One Piece: World Seeker Hands-on Preview – Promising Open World Anime

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Nov 29
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This year has given me a renewed hope for licensed anime games. How could it not, after the release of Dragon Ball FighterZ? It proves that when an anime game is given the kind of polish you’d expect from a AAA product, it will sell. My Hero One’s Justice was another game that, while not groundbreaking, was very respectable in its own right. Now it’s time for another anime franchise to be given the big game treatment. And of course, that franchise just has to be One Piece.

One Piece World Seeker is the latest anime game of many to include Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates, but this one looks like it’s setting up to be one of the best. Throwing Luffy and the crew into a brand new open world environment, this demo build I played at InfoGamer 2018 showed me the ropes and a lot of promise.

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The basics are simple enough. You run around an open world environment, bash away at a melee attack button to do damage. This, honestly, feels fine and unremarkable, but what is a positive note that it highlights is that this game is incredibly well animated. Luffy’s attacks really pop in an incredibly bright, saturated world that feels at home in the One Piece world.

Luffy’s abilities are expanded by his Haki abilities, which includes Observation Haki and Armament Haki. Luffy’s Observation Haki essentially activates Batman Detective Vision mode, where the world turns blue and enemies and NPCs are highlighted through the environment in yellow. Here you can mark enemies, either to make sure none escape, or figure out a way to stealth your way through.

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Armament Haki is activated with certain attacks, and you get moves such as his burning Red Hawk, which sends a fiery fist into enemies, and can be combo’d into from your basic melee combo. It’s a simple system, but is immediately rewarding and satisfying. And of course, that’s not the end of Luffy’s arsenal, as trailers have showcased Gear Fourth and other abilities, which certainly makes the game look to expand quickly.

Again, it has to be said, the animations are fantastic. Near the end of the demo, the Marine Fleet Admiral Akainu Sakazuki appeared with a body comprised of flowing magma, and the saturated, bright colours really made it pop. It exploded on the ground with force and splashes and each attack was well animated and just beautiful for a fan of the series. And that was all before Sabo appeared at the end of the demo, which One Piece fans will know is an exciting character to see – sorry if you’re not caught up to that point yet!

If I had to pick out something that frustrated me, it was that there didn’t seem to be any animation canceling on the dodge. This makes sense in a game like Dark Souls where precise attacks and dodges are key, but in an action game like, well, other One Piece games, it’s a normal staple, and it felt odd it not being in place. Given that a perfectly timed dodge activates a slow-motion event, like Witch Time in Bayonetta, it would make sense to be able to cancel attacks with dodges, just like, well, Bayonetta. Hey, Bayonetta’s a great action game, and it definitely isn’t a bad thing if World Seeker wants to take a few inspirations from it.

But initial impressions are overwhelmingly positive. No, I don’t think One Piece: World Seeker will be quite on par with a blockbuster AAA open world game, nor the combat of a PlatinumGames production, but I do think it very well might be the best One Piece game yet. The animation is superb, the world looks fascinating, and my early impressions of how it feels to play are mostly very satisfying. I’m excited to see how the game expands next, and I’m definitely keeping my eye on One Piece: World Seeker.

The game is scheduled to launch on March 15th, 2019 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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