Played on Windows
Also Available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and Nintendo Switch
When One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 originally released, there was already 8 main Dynasty Warriors games, as well as many offshoots. In addition, there was a number of Samurai Warrior games as well as three Warriors Orochi games by this point. I say this simply to allow the reader to understand the momentum behind One Piece Pirate Warriors 3, and realize that it is yet another Dynasty Warrior game. But is it a good one?
The fact is with the amount of momentum behind The Warriors Series (or as the Japanese call it, the Musou series). It’s easy to call it another Dynasty Warriors game, and I’ll save some readers time. If you abhor the Dynasty Warriors and don’t care about One Piece, One Piece Pirate Warriors is not likely to change your mind.
On the other hand, I admit, I’m a Dynasty Warriors fan, and while I rail other games for repetition, I admit that I liked Dynasty Warriors for its fun button-mashing gameplay and the fact that sometimes I can turn off my mind with it. So I came to One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 with an open mind about the game. In fact, I was kind of excited because it’s a fresh story for me. We’ll talk about why that might not be the best thing.
First, though, the graphics in One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 is good, but it’s heavily stylized. There’s a definite push to make this game feel more like a manga coming to life, as that’s what One PIece originally and most famously is. They succeed very well and the game looks rather great. There are a number of cutscenes, though they appear to be CG instead of anime.
However, the graphics are an acquired taste. One Piece has a very stylized look to it and the characters look odd at times. It’s not a bad thing, and fans of the manga and anime might not realize it, but the characters do look odd to people not familiar with this series, and it might turn off some players.
I mean not only is the head very stylized for One PIece, the game also has people turning into rubber, able to be split apart, and more oddities that is normal in this world.
In addition, there is a lot of dialogue that is done between two characters where they are acting out what I imagine is part of the story from the manga, and while that doesn’t look as strong, it’s often enjoyable and adds a lot more story to the game so it’s worth it. Without it, the game would be very terse.
There are also often a huge number of characters on the screen. You’ll often kill over two thousand enemies per level and I believe there are usually at least 100 or more enemies that appear on screen at a time for the player to kill off. But there is a trade off for it.
Most of the generic enemies in the game are rather bland. In fact, even when you have two armies fighting head to head, many characters seem to be a palette swap. What that means is, there’s no difference if you fight other pirates, the Marines, or anyone else. They all have the same look and just a change of a single color. It’s definitely a trade-off for the number of enemies you can see but after playing it I wouldn’t mind seeing fewer characters and more important characters as the ones in the game tend to just be fodder anyway.
The story of One PIece PIrate Warriors 3 is taken from the manga and the anime of the same name. It starts with what I understand is the beginning (or at least the early part) of the manga, and actually ends with chapters that were written the same year as the game. To put this in perspective, the original stories were written in 1997, and the latest stories were finished in 2015. I don’t know how much of the latest stories are in the game, but that’s almost 20 years of manga adapted to a game, and that’s a lot of content.
However, the ending of the game is the weakest part. There’s a major point about four or five levels before the final mission, that could have been the end of the game, though with a bad cliffhanger. Instead, since it’s following a (still) unfinished manga, the ending doesn’t come across as strong as it could have if it was properly planned It just seems to stop with a to be continued.
There are five major acts in the game, each having between three and five missions for the Legends mode, which is the core game based on the story. It’s actually done with a Japanese Audio and English Subtitles, which is a shame. However, there are so many characters and so much content that I could imagine the cost of recording the English version and making it sound good would be expensive, so it’s a shame there’s not an English audio track but I also understand it.
The story itself is interesting at the beginning and you can hear in my first look when I realize I do know pieces of the story. I only know the very early parts, back from the days of watching anime in college, which was far closer to the original stories than the latest stories. Once the game gets past the stories I already knew, I found it harder to follow the major arcs, and two big pieces really held me back. The amount of story the game tries to grind through is a lot, so the story moves faster and a lot of development feels skipped over. While fans of the anime or manga won’t have much of a problem following this, anyone outside of the fandom will likely have a little problem. It doesn’t help that almost every character gets developed in a single mission and then is moved on from.
The other problem is that there are so many characters and so much going on in almost every level, and the player tries to play the game as some of the dialogue is being said in Japanese. It’s true the English translation is available on screen, but it’s hard to read while still playing the game.
I found the first couple of acts were really interesting when there weren’t many characters and characters got a lot of development, but by the time there was at least three or four different major bosses in the game, I started to lose my motivation of understanding the story and just drove to the end.
