In a first for the One Piece franchise Fluffy and his friends sail their way on to Xbox One for the first time. This is also my first experience of a proper One Piece title although I already know a couple of characters from playing J-Stars Victory Vs+. One Piece Burning Blood makes it’s first appearance in style with a large roaster of characters as well as all the insane action and cut scenes that we have come to expect from anime/manga titles from Bandai Namco Entertainment and Spike Chunsoft.
Paramount War mode is where the games story mode can be found. While the main focus of the story is the same you play through this from the perspective of four different characters. The first character you play as is Luffy himself who is on a mission to save Ace from execution by the marines. There are around nine main chapters to make your way through with some having the ability to unlock extra chapters if you perform specific tasks during battle. This not only adds filler to the main story, it is also a way to unlock other characters. It is worth doing as only a handful of characters will be available. Luffy’s story acts as a tutorial to the games easy to learn and in-depth battle system as well as taking you through the story, and I have to say that this is executed perfectly. Unlike many fighters you don’t just play as the one character, you will also get to play as a couple of other characters key to the story.
The single player gets extended beyond Paramount War with two modes, WANTED Versus and Pirate Flag Battle. In WANTED Versus there are battle challenges with various condition like using specific characters or using certain attacks etc. Each WANTED match will be harder than the one before and will rank you depending on your performance. It is best advised to familiarise yourself with the fighting mechanics first as these can be very challenging to say the least. You will also be able to unlock characters as you progress as well as open up different categories of WANTED Versus modes. There are Special Wanted Posters and Limited Wanted Posters just to name a couple. There is certainly more than enough for single players to test their skills against the A.I.
Pirate Flag Battle is where you chose a faction to support for a season which lasts seven days. In this mode you move from base to base to capture and defend throughout the season. Your moves use Log Pose points in which you have a specific number which refill over time, so you will need to keep this in mind as you sail the seas. Once you move to the base you fight to earn victory PT and the side with the most earns Base PT. The teams Force PT which is what you are fighting to earn is calculated from the total number of Base PT. In vs. Raid you fight AI opponents with more health than usual and the faction that knocks the AI HP down to zero takes over the base. This is a mode that is sure to have hardcore fans coming back on a weekly basis, just make sure you are ready for the challenges. You will face both A.I and human opponents in this mode and I can say that my experience of player vs player online is just as smooth as playing offline – I just get my butt kicked more online.
There are forty-two battle characters and sixty-five support characters which you can unlock and buy with the games currency Base Beli. You will earn this with every battle with the chance to earn bonus Base Beli in the WANTED Versus mode. You will notice when picking your fight and support characters you have a number of grade points to use. Each character has an assigned grade value so your combination of the total six characters must not exceed your maximum grade points. This is a great system and it does mean you might have to compromise between your support and battle characters just to get the team of three fighters you want.
The battle system in One Piece Burning Blood is one of simplicity and you will be pulling off super moves with ease. Swapping between fighters in your team is just a simple press of the left or right triggers. There is though another level of depth to the fighting system making the game hard to master and giving fighting fans a challenge. You will not always get away with butting bashing thanks to the use of Devil Fruits, support characters and assists. The support characters act as a buffer during fights with some being activated manually using the D-Pad. Others are automatically activated, for example once the burning gauge is at its max. Support characters all have a cooldown meaning they can not be spammed by the user. The effects of support characters include things like defense increasing each time an ally falls to temporarily prevent all knockback and stun effects.
The matches are three vs. three meaning you can deploy unity assists and clash assists. These have to be timed perfectly though in order to work. Unity assists happen when you swap fighter when you get hit and unity clash is when you swap fighter just as your opponent uses a unity assist. Your burning gauge allows you to perform specific special moves and has four blocks which fill up during battle. Just like in most fighting games these moves will need a certain number of blocks to perform. These can lead to cut scenes and depending on when you use the move or even transformation into dinosaurs and robots etc. I also like the touch of opponents being hit out the arena into the background and causing damage to the scenery.
You have an ability gauge just above your HP gauge and will increase your strength when releasing your ability, this is where the devil fruits come into play. Logia users can nullify enemy attacks like Ace for example, but Akainu’s – who is a Haki – can unleash Haki attacks when using their ability. These cancel their foe’s ability-based attacks. The counter effect of this though is that they are not able to nullify guard breaks or heavy guard breaks. This means leaning about each character will be paramount for constant success in online battles, not to mention creating a team of fighters that compliment each other.
When it comes to graphics, One Piece Burning Blood is a powerhouse of cel-shaded art, no matter if it is a cut-scene or gameplay this game looks absolutely stunning. The arenas that you fight in are stunning, from pirates and marines fighting in the background to snakes slithering around the arena. There are twelve in total and you will notice one in there from J-Stars Victory Vs+. Others include a nice wintry one with a snow covered castle in the background just waiting for someone to be thrown into it. I quite like the colosseum where the arena is surrounded by water with a whale swimming around. I just wish there were a lot more arenas as they all look stunning. There is nothing I do not like in the graphics department. The voiceovers are spot on and perform without fault while the soundtrack is very upbeat and what you would expect in a game like this.
The Good Things
- Roster of 42 very colourful and varied battle characters.
- The buffer system that support characters give is a great idea.
- Those graphics are just stunning.
- A One Piece game on the Xbox One.
And The Bad
- A.I can be a little bit spam happy with certain moves at times.
- Some punishing difficulty spikes.
- Would have liked some more arenas.
- One Piece Burning Blood is the debut title on the Xbox One for the One Piece franchise and it ticks all the right boxes. The is an action packed, solid three vs. three fighter with great core fighting mechanics. The two modes on offer that extend the single player experience with the Pirate Flag Battle being the one that will have people coming back on a weekly basis. I never get tired from seeing a fat bloke in suspenders who looks like he is straight out of Kiss or Luffy’s Gum-balls.The diversity between characters is great. This game has it all and then some so if you like Anime or Manga titles this is one that should be in your collection.
One Piece Burning Blood ticks all the right boxes for for the franchises debut on the Xbox One.