Overview – developed by Omega Force and Koei Tecmo with publishing covered by Bandai Namco Entertainment, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 Deluxe Edition is an action brawler based upon the popular anime and manga series. This is an enhanced port includes additional content that was released as DLC when the game was initially released on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows. The deluxe edition is available on Nintendo Switch, alongside a special bundle on PlayStation 4 and Steam. Links to each version will be available at the bottom of this review.
Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review, starting with the story. Please note, I will be calling this game by the abbreviated title of Pirate Warriors 3 for brevity. Also this software was purchased using personal funds, however that will not influence the contents of this review.
Story – the plot of Pirate Warriors 3 follows the same storyline as the anime/manga for the most part, starting at the Romance Dawn and finishing at Dressrosa with an original ending. The story plays out in animated cutscenes, along with manga styled character interactions that outline the plot for each chapter that is played. I want to point out that the narrative for this release follows the significant story arcs, omitting some of the smaller storylines and filler from the anime.
Gameplay – the gameplay of Pirate Warriors 3 follows the hack and slash/musou formula popularized by the series Dynasty Warriors. The core premise of the game is to complete missions, battle waves of enemies and capture territories on the map. The objectives that players must complete include defeating specific targets, protecting specific areas and preventing enemies from reaching designated points on the map.
There are three gameplay modes available to play in this release, they are as follows;
- Legend Log – play through the story and relive the events of the anime/manga, building up a crew of pirates and leveling up during the missions. Unlock new characters, stages for Free Log and more during this gameplay mode. This Legend Log along with the other two game modes can be played two player.
- Free Log – freely play cleared stages, using characters and costumes that have been unlocked by playing the game. The story of each mission will play out like in the main story mode, however if there are costumes used by the player, humorous instances may occur.
- Dream Log – a special challenge mode that is exclusive to this series. Take on unique randomized challenges as you cross a large chain of interconnected islands, battling enemies and unlock character that aren’t available in the Legend Log mode. All missions and objectives are randomized, creating scenarios that are unlikely as the player can be placed with previous enemies on their force.
In each stage, the player will fight mobs of enemies with a selection of combo attacks similar to other roaming brawler titles. The basic move set that the player can use are separated into three types, quick attack, charge attack and special attack. The quick and charge attacks can be chained together to create a range of combos, with the potential to wipe out waves of enemies quickly. The special attack uses a meter that charges over time, hitting opposing forces with a powerful strike.
Separate from the standard moves that players can use is the Kizuna system, a partner assist system that has crew/support characters jumping in at the end of a combo to perform an attack. Each support character has two special support attacks that will happen depending on the attack that ends a combo. When enemies are defeated by the Kizuna attacks, a special K.O. marker will appear on screen, adding more with each successful knockout.
The Kizuna gauge will fill up to three levels and have special functions that can be used. I will be talking about the two basic mechanics here. The first is Hero Power, a special status that characters can enter and provide bonuses for a limited time during battle. The second is Kizuna Rush, a powered up stage that characters can enter when the gauge is maxed out, increasing the overall power of the characters and provide access to a special group attack called Special Kizuna Attack.
When enemies are defeated, there are several things that can happen depending on the situation. If the player is within the boundary of enemy territory, eliminating enough enemies will claim that territory and spawn allied forces to help the player. Fallen mobs will also have the potential to drop loot for the player to collect, from recover items and money to special coins that can be used to power up the playable characters.
Upon clearing a stage, the player is ranked on three scores and provided with a final grade at the end. Players are ranked on their total standard knockouts, kizuna knockouts and the clear time, providing a letter grade assigned to each with an overall rank from the average of all three. Additionally, the player is provided with money (called Beli in game), pirate coins for increasing character stats and experience points for leveling the character up.
The last thing I want to talk about is the leveling and upgrade system. Character leveling works in two ways, the player can level up by earning experience by clearing stages and spending Beli to level inactive characters. There is a level cap of 50 that can be reached before needing to break the limit and reach level 100. Level break is generally attained by using rare coins, which are earned by completing special requirements in all game modes and are not consumed unlike bronze coins.
Bronze coins are obtained by defeating specific enemies, playing as specific characters and using support characters effectively. These coins can be spent to power up the base stats for each unlocked character, including attack power, defensive capabilities and unlocking additional special attack bars. The maximum number of a single coin is 99, giving more reason to upgrade characters as often as possible during the course of the game.
Now there are many things that I have omitted from this section. However, I feel that the more complex elements of the game should be seen first-hand to get the most out of the experience. So with all basic mechanics of this title covered, I will be moving onto the other aspects of this release, starting with the difficulty.
Difficulty – Pirate Warriors 3 has a level of challenge that is fair and balanced, made up of three difficulty options that the player can be set freely. The difference between each difficulty setting is balanced well, allowing players to gradually increase the toughness of stages to gain maximum rewards for 100% completion of the game overall. If stages are a little tough solo, co-op play can make harder stages a little easier and help out greatly for those who may struggle.
Controls – the control method for this release is simple and effective. The thumbsticks control movement and camera, the face buttons control attack/defense inputs and the shoulder buttons cover special functions like Kizuna Drive. Inputs and movement are smooth, with no lag or issue when playing with the default Joy-Cons or pro controllers, the game even supports single Joy-Con play for quick multiplayer action on the go.
Presentation – the visual design for Pirate Warriors 3 manages to capture the spirit of the anime, with smooth animations and effects have the right level of exaggeration to them. There is almost zero lag during play, with very occasional frame drops when there is a lot of objects loaded at once. There are some minor blemishes to the visuals due to draw distance, but it doesn’t detract from the overall quality of the game as the fog is a symptom of the hardware limitations of the Nintendo Switch.
The soundtrack for this title is excellent, employing a mix of Japanese jazz/big band style music with rock and keyboards. This combination provides an air of excitement during play, tying the whole experience together. The dialogue is performed well, with high quality voice acting featuring the majority of the original Japanese cast of the show. There is no English voice option, but I don’t feel that this detracts from the experience.
Final Thoughts – over the years I found myself getting tired of the Warriors/Musou style of games. However, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 was a refreshing experience, providing a different take on the formula for me. The humor and action of the anime translates well into this style of game, providing satisfaction when wiping out mobs of enemies with the ridiculous attacks. Also, the multiplayer aspect of this game is fun however the only issue is the mini map on screen being a little tough to see.
I recommend picking this game up, the depth of gameplay and the fun that can be had is worth the price. The additional content of over 40 items included with purchase is a bonus, giving more value to the package on offer. If you have a standard Nintendo Switch or handheld only lite model, you will not be disappointed. I applaud Omega Force for the high quality of this release given the limitations of the hardware, resulting in some minor flaws with draw distance, but that doesn’t detract from the overall experience.
In the end, I give One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 Deluxe Edition a final score of 4.5/5. This title is a frantic action brawler that captures the spirit of the series that it is based on. Featuring a good sized roster of characters, high quality voice acting and gameplay that far exceed the expectations of what you may think that the switch is capable of. If you want to check it out for yourself, links to the game will be below.
Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)
Link to PlayStation 4 version (HERE)
Link to Steam Bundle version (HERE)