Review: One Piece Pirate Warriors 4

About this Game

One Piece Pirate Warriors 4

Publisher

Bandai Namco Entertainment

Developer

Omega Force (Koei Tecmo)

Release Date

March 27, 2020

Console

PlayStation 4

Time to Plat

~25h

Platinum Difficulty

Easy

Online Trophies?

No

Difficulty Trophies?

Yes

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Omega Force’s Latest One-Piece-Scented Musou Rehash

Thanks to another fantastic “Big in Japan” sale on the PlayStation Store I was able to grab a couple of new One Piece games for my One Piece super-fan girlfriend, Candice, who is the sole reason why my platinum collection contains One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 and One Piece: World Seeker.

Not much of a fan myself, I’ve watched about half of the anime and read about 3 quarters of the manga before realising I wasn’t actually that into any of the story arcs past Impel Down and found that I only stuck with it because I was waiting for something good to happen but it never did. Which is a view I believe Candice also shares, but as she’s been a fan since childhood she sticks with it for sentiment now more than anything.

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Candice’s favourite character, Crocodile. One of the series’ most sane designs.

With intensely quirky character designs and a whole cast of super-powered characters, the One Piece series boasts one of the broadest collections of characters you can find in an anime series. Too broad, if you ask me.

Regardless, that makes the series perfect for a “Musou” Dynasty Warriors-style game which Omega Force are well-known for churning out non-stop in neatly packaged but irkingly similar games across a range of Intellectual Properties. From Legend of Zelda, to Gundam, to Persona, they’ve touched on a lot of IPs, and the Pirate Warriors series is one of the developer’s longer-running series which doesn’t use an original IP.

Please Note: This review will likely contain some One Piece spoilers as I talk about the game blindly unaware of what I should keep quiet about, so if you are not caught up to the Wano arc of the story and care about spoilers, it’s likely best not to read this review. Saying that, I’ll obviously do my best not to reveal major plot points.

One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 Review

A fleeting and uncomfortable glance at the One Piece storyline

For whatever reason, possibly due to it’s popularity, the main campaign of the game starts at the Alabasta arc of the story, using narration to quickly bring the player up to speed on the events of East Blue which came before it. As someone who knows the majority of the One Piece story, this isn’t too jarring, but I can see how this could be quite upsetting to someone new to the series who just wants a fun Musuo game to play.

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Fighting Baroque Works in Alabasta.

Unfortunately for those people, it’s not the last time the game will do this either. Every other arc seems to get left out, but luckily for me, they’re mostly my least-favourite arcs, like Sky Island, Thriller Bark, and the painfully boring “Punk Hazard” arc, but the way the story skips over them is just jarring to say the least. Plus they annoyingly left out Impel Down, one of the best arcs!

For example, with Thriller Bark, we got a few screenshots and some hurried narration which in essence went something like this; “Luffy met Brooke, the crew ran into Gecko Moria, Gecko Moria was defeated, anyway, here we are at Sabaody Archipelago.” It feels like just grabbing a One Piece manga and flicking through it.

And you know what? It still goes on too long. I feel like throughout our whole playthrough of the Dramatic Log (main campaign) we spent way more time watching cutscenes than playing the game. And there were a few types of cutscene too; slightly animated 3D stills, dating-sim-style text conversations, and exciting fully-animated high-quality cutscenes.

And the latter of those, the higher quality cutscenes, were disgusting. I mean… They used some impressive techniques, upped the action effectively with good composition, and they made smoke and fire look movie-quality, but the “uncanny valley” attributes of these grossly malproportioned One Piece characters realised in detailed 3D with somewhat realistic animation made me feel so uneasy. Like I was watching a group of horrifically disfigured people wearing plastic anime face-masks argue with each other.

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LOOK AT THIS. Tell me this isn’t horrifying! Just wait until you see them move, too, creepy stuff!

And then, when we’re actually playing the game, the characters are constantly talking. The only time when there isn’t dialogue on the screen is when there are objectives on the screen and the objectives often have to actually wait for the dialogue to end. So, sometimes you will be stood around with absolutely nothing to do because you completed your objective a few minutes ago, but the characters haven’t shut up for long enough that the game can tell you that you were successful and give you a new objective.

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Whichever poor sod is Player 2 gets their view obscured by the incessant dialogue.

