GameByte Reviews: One Piece World Seeker

One Piece: World Seeker is the much-anticipated open world action – adventure title set in the world of One Piece, one of the most popular anime/manga series in the world. If you aren’t familiar with it, you’ve been missing out – the fantasy story follows various colourful pirate characters with superpowers and their shenanigans. In World Seeker you get to  explore a new seamless world with a variety of different locations, elements and more. Something that fans have wanted for years!

World Seeker attempts a lot – providing an open world filled with all of the interesting and unique islands we know and love from the series is a big task… and not quite what is delivered. We find ourselves in a pretty world consisting of coastal towns, ships, stretches of beach and country-side, quite a lot of which is surprisingly empty and kind of generic. This is a huge contrast to the character models, that look like they they stepped straight out of the anime. Unfortunately the enemy models are repeated too much with little variation. Just dozens of semi-identical sailors running around, with a few boss-models mixed in.

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The options when it comes to fighting them are distinctly One Piece and take advantage of our protagonist Luffy’s skills. However, they are also severely limited with only a few moves to choose from. The animations could also be a tad better – often your character gets stuck trying to jump or ‘trips’ over invisible ledges and the like.

This is a shame as the general look of the world is very engaging and many elements are surprisingly intricate, such as the dirt on the side of the buildings or even the level of detail on the cobblestones that make up many of the roads. As for the map itself, it is large and features several distinct and unique looking places, but it’s not the kind of size games like Assassin’s Creed or Grand Theft Auto have spoiled us with. It’s fairly easy to travel the map and you could easily see half of it in the first few hours if you wanted to. Annoyingly you can’t enter buildings and are confined to roaming the streets. Even open doors are only cosmetic and won’t let you step through.

Enough about how the game plays though, what about the story? It sets out with us trying to assemble our crew of misfits. We first need to find Chopper, a little humanoid reindeer and the doctor of the ship from the anime. After that we go on and follow a series of main quests that leads us to meet more characters we know and love.

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In addition to the main quests, there are also side quests posed by random people around the map. This is where One Piece World Seeker could really shine but unfortunately doesn’t. The main quests follow the formula of ‘locate X’, while the side quests are ‘collect X amount of Y’. This is very strongly apparent in the first hour of gameplay. It does get a bit more varied later on though if you stick with it. Plus if you like fetch-quests, there are certainly enough of them here, and the first few feel interesting simply because of the novelty of exploring the open world of World Seeker.

Speaking of the novelty of exploring – our protagonist Luffy has a pretty unique way of moving around the map. His power allows him to stretch, expand and change his body in some interesting ways. He can latch on to ledges quite some distance away and pull himself up onto them, and he also doesn’t take fall damage. This means you can climb buildings incredibly quickly and hop back down in seconds – in cities and coastal towns. It’s great fun! You can also latch on to trees in more open areas but often can’t swing from tree to tree, leading to a lot of cross-country running.

The open areas are often a bit too bare and can get monotonous after a while. The occasional enemy squad strewn across the map help break it up though. You can take out the enemies by trying to be as stealthy as possible or just go in fists blazing to mix things up a bit. Fighting and completing quests give skill points that allow you to rank up your pirate and unlock certain skills for him. It’s a pretty well-developed system that allows for enough customisation and options to feel varied and interesting.

The same can also be said for the game’s Karma system. By interacting with characters and completing certain missions, you can increase your Karma points. Certain amounts of them unlock side quests and additional interactions, so building up relationships with the crew and the people around the map is definitely beneficial. While the system isn’t revolutionary, it does give fun alternatives to pursuing the main storyline ceaselessly, and the fact that there are over a dozen characters that can be unlocked within this Karma-system means there is more than enough to do.

There’s a lot of appealing aspects to One Piece World Seeker but its short-comings are hard to ignore. Moving around the map with Luffy’s unique movement abilities is fun, but beating up the same enemies over and over with the same moves is not. The endless fetch-quests aren’t much fun either, although the addition of the Karma and side-quest system does shake up the main storyline a bit. One Piece World Seeker is an interesting game. It’s just probably not quite what fans of the manga and anime were hoping for.