One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 sails onto the Nintendo Switch with even more over the top playable pirates, rogues, and giants to smash through hordes of one note enemies. As a diehard One Piece fan who has watched the anime series twice, I love diving head first into its world of colorful islands and characters so I jumped at the thought of playing the newest entry in the Pirate Warriors series.
Before jumping too far into this review please be warned that there are some spoilers throughout for those who are not caught up to the current arc, Wano Kuni, in the anime.
In this entry, players take control of Luffy, the man who is destined to become The Pirate King, as he wreaks havoc in Wano, the territory of Emperor Kaido. A short fight with Luffy and Kaido sends Luffy flying off into the distance and flashes back to the very first arc of the anime.
Luckily I didn’t have to play through the East Blue Arc (I had enough of that in the last Pirate Warriors game) and instead was sent to Alabasta. The narrator explains the story of One Piece until then, which is around 100 episodes explained in about 2 minutes. If you’re looking for a game that tells the story of One Piece that hits all the major story beats, this isn’t it.
The game assumes that the player has already read the manga or watched the anime and this game is no substitute for either. Instead, it plays a bit like a greatest hits album with major arcs like Alabasta, Enies Lobby, and Dressrosa being the focal points. It also takes the liberty of creating an original story in the Wano Kuni arc, which has yet to finish in the manga.
The cutscenes in Dramatic Log or story mode are hilariously bad. All of the weight and emotion from the anime is gone when the characters just stand around talking through clickable dialogue boxes. To its credit, at least all of the Japanese anime cast is present to voice their respective characters so if you close your eyes you might think you’re watching a poorly produced episode of the show.
Although the story mode was painful for me to get through I know that it’s not the main reason why people buy this game. Pirate Warriors 4 is a Musou game, which plays about the same as any other Dynasty Warriors game with a different coat of paint. This genre is all about playing as your favorite character and feeling like an unstoppable wrecking machine defeating countless waves of enemies.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is no different. In fact it plays almost exactly like Pirate Warriors 3, which I also played on the Switch albeit a little better looking and with more playable characters. Among the new characters are giants like Big Mom and Kaido that, as the word giant suggests, are literal giants. These characters tower over enemies and make the player feel like a god.
That being said, the familiar formula of Musou games is just as repetitive as with the last entry. For better or worse it seems like the light platforming and puzzles of Pirate Warriors 3 are all but removed from this entry leaving its hordes of no threat enemies behind. It is enjoyable for short bursts to blast through hordes of Navy Marines and enemy pirates but it gets dull quick.
Pirate Warriors 4 does a good job of showing off each character’s colorful fighting techniques in battles, like Luffy’s rubber based moves and transformations. Playing as 4th Gear Luffy Snakeman felt really good and just as powerful as he appears in the anime. The game looks better than its predecessor but this is a Warriors game so don’t expect top-notch graphics. It heavily borrows assets from the last game, which is fine, but all of the character models look fresh.
While playing in handheld mode I noticed the visual quality took quite a big dive. There were a few frame rate drops as well. It wasn’t unplayable but it certainly looks and plays much better in docked mode. Unfortunately the load times were just awful whether docked or undocked.
The music isn’t anything to write home about either, sounding like generic video game music at best. I only wish they could have used some of the wonderful tracks from the anime series which would have created a more authentic One Piece experience, but that might be asking too much out of a Warriors game. Then again, Dragon Quest Heroes and Hyrule Warriors managed to remix some familiar music, so perhaps the budget just wasn’t as big here.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is a decent addition to the Pirate Warriors series that adds a fresh coat of paint to the Musou genre. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel here, but the combat is at least fun in 20-minute bursts until you realize you’d rather just be watching the anime.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 Review
- Graphics - 6/106/10
- Sound - 6/106/10
- Gameplay - 7/107/10
- Lasting Appeal - 6/106/10
Final Thoughts: WORTH CONSIDERING
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 lets you live out your wildest One Piece fever dream of crushing enemies as God Usopp, but the action grows stale after short time and after awhile you realize you’d much rather just be watching the anime again for the third time.