Wealth, power and just knock it down. At first, there doesn't seem to be much more than that behind One Piece Pirate Warriors 4. But the multitude of crazy ideas will soon reveal that this has more to offer …
The Anime One Piece now comprises more than a whopping 920 episodes. Its running time of over 20 years also produced some video games. But unfortunately most of them are pretty bad. With One Piece Pirate Warriors 4, another implementation of the series appears in the style of the Dynasty Warriors games. Is everything getting better now?
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One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 tells the story of the series up to the current chapter, but in view of the need to shorten 920 episodes to a reasonable level, it skips a lot of and essential action sections. The story mode, called Dramatic-Log, starts with the Alabasta Arc. This corresponds approximately to the 100th episode in the anime. The second chapter of the game includes the Enis Lo Arc and begins with the 250th episode. The third chapter then forms the Marine Ford Arc, which begins about the 400th episode. This shows that One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 only takes sections of the anime and retells them. The predecessor, however, still included the entire series. However, he dealt with each major chapter with only one level and fight and failed to adequately tell the story. This is exactly the strength of One Piece Pirate Warriors 4.
Although important chapters from the anime are missing, such as the Arlong or Skypia Arc, the game takes more time for the plot threads that it contains. Each chapter consists of several battles and missions. Major boss fights even get a separate section where one-on-one combat takes place – unusual for a series that is largely mass-based. Unusual, but a welcome change. But since mostly only the same four characters from the actually wide range of illustrative figures of the straw hat gang are available, monotony quickly arises.
Although the game cannot recount the entire anime, One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 turns out to be amazingly detailed. It is the small details and memorable scenes that make fan hearts beat faster: trifles like the names of the characters' attacks, but also emotional moments like the farewell of the straw hat gang from their beloved ship. One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 takes a lot more time for its story and is aimed primarily at fans who want to get it to reminisce. Newcomers, on the other hand, will understand little because of the incomplete narrative style.
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In addition to the story mode, the game also contains the so-called Free Log and Treasure Log. In the Free Log, sections of the campaign that have already been played can be contested again with other characters, but there is little reason for this, since the battles are largely the same. In the Treasure Log, however, there are new scenarios with new tasks and almost arbitrary character selection. Here you can unlock many other characters from the anime and go into battle with them. The full range of characters from One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 includes an impressive 40 playable characters. It's just a shame that you can't freely choose from this pool in the campaign.
A fight? That makes 3,000 opponents, please
A hero against hundreds, if not thousands, of opponents: Musou games are certainly not awarded a prize for complexity, but they are still fun to put together in a technically neat manner. One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 is no exception in this regard.
The playable characters are particularly successful. The 40 available fighters all play and feel very different. Swordsman Zorro takes part in hand-to-hand combat, while the shooter Lysop mainly acts from a distance. Fan favorite Trafalgar Law uses the entire environment in his attacks, and newcomer Reiju can even fly.
It may sound strange, but the battles in One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 have something of Sekiro. Of course, they cannot match the sophisticated sword dance from the From Software game in their playful depth, but both are similar in their basic mechanics. Boss enemies have an additional defense display in addition to their normal life bar. If you manage to bring them to zero, the boss will momentarily fall into a motionless state, taking more damage, similar to the Sekiro blows. But apart from that, the fights in One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 usually only consist of knocking on opponents.
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This can get tiresome and boring very quickly because the fights don't offer much variety and are often the same. Pound on opponents until the boss appears, pound on opponents again until another boss appears and the level ends at some point. Occasional video sequences and dialogues loosen up the endless slaughter of the opponents somewhat, but they also fail to maintain interest for a particularly long time.
At this point it should be emphasized how elegant and visually appealing the skill tree of the individual characters is. The status values and skills are represented on a map by nothing but small islands. One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 also offers a major innovation compared to its predecessor with the special attacks. These can be offensive, defensive or passive and bring more depth to the very shallow and simple fights.
Worse at a high level
In a Musou game with sometimes more than 100 opponents on the screen at the same time, the frame rate naturally plays a major role. The good news is that One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 runs steadily and smoothly at all times. But let's get to the bad news …
Graphically, One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 looks like it still stems from PS2 times. Already in the predecessor, the 3D anime style was technically backward. For the successor, he only got a new filter. After all: Part 4 has significantly more cutscenes than its predecessor, which were even set to music by the anime's original speakers, but suffer from strong edge flickering and angular objects. This is particularly noticeable in the fans-loved scene of Luffy's transformation into Gear 2: Luffy pumps up his limbs and briefly enlarges them. In One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 it looks as if bumps are growing under his skin and are about to burst.
Apart from that, many smaller points are irritating. Just a single sound is used to confirm inputs and sounds like a punch. This gets on your nerves very early. In addition, there are very many and long loading times. In comparison to the imported video sequences, the in-game cutscenes drop in quality. Many movements or actions are not shown at all. Instead, the game briefly fades into a black screen and switches to the next scene, which removes any tension from the action.