Created by industry veterans Omega Force, this third instalment in the One Piece: Pirate Warriors franchise expands on the formula significantly from the previous game with a decent campaign and several new features to make the game feel fresh. Published by Bandai Namco once again, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3’s storyline was once again penned by series hallmark, and supremely talented, Eiichiro Oda.
The Legend Log covers from the start of the One Piece saga all the way up to the Punk Hazard story arc of the manga, though due to the fact the game came out before the manga had finished this arc, the ending for the game is non-canon. As you play through the campaign you will unlock new characters, and with up to 37 available, there’s plenty of choice to be had. The story will also net you XP, coins and beli; these are used to upgrade your characters, with beli also utilized to upgrade other side characters that you are not planning to play with or just fancy giving a boost. Coins are used to upgrade character stats and certain rare coins can be used to break a level cap or even unlock other costumes.
Visually speaking things don’t seem to have been improved much since the previous title, though Warriors 3 does look a lot closer to the anime, with the stylish cut scenes looking particularly impressive. The amount of enemies on screen has been increased noticeably with barely any pop-up, which is pretty impressive for a dynasty warriors-style game. The story mode seems very easy though, even on hard mode it doesn’t seem that challenging compared to previous titles. One of the cool features is the legend poster. This represents a scene from the level you are playing and is unlocked by individual image squares; these are obtained by completing challenges in a stage, but it is pretty much the same challenges with each level rarely any changes to what it asks for.
Free log allows you to play any of the missions you have unlocked from the Legend Log. These can be played with any character you have unlocked from either Dream Log or Free log, and are equipped with basic stats, allowing you to farm coins you are missing or perhaps just get some of the legend squares you are missing. Also new to the table is the SOS system. This allows you to help someone else in need, and will pop up as soon as you load up one of the modes asking you to help the, achieved by simply pressing the square button. In addition, you can also request an SOS by pressing the touchpad; this will send a message to anyone online playing the game and the first person to respond will join your game. This can be handy when tackling some of the events that pop up on the map, as it can be quite hard to complete the bonus objectives and the main objective when they are on separate parts of the game world. You can also play all the modes on offline or online co-op, with the game’s frame rate pleasingly solid throughout.
Dream Log is an all-new separate storyline that has been introduced for Warriors 3, which acts as a side story for your character of choice, as they venture from island to island fighting other characters. It’s basically an endless war against other pirates, with the levels being the same as the dream or free log; the layout is slightly different however, and you select each stage from islands, allowing some freedom of progression as some islands let you choose different paths. In addition, there are also bonus events appear on these locations as you progress through the Dream Log. You can also unlock other characters from going through this mode, and it has its own Legend map, which is slightly more complicated than the Legend Log version and tougher to complete.
One of the big new features in battle is the Kizuna system, allowing you to bring 1-4 support members with you to the battlefield. These will help you during combos, and once the Kizuna meter fills up you can summon them to generate heaps of Beli by executing attacks on the enemy. This mode also has a unique special attack based on your team combination, so it’s best to try out different combos until you find one you like. However, if you use the special attack it will end the Kizuna timer, so it’s best to use it when you either see a lot of enemies bundled up together or your meter is gonna run out anyway for one last burst.
Overall, if you are not a fan of One Piece: Pirate or Dynasty Warriors then this latest offering may not be for you. On the flip side, fans will find plenty to sink their teeth into here. Being a Pirates aficionado myself, I found the characters and storyline more compelling than I thought; combined with the solid gameplay mechanics, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 is a fantastic entry into the franchise that shouldn’t be overlooked.