Reviewed on Xbox One.
I will be totally honest: I know nothing about One Piece. Zip. Zilch. Nada. My complete lack of knowledge on the subject thus made it a complete surprise when my editor asked me to review One Piece: World Seeker, but I figured I’d just roll with it and see where it went.
It turns out that rolling with it was a great idea. One Piece: World Seeker is extremely accommodating to players who know nothing about One Piece. It doesn’t baby you, meaning veterans of the series won’t feel belittled or condescended to, but it also doesn’t alienate newcomers. For example, I don’t know what sea prism stone bullets actually are, but the game lets me know that they’ll hurt Luffy more and that I should be wary.
You get thrown into One Piece: World Seeker at the deep end – or, more accurately, off a giant floating prison and into the ocean – and it’s up to Luffy to round up his missing friends and help out people along the way.
It turns out that a big part of Luffy’s personality is helping people in whatever way possible, even if it involves killing or some light maiming along the way. The fact that he can turn his limbs to rubber definitely helps. Luffy is definitely a chaotic good kind of guy which is great, because this is a chaotic good kind of game. It’s an open world game with a bunch of delightfully weird characters. There’s a crafting system, there’s skill trees, there’s side quests galore. All together, it’s one hell of a time.
Let’s start at the top: the combat. The combat system in One Piece: World Seeker is fairly straightforward, with both melee and ranged attacks available for Luffy. You can also access different types of ‘haki’ which, as I’ve been informed, is true to the source material. One haki makes you faster, one haki makes you punch harder. You can use the skill tree to upgrade your fighting skills, exploring skills, and other general skills as you like. If you punch well enough, you unlock a combo move. You can upgrade these moves and unlock new ones. It’s all very simple.
I first played the game on the beginner’s difficulty level, meaning that combat was easier and there was a greater focus on the story. Combat was decidedly easy, even for a terrible fighter like me, so I switched it up. I was still a dab hand at fighting up until anything past medium difficulty but, if you’re a veteran at these kinds of things, you’ll probably enjoy the challenge presented to you.
Next up: the story. The story presented to me was one of friendship, loyalty, and bashing people’s heads in in the name of such things. In all honesty, going into the game knowing nothing about One Piece might actually be a big benefit for new players as it adds a new layer of mystery, intrigue, and excitement to the story. The game told me to go rescue my friend Franky and I dived right in, excited to meet whoever this person would turn out to be. I was trying to guess who my friends were based off the opening cinematic and was I right in guessing who Franky was? No! But I had fun anyway!
For those who are familiar with the inner machinations of One Piece, I imagine the story would present an exciting new take on Luffy and co’s adventures. For those unfamiliar, it’s a fun (and open!) world to get involved in, even if at times you’re not too sure what’s going on. Basically, it appeals to everyone.
My favourite thing about the game being open world was the complete lack of load times. Unless I was fast travelling, I never noticed any loading screens or any lag, even when barrelling around the map at a hundred miles per hour. Sure, the map was a bit samey-looking in many places because once you’ve seen one patch of grass you’ve seen them all, but each town and place of interest had its own little charm.
So there I am, in this big open world with no idea what I’m doing, and I’m having the time of my life. I’ve stuffed Luffy in a barrel because it seemed like the fashionable thing to do. It turns out that barrels are a great way to sneak up on enemies (a tactic which perhaps should have been obvious), but they don’t let me know about that until a bit later in the game.
One of the best features of One Piece: World Seeker (you know, apart from every single in-game feature) is that it lets you learn at your own pace. You’ll reach points every now and then where the game gives you a little tutorial or some pointers, but you have access to almost all of Luffy’s abilities from the beginning. It’s just up to you whether you work them out on your own or work with the game’s flow.
Another one of the best features in the game is the graphics. While Luffy, his friends, and his enemies are cel-shaded, fitting in with their manga origins, the backgrounds and environments all have a much more realistic touch to them.
The game’s UI is laid out in an intuitive manner and the in-game menus are easy to navigate. The only fault the UI has is that sometimes, for side quests, you’re asked to fetch X amount of Y object. The in-game menus don’t let you know what or how much you’re meant to be fetching, so I wound up taking notes on my phone or just repeatedly chanting “THREE SMALL FLOWERS” until I’d completed the quest.
One Piece: World Seeker’s only big flaw is that it tends to get a bit fetch-quest-grindy in parts. On the bright side, Luffy can sprint like the best professional athlete who’s on steroids, and you should have unlocked fast travel by the time the game starts to feel this way. That’s it. I can’t find any other fault with this game, except for maybe how I picked up the controller and suddenly, it was 7 hours later, and I almost forgot to put my pet chickens to bed because I was so engrossed in the game.
So, to sum up: Do I know what I’m doing? No! Am I having the best time doing it? Yes! Should you get One Piece: World Seeker? Yes! What if you don’t like open world games? Well, that seems like a you problem. You should do yourself a favour and get this game. It’s only $59.95 and it’s out now.