If you are a fan of the series, you won’t be disappointed. A lot of major stories are covered here, but the average gamer won’t know most of these, and it’s hard to really care about some of these stories when the game seems to lunge forward time after time. A good example is Coby is a friend of Luffy, the main character. Coby appears in the first mission and a number of things happen. He then pops up far later in the game after almost 75 percent of the game is over, and there’s not even a major reintroduction to the character. Everything about him has changed and the game just assumes you know that’s the same character and not just another character with the same name. This is the most extreme example, but it’s a big problem for the game. A lot of other characters are handled this way as well.
And of course, there’s a time jump in the middle of the game. I first assumed this was just a way to gloss over a lot of content from the manga, but in fact, it’s actually part of the manga as well. That’s how closely they follow the source material, and while I do think it’s hard to understand, I will applaud their devotion to bringing a video game version of that massive story that has continually grown for 20 years. This would be similar to making a video game that followed every episode of the Simpsons. Something was going to get lost in translation and I will say that the good news is the fans of the original are going to be happy here. At least I think.
Throughout the game, Luffy is going to be the Pirate King. It’s not overly repetitious a line as it seems, but it’s his goal.
The game actually builds Luffy’s crew rather well, but in reality, I do have to admit a number of people seem to just appear and be added to them. I’m sure this is partially due to my lack of familiarity with the manga and anime though.
But I also have to say the character designs in this game are amazing. All of this is because of the original manga and anime, but there are so many characters and almost all of them feel very unique. The game invests quite a bit into the identity of its characters, characters appear and play differently. Each character looks really cool as well.
The same is true with the bosses, almost every boss looks outlandish but interesting. I was so excited every time a new character was announced because I wanted to see what that character would be like. There is everything from a character that looks straight out of Rocky Horror Picture Show to a character who uses Smoke based attack to even a Medusa-like character, and more.
That leads us to the gameplay. I said at the beginning that One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 is very similar to Dynasty Warriors and that’s very true. You run around a large map, find enemies and smash any attack button you want to quickly kill them. When you build your “musou” power you hit a button to use a super attack and then go back to button mashing. At the end of a level, you kill a boss and move on.
It sounds simple but actually, I feel like One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 adheres to even that formula a little too fiercely. Every level ends with a boss battle which has three tiers of damage (each tier ending with an invincible transformation and a beatdown) Even when levels are about retreats or similar, the game does this, and it becomes even more formulaic than the series which is already very formulaic.
Tons of enemies, check, simple gameplay, check, standard map, check…
At the same time, there are a number of big changes to the game to make it feel fresh, at least as you first start playing it.
Powering up characters is done by Pirate coins which you can gain from enemies or even friends who drop them as you team up with them. You might need a certain amount of “Luffy” coins, and you’ll have to play with or around Luffy, or against him to get those coins to drop. It’s not a deep system and by the end of the game, there are a lot of coins being thrown around but it does add some depth to the progression outside of just earning XP.
In addition, there’s a deep skill system that allows you to collect skills from different characters through bounty sheets, every character has a bounty sheet and there are usually two or three skills per character. This actually feels really good at first but then becomes drudgery really quickly. If a skill is an enhancement (Skill versus Skill+) you need the original skill first, and usually that means you have to go hunting for it or wait to earn that skill. Some characters have interesting bounties which can range from using a team-up attack, beating a boss, or collecting a certain amount of KOs or otherwise.
However most of the bounties in the game aren’t as inventive, many become based on Crew Levels and those aren’t fun. When you put a Crew Level bounty next to a personal achievement bounty, it’s a shame because one of those feels well thought out and the other feels like you’re just grinding Crew Levels.
Crew Level itself is a series of unlockables that every character gets. You might get Gallary pieces, bounty unlocks, or more based on crew level. The problem though is you only earn Crew Level when you team up or play a character, so grinding Smoker’s crew level means you have to play as him. But not every character is playable. There are about half of all the bounties attached to unplayable characters which mean you just have to luck into them appearing.
You’ll see these grow after every level. With only five levels it’s short but they don’t rise that fast, and with 60ish players, you’ll be grinding this at the end of the game.
There are also 37 playable characters which is a huge amount, and about double that for the total characters (meaning they appear and can be teamed up with, as well as having bounties).
The problem though is those unplayables, which are just adding stuff to do for the game so completionists have more to track down and they don’t add much to the game. I’m thrilled at the number of them which appear in the game, but if they aren’t playable, attaching milestones to them feels a little cheap, especially when the player is stuck trying to track them down for a skill.
