Shonen as a genre has a few key components to it, one of which being the over the top battles. Thinking about titles like Dragon Ball, Bleach, or One Piece you think of the epic moments. A spirit bomb from Goku, or Ichigo unleashing his Final Getsuga Tenshou during a high stakes fight. These battles don't just shape the story of the series, but also have a heavy influence on relationships and the continual growth of protagonists. One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 relies on this link between shonen manga and big-scale battles as One Piece again returns to the Musou format.
What content does One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 cover?
While the previous game in the series covered every arc in this long-running series, One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 picks up at the end of the Alabaster arc, and it's not afraid to trim the fat. If it isn't to do with major plotlines between the Warlords, Emperors, or World Government, don't expect to see it included. If you're unfamiliar with the story, you'll only be scratching the surface. Instead, this is an enjoyable "best of" recap of One Piece's most impressive battles, with minor adjustments here and there. A series of battles could merge into one, or extra elements come into play to expand gameplay. This decision allows for smaller events that might not be worth including to scale to Musou worthy combat.
The Wano arc gets a spot in the campaign, but this version deviates from the manga. Even as it loads up, the game points out that it's an original story. As the arc still isn't complete, it's refreshing to see something new. The quality of the original story is quite lackluster, serving as a means to get all main characters together for one big battle. With the B and C plots removed from the story entirely, there's a lot of intricacies lost on the overall story. While it would be unfair to say the story is an afterthought, it certainly takes a back seat to gameplay.
How does One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 play?
Each level in One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 takes place on a vast battlefield. These locations range from city streets to dense forests and even volcanic mountains. Each battle tasks you with a single main objective, normally clearing a path through your adversaries or defeating a certain enemy on the map. None of these goals are very complicated, so there's no need to stress about any deadlines or intricate plans. Instead, players can enjoy wiping the floor with enemies across the map.
The main objective isn't the only goal a player can take on. Maps break into sections controlled by different factions, and you can wrestle control away from them. This gives players certain strategic advantages, creating their own minion NPCs and driving back other enemies. Each mission also has a number of side-quests that appear as you progress.
Arriving at these side-quests can trigger more difficult enemies or instruct you to take over an area. This can be a fun additional challenge as you're waiting for other events on the board to take place. Some of the triggers for these sub-quests can be a bit delayed. You'll arrive at your destination and wait a minute before the event triggers. There can even be instances where you arrive, clear out a sub-quest, and leave before the instructions appear.
Combat is very basic, consisting of light, heavy, and special attacks. Each character has their own set of combos that use repeated light attacks and a finishing heavy attack. Players have to experiment with which combos they like the most, and which are appropriate for each situation. A big wide sweeping attack might be great when in a group of over one hundred soldiers, but if it's a one on one battle you might prefer less flashy attacks. Characters combos and specials are faithful to attacks from the series and even the way that characters make their way around the stage is familiar to character movement. The base combat you see in the first mission isn't any different from base gameplay in the final mission. If you don't find mashing attacks through waves of enemies this game likely will bore you quickly.
Some new additions to the series include a new fighter type. On top of Power, Speed, and Technique a new Fly type is available. Sanji and his siblings fall into this category, soaring above the stage for as long as they have stamina. This new fighter excels in aerial combos where you swoop in and take out numerous foes.
Giant enemies in Pirate Warriors 4 are also actually giant. This is particularly important as the shapes and sizes of One Piece characters know no bounds. Fighting large characters like Big Mom or Kaido wouldn't have as much of an effect if they were all the same height as you. These two touches, while not necessary, show a dedication to the source material creating a more authentic One Piece experience.
As you play the fodder, objectives, and side quests keep adding up. It's not only maps that grow more complex either, as you're able to improve your character's stats and buy new abilities. All characters have a shared ability board as well as their own specific upgrade trees. Some get restricted by high-level rewards so the harder you push yourself the more powerful you can make your favorite character.
Difficulty in Pirate Warriors 4 is designed that it's near impossible to brute force your ways through levels without taking the time to grow your characters, so expect to be able to come back to a bigger challenge if you choose. By leveling up the cast of characters and giving players tougher challenges to return to, it adds a decent sense of replayability.
Outside of the story mode, you're able to revisit story missions with any unlocked character and play original levels. These are a series of fun diversions that don't tie to any particular portion of the story, freeing up characters to appear in unexpected places. If you ever wanted to see what a war between Luffy, Zoro, and Sanji would be with guest appearances from all across the One Piece series, this should be a lot of fun.
One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 delivers not only a good Warriors experience but a fantastic voyage through One Piece. The adherence to the source material in almost every aspect is a treat for fans wanting to get involved with some of the biggest fights of the series. It's still strange to skip entire arcs, but understanding that the focus is on the big battles helps me to give that a pass. Especially considering how satisfying it can be to knock enemies around. With the added mechanics on top of that, it doesn't just feel like a Warriors game with a One Piece coat of paint. It feels like a good One Piece game.
TechRaptor reviewed One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 on Xbox One with a copy provided by the publisher.
- Highlights One Piece Moments...
- New Fly and Giant Characters
- Original Content for Replayability
- 40+ Character Roster
- ... Skips A Lot
- Gameplay Repetitive