One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 is the third installment in the Pirate Warriors series, a series of musou games developed by Dynasty Warriors' Omega Force that lets players play through all the story arcs of the One Piece manga up to the currently running Dressrosa arc.
Like the previous games in the series, One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 plays similar to the Dynasty Warriors series. Players pick from one of the 37 available characters, given they've all been unlocked, along with a support character or two to aid the player on the field, in combos and special attacks are dropped onto a map, which again is styled after locations from One Piece. From there the players and their army of villagers, pirates, marines, etc battle against the enemy's army throughout the map where there are minor and major objectives to complete.
Minor objectives can range from capturing enemy bases to stopping new enemies from flowing in to K.O.ing a certain number of enemies. These minor objectives often yield health restoring items, Beli (currency in One Piece) and other rewards that come once the battle has been won. Major objectives are often plot related or will cause the player to lose the battle if failed, such as failing to protect an ally or dying in battle. Once the leader of the army is defeated, the battle is won.
Characters have light and strong attacks that are sometimes differentiated by ranged and close quarter attacks. Two to three-press combos can be performed to make longer lasting attacks with wider AoE (Area of Effect) and a dash that can turn into a sequence breaker by alternating dash and light attacks, and the special move called Kizuna ,which is unique for each character but are all attacks with wide AoE meant to clear crowds.
A new feature added to One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 is the Kizuna Rush. Once activated, players and their support are empowered and can use a Kizuna, combining all the player's support characters, that has massive range and damage. Using a Kizuna Rush will reward the player with a massive amount of collectible items, including health restorers, so liberal usage rather than conservative is encouraged.
There are three modes of play in One Piece Pirate Warriors 3. Legend Log, Dream Log and Free Log. Legend Log is the game's story mode where players fight through most of the past and current story of One Piece. Some minor elements of the stories are changed and many minor antagonists are removed, but the overall plot stays true. In Dream Log, players fight from island to island with semi-randomzied enemies and allies. This provides a way to wrack up extra goodies and unlock characters without reaching their story arc in Legend Log. Some characters such as Shanks can only be fought in Dream Log. Free Log lets you play through previously completed chapters of the Legend Log. Replaying chapters with different characters sometimes presents different objectives so there actually is a lot of replayability to the game.
As explained before, victory in battle yields rewards such as experience, Beli, coins, characters, costumes, etc. That is based on players' time to complete the stage, number of enemies K.O'd, and the completion of certain "Wanted" challenges. Experience levels up characters, increasing their four stats, Life, Special Power, Attack and Defense. Beli can be used to raise a character's level, but never past the highest level of one of your characters. Character Coins can be applied to characters, which will also give them stat boosts.
While there's a lot of different ways to fight and upgrade characters, most of this stuff isn't necessary in battle. Playing hard mode I still found I could button mash my way to victory and use the quickly replenishing Kizuna Rush special to not only damage and K.O. enemies but spawn healing items as well, meaning players are reward for something that already greatly benefits them. While the roster of One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 provides a lot of characters with unique fighting styles, the lack of necessity for any kind of tact in battle and option to power up characters without even using them means the game is a fast paced beat-em-up with many ways to play but ultimately shallow. Like a kiddie pool a mile wide.
Despite a character roster of 37, nine more than One Piece Pirate Warriors 2 and a decent sized roster for any game, it feels like a large portion of viable characters from One Piece were neglected; even worse is that some recognizable foes can only be fought and are not playable. Ultimately it feels like a huge tease.
Playing on the PC, I was surprised to find the PS4 version was graphically superior due to a new shader system along with the PS4 version having the most enemies on screen. The Pirate Warriors series uses highly detailed texturing mixed with the manga's style, meaning while the characters retain their cartoonish designs, clothing, hair and lighting are more realistically detailed. I personally don't like this style and feel that the previous One Piece Unlimited World Red had a better art style that matched the look of the anime even when using 3D models. And while many of the character models look good, some stage environments such as water and ships look flat and static, like something from an early PS2 game.
The soundtrack of One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 uses a lot of hard rock and heavy metal familiar to the Dynasty Warriors series but adds in the jazzy elements of the One Piece anime to create a surprisingly asskicking soundtrack that suits the game perfectly.
I got what I expected out of One Piece Pirate Warriors 3, which was a musou game with a One Piece skin. I was just hoping for a bigger roster and more depth in combat, especially considering this is the third game in the series. Even playing through the story mode feels a bit shallow considering how many characters are removed from even cutscenes. One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 is a decently fun game with a cast of unique fighters you won't find anywhere else, but ultimately it's a simple musou with a popular anime painted over it.
The copy used for this review was given to TechRaptor for review.