As if that’s not irritating enough, characters will often shout the name of their attack in true anime style whenever you use it, but the developers only got one single recording of this, which can be incredibly irritating. Jimbei, for example, shouts “Hyakumaigawara Seiken!” (100-brick fist) every single time you press the blank button outside of a combo. It’s actually a decent move for quick crowd control but oh my god… It’s so annoying hearing that same voice-line with the same cadence over and over…

Another good chunk of our time not spent on cutscenes or gameplay was spent in loading screens. There was an awful lot of loading in this game for some reason. That being said, I do like the approach they took for loading screens, some of them anyway.

About 50% of the loading is done using these view-through-a-telescope loading screens which uses 2D graphics and a parallax setup to let you look around the scene using blank and blank. The goal being to find Panda-man.

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Can you spot Pandaman?

Panda-man is a recurring One Piece Easter Egg character who can be found in the background of a lot of anime and manga scenes, so this approach to loading screens is a nice touch for fans and he often is genuinely quite difficult to find, making it kind of fun searching for him while the game loads!

One Piece Dynasty Pirate Hero Warriors Orochi Musou Gundam 28

At its core, Pirate Warriors 4 plays like any other Omega Force “Musou” game; the map is broken up into bases and each base spawns enemies which, when killed, will reduce the base’s health bar until it is empty, at which point a Leader will spawn who you can kill to take control of that base.

On top of that mechanic, various important characters from the game’s source material will spawn to spout story-line dialogue and offer you a higher level of resistance than every other enemy in the game. Defeating said VIP character will progress the main objectives until you receive your final instructions to defeat a final boss or capture an important base.

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Fighting some named enemies.

It is a formula for a game that I enjoyed a lot as a young ‘un, playing Dynasty Warriors on PS2 and having the time of my life repeating missions over and over, using different characters each time to change up the experience. However, gaming has come a long way since those PS2 days, but Omega Force’s formula has stayed the same…

It’s kind of boring, I can’t lie. There were times playing Pirate Warriors 4 where I had to grab a Monster or Candice had to get up and brew us a couple of coffees because we were honestly falling asleep.

It’s not to say I don’t enjoy the game. Despite having nothing very good to say about the game, we do both genuinely enjoy playing these Pirate Warrior games, we get addicted to the completionist aspect of it and will continue playing this game in the future until the Treasure Log completion is 100%.

However, it’s not very engaging. It’s the same thing over and over, pressing blank and blank button combos to string together your best attacks, moving from one flashing objective on the map to the next, and it’s so simple that I could honestly do it in my sleep, which is clearly what my body was trying to accomplish.

The only thing which changes, really, from match to match is which character you use, which characters you are facing off against, and what dialogue is going to be spewed at you while you play. Dialogue which serves only as a nuisance, something new to clutter the already insanely cluttered UI.

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Just look at all that HUD clutter!

It’s enough to make the eyes hurt! The map is tiny but filled with little icons and objectives, all blinking and moving as pop-ups constantly emerge from it to tell you when a character has arrived or been defeated. Meanwhile, up to 3 objectives are cycling in and out of view in a menu on the right, my character’s skill icons are glowing at me because they’re ready, new dialogue pops up at the centre of the screen whenever a character spouts exposition, completed objectives pop up in the same place with a good deal of fanfare, the number of kills you’ve got so far as well as the current hit combo are also displayed on-screen, and there’s a sea of health bars and enemy names laid out ahead of you…

It’s too much! There’s so much going on at once, and some elements will even overlap each other! Take that into co-op mode and suddenly all that clutter is doubled and the poor sod who gets the lower-most screen constantly has their view obscured by a bombardment of dialogue boxes.

In their defence, I don’t know how they could do it better. The cluttered map is a staple of Omega Force games and it would be difficult to have a Japanese-dubbed game which doesn’t display dialogue in English on-screen.

At the end of a match you’ll be given a rating based on how you did, which goes as high as “S-rank” and maybe as low as C-rank but I don’t see how you could possibly get anything lower than a B and still finish the stage. In the previous title, you could ensure an S-rank by taking your time to get as many kills as possible.

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An S-Rank Result.

This meant that I would do my favourite thing about Omega Force games; avoiding the main objective for as long as possible, while making my way around the map wiping out every enemy commander and capturing every base to maximise the number of kills. As long as you completed the stage in under 20 minutes you would get an S-rank practically guaranteed.

However, for some reason now, they’ve decided to put a lot more weight on the time attribute of the score. If you waste time having fun you’ll be penalised. They actually incentivise you to blast through the campaign as fast as humanly possible, not stopping to fight new groups of enemies unless they’re a main objective or block your path to it. This was quite disappointing but we soon found out that we wouldn’t need more than one S-ranks for this game’s Platinum anyway, so we shrugged it off and played how we wanted.

