On a surprise trip to San Diego in the middle of winter, Bandai Namco invited Wccftech to attend an exclusive media and hands-on influencer aboard the Star of India sailing ship. On board, there were twenty experimental stations, all working in the starting moments of One Piece Odyssey. Our hands-on session felt more intimate, allowing us time to enjoy the experience at our leisure rather than focusing on rushing off as quickly as possible to get to the next date at New York Comic Con.
Like our first hands-on preview, One Piece Odyssey begins with Luffy and the Straw Hat Crew crash landing on the remote island of Waford. Only half of the crew survives the descent intact, with Nami, Zoro, and others scattered around to be rescued throughout King Kong Park. To find his lost comrades, Luffy will have to form a squad with three available pirates and engage in JPRG turn-based battles against a variety of original monsters and robots to level up and develop their stats and new abilities.
Leveling up comes quickly for Luffy’s crew in One Piece Odyssey, with just a few fights boosting their stats to the next level and starting at level 40. Objectively speaking, there’s a good reason Luffy’s crew already has some experience and expertise under their belt. However, upon meeting one of two new NPCs created by Eiichiro Oda specifically for One Piece Odyssey, this skill is unknowingly extracted from the pirate crew.
Lim, whose hatred of pirates of all kinds is openly discussed upon learning of Luffy’s origins on the high seas, steals muscle memory and knowledge from characters with a simple tap of the chest. The physical manifestation of knowledge is presented in the form of memory cubes, which, once extracted, are scattered across the four corners of Wafford. Unfortunately, this also means that the experience Luffy has accumulated through years of sailing is wasted, demoting him to Level 1 just like the rest of his crew. Fighting enemies and collecting memory cubes will be the two main methods offered to restore Luffy to his previous potential.
Combat was already touched upon in the previous hands-on preview, but One Piece Odyssey is a turn-based JRPG, something the animated series hasn’t seen in entries since the Romance Dawn 3DS port some eight years ago. Combat takes place in turns, with all four Straw Hats taking a turn as a group (players can choose the order) while enemies slowly fill up their turn gauge before moving on their own. Across the combat field, both players and enemies occupy areas that can hold more than one character at a time, meaning that many skills can target the entire area at once rather than a single target character.
Dramatic cutscenes break up the basic flow of combat by giving players objectives to complete for extra grace in combat. The first one that serves as a tutorial is to protect Usopp by keeping him alive with healing while he defeats his attackers. Completing this objective rewards him with a temporary status boost for the remainder of the fight. Rare elite monsters can also appear from time to time, and such a dramatic scene seems to defeat one with Luffy to earn double the experience. However, this event appeared after Luffy had already taken his turn and the enemy was on the verge of death.
This demonstrated a critical flaw in One Piece Odyssey’s combat flow: the inability to spend a turn without taking an action. In this case, there is no way to defend and reduce damage taken while allowing Luffy to be the next character to attack and defeat the enemy in order to boost XP. Alternatively, players can use items or cast non-combat skills such as healing but only if the target is not at full health. Perhaps this could be a feature implemented in the day one patch and something we can take credit for in the full version of One Piece Odyssey.
While One Piece Odyssey will be an origin story for Luffy and the Straw Hat Crew, expect to spend plenty of time exploring and revisiting past memories to help restore their former abilities. In order to repair the broken memories of Hysteria, players will revisit past adventures and places throughout their time in Wafford and Memoria. Water 7 and Alabasta are just two local sites that were revealed early on but expect to revisit a wide range of sites. Unfortunately, Wano seems to be on the block for what’s to come in One Piece Odyssey despite the beginning and end during the upcoming JRPG’s entire development cycle.
The wait to see if One Piece Odyssey is the real deal won’t be much longer, as Bandai Namco has confirmed that Luffy’s latest adventure will be released on January 12, 2023. One Piece Odyssey will be available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S | X and PC.