When anime licensed games earn direct numbered sequels you know they are generally doing something right, something that keeps their fanbase coming back to pick up that next entry in the series. For Pirate Warriors 3 that thing is combining the One Piece franchise, loved by millions of passionate fans all around the world with the ‘Warriors'(Musou) style gameplay that is fast paced, incredibly fun and addicting and results in a final product that is hard to put down. And you don’t need to, because One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 has just hit the Nintendo Switch and you can take it anywhere.
If you’ve never played a ‘Warriors’ game before the basic rundown includes running around the stage with your selected character or characters and eliminating hordes of enemies, sometimes hundreds, sometimes thousands per stage. They are relatively under-powered compared to your playable characters but that’s where a lot of the addicting fun comes in with these games. There’s just something so satisfying about seeing the mass carnage that occurs during these small scale wars. During all the chaos there are normally side objectives to achieve, items and power-ups to find, bases to reclaim and then you’re usually tasked with taking down the stage boss at the end of the mission.
The same formula has been used across many of the titles is developer Omega Force’s catalogue of game’s. Only this time it’s been well meshed with the characters, environments and stories from the One piece universe, opening up the genre to fans of the anime.
I know what you may be thinking, especially if you have some knowledge of the One Piece franchise. “Doesn’t that series currently have over 800 episodes?”, “I didn’t play the first 2 Pirate Warriors game’s or watch the series, I’d be so lost”. Well rest assured, the story of Pirate Warriors 3 takes you right back to the very beginning of the whole story of Luffy and the straw hat pirates. While the cutscenes are truncated compared to their equivalent manga or anime arc, there’s still enough there to allow complete newcomers to the series to follow along with the plot, meet the characters and learn their back stories and driving motivations.
Normally in most of Omega Force’s “Warriors” games they introduce a system unique to that property in an attempt to make the Dynasty Warriors series not exactly the same as say Hyrule Warriors. In Pirate Warriors 3 that system is the Kizuna system. It is represented on screen as a gauge underneath your character HP and when filled allows you to enter Kizuna Rush, granting you increased damage output for a period of time and is also spendable to unleash massive ultimate attacks where you and your chosen allies team up to wipe out large numbers of enemies at once.
Upon completing missions you are granted coins that act as the spendable currency gateway to more skills and better stats in Pirate Warriors 3. You can choose to divide it amongst your characters as you see fit, or can have it automatically handled if you don’t feel like manually doing it or you’re not trying to level up a specific character ability.
This loop of eliminating enemies to defeat the stage boss and then divide up the loot and coins is pretty much the whole experience of Pirate Warriors 3. Rinse and repeat. But it is quite addicting and satisfying to play. Occasionally I love being able to pick up a game and not need to think too much about it and try to follow a deep narrative. Pirate Warriors 3 is perfect for that. If playing for long periods of time, yes it can become quite repetitive, but it’s never not rewarding and this Switch port makes it really easy to jump in and jump out when I feel like tackling through a few stages and don’t have much time or don’t feel like getting invested in something else.
If you want to step away from the main story (Legends Log) there is also a mode called Dream Log where your chosen characters are thrown into semi-randomised battles to unlock further characters, items and upgrades. And for those that prefer to play with others, you’ll be happy to know there is a local co-op mode so you can enjoy these over the top brawls with a friend all on one screen.
This Nintendo Switch port looks great visually in both handheld mode and docked on the TV. The character assets and environments look smooth and crisp. If there was a visual downgrade compared to the PS4 version from 2015 I didn’t notice it. I was also concerned about how it would run performance wise on the Switch, knowing that the game renders hundred of character models on the screen at once but once again it performed just as well as I remember the PlayStation version running with only the occasional frame rate stutter. Those folks over at Omega Force must be doing some technical wizardry behind the scenes to pull this off as well as they did.
The Switch version also contains all 40+ DLC items bundled in as well adding in even more value to an already great game. There are new challenge missions to play and a large number of cosmetic costumes to use for key characters.
If you’re not a fan of the Musou genre, One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 isn’t going to change your mind. It is first and foremost a massive scale beat em up just set in the One Piece universe. But if you a fan of the Musou genre and either love One Piece or want to see what One Piece is about then you’re going to have a great time with this game. It’s welcoming to newcomers and there’s a ton of content here already to keep you entertained and levelling up your characters for hours on end but the Switch Deluxe Edition comes with that extra cherry on top with the bundled in DLC.
A Nintendo Switch review code was provided by Bandai Namco Australia for the purpose of this review.