It wasn’t too long ago that I was completely new to Eiichiro Oda’s expansive world of One Piece. Seemingly one of the most popular things ever of all time, with innumerable promotions and licensed stuff attached to it. Did you know series protagonist and cool guy Monkey D. Luffy was the first and only animated character to grace the cover of Non-no Fashion magazine? Even if you aren’t particularly fond or aware of it, One Piece is a big deal. For a series that has been making waves since 1997 it’s great to see the related media being treated with respect and reverence. Just like One Piece Unlimited World Red and the Pirate Warriors games that came before it, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 uses a tried and true formula to emulate the over top spectacle and lovable characters to make a mostly enjoyable video game.

There have only been two Pirate Warriors games, but One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 feels like something of a mashup. The game starts off with a cursory refresher of all Luffy and crew’s past adventures, similar to the first Pirate Warriors on the PlayStation 3. But this time the story mode contains stuff from the most recent arc featured in both the manga and the anime, the Straw Hat Pirates squaring off against the despicable despot Donquixote Doflamingo. It doesn’t follow the storyline proper though, and instead takes a turn into a ‘what if’ story like Pirate Warriors 2 by ending that arc differently than the series.

In that way One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is fantastic for everyone, from familiar with One Piece to totally unaware. The way it handles the latter material is great too. I always appreciate a good alternate timeline or branching story that doesn’t try to replicate the source thing exactly. It does a fine job of summarizing the story, not dragging things out to numerous encounters, even distilling some entire arcs down to a single mission. As someone who’s quite familiar with both Pirate Warriors and One Piece proper, I kind of wish there was some sort of real world time skip to get me right to the newness. To beautiful, scenic Dressrosa.

Luffy smash!

Luffy smash!

Anyone even remotely aware of what a Warriors game is will already understand very well what to expect from One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3. It’s a beat ‘em up with sprawling battlefields littered with hapless peons just waiting to get spanked. The game is easy for anyone to hop in and smash the buttons to mow down swaths and swaths of enemies, but there’s still a robust combo system in place that offers plenty of depth. The newest addition to the combat are the Kizuna special attacks. These bombastic moves devastate entire rooms of cannon fodder. They can even be chained together with whatever support characters happen to be tagging along with you.

Like the anime, this is the part of the story where things take an inevitable turn for the worst. If you’ve seen one spectacular room clearing super move, you’ve seen them all. This might sound spoiled, and I couldn’t disagree because on some level it is, but the feedback loop of the game is short. If you’re not cool with that loop, well, there’s just not going to be a lot here for you. Even the other modes are essentially the exact same thing for different reasons. Let me be clear, I love One Piece. For a timeI wondered if I ever really enjoyed anime at all or if my whole life had been leading up to my finding One Piece. But while playing One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 I heard Luffy say gomu gomu no so many times I thought I would never be able to enjoy anything ever again. Thankfully, the audio options had my back, I cranked the voice volume down to the core of the earth and never looked back. I just wish it didn’t mute the dialogue during all the cutscene stuff too.

Thankfully, I do enjoy that core loop on some level. Musou or Warriors games have always been pretty good as a low effort power fantasy. It wasn’t particularly uncommon for levels to end with my kills cresting four or five thousand. I got the trophy for racking up 1000 kills in the first 10 minutes of play. To that end, most of the fun comes from riding the loop with your favourite character. Trafalgar D. Law, Crocodile, Portgas D. Ace, Mr. 2, Sanji and Emporio Ivankov are only a handful of the characters I would roll on the regular, but with 40 to choose from, there are a lot to try out.

Take this with a grain of salt because I absolutely have not heard all of the characters, but from what I can tell all of the voice actors have returned to voice their character from the anime. Hearing Ivankov shout “HEE HAW!” in the heat of battle was a touching experience. It might seem odd for me to be praising the voice samples after maligning them so heavily above, but my bout with gomu gomu no probably came more from my unrelenting insistence to plow through the story as Luffy and only Luffy.

One Piece brook

Not only were the vocal performances handled superbly, but the visuals pop and look beautiful. The PlayStation 4 really does the vibrant world of Eiichiro Oda justice. I can scarcely imagine I’d be able to contain myself if there were to ever be a One Piece: Black Flag sort of deal that let me roam the waves having awesome heartwarming adventures. Things ran mostly smoothly and the only time I experienced any relative slowdown was during one of Ace’s moves (Firefly) in particular. The rest of my time with One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 was hitchless, high definition badassery worthy of the spectacles of the anime.

Interestingly enough, I think most of the fun for people who have been around the block with the Pirate Warriors games might be the Dream Log mode. This let’s you pick one of the 40 characters on offer and go through a series of challenges dotted around on a progression of islands. This mode is where most of the characters are unlocked and each battle has a different theme. It’s just something a little different compared to the story, not much, but it’s something.

Speaking strictly about the gameplay, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is a slightly more robust Pirate Warriors 2. It never steps too far outside itself, and beyond the addition of the Kizuna attacks hasn’t changed much at all. Anyone familiar with One Piece will probably spend most of their time digging into the Dream Log instead of the taking in the story again. It might not be a huge leap forward, but it is a tighter version of a tried and true formula. Not just for fans, anyone who might be on the outside looking in could very well use this as a gateway to the fantastically bombastic world of One Piece.

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 Review
I firmly believe that there's a flavour of Warriors game out there for everyone and One Piece is definitely the one for me. While I would say One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is less a big step forward for the series and more like building a fort exactly where it was, I don't mean that disparagingly. It takes the solid gameplay of One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 and revisits the epic tale of Monkey D. Luffy, The Will of The D and his quest to become the Pirate King. Lots here for both newcomers and series vets, I know it's a game I'll be coming back to time and again.
Pirate King
  • Lush, vibrant visuals that pop off the screen
  • The familiar, deliciously button mashy gameplay has plenty of veiled depth
  • SO MANY CHARACTERS YYAASSSAHVASasfasgagafff
Swabby
  • Your favourite album is the perfect accompaniment to this game
  • Relatively lackluster online features
  • Is not an open world pirate adventure. give me that. I want that
7.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
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About The Author

Evan T
Editorial/Reviews Writer

Evan is a super serious, real life production assistant, video editor, and current review and editorial writer for Gamer Assault Weekly. A failed knife salesman and former member of a prestigious World of Warcraft guild, renowned for his voice and childlike enthusiasm for video games. Has never broken a bone. Hates possums. Mumble-sings.