Game Reviews

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 Review

The spinoff series returns after five years.

by Dean James
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4

One Piece is the anime that just keeps on sailing along more than 20 years after the debut of both its manga and anime adaptation. The anime adaptation is at 925 episodes currently and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon as one of the most popular anime around the world. Due to this popularity, the franchise has spawned numerous video games over the years that ranged from fighting games to even a take on the usual hack and slash musou genre with the Pirate Warriors series. After releasing three games in a four year span, the Pirate Warriors series took a five year hiatus outside of a Switch port, but now Bandai Namco and Omega Force have teamed up yet again for One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4.

As with past entries in the series, One Piece: Pirates Warriors 4 has a few different game modes, with Dramatic Log serving as the game’s main story mode. Dramatic Log is split into different chapters based on One Piece story arcs, with levels found within each of them as well that help move the plot along in that story arc. For someone trying to experience the series for the first time and think they’re going to get the full impact of the story here, you probably want to look for another style of One Piece game that is more story focused on a particular arc instead.

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Once you select a stage to play in Dramatic Log, you will be provided with pretty much exactly the type of setup that you would expect from this style of game. The very beginning will have you playing as the lead Luffy D. Monkey, but you will play as multiple other characters along the way. After being placed in the opening area, you must take out waves of enemies that will eventually lead to stronger mini-boss like enemies showing up. Some of these are Leaders of that specific area, while others are named enemies that are more related to the story. Besides the main victory condition, you can also go around the map and take control of different territories, but you have to make sure your allies are not dying while you do so.

The gameplay is also exactly as you could imagine, where you have a few attack buttons you will be pressing constantly as you mow down these collections of enemies. For the PS4 version, pressing Square will do a Normal Attack, while Triangle does a Charge Attack. You can also press X to jump and then mix one of the other attacks in for a special in-air attack. It is also possible to dodge enemy attacks or charge forward for an attack with Circle as well.

Each character has four special moves that they can access in battle, with you able to choose the four you want that character to have. These are accessed in battle by holding down R1 and pressing one of the four face buttons, which makes it very easy to pull off. Each one has a cooldown meter though, so prepare to wait a little bit after using each time.

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These special moves also come in very handy against the stronger enemies in the game thanks to the shield defense based system. While you can obliterate armies of basic enemies, there stronger enemies can put up a bit more of a fight. This is especially the case with some bosses in the game, as they have a shield that you have to break to be able to even damage them.

Regular bosses can be tough enough, but One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 introduces something new to the series with Titan Mode for certain bosses. Titan Mode is utilized with certain bosses that are much larger than other life size enemies you are facing. These enemies cannot be just attacked directly, as even their shield cannot be depleted by normal means. Instead, you have to utilize your Power Dash move to dodge their attacks and strikes while they are still mid-attack. By doing this, you can help take out their shield over time and then be able to finally attack the giant boss’s actual health gauge. You can also keep taking out their shield to eventually knock them out as well, which is a unique feature. The one downside to Titan Mode though is that it can really drag out some of these boss fights way longer than they feel like they should be.

These boss battles can also start to suffer due to the game’s disappointing camera and lock-on combination. The camera itself is not awful, as you can control it easily with the right analog stick. However, where the problem comes in is when trying to lock-on to the more powerful enemies, such as bosses. The camera seems like it can never track the locked on enemy correctly, often taking them completely out of view to the point where you feel like you’re not even locked on anymore. This makes it become a case of where you feel like you’re fighting the camera more than the bosses themselves, which is never a good thing.

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One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 also has what is known as the Growth Map, which is essentially the skill tree for the game that enhances your characters. These require not only the game’s form of currency known as Berries, but also other items acquired from battle against certain types of enemies. These maps allow you to upgrade stats like attack and stamina, while also having skills that you can acquire. Each of these locations on the map can also be used multiple times to upgrade their levels as well. Characters also have specific maps you can acquire too that allow you to get moves specific to them, so there is a decent amount of depth here overall.

The largest character roster in the series with more than 40 playable characters

The playable character roster may start off a little small in One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4, but it grows exponentially as you play through the game. You are limited by who you can play as in Dramatic Log for story reasons, but that is what Free Log is for. Free Log is the more open mode that plays the same with the exact stages from Dramatic Log, but without a main story surrounding it. This is where the full bevy of different characters can be accessed, with the game boasting the largest character roster in the series with more than 40 playable characters. There have been some characters cut from the third game in the series, but they are made up for with new characters in both the Dressrosa and Whole Cake Island story arcs.

This latest iteration also introduces what is known as Treasure Log, which is somewhat comparable to Dream Log and such from the past. Within Treasure Log, you select episodes to play that can level up in difficulty as time goes on. This is where the real level of skill in the game comes into play, which may require you enlist some help from others online.

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Rather than having its own online mode or anything, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 offers online play in each of the modes available in the game. This can be done easily from the mission select screen within each mode, where you can either recruit others online or join an existing session. This is not necessary in any way to use for those that would rather play solo, but it’s a nice little feature nonetheless that works very seamlessly.

One Piece as a franchise tried to be a bit more ambitious with last year’s One Piece: World Seeker to mixed at best reception, while now it goes back to the more safe option with the return of the Pirate Warriors series. As with most musou style games, the gameplay in One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is largely the same as you pummel hordes of enemies, though the new Titan Mode bosses are an interesting new wrinkle to the series. With nothing that really separates it from the rest of the pack, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is still a good game, albeit one that only fans of the series will really enjoy.

The Verdict

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is yet another action heavy entry in the spinoff series that will provide fans of the series with a fun experience for awhile before starting to feel very monotonous as a result of the lack of anything special to set itself apart from other games in the genre.

- This article was updated on:March 27th, 2020

"meh"
meh

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4

  • Available On: PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
  • Published By: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Developed By: Omega Force
  • Genre: Beat 'em Up
  • US Release Date: March 27, 2020
  • Reviewed On: PS4
  • Quote: "One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is yet another action heavy entry in the spinoff series that will provide fans of the series with a fun experience for awhile before starting to feel very monotonous as a result of the lack of anything special to set itself apart from other games in the genre."
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