One Piece Odyssey Preview: An Experience Worthy of The Franchise

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For its 25th anniversary, the One Piece universe is getting a taste of the JRPG genre with the new game One Piece Odyssey, set to release on January 13, 2023 for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S. Last week CGMagazine got the chance to head down to San Diego with Bandai Namco to play the three hours of the game, and hear more about what the team hopes long-time fans will get out of this new entry to the franchise.

I have always loved the concept of One Piece, but due to the scope of the manga and anime, it always felt hard to dive in fully. Even with this fact, I have always enjoyed the art style, concept and characters. For the few episodes I did dive into, I loved what I saw, and wanted to experience the many adventures the Straw Hat Crew found themselves in. Even with this tertiary knowledge, I very quickly got engrossed in the story, world and many characters of One Piece Odyssey I got to experience during my time with the game.

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One Piece Odyssey begins with a new face finding Luffy’s hat washed up on a shore. It turns out familiar faces Luffy, Robin, Usopp, Sanji, Frank and Chopper, have washed up on the island of Waford, a home to mysterious ruins, forests, friends and foes. Their ship has crashed, and their team has been separated, with Nami, Zoro and Brook missing. You begin the journey searching for the rest of the Straw Hat Crew. After losing all their powers, the group will need to search the island and travel to memories of their past to solve the mystery, leading us to the section of the game we were able to explore, Alabasta.

Bandai Namco decided to bring One Piece to JRPGs, allowing you to take on multiple roles in your party throughout the game. The Straw Hat Crew members bring something different to the team when exploring, fighting, and crafting. Your team is going to be useful in a variety of ways while exploring the world, for example, Chopper is able to get into small spaces, Luffy is able to stretch to reach far away, and Zoro is able to destroy specific obstacles.

Each turn, you can choose to attack, use a skill or use an item. Regular attacks generate Tension Points (TP), which you spend to use skills. Skills can range from close-range or long-range attacks, single or multi-target attacks, and even distractions. Items are found in the wilderness, or created through crafting and can heal you, deal damage or alter stats while in battle.

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One Piece Odyssey gives players a few options regarding their playstyle in battle. Each instance you can choose to play out the turn-based combat, speed it up to hurry through some of the combat animations, or let the game take over and auto-battle for you. You can select which character will attack each enemy in true RPG form, as some will have stronger or weaker effects in different situations. 

The game also uses Command Battles and “Dramatic Scenes”, meaning you will need to complete an objective during the battle that can earn additional rewards and experience.

Combat seems slightly tedious in One Piece Odyssey. Though you are able to speed things up, being able to turn off the combat animations altogether would be a good option for players looking for more progress than immersion.

While exploring, players will come across battles but also be able to gather materials used for crafting, complete puzzles in dungeons, and swap between characters. Exploring is where you will find character-specific Cube Fragments used to level up skills, and you can also find Campsites to rest, giving your team time to heal, a 30% EXP bonus for 10 battles, and increasing their critical hit chance. 

There is also a good amount of conversation that happens on screen between your party members, giving you insight into the One Piece Odyssey lore. Grand Logs are also used to explore the lore of the game and franchise, which is a perfect opportunity for players new to One Piece or anime, in general, to dive into this universe.

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Since this is an entirely new story in the One Piece franchise, current fans have something to look forward to with fresh material, but Bandai Namco also made sure to bring back the original VO cast, and the game was made with input from the original creator, Eiichiro Oda, who has designed the game’s two original characters, Adio and Lim.

“There is also a good amount of conversation that happens on screen between your party members, giving you insight into the One Piece Odyssey lore.”

While talking to the producer for One Piece Odyssey, Rei Hirata, he touched on how the One Piece Odyssey creators looked at the game through the eyes of current fans and new players. 

“From the very beginning, we were focused on appealing to the longtime fans of One Piece. Everything from how we construct the dialogue to how we create the fight between different characters, we really focused on that. We’re very confident that we got that covered from the very beginning. 

But the challenge really was to appeal to new One Piece fans. And so, for this game, we didn’t just focus on this sort of new adventure that the Straw Hat Crew is going on. In the two years after the most recent arc, we made sure that the fans could come up to speed on what they had done in the past, before all this happened.

We have the system called Grand logs, which sort of catches these newer fans up to speed on what happened in the past so that they get a better and fuller picture of what’s going on in the present moment. So, in that way they can understand the meaning behind the different sorts of interactions, the dialogue and everything like that.”

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Another interesting feature I enjoyed during my time with One Piece Odyssey is the grid equipment system. Instead of filling in individual slots like rings, helms, and clothing, players will need to arrange their gear in a grid. Each piece of equipment may have a different layout, like a square or line of varying lengths. You will need to move things around to fit the pieces you want within your grid. Equipment has similar qualities as in other RPGs, like raising stats or giving the character further boosts, and it can be found in your explorations or crafted with Robin’s Mystery Craft.

“I can safely say I am excited to see more of One Piece Odyssey…”

Other characters are also used for crafting. Sanji is your crew’s cook with Sanji’s Kitchen, allowing you to create meals for battle that can heal HP or TP, or increase stats that can help you in battle. Usopp’s Factory lets you create bullets called “Trick Balls” with materials collected, bought or found while battling. These cause debuffs like lowering attack or defence, so your team can emerge victorious. 

After my time with the game, I can safely say I am excited to see more of One Piece Odyssey, and to give One Piece another chance. This is a world ripe for adventure, and one that is welcoming to both new and experienced fans alike. There are many smart systems in place to make many of the traditional RPG issues much less daunting. The real selling point of the game is the franchise as a whole. Eiichiro Oda envisioned a wondrous world that, since 1997, has been going strong in one way or another. 

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One Piece Odyssey manages to bring the universe of One Piece into a JRPG, and so far, the game looks promising. With familiar faces, creators and voices, fans of the series will feel right at home in the game, while new players have a great new way to dive in. One Piece Odyssey’s playable demo releases on January 10, 2023 for PS4, PS5 and Xbox Series X|S ahead of the game’s official release on January 13th.

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