Remasters and re-releases are the watch words for the Nintendo Switch at the start of this year. While we patiently wait for some big E3 announcements from the Japanese giant, what we do know is that Nintendo is hoovering up a bevy of their best titles from recent times to fill out the Switch’s release schedule. Bandai Namco seem more than happy to oblige as well, and with Pirate Warriors 3 Deluxe Edition the Switch is now well on its way to being the home of Musou.
Alongside Naruto and Dragonball Z, One Piece remains one of the premier anime exports of the last twenty years, and the story of Luffy’s journey to build a crew and become the King of the Pirates features more than a spot of fisticuffs, making it a perfect property to be Warrior-ified. This might well be the third Pirate Warriors game, but it starts at the very beginning of it all, trundling its way through all of the series’ major events via cutscenes and, of course, combat.
Musou games aren’t really the deepest of experiences, but when every one of the modern games – including this Deluxe Edition – immediately offers you the option to turn the difficulty to easy in order to ‘enjoy the story’, it’s an offer you should instantly decline. While there’s some truth to the assertion you can play these games with one button, that’s rather missing the point, and deliberately making the defining aspect of these games a walkover will likely rob you of any sense of danger, achievement, or joy. The Musou games can deliver all of these things, if you give them the chance, and Pirate Warriors 3 on Switch is no exception.
Gameplay, as ever, revolves around smashing up wave after wave of opponents as you rush around the battlefield capturing key locations, and it’s a formula that has worked for Omega Force and Bandai Namco for a very long time. The One Piece Musou games have introduced a few quirks of their own though, and one of the key differences over the mainline Dynasty Warriors games is the way your crew are integrated into combat.
More than simply being extra bodies on the field, or allowing you to switch out and control them, your crew can jump in to perform a Kizuna Attack, extending and finishing off your combo with a powerful move. They lend battles a sense of teamwork, even when you’re playing on your own. The progression tree is also pleasingly piratical, with coins that you obtain during battle influencing how your characters grow, though there’s little overall strategy beyond picking items up in each level and making sure to use them between missions.
Having originally released way back in 2015, Pirate Warriors 3’s port to the Switch has the advantage that it was also released on the last generation of PlayStation hardware as well as the current one. The Switch’s relative similarity in power to the PS3 presumably meant that the Omega Force team already knew where to make the nips and tucks in order to keep the game running at a decent lick, and it certainly seems as though this is a faithful, and more importantly, functional port.
There have been some visual compromises made over the PS4 edition, but they’re much less noticeable than you’re probably expecting, and the game seems to hit the same 1080p60 goal. There’s little sign of anti-aliasing, so there’s a roughness to everything on the Switch version compared to the smoother image on Sony’s more powerful machine, and there’s an increase in pop-in to your enemies and backgrounds as well. Playing undocked sees the resolution drop further, adding to the fuzziness, but it’s still a handsome game, and one that crucially still runs well, albeit at very steady 30fps.
In terms of gameplay there’s nothing missing at all, and thankfully the frame rate holds up, even when there are a huge number of opponents on the screen. You can play through in local two player as well, simply handing over a Joy-Con, and though there’s a corresponding visual drop it’s worth it for the fun that grabbing a friend brings. It’s worth noting that playing in tabletop mode doesn’t leave either of you with much screen real estate, so be prepared to get friendly with your pal and your Switch if you want any chance of following what’s going on.
This Deluxe Edition pulls together all of the previously released DLC – some forty missions or so – giving you a huge amount of higher tier content to work your way through once you’ve completed the Legends Mode, as well as access to a bunch of extra costumes for some of your favourite pirates. There’s a lot of game here, and while the Musou combat can begin to wear, the mission structure makes this a perfect portable game to jump in and out of.
Bandai Namco have continued to shower the Nintendo Switch in a wealth of gaming riches, and the Warriors/Musou scene continues to benefit from the company’s faith in Omega Force’s output. Besides the Nintendo exclusive Fire Emblem Warriors and Hyrule Warriors, Switch-owning Musou fans should definitely check out One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 and help Luffy and his crew on their voyage, no matter where you are.