Luffy and the Straw Hat pirates are back for an all new adventure. Based on the popular manga/anime One Piece, this is the first game in the franchise to feature open-world gameplay. Explore a vast island, complete missions, and test your gum-gum abilities with One Piece: World Seeker.
One Piece: World Seeker Details
Platform: Xbox One
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Modes: Single player
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Get out of Jail Island
One Piece: World Seeker marks the 20th anniversary of the original publication of the One Piece manga in Japan. To coincide with this milestone, developer Ganbarion crafts Luffy and company’s first open-world adventure. Set on Jail Island, players will take control of Luffy in an effort to track down his crew and thwart the dubious Warden.
Jail Island itself is a world in conflict. The Warden and his Navy keep order on the Island with an iron fist. Half of the residents seem happy with the status quo. They enjoy the security the Navy provides, and applaud the prison as a source of jobs and income.
On the other hand a large group of anti-Navy residents oppose the apparent authoritarian regime which they live under. Luffy can provide assistance to a number of these factions throughout One Piece: World Seeker and earn karma along the way. Increasing karma levels with factions and individuals to their maximum potential with net Luffy rewards, and potentially special story cut-scenes for the player as well.
Into the great wide open
One Piece: World Seeker’s open-world gameplay seems to be one of the defining aspects of this release. Unfortunately it just doesn’t pan out well overall. The world of Jail Island is open to be sure, but for the most part it feels very empty.
There is barely anything interesting between the hubs of action Luffy travels between. A few harvesting point here and a few enemies there alone certainly do not make for an interesting open world. It’s a stark contrast to a game like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, where every nook and cranny offers a new mystery to explore.
Instead, the open world of One Piece: World Seeker is barren and relatively empty. It feels less like an interesting world to explore and more like a dull mechanic designed to artificially prolong the length of the game by having players wander from objective to objective. In short, the open-world aspect of Jail Island is nothing to write home about.
Fetch me a side quest
Another staple of open-world gameplay is the ubiquitous side quest. Sadly, One Piece: World really misses the mark here as well.
The game is full of these optional missions, but a surprisingly staggering number of them are rudimentary fetch quests—little more than a few lines of back story dialogue followed by a request to bring a random NPC “2 of these” or “3 of that”.
Fetch quests were once a staple of open-world gameplay, but in 2019 they border on embarrassing. The idea of filling space in games with tedious gather-and-return objectives has been increasingly abandoned over more meaningful ways of incorporating optional objectives into games. So it’s a bit of a surprise that One Piece: World Seeker would lean so heavily into them.
My first three side quests in One Piece: World Seeker were all fetch quests (with more to follow). Most often I even already had the necessary items on me, rendering the quest complete without any further questing at all. Frankly this was more of a mercy than a downside—already having the materials meant I actually was able to avoid the dull task.
Get going with gum-gum
If One Piece: World Seeker fails at creating an interesting open-world, then by contrast at least it succeeds in making it fun to get around. Luffy has the ability to stretch his arm and launch himself toward branches and ledges all over Jail Island. Combine this with his “gum-gum rocket” ability, and he can perpetually propel himself along like an elastic combustion engine.
This actually makes traversing the world quite enjoyable. Think something akin to Batman’s grappling hook in the Arkham series, or to a lesser extent even Spider-Man’s web slinging powers in Insomniac’s recent hit. Don’t get me wrong, One Piece: World Seeker certainly doesn’t reach these lofty levels, but it does do a respectable job of making Luffy feel like a superhero nonetheless.
This and other gum-gum abilities can be unlocked with skill points earned throughout the game. There is not a ton of variety and innovation in Luffy’s unlockable abilities, but enough to see most player’s through the relatively short main campaign at least.
Put up your dukes
The combat in One Piece: World Seeker is for the most part unremarkable. Luffy can assume two different forms—one predicated on stealth, precision strikes, and dodging—and another that focuses on heavy damaging attacks and blocking. There’s a bit of strategy here, but overall the game is easy enough anyway without having to spend much time mastering the combat system.
I like that the game has a stealth element, although for the most part it doesn’t seem very intuitive. Enemies are supposed to sense you based on sight and sound, but ultimately I couldn’t find much ability to control whether I was spotted or not. Often enemies would quickly notice me seemingly through walls and buildings over great distances. Other times I would be moving around noisily only to discover an enemy I didn’t even know was there, who was still unaware of me as well despite my obvious lack of subtlety.
One Piece: World Seeker is a barren open world, but at least it’s fun to get around.
One Piece: World Seeker has the potential to be a great game, but ultimately it just feels a bit starved for content. The world of Jail Island lacks any real character or interest, and the reliance on archaic mechanics like fetch quests is out of place in 2019. Luckily launching Luffy around with gum-gum rocket makes the traversal between actual meaningful events a bit less painful. Unfortunately however I really think that One Piece deserves something a bit better for its 20th anniversary.
+ Traversal is fun
+ Gum-gum rocket and other abilities
– Empty open world
– Fetch quests
– Confusing stealth detection
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF ONE PIECE: WORLD SEEKER
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3/5