Gomu Gomu no RPG!

Omega Force do seem to add in certain things with each game which shake things up a bit and with Pirate Warriors 4 they’ve done what I think is one of their best shake-ups with an RPG-style special attack management system.

Each character has a “Growth Map” on which you can purchase skills, new attack combos, special attacks, and stat boosts using the game’s main currency “Berries” and various coins which you collect for defeating important named enemies and completing Treasure Log missions.

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New button combos on the Growth Map.

The skills you purchase for a character can then be equipped on any character, such as Nami’s “Cat Burglar” skill which increases the amount of money you will earn. Depending on how many skill slots you have purchased, you can equip many skills like this to boost attack or defence under certain conditions or make certain enemy types take more damage from your attacks and so on.

While that system seems improved, it was already in past games and what I’m actually most interested in is the special attack system. Each character has four special attacks which can be triggered by pressing blank in conjunction with the corresponding face button once each attack’s individual power gauge has been charged during combat. This is a functionality which seems to mirror that of the One Piece World Seeker game in which the special attack system worked in a very similar way, and is a one-up on the Pirate Warriors 3 system where everybody had a single special attack.

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Candice using Robin’s perfectly normal special attack.

In addition to this far-improved special attack system, you can actually remap all four attacks and even replace them with newly purchased Special Attacks from the Growth Map, really changing the character to suit you. This isn’t possible with every character as some have had more effort put into them than others, but a good majority of the major plot characters can do this.

Luffy, for example, has a whole range of special attacks to unlock, upgrade, and equip and you can really turn him into an extremely over-powered character with the right combination of attacks.

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Our totally overpowered Luffy.

All in all, Pirate Warriors 4 lacks any real change in gameplay from the Dynasty Warriors formula Omega Force dreamt up all those generations ago, but it does feature character skillset customisation on a level I’ve not seen before from their titles, something which I was very excited about and active in experimenting with.

My One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 Platinum Trophy Experience

Main Campaign Co-Op

To begin with, my girlfriend and I each grabbed a controller and loaded up the Dramatic Log; the game’s main campaign mode. We were surprised at first to find that we couldn’t play the campaign together, as the first mission booted up and gave us no options for co-op gameplay.

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The game’s first moments were a single-player-only tutorial.

We soon learned, after some furious googling, that there are certain missions within which only one character is playable but the rest of the game would be co-op compatible.

Satisfied, we soldiered on with one simple goal in mind for the time being; complete the main campaign. Whenever a mission came up which had to be played solo, we took turns to be the one playing whilst the other watched and – in my case – incessantly offered up unwarranted gameplay advice.

We had a lot of ideas in the back of our minds as to what the trophy requirements would be, without actually taking a minute to look, which were based on our experience with the 100+ hour Platinum Journey for Pirate Warriors 3. We assumed we’d have to fully level a character, collect every coin, get S-ranks on every stage and more.

In reality, the platinum for Pirate Warriors 4 is incredibly simple in comparison to its predecessor’s and we merely had to play the Dramatic Log to unlock a good 60-70% of the trophies effortlessly.

Between each battle I would spend some time in the Growth Map, levelling up characters I knew we would want to use later (our favourite characters; Jimbei and Crocodile) or simply improving a new character I’d like to try out like Carrot, for example…

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Using our favourite characters.

Holy hell what a fun character Carrot is to play as! She’ll be important to us later, though I didn’t know it at the time…

Our pace of completing the Dramatic Log depended entirely on my memory of events from the Manga. For example, we skipped through most of the dialogue up until Dressrosa, as we stopped watching the anime when Punk Hazard bored me to death. After that, I was actually reading all the dialogue just to bring myself up to speed.

Then when we reached Whole Cake Island, which is as far as I got with the Manga, I was a lot more invested in the cutscenes as they were vital for piecing together the nonsensical world of One Piece and allowing me to understand what the hell is going on.

Given how plentiful and lengthy the cutscenes are, actually watching them can slow down your progress by hours, so things really began to drag at the end, especially with me constantly asking my girlfriend to fill in the enormous plot-holes the game decided to leave in the way it told the story.

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Great advice from Luffy.

After about 10-12 hours we were done with the main campaign and very nearly done with the platinum trophy too, not that I knew by this point how easy the rest of the trophies would be…

Treasure Log Co-Op

Shortly into Treasure Log, we realised we only needed to complete the Treasure Log missions which had a key icon on them. These missions would all unlock the “Deciding Battle” for that level of treasure log and allow us to move on to Grand Line, and then New World.

