Even if you go into One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 knowing what to expect, the entertaining gameplay and love of the series means you’re going to have a grand time. Despite being somewhat mindless and familiar, the tried and true Musou style works even better here than it has in the original series for quite some time.
Rather than having an original story, Pirate Warriors 4 decides to retell the most important events in a streamlined manner, leading up to the most recent arc in the series. It even ends up doing the same thing as Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 in having a made-up ending for the last arc, due to it still being ongoing in the series.
Although it’s no substitute for actually watching or reading One Piece, the game does do a pretty good job of capturing the emotional moments from the series and condensing everything for viewers. Animations in cutscenes can be a bit uncanny valley, but the voice acting carries everything just as well as it does in the anime. The only real annoyance with how the story is delivered is the game’s habit of having the cutscenes viewed as if looking at a storybook, which can often obscure the visuals. It’s not always there, but when it happens it can be pretty annoying.
Although being a fan of One Piece is certainly the preferred way of approaching Pirate Warriors, it’s not essential to playing. The way the game recaps the events in Dramatic Log makes it a fair introduction to the series, but the wide range of characters are suited enough to a mindless action game that even casual fans will get enjoyment out of beating the snot out of thousands of enemies.
And beat the snot out of enemies you shall. The true joy of games in the Warriors series is taking the role of an extremely powerful character and going to town on thousands upon thousands of enemies. One Piece works especially well in this setting thanks to the interesting powers of its characters and some of the best moments in this game can be found by trying them all out. Each character has their own growth map and skills to unlock, so there’s plenty of depth to be found in the combat for those who are looking for it. Even then, just playing as Luffy can be fantastic fun because of his Gum Gum abilities.
One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 Review – Comfortable Evolution
Pirate Warriors 4 doesn’t really do much to set itself apart from any other games like it, which is only really a problem if you expected some grand gameplay revolution. Comfortable is the word that jumps to mind. Saying that, the game does introduce Titan Mode for certain bosses. These enemies, such as Big Mama, will be incredibly large and require you to attack them from behind to get rid of their shields. You’ll get your first taste of this as soon as you start the game but unfortunately, it’s not a very fun addition. Although the normal boss battles can be great, Titan battles feel a bit too stretched out to be any fun and the oddly specific way of attacking these enemies feels out of place.
Repetition can become a bit of an issue over time but that can be stopped by changing characters through Free Log. Although Dramatic Log makes you stick to certain story characters, Free Log allows you to play as any unlocked character across any mission. This will allow you to get the most out of the game, as the characters you don’t play in the story can actually be some of the most fun. Unfortunately, the missions themselves are nothing to write home about. Gameplay is at its best when you’re just fighting tons of enemies, so having to escort characters to safety or find a specific location can be really annoying. This annoyance can be minimized by playing online which can actually be done across any and all missions in the game.
Treasure Log is for those really wanting to get the most out of Pirate Warriors 4. These are small missions that will gradually get harder for bigger rewards and they’re mostly more of the same gameplay loop. If you’re wanting to fully upgrade each character’s enormous skill tree then this will become a very familiar mode to you.
Although faulting Pirate Warriors 4 for being somewhat unoriginal seems a bit redundant, one thing that you can fault it for is its camera. Locking onto an enemy makes things ten times harder than it needs to be and it was something I noticed every single time I tried to do it. Even when not locked on, the camera isn’t really very cooperative anyway, but it’s when locking on that it can be most annoying.
One issue I had whilst playing is sort of inescapable at this point, but not really the fault of the game. Similarly to every piece of One Piece media released over the past ten years, there isn’t any English dubbing to be found. Whilst this isn’t a surprise, it can make playing Pirate Warriors 4 and trying to pay attention to what the characters are saying a little confusing. Once again this isn’t an issue with this game specifically, and more something the series as a whole needs to address in some form.
The presentation values are another well-done aspect to Pirate Warriors 4, although it won’t blow anyone away. Characters look and sound fantastic but are somewhat let down by uninteresting and empty environments, which is expected of Warriors games at this point. It’s the little details like having Luffy shrink down after Gear Third, or being able to put your hat on by pressing the down button, that really ended up impressing me. Gameplay is also accompanied by a fantastic guitar-heavy soundtrack that makes fighting a joy. Surprisingly I found that Pirate Warriors 4 ran at a mostly stable framerate, and only occasionally seemed to dip in the most extreme of situations.
Although it doesn’t try to do something as radical as World Seeker, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is arguably just as great by sticking to the satisfying Warriors gameplay loop. One Piece fans will adore it even with its condensed story-telling, but it’s also great for people with a casual interest in the series. It’s easily the strongest title in the series so far, and a great bit of mindless fun in the wonderful One Piece world.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on PS4. For more information, please read our Review Policy.