Take One Piece, and smush it together with Dynasty Warriors, and enhance the graphics. Boom! Now you have One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3.
Like other games that follow the Dynasty Warriors formula, Pirate Warriors 3 pits you against hordes of somewhat brainless, and skill-less, enemies, with only a few actually challenging enemies crossing your path every once in a while. The main point of the game isn’t necessarily to stay alive, then, but instead to kill thousands of bad guys, get some high combo scores, and do it all in a timely manner. At the same time, players have to be conscious of occasional side objectives, such as trying to defend a certain area of the map or trying to keep a companion alive.
It’s fun at first to try to focus on getting high scores, but soon the gameplay starts to feel repetitive. Every mission, whether it’s in the main story mode, which tells the story of Luffy and his quest to become the Pirate King, or the free play mode, which allows players to replay past story missions with any character that has been unlocked, or even Dream Log, which has the player playing through a number of different, random levels, feels exactly the same. There is no real variety in the missions, and that makes the game quickly go from fun to boring.
So Many Characters
There are, however, a few things that do try to keep the gameplay fresh. The most notable thing is the huge character roster. Visualize the most obscure One Piece character you can think of. That character is more than likely in Pirate Warriors 3. Of course, these characters have to be unlocked by completing certain missions (general story missions) and defeating certain bosses. But, once they’re unlocked, they can be upgraded and leveled up using different coins collected in each mission. This allows each character to not only gain more health points, defense points, attack points, and so on, but they can also gain different attack combos, which usually do more damage than classical attacks.
Combat in Pirate Warriors 3 is actually a lot of fun, at least until it starts getting repetitive. Most characters both move and attack incredibly quickly, so combat ends up being fast-paced, but without feeling rushed. When taking on stronger enemies, like bosses, combos and special attacks (which have to be charged up) are vital, as they deal more damage than typical attacks. This adds a certain level of intelligence and strategy to the gameplay, although, again, that intelligence gets somewhat diminished after fighting boss number five with the same combos you used on the four previous bosses.
The other nice thing about combat is the special effects — they just look so darn good! Unlike many other Bandai Namco games, Pirate Warriors 3 actually looks fantastic on the PlayStation 4 with it’s bight and colorful art style. While the environments do look mediocre, the character models and effects are definitely up to par. The improved graphics do come with a price, however. During portions of the game where large amounts of enemies swarm the screen, the frame-rate can noticeable drop for a little while.
However, despite the occasional frame-rate drops and the repetitiveness, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is a fairly fun game. Between the fast-paced combat, large number of playable characters, and up to par visuals, it is a must-play for Dynasty Warrior or One Piece fans. It might not be perfect, but it is probably the best game that follows the Dynasty Warriors formula currently out on the PS4.
Review copy purchased by reviewer. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.