In addition, the levels in the game are very similar. I talked about beating the boss is the same for each level, and that’s absolutely true. But every level is graded on the same three values. How many kills you get (requiring 2000+ every level) how many assisted kills you get (1000) and how fast you beat the level (usually looking for < 20 minutes). If you don’t beat it in those three categories, you don’t get an S rank overall and again a completionist would have to play it again.
The problem though is these values don’t really change, you’ll kill 2000 characters every level, have to use assists on every level and rush through them so you can get that S Rank. There is variance in the levels in the forms of little quests that players have to complete to get a 100 percent on a level, but the score is always the standard and it makes the game feel staler faster.
The assist system is a little wonky. The game requires assists (exclamation points) for crew level grinding, as well as Grades. This works, as you’re supposed to be a team, but it also makes it so you almost only have to use attacks that have assist potential, and focus only on assists while fighting through the huge waves of enemies. In addition, there’s a Kizuma attack where you’ll earn the exclamation points faster but it feels like a weak system.
The coin system is rather interesting. It doesn’t save the game, but honestly it could be a lot worse.
In addition, some teammates’ assist attack doesn’t do damage, and without damage, the assists don’t credit as I believe they require a kill (or at least damage). Overall, the Assist system is a good idea, but because it’s so heavily required, an interesting thought becomes a really weak point since it’s the focus of a lot of the game. It’s also what the crew level is based on.
With all that said, the fact is One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 eventually feels repetitive. Even a fan of the series will likely get bored of this game on the second or third playthrough of the story to earn everything there. And that’s before the game throws out Dream log, which is more levels with random friendlies and enemies where the player can rack up more kills assists and time objectives over the course of at least 50 more levels.
The problem with One Piece Pirate Warriors 3, that I keep butting my head against, is that the game has entirely too much content while simultaneously having too little. By this I mean, there are too many levels that are exactly the same and need to be played over and over, but too few of those levels are unique or special. Again, fans of the series might have a different reaction here, but to me fighting the Marines versus the World Government versus random pirates, isn’t enough of a change to feel different and fresh.
I admit I played a LOT of this game, so of course, it got boring, but if the game was even a fourth as long and more unique it might have been a bit better for me and potentially more welcoming to other fans. The amount of replay needed for mastery, levels, and treasures is a lot.
I haven’t even talked about a few other parts, but I’ll dig in a little deeper now.
Dream Log that I’ve referred to is just another mode. Legend Log is the main story mode, but Dream Log has the player run around to islands and beat up enemies. It’s more random, more unique and interesting but there are a ton of islands and honestly, most of them are just too random for my taste. I played less than a fourth of them and move on quickly due to how similar it all seemed.
In addition, the tutorials in the game tell you what button to press by the action. I used a Steam controller which is based on the Microsoft Xbox layout, but in the game, they just showed me a punch button, not even saying the “attack button” but rather a symbol. I often had to pause the game go to the button configuration more than once to figure out what button they were trying to tell me to hit in the tutorials.
Of course there’s a ton of story in the game, along with a lot of these cutscenes.
In addition swapping of characters is not explained well. It’s teaching the swapping of support characters but made it sound like the main character could be swapped which would be useful, but doesn’t work.
In addition, the game really frontloads achievements. By the end of my first level, I already had 8 achievements. I earned 11 total achievements by the end of just the second level.
Still, I would be kidding myself if I said One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 is a bad game. It’s not the best Warriors game, but it’s enjoyable and the fact is I am probably not the target audience here. If you’re a One Piece fanatic, this is definitely the game for you. If you love the Warriors games, it’s not a horrible game to play but the enjoyment from the game is more from the One Piece license than the Warriors gameplay in it. This is one of the weaker Warrior games I’ve played but I enjoyed most of my time playing the game and there’s a lot of content left in the game I could go chase down. For me, though it’s the light gameplay that holds me back from playing more. I put 40 hours into the game and while the last five or so were rushing to finish off the story, 35 solid hours of enjoyment isn’t a bad amount.
Ultimately I give One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 a
This is a hard one to grade. If you hate Dynasty Warriors and don’t like One piece, the score is going to be closer to a 2. If you love One Piece, I don’t think there’s a better game out there, and this game should absolutely be played. Otherwise, it’s worth checking out for those who are curious.
Final Thoughts: A One Piece Dynasty Warriors mashup. It’s more for the fans of the One Piece manga or anime, but it’s quite fun if you are interested in the story.
Stats: 43.8 hours played 30/40 achievements earned.