Bandai Namco and Koei Tecmo (Omega Force) team-up to bring the latest ‘musou’ game to the masses in the form of One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 (OPPW4). If you’re not familiar with the term ‘musou’ then you might be aware of the long running Dynasty Warriors series. In a nutshell, players drop into open-maps and battle against 1000s of opponents including some boss characters. It’s an old style of play that has its fans but this particular game ditches the Eastern history for the more flamboyant and anime inspired One Piece story. Is it worth a look-in then if you’re not a fan of the Japanese series? More importantly though, is this worth checking out if games like Dynasty Warriors don’t appeal?
Firstly, OPPW4 doesn’t fall too far from the tree so-to-speak. The gameplay hook of wandering open-maps and beating up drones of AI that stand around and look tough remains. As with more recent offerings and even the previous game, players fight 1000s of minions alongside not-so-challenging officers and leaders, with primary characters from the series tossed in as well. That’s effectively a three-tier fighting system with said primary characters offering the biggest challenge. There’s a meta game here as well where your forces take control of areas on the map but this isn’t a requirement for success. Players can choose a specific character during the story mode missions (Dramatic Log) often with a choice for some variety and then let-rip. Naturally each character has their own style which varies greatly in how you attack enemies (with some characters attack styles not as easy to master). The game offers a constant reward of your over-powered character against the minions as you cut through them pulling off ground and aerial combos, special moves galore. You’re effectively a superhero who can dash around the map (at speed) fulfilling objectives, coming to the aid of any supporting combatants and generally taking on all-comers as you would expect. It’s a great hook albeit rather repetitive in nature.
There’s decent variation across mission objectives though, with some cinematic moments alongside beating-up various key characters from the series. For fans, this is all very potent stuff and highly enjoyable. It’s not overly complex and those without the skill can effectively button mash their way to victory with relative ease from start-to-finish. The only point which requires a little bit of the grey matter is paying attention to how the battles unfold and keeping an eye on objectives. Some missions have strict requirements which can result in a mission failure and a restart if not adhered to. It’s not all plain-sailing though, so caution should be exercised because as mentioned some of the primary opposition can chip away at your health and leave you in a dire situation. Whereas in other games of this ilk having low-health could be an advantage where you spam your power moves over and over, not so much here. Luckily you can smash crates and objects, or find a treasure chest to replenish health. Which brings us on to the next layer to be mindful of.
There are some 40 unlockable characters throughout the game, starting with Monkey D. Luffy and crew. Before each battle, players spend coin and items using a growth system. There are several pages here across all characters and individual character pages to think about. Basically, giving your characters an edge with things like extra stamina, attack power additional moves and so on. However, some offer extremely helpful options that share across all of your fighters that are worth upgrading as soon as they become available (we won’t spoil which ones here). As you can imagine with 40-odd characters there potentially a lot of upgrading. Thankfully, once players complete story missions they can replay them over-and-over in free-play as is the norm for this series.
One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 on PC offers some decent options especially with regards to customizable controls. The graphics options are fairly decent as well which is great for those with lesser systems. We found the game to look great at 4K and running fairly close to 60 FPS at most times on our RTX 2080 Ti. This is an improvement over past glories and with more destructible elements across the maps means players can really go on a rampage.
Audio is of note as well with a really cool soundtrack and the original voices from the Japanese show. Sadly those not native to Japan have to make do with subtitles but this is a given.
In terms of length, how long is a piece of string? With over 30 missions and plentiful replay options, an additional Treasure set of missions and 40 odd unlockable characters gives players their monies worth. The icing on the cake comes in the form of couch co-op play split-screen and online co-op play.
We’re not sure One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 will change the minds of those who previously haven’t gelled with Omega Force’s musou style games. It’s the same formula here with a lick of paint to move it into a colourful and delightful anime world. The game pushes past key story elements and focuses on specific battles which might annoy some fans, but you can’t have everything. There’s tons of shouting, snotty noses and tearful exchanges making this a neat and entertaining romp wrapped up in mindless button mashing madness (or expert comboing for those who master the simple mechanics here). For fans, this is a must-have for sure. Anyone on the fence though might do well to give it a try simply because it’s takes itself far less seriously than similar games. The co-op play is a neat inclusion as well. A welcome addition to the series then and a step in the right direction moving forwards.