One Piece has had a rough road when it comes to its video game outings. Fighting games, open-world RPGs, mobile outings, and more have tried to capture what makes Eiichiro Oda's manga so special, yet each of them has fallen short in some form. While many of them include the characters and fan service that fans have come to love over the last two decades, One Piece rarely gets the video game adaptations it deserves. What gets closest to the bombastic fun of the original series, however, is the One Piece: Pirate Warriors series.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is the fourth entry in a series of Koei Tecmo-developed games inspired by the Dynasty Warriors franchise. Taking a large collection of characters from the East Blue saga to an improvised version of the currently running Wano Country arc, this game allows players to mow through massive crowds of enemies and truly stand on top of the mountain as the King of the Pirates. It's the closest we'll get to actually being a part of the One Piece world.
For those new to the franchise hoping to jump in with the latest entry, there is quite a bit to enjoy. Players are tasked with playing through levels and clearing a number of enemies in familiar areas such as Alabasta. Each map is filled to the brim with hundreds (even thousands, in some cases) of enemies, but they usually don't pose any real challenge outside of named foes or villains from the series. That means you'll be gleefully wiping out hundreds of enemies and taking over territories with relative ease.
Compared to earlier entries, Pirate Warriors 4 is far more streamlined than before. It's been made much speedier in terms of special moves (now with four selectable specials at a time), and there's no longer a need to head into a base to take it over as it's all through open territories now. It's also just much faster in general, as enemy health bars seem to empty a lot quicker than they did in the past and there is now an ability to attack in the air (or fly) as well.
Leveling up is a bit more streamlined with a set of upgrades you can unlock with coins you get playing through missions. There's no longer a need to level up each character, but instead build towards leveling up a base attack, defense, and special move power across all the characters (from which you then can focus on certain characters to get even higher). As for completely new material in terms of content, there are a few new characters to mess around with.
With the story now extending to a non-canonical reimagining of the Wano Country arc, characters from the Dressrosa arc and on have been added as playable characters or enemies. It's not as many as the new additions, notably, but the difference is made up for with transformations. Select characters unlock a special transformation that gives them a new set of special moves (such as Luffy's Gear Fourth Snakeman), and it injects a welcome bit of variety.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 includes many welcome updates and adjustments that veterans of the franchise will appreciate. At the same time, those veterans may feel the newest entry is lacking in terms of new content and may tire of going through these same scenarios for a fourth time. For those jumping in for the very first time, however, it's the perfect time to set sail for One Piece with the best entry in the series yet.
Rating: 4 out of 5
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is now available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. This review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy purchased by the reviewer.