One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 Switch Review

The latest in a gigantic library of Koei Tecmo developed musou action games is here; One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 and it is one huge and exhilarating beast. Published by the good folk at Bandai Namco: lords of the anime games; this is probably the best One Piece game. Rare for an anime game the story, despite only being a brief synopsis is detailed enough you can follow it even if you haven’t seen the 900+ episodes of the anime.

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 features the most hectic gameplay and insanely long, awesome combos I’ve ever experienced in a musou game thanks to your basic button mash ‘Y’ a few times then ‘X’ musou combo then press ‘A’ to power dash and keep the combo going you can even add your special moves (of which you have 4 of many available each level) into the mix or launch an enemy by pressing ‘B’ and you guessed it; keep going. Yes this is a pretty basic hack ‘n’ slash affair without the forethought needed of Fire Emblem Warriors or the vastly underappreciated Dragon Quest Heroes but would it be One Piece otherwise? No it wouldn’t. This is the perfect style of gameplay for the shounen anime, no importance on blocking like Samurai Warriors just dodge using power dash and back to offence. To counteract your incredible mobility and combo ability named characters (though most are still grunts) have super armour that needs breaking so you still have to be on your toes ready to dodge.

You’ll mostly be barreling through swarms of cannon fodder and racking up kill counts in the thousands within minutes of each mission. This isn’t a problem though as each lovingly made character feels unique, even within the 4 distinct musou character styles (sky being exculsive to One Piece and concentrating on aerial attacks courtesy of the awesome launcher attacks). Plus there are loads of unlockable specials and upgradable strong ‘X’ attacks. Despite characters attacks being clearly made to take down tons of foes at once, pounding a single boss enemy into the ground then launching following and repeating has never been so fun. The missions within each level are fairly basic and generally consist of kill this person, or kill this person before they reach point A, meet person B or time runs out.

The story mode recaps 8 of the main arcs all the way up to the latest Wano arc, as that covers over 900 episodes of anime details here and there will be skipped over but even a lot of smaller arcs get a super quick cutscene that are more of reminder to those that have seen them than letting someone new to One Piece know what on Earth is going on. What you do get is a whole heap of cutscenes reenacting some of the most iconic scenes and climaxes to fights throughout all those years of the anime, so much so that I could follow the gist of what’s going on in the arcs I haven’t seen. For someone who wants to jump into One Piece but not watch 900+ episodes this is actually a pretty amazing and extremely fun summary even if it does skim over most of the 30 odd arcs concentrating on a few of the best.

Other than story mode there’s Free Log that lets you replay any of the story missions with any unlocked character and in 2 player (only some story missions only allow multiplayer on a single console). The other mode; Treasure Log is where it’s at if you want online play as it consists of fast loading one off levels that don’t follow any story. Treasure Log can give some intense 3 way fights especially with turning the difficulty up to hard (something I recommend doing straight away otherwise the game is a cakewalk). The online play is co-op that works fine but I didn’t find it adds much to gameplay as all it did in my games was speed up the progression through the level as my partner always split to take out other enemies.

There are huge load times in story mode though only one big load per mission then the rest are short and I suspect that it’s all the cutscenes because Treasure Log loads fairly quickly.

Much like other Bandai Namco anime games this has all voice actors from the series so you know it’s going to be top notch. As the combos are quite long with super easy inputs you actually get a chance to flick your eyes down during gameplay to read some of the constant character chatter present in the musou games which is a first for me. The punky rock instrumental soundtrack with a very OG One Piece esque brass section fits perfectly with the fast paced action as well as sounding extremely nostalgic and is actually good enough I can happily just sit and listen to some of the songs.

The graphics on the Switch version are passable, when handheld they do take a drop and have some jagged edges but for a game that has long load times even on PS4 Pro consoles, it’s impressive One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 is here at all. The attention to detail is stunning as almost all of the 40 odd characters have multiple costumes and even some multiple fighting styles.

If One Piece in general seems a bit daunting with its 900+ episodes then Warriors 4 is the perfect introduction, though I would watch the anime up until meeting Chopper first. Then you really can make the most out of its fast paced hectic action developed by the kings of hack ‘n’ slashes: Omega Force. If you already love One Piece then there’s a lot to love here, with giant boss enemies, launchers, huge air combos, 4 specials selectable at a time with more to unlock, over 40 well designed characters with unique move sets, 8 arcs covered over 34 levels and tons of levels within Treasure Log. The best bit though: the awesome gameplay as you plow through everyone in sight.

A huge thank you to Bandai Namco for providing the review code. One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 is available now both physically and digitally on the eShop for £49.99/$59.99/€69.99.

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