You're almost spoiled for choice when it comes to Warriors games on the PlayStation Vita, since just about every slice of musou madness to release on home consoles over the last few years has ended up on Sony's diminutive device as well. Generally speaking, the handheld editions of these chaotic brawlers never quite live up to their PlayStation 4 brethren, purely because they've been considerably squashed down in order to fit their massive battlefields onto a smaller screen. However, being able to dip quickly in and out of such frenetic clashes thanks to the Vita's portability usually makes up for any technical shortcomings, and the same is true of One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3.
In fact, with Luffy and the gang's latest adventure, you could argue that its relatively short dream log battles are perfectly suited to portable play. These varied scenarios tend to last around 10 minutes or so each, and there's a heck of a lot of them. Being able to pull out your Vita and smash some baddies into dust for a short amount of time keeps the lengthy mode ticking along nicely, especially if you're grinding for coins to upgrade your characters with. Indeed, because the game's a lot of fun in quick bursts, coupled with the fact that the title sports cross-save functionality, the Vita version complements the PS4 release rather nicely – but you'll have to pay for them separately since there's sadly no cross-buy implementation.
In our new-gen review – which you should definitely read if you're looking for a more in-depth look at Pirate Warriors 3 – we've already described the game as one of the best looking musou titles on the market, and that's also the case when it comes to the handheld edition. Although there's some noticeable pop-in at times, the hack and slasher's cartoon colours look great on the smaller screen, and character models retain a reasonable amount of detail. It's the art direction of the property itself that elevates the release above the competition, though, as the whole thing oozes Eiichiro Oda's often wacky sense of style.
This is a big game, too, and one that'll keep fans of One Piece happy for quite a while. Alongside a story mode that covers just about every main plot from the manga and anime up until its currently ongoing saga, there's a brilliant cast of playable characters to explore. From blind swordsman Fujitora and his ability to screw up gravity to the eccentric and devilishly effective Moria and his love of stealing people's shadows, the pirate roster is a cause for celebration. It's genuinely difficult to think of a similar title with a cast that's bigger, more varied, and more fun to use than this.
The series' trademark combat system makes them all a delight to play as, especially since each moveset features its own little nuances and tricks. For example, Law, a sharp minded sword wielder who can alter reality inside of bubbles known as 'rooms', has a slew of deadly techniques up his sleeve. He can toss his foes around within one of his rooms with a flick of his finger, simply cut them into ribbons, or even plant comically large explosive cannon balls onto their heads. And because battlefields are so packed with enemies, there's always space for experimentation as you figure out which moves combo into others and when it's best to make use of certain special attacks. The source material obviously needs to be credited for creating such enjoyable characters, but developer Omega Force deserves a huge amount of praise for how well it's brought these personalities and their powers to life.
Whether you're playing on the Vita or PS4, there's no denying that Pirate Warriors 3 is just darn good fun, but we did notice one big difference in gameplay between the two versions. On the home console, stages are absolutely chocked full of allies and opponents to the point where you'll be racking up around 4,000 kills per map, but in the portable edition, things have been scaled down. Here, you'll end the same levels with maybe 1500 kills, so it goes without saying that there are clearly less enemies to fight. It's a design choice that's obviously been made in order to keep the Vita version running smoothly – and it does – but battlefields will undoubtedly feel a bit barren compared to the bustling brawls found on the PS4 as a result.
Fortunately, the ranking system, which determines how well you've done on each stage by tallying various statistics, has been tweaked accordingly for the handheld version. For instance, you'll only need to mow down 1,000 or so foes to attain an S rank here compared to the 3,000 that you'll have to slaughter on the PS4, so there's no need to worry about any imbalances.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 3 makes for a great portable Warriors game mostly thanks to the dream log's relatively short and accessible battles. Jumping into the fray for ten or twenty minutes at a time keeps the experience feeling surprisingly fresh, especially since the fantastic character roster provides so much variety. One Piece fans who only own a Vita shouldn't think twice about buying, while handheld enthusiasts who are new to the franchise should still find plenty of enjoyable content to plunder.