“I’m gonna be Pirate King!”
The third installment of the Pirate Warriors series based on the hit manga and anime series, One Piece. Pirate Warriors 3 is the first in the series to receive a physical copy release. The first and second installment were only available for download through PSN. Downloading games is something that I tended to avoid, so getting a physical copy for the 3rd title was exciting. I had the game pre-ordered before I even had a chance to purchase the PS4 system I planned to play it on.
The story of the game is the same as that of the manga series. You follow Monkey D. Luffy’s journey to become the pirate king, gaining crew members, allies, and enemies. Each arc of the series being a battle. It goes through all the main arcs of the manga up to the Dressrosa arc. This was a cause of some mild disappointment for me. I had avoided a lot of the game information before release, wanting to be as surprised as possible. Once I learned the story would be based on the series, there was little chance of surprise. I had been hoping for a new twist of plot to take over from the original like the 2nd installment had. A spark of hope even arrived when the final Dressrosa arc was labelled as Original, but it was just offset from the actual events of the series because the arc had not been fully completed when this game was scheduled to release.
As someone who loves this series, it was hard not to notice faults in the arc levels. This only served to make me a little more disappointed with each missing piece. During the iconic moment of Luffy receiving Shanks’ hat before he sails off, I eagerly looked at the pirates in the background, hoping and failing to see the other members of Shanks’ crew. My shoulders dropped down slightly, and I swallowed and accepted the fact that not every character would be modeled.
For what the game does show, however, it does a fantastic job. My jaw dropped when I watched a cut scene and saw three lined markings in the top of Luffy’s straw hat. For those unfamiliar with One Piece lore, you might be thinking it was a mistake, but those lines are from the Buggy arc. Buggy stabs through the Straw Hat with three knives, and the damage is later repaired by Nami, the crew navigator. The ship, Sunny Go, had worn paint rather than being perfectly solid, giving it a more realistic look than that of the anime series. These small details to the characters and the world made up for what they missed in the cast.
Besides the main story arc, there is a separate area to play through called Dream Log. This section can be played with any character that is unlocked. It begins at a designated first island and moves across to other open islands. There is a battle that will need to be fought to move on to the next. The battle descriptions have various scenarios, which gives more of an idea of who will be against you in each battle. There are even a few where the option to pick a side is available, like choosing to fight with Sanji or Zoro. Islands that have characters standing on them will need to be beaten to unlock that character. I had not entered into this area till after beating the main game, which is not a bad idea if you want to take Luffy and plow through the islands quickly. He will probably be the highest level character you have. Wanted characters will also appear randomly. No matter the level of character you use for the battles against them, the recommended level will always be five more than where the character is at. I normally tackled these with lower level characters for no particular reason than it seemed easier and faster. After one of these battles is completed, a gold coin will drop. What coin you receive is random.
For those of you that managed to collect every coin in the previous games, then I give you applause. It was not a task I was about to tackle and remain sane afterwards. Luckily in 3, this task has become more manageable and less stressful. Before, there were coins that would be collected and used in patterns to increase the stats of a character. Whether the coin was bronze, silver, or gold would increase the stat accordingly. This meant finding a bronze, silver, and gold for every coin to collect them all. The coins would drop randomly and already having one did not stop it from dropping again – even if the others had not been obtained yet. Now there are only bronze and gold coins. The bronze coins are only of the characters. They are easy to obtain as they fall after defeating a character in battle, using that specific character, or fighting on the same side of the character. Gold coins are more difficult, but the gallery gives clear objectives to obtain them. The tasks consist of using specific characters on specific stages, completing all legend objectives in a stage, or dropping from battles with wanted characters.
The coins are used differently in upgrading stats, as well. The bronze coins will now be collected up to 99 of each. Going to the ‘use coin’ option for characters will allow coins to be used to raise stats like life, attack, defense, special attack, and skill slots. The gold coins will also be used for this, but they won’t be consumable like the bronze coins. Getting one gold coin can be used for every character that needs it. The gold coins are needed for unlocking techniques, the final stat upgrade, and breaking the level limit of 50. I recommend not upgrading every character’s stats as you unlock them; I held my coins back and used them for Luffy and his crew as they were primary in the main story. After that, I focused on the characters I enjoyed using.
There will be some grueling repetitions at times to get top scores on levels. Then there are unclear objectives that can be confusing to complete. During the Skypiea arc battle – when the objective is defeating Wyder within a time limit, but no clock is given for a time limit – all that can be done is running to him and hoping to defeat him in time. As for level scoring, the score is based on K.O. count, crew attack K.O., and time. I found getting higher K.O. counts to be easier to get high ranking on when in a harder difficultly setting due to having more fodder enemies to defeat.
It is simple to say that if you enjoy the series, then this is a fun game to remember earlier portions of the series without having to watch through the 700+ anime episodes or reading through the 800+ manga chapters. It is easier to play through with less frustration than the previous installments. The season pass to get all the DLC content for the game is a great deal and adds extra levels and costumes to the game.