So, we did exactly that, we blasted through East Blue and entered Grand Line, then we blasted through the Key Missions in the Grand Line but, man… By the third Key Mission, even with our heavily upgraded Jimbei and Crocodile, we were really just scraping by with a minuscule amount of health remaining. It was time to rethink…

We went back to East Blue and started working through each mission to farm coins and money so we could afford more upgrades, and sadly I had to stop using Jimbei because he was too slow and left himself open to attacks too much. I experimented with a few characters I liked; Mihawk, Fujitora, Brook, none of them were quite as good as I was hoping, and I didn’t want to just spend the rest of the game playing as Luffy.

That’s when I discovered one of the game’s most overpowered characters. Totally unexpectedly (although my girlfriend tells me it’s not much of a surprise) Carrot turned out to be extremely powerful, her insane speed combined with explosive AoE electric attacks allowed me to blast through every stage wiping the floor with hundreds of enemies at a time, so I switched my main from Jimbei to Carrot and focused on upgrading her with the resources we were farming instead.

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Rather apt imagery here of Carrot kicking Jimbei’s tail.

As we neared the treasure log, I checked our stats to see how many berries of the 100,000,000 berries we had collected so far. To my dismay, even after completing the entire Dramatic Log and about 30% of the Treasure Log, we had only earned 38,000,000 berries in total, making it clear that even once we eventually earn the last Treasure Log trophy, we’d be farming out that money trophy for hours at the end.

Cut to several hours later, even though Carrot was now fully-upgraded, we couldn’t get through the latter-most stages of the New World, so it was time for another reshuffle.

It’s worth noting that I probably could have made things easier for us both if I’d experimented with other skill loadouts, but I was prioritising skills which would maximize financial gain for that 100mil trophy and unwilling to compromise.

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Cue Kaido, a Mountain of a man.

I switched to Kaido, who ended up being insanely overpowered. He was enormous and could wipe out entire armies in a single swing of his club. And after playing a few missions on East Blue, unsure of whether he could handle Grand Line in his totally non-upgraded state, I laughed my way to the New World crushing foes who were 8 levels stronger than me.

Many of his attacks would be extremely effective for crowd-control and able to keep enemies stunned for extended periods of time. His size also meant that he would destroy everything in his path, it was like playing as Godzilla.

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Literally levelling a small town with one attack. This blankblankblankblankblankblankblank combo was all I needed in most cases.

By the time I had fully levelled up this new character and we were ready to finally take on the penultimate mission of the New World Treasure Log, we had 90,000,000 berries and were earning 2,000,000 per mission. So, we first finished off the New World and then it merely took us 5 more missions before we had the platinum.

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It felt like a long journey and got quite difficult at the end, but Treasure Log was done and our third One Piece platinum was in the bag.

Time Breakdown

Dramatic Log

Treasure Log

One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 Trophy Guide

So, would you like to take on the 25-hour-ish journey for this platinum trophy yourself? Well, I have just the guide for you!

Check out our One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 Trophy Guide here.

That concludes my One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 Review. If you enjoyed reading this review, please do let us know, it means the world to us when we hear feedback and we love engaging with people over the game we just platted. It’s basically the only thing motivating us at the moment!

You can follow us on Twitter @GetPlat and Instagram @platget where we’ll be sharing updates, screenshots, upcoming reviews and general gripes about the games we’re working on so feel free to follow us or use it as another channel for feedback!

Verdict

Play

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If you're a One Piece fan and have played or even platted some of the other titles in the series, then this is a pretty easy plat in comparison and I do recommend it. However, if you're new to One Piece, give this game a miss and go play one of Omega Force's other similar games.

Pros

  • Much easier plat than its predecessor
  • Technical character types are fun to play with
  • RPG-style special attack and upgrade elements are quite good

Cons

  • Game incentivises you to rush every stage
  • Nightmare-fuel uncanny valley character models
  • Repetitive gameplay
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Silver Trophy

The game is okay but is nothing new or exciting. I feel like Omega Force have become more concerned about churning out games of this style than they are about developing their genre. This is the same pit that Telltale fell into and we know what happened to them.

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About the Author

More fond of single-player experiences and story-driven games than anything else, TheDblTap has a keen eye for secrets and collectables, a skill which serves him well as a Trophy Hunter. However, with little patience and poor timing, he can struggle where MrZhangetsu would succeed.

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