. The series also hits Steam for the first time so there’s even more availability for fans of One Piece and the Warriors franchise alike, you wouldn't go amiss with this awesome title.