One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 is one of the games I’ve followed through pre-release and release the most since working in video games full-time. I followed it along at preview events, and it impressed me quite a bit. To pick up and play it’s a great Warriors game, and features some truly refined and inspired tweaks to the traditional gameplay. Though when playing the full package and reviewing it, it kind of ended up irking me in some ways despite having a very solid core game. I’ve picked it up a few times since, and wanted to write a little bit more about the way it came together (or didn’t) for me. Though I do want to make clear that I do think it’s a good game.
The only Warriors I’d played extensively before was Zelda spin-off Hyrule Warriors, but I’d dabbled in a few others, and I have a lot of respect for what Omega Force do with that series. I think they know what their fans like, and while it might not be to everyone’s tastes, they do it very well. I’ve always found the spin-off Warriors games more appealing visually. By their nature the games can be a little bland as is anyway, all corridors and repetitive combat. Which doesn’t mean to say it doesn’t press the right buttons with that simplicity. Warriors always do on that front. But the “toon shading” does make it “pop”.
I’m not really a big One Piece fan. I like some things about it. Other things I don’t. One Piece Pirate Warriors was never hooking me due to licence alone. But the game looks great, and the story is even works okay spread over battle-sized chunks. The general gameplay is more fluid and fast paced than in Hyrule Warriors, and I think that’s a great area for Warriors to be improving upon. More recent Warriors game have continued the trend. The major gameplay addition in Pirate Warriors 3 is “Kizuna”, which basically allows a selected teammate to jump in and add their own special move to your combo after your own special move finisher. It’s a great addition to the series, the type that feels like it always should have been there, as I mentioned in an interview with Hisashi Koinuma-san.
Overall, though, the game ended up annoying me. The story mode (Legend Mode) is usually the bit in a game that interests me the most, but I had a bit of a problem with it. Of all the Pirate Warriors games this is the one with the most pure Warriors gameplay, and it all felt quite samey, asking me to do the same things over and over again. You’d think this would be par for the course with the Warriors series, but usually you have a bit more freedom. Because the One Piece story is quite large and each chapter in Pirate Warriors 3 is telling a large chunk of story, quite often the battlefield will just suddenly change due to plot reasons. Bases you have captured might get deserted, or even replaced by new enemies. It pretty much destroys any desire to do anything other than gun directly for the most immediate task, turning the game into a chore.
There’s also a Dream Log mode, which is a bit like Hyrule Warriors Adventure Mode, but much less varied and not really as interesting because of it, even though there’s a large amount of characters unlocked only through this mode. It’s still one of the better One Piece games out there, but as far as Warriors games goes it’s not really up there. It’s a shame as at its core it’s really good, and had potential to be better than it is, but in execution it just doesn’t really hold up.