Tuesday, September 8, 2015

One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 (PS4) Review

The Pirate Warriors series of One Piece games are the hack and slash entries, much akin to Dynasty Warriors.  Being made by the same people, it makes sense.  Plus, it works and makes for a fun game.  Each stage has your chosen character running around and defeating lots of enemies (on average more than a Dynasty or Samurai Warriors stage).

Attacks are pretty similar to other KT hack and slash games.  Square is your normal attack and Triangle is your ranged attack (Usopp's is reversed).  Each button has its own combo that you can change the ending of depending on when you hit the opposing button during the combo.  It takes awhile to earn most of the moves, so I usually would mash square for most fights, which worked fine.  There is also a Kizuna attack by pressing the Circle button when you have a full meter.  These are basically musou attacks, which are good for damage and you are invincible during them.

Unique to this series is the team meter.  In each fight, you will have at least one friend.  As you do combos, a meter will fill and once it reaches at least level 2, pressing the attack button one more time at the end of your combos will summon that friend for an attack.  Hitting enemies in this way gets exclamation points, which is one of the things that affects your battle rank.  They also give Crew Level experience, which gives skills, unlocks and even coins of that character.  If you completely fill the friendship meter, pressing R2 will summon them (and any others that have the clasping hands icon) to attack with you until the meter runs out.  During this time, if you press Circle, all the summoned members will join in a devastating team Kizuna attack.  Besides being dramatic and flashy, finishing off a named opponent with it will give extra coins.  Plus, it is an awesome way to finish a stage!

At certain times in a stage, members of your team may have a little crown icon near their portrait.  If you fill an extra level of their friend meter during this time, they will unleash their Hero Power to help out.  Some are more helpful than others, Chopper's being especially good, as it heals some of the HP of people on your side.  However, they are only available during set times of each level, so they can easily go unnoticed or unused.  A nice little extra, but not really something to count on in a pinch.

Each stage in story mode has a Legend that has bonus requirements to get one piece of a picture.  Certain percentages will award bonus coins, which are used per character to level up stats and unlock abilities.  The coins are also obtained from leveling up their Crew Level (similar to a friendship meter) or defeating them in combat.  You will have to repeat several stages a few times to get the necessary coins from some characters or to meet the bonus requirements for the Legend.  It's theoretically possible to do them all at once, but it is much more likely that you will do the stage at least twice.  Thankfully these can also be done in Free Mode, so you can repeat the levels with different characters.

There are also special coins that will unlock new special moves or other unique things.  These are usually unlocked by filling out a level's Legend or some other special requirement, which are listed after you have past the point where you can first unlock them.  Using one of the special coins will not use it up, so it is worth the extra trouble to get them.  While coins to upgrade stats and moves are nice, there is also Beli Growth to quickly get levels for lower characters.  You can pay in-game money to raise a character's level up to the highest level achieved by a character.  This system exists in a lot of Warriors games by now, and it isn't much different here.  It does seem cheaper here than other games, and you get lots of money, so there is no reason not to use it.  It saves some time level grinding that you can use for coin grinding!

The story mode itself follows the plot of the manga/tv show, which is preferable to someone like me.  I have only seen the first few arcs of the show/manga (I stopped in the middle of them getting Chopper), so many of the characters and situations are unknown to me.  This way I can enjoy the gameplay and learn more about the series.  I know at least the previous entry in the series was an original story, which is also good for series regulars.  But if you know the story already, fear not!  There is also a non-story mode that focuses on doing stages and unlocking extra characters.

Dream Log is that mode.  You will fight your way across may islands on your way to unlock special characters that can only be gained from this mode.  Any unlocked character can be chosen once you load into the mode.  This is fun, since you can try out lots of different characters while unlocking more.  The stages tend to be a little shorter than the story stages, plus there aren't any cutscenes to distract you.  There are also no individual Legends for each stage, instead opting for several that are spread across the mode, for defeating x% of the islands or other goals that are cumulative.  That way, you don't really have to re-do any of them unless you want to go for the S rank.  Plus, there is no selectable difficulty, but the stages aren't hard when you are starting out.  They also list the recommended level so you know how hard of a time you are going to have.  A fun mode for when you are done with the story, or if you just want a break from it.

Like most Warriors games, there is couch co-op and a form of online co-op.  For online, there are "rescue requests" that you can send or be sent from other players for a particular stage.  If you answer them, it will connect you to the host and you will be able to do the level with them.  It's not an ideal method to play with your friends, but nice for playing a quick level or two with random people.  The biggest boon to playing multiplayer is making the stages easier.  The downside is it doesn't seem to add your scores together, so it is harder to get high ranks.

As fun as the game is, there is one gripe I have.  Now I understand that there is a nice automatic recording function built into the PS4.  I also understand that developers can block certain scenes from being recorded, mostly story scenes so it won't "ruin" the story or whatever other reason.  However, every cutscene in Pirate Warriors 3 is blocked, so whenever one comes up, there is a large obtrusive message informing me of that.  Plus, another one when the scene is over and recording has resumed.  Sometimes scenes are linked together by a small loading section that it does bother to record.  So, you can get a steady stream of system messages butting in to your experience.  It doesn't hinder gameplay really, but it is very annoying.

I enjoy playing One Piece Pirate Warriors 3.  I like that the story follows the manga/anime plot, since it isn't one I have kept up on, and now am up to speed on who a lot of the characters are.  The hack and slash formula works well for the franchise.  The game isn't too hard, is lots of fun and their are many characters to choose from.  There is some grinding to get coins and other rewards from different stages, but it didn't feel that necessary until much later in the game.  Thankfully it is really easy to catch up levels of lesser used characters, which would have been a much bigger gripe if that required grinding.  Fans of One Piece or the Warriors series of games should definitely check out Pirate Warriors 3!

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