One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 on Switch offers a compelling experience for both fans of Omega Force’s Warriors series and the hugely popular Japanese franchise One Piece. If either of those things aren’t your cup of tea though, this game won’t be for you.
Similar to Omega Force’s previous forays into different franchises, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 has the signature gameplay style of the Warriors series, but this time with the story and universe of the One Piece series. The two manage to complement each other quite nicely resulting in an overall fun experience for fans of either series. The deluxe edition offers the original game
For those new the story, One Piece is an extremely popular and long running Japanese mange series that has been converted into an anime series, currently approaching 900 episodes, as well as dozens of video games.
The story follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, a laidback but very ambitious pirate who dreams of becoming the Pirate King. To do this he ventures out into the unpredictable and dangerous seas searching for the legendary treasure One Piece, picking up various crew members along the way. Despite the often light hearted tone, the original story is deceptively deep and takes you on an emotional rollercoaster of laughter, tears and incredibly intense moments.
One of the key elements of the universe is the rare Devil Fruit. When consumed, Devil Fruit transforms the person, granting them particular powers and abilities. Devil fruit users are rare and there is only one of each type in the world at any time.
As would have been expected, the transition into video game form, hasn’t been too kind on Luffy’s tale. The story ends up being less of an emotional roller coaster and more of a highlights reel, taking you through the key moments of the story, without the build up or the full journey there.
The game ambitiously tries to cover the story until the end of the Dressrosa Arc, equal to about 750 episodes of the anime. Given how much they had to get through, they can be forgiven for skipping over a lot of the content. It does however make the story mode feel a bit disjointed at times and I can see newcomers getting lost or not being able to fully follow what is happening.
Still, if you are a long time fan looking for a nostalgia hit or a newcomer happy to play through a barebones version of the One Piece story, then the game will serve its purpose.
One complaint I did have about the story mode was the level jump between stages. While initially you level up at a rate equal to or greater than the recommended level jump between episodes, towards the end of the game, that isn’t the case. To keep at the recommended level, you therefore have to grind in the other game modes between episodes, which isn’t nearly as enjoyable.
In terms of other game modes, you have two choices: Free Log and Dream Log. Free Log is where you can replay the same episodes from the main story using any character you want but without any story. Dream Log takes the stages built for the story mode but remixes them with different characters and events. Each of these Dream Log episodes has a bit of a theme or premise which forms characters into teams. While it is a bit of fun getting to fight alongside some unexpected allies, the whole experience does feel a bit shallow and mindless.
The Warrior’s style gameplay fits very well with the One Piece universe. Like other games, you are dropped somewhere on a map and then proceed to take hundreds, if not thousands, of weak canon fodder enemies, as you fight your way to capture bases and take down key enemy characters. There is a bit of a narrative that that gives you specific objectives along your way.
The gameplay style does feel a bit dated, having not drifted too far since the PS2 entries in the Dynasty Warriors series. It just feels a bit too simple, relying almost purely on button mashing with no real strategy or skill to it. Even something simple like being able to issue orders to other units on the battlefield would have gone a long way. If you can look past the lack of depth though, there is something rather relaxing about the simplicity of it all. Also, the ability to play local co-op offers an experience that too few games do these days.
The roster features 37 playable characters.
Characters are given their own very unique move set, reflecting their unique abilities or fighting style. While it is impressive how distinct each character’s set of moves are and consequently how different they feel to play, there is a bit of an imbalance issue. Some characters are just better to use than others. Their attacks have a bigger area of effect and their special attack and combos are just better. As a result, I tended to gravitate to using only a couple of characters.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is made for fans of the Warriors series and fans of One Piece. The gameplay does feel a bit too simplistic for current generation, relying on the dated Warriors styled gameplay. For those who don’t mind this type of gameplay, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is one of the better entries into this genre that I’ve played.
Released: November 2018
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei Tecmo, Bandai Namco