[Review] One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 (PS4/Switch/PC)
Just so you know, I have zero experience with the One Piece Series. Never read the manga, watched the anime or played the games. One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 is my first interaction with One Piece.
Having never played a One Piece Musou game, I didn't know what to expect, however I was pleasantly surprised. Omega Force (Koei Tecmo) developed this game, although it licensed and published by Bandai Namco.
This game changes how I feel about what musou should be, One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 ticks all the boxes for me. All the elements of a great musou is in Pirate Warriors 4, as well as small new features that add to the awesome experience. The first thing that strikes me is the visuals, I'm not a fan of the 3D Anime Artstyle. Although it's faithful to anime/manga, I personally find it kind of jarring in a musou game. The user interface is very colourful, not something that we usually see in musou, I am happy honestly because it helps focus on crazy gameplay a bit more. It's clear that this game is designed for One Piece Fans in mind, especially fans who've never experience hack n slash, or musou games. You can tell this as soon as you boot up the game, the tutorial feels quite dumbed down, even for a musou game.
The graphics that pop up on the screen are very flashy, reminiscent of games like Warriors All Stars and can be annoying at times, or so I thought. I wasn't necessarily expecting battle notifications to appear in the middle of the of the screen (instead of the bottom), nor was I expecting the mini map to be fixed permanently at the bottom right of the screen. The more I played, the more I realised, it was made to show off more of the crazy movesets that characters have in this game.On top of that, One Piece Pirate Warriors 4, actually has destructible environments. It blew my mind seeing Luffy break a palm tree or Sanji destroying a building with a special attack. That's not all, the game adds a dash mechanic, this uses the Circle button (that would usually be reserved for musou attacks. This change, helps to increase the game's pace and adds to the overall action. In addition that there is no blocking in this game. Meaning that your only way to avoid enemy attacks is to evade them by dashing. Which I see as welcome change because I never use the block button in musou games at all. Honestly, I would like Koei to implement these features in future Dynasty/Samurai Warriors games.
Now speaking of movesets, this is game is the first Musou game developed by Omega Force that doesn't have Musou Attacks. It's a small change that has a huge impact, I was worried before reviewing the game that I would hate this change. On the contrary, I love not having musou attacks. It sound sacrilegious as a musou fan, but Omega Force pulled it off, by replacing musou with special attacks triggered by pressing a combination of R1 and a face button. Some of these special attacks are basically musou attacks, whilst others are buffs that are applied to the playable character. This is similar to games like Toukiden or once again, Warriors All Stars.
Another thing I've noticed from games like All Stars and Warriors Orochi, is character types. The game features a range of character types, each with varying attributes, such as speed, power, technique and flying.
The flying character type is new to musou in general, it's works better with aerial attacks. If you didn't realise already, this game has aerial attacks, which is fantastic as it adds a level of verticality to the gameplay that we haven't seen in musou, since Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce. And there is a reason for ariel combos, with the introduction of "Titan Mode" and Giant boss battles, like the one we see in the tutorial with Big Mom. At first glance the game seems very simple, because of the fact that it's a musou. However with all of these new modes and features, the game becomes complex, unlike any musou I've seen before, which is refreshing especially when you've been playing Musou for 20 years.
As I mentioned before, this is my first experience with One Piece and so I don't know the story. I do feel that the game's summary of the One Piece's story is lacking. It's hard to expect a game to try and summarize 900 episodes of an anime, but I think it could have been done better. I was thinking maybe a text summary of each arc, just like how it's done in the Dynasty Warriors gallery mode. Speaking of the game's story, it's actually original story loosely based off the currently airing Wano Country Arc, so by playing the game you won't be spoiling the anime or the manga for yourself.
That being said, I really want to start watching the anime, because the playable characters are amazing. Each have very unique movesets, that are unheard of in any hack n slash game, as well as interesting character traits from the anime, that actually affect the gameplay. For example, Sanji gets distracted when the opponent is female, meaning he is weaker in battle and isn't recommended to play as.
I would say after watching the anime or reading the manga, I would appreciate this game more, because then I would understand the characters and their how they interact with each other in universe. That being said I love this game so much that I'm going to give it a perfect score, because I want Omega Force to take notice, this is what we need for future Warriors Games. Small changes can make a huge impact, this game is a perfect example of that. Hence in my eyes it's getting a 10/10, it's the best musou game to date
Overall Rating : 10/10
+ A lot game modes and stages to playthrough
+ 40 unlockable Characters (not including DLC)
+ Wonderful Soundtrack
+ Easy to pick up and play, especially for newcomers + Welcomes Changes to the Musou Formula
+ Fast Paced Hack N Slash Action
- A few noticeable graphical flaws
- Can be a bit odd for Musou Players who aren't fans of the Manga/Anime - Camera doesn't properly follow the Playable Character
This review covers One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 for Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PC. I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to Bandai Namco Europe for providing me with the opportunity to play this game and write this review.