While the initial announcement that Omega Force – the team responsible for the hugely popular Dynasty Warriors series – were working on a One Piece game came as somewhat of a shock, a sequel was far easier to predict. One Piece: Pirate Warriors was an enjoyable if noticeably short-lived offshoot of the Warriors franchise. Obviously, it was designed specifically to appeal to One Piece fans. Similar to more recent The Legend of Zelda and Fire Emblem efforts. With a proven formula and an audience desperate for more, 2013’s One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 was perhaps inevitable. What had been less obvious was where the videogame would position itself.
The answer to that pondering is more straightforward than you might expect. Despite the huge advances made by Dynasty Warriors 8, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 was presented as a direct sequel. Everything you’d expect of the next edition in a Warriors franchise is evident here and the technical progress between Dynasty Warriors titles had been ignored. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 is an improved version of One Piece: Pirate Warriors and nothing more. For better or worse.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 as a Sequel
This does of course mean two things: One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 is set to appeal directly to the One Piece fanbase. In that, it did very well. This is classic fan service. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 is far from an essential product, retelling already told stories as it does. And yet any fan worth their salt will purchase it simply for the satisfaction of a surface level interaction with their favourite character. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 offers is immediately rewarding to any fan keen for more One Piece content. However, beyond that it will have trouble convincing the videogames audience at large that it’s a better investment than any modern Dynasty Warriors title.
The game tasks the player with cutting through swathes of foes. Reasonably sized maps present a point-to-point challenge, with one of a small number of objective types. Capture the base, hit the switch, kill all enemies. There’s nothing here you won’t have seen before. And the same could be said of the combat. The thin series of combination attacks is used ad nauseam in order to progress. The variety comes from that of the vast array of characters, which does allow for the player to develop tactics as well as favourites. But One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 remains a one-size-fits-all videogame for much of its potential forty-plus hours.
So, What Did One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 Change?
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 did have a few unique ideas, proving its worth as both a testing ground and a fandom product. A new online feature allowed players to signal their friends when a level is proving tricky in order to ask for assistance, and of course also receive calls for help from their friends. Furthermore, opting in to this functionality will offer the player gifts from time-to-time. Mostly consisting of virtual currency.
The in-game mechanics also featured a few interesting ideas, such as the restriction of bonus items to treasure chests – including one which only opened when meeting certain secret conditions – and the ability to bring a secondary character’s special ability into the end of your special combo attacks. However these are one-shot ideas rather than groundbreaking innovation.
In Fandom, Aesthetics Accuracy is Everything
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 is actually a very good looking title. The environments may be lacking in detail, though they are much more expansive than the arenas of the original title. The characters however, are vastly more impressive this time around with animations that truly bring each different ability to life. Many games have claimed to fit the bill of ‘playing a cartoon’ in recent years, but so few have come as close to their source material as One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2. The sound quality doesn’t quite reach the same standard sadly. The game doesn’t offer an English voice dub, and the soundtrack never once deviates from the generic Japanese action template.
While it may be more of the same in many respects, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 still found a place for itself. Firstly, it had an audience keen to adopt it. But it also offered Omega Force space to experiment, which ultimately fed back into their magnum opus series: Dynasty Warriors. The series is now in it’s fourth iteration, proving that delivering fans what they want when they want it is a direct precursor to success.