In 2019 and 2020 two popular manga that get games all the time coincidentally tried out the same genre: Open World Action RPG. In 2019 we got One Piece World Seeker from Ganbarion and in 2020 we got Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot from CyberConnect2.
On the surface it would be obvious which of these games would be better than the other. One Piece is a manga about traveling the world and the adventures along the way whereas most of Dragon Ball Z is battles that take place in one or two locations per arc. So which was better? Let’s take a deeper look.
Let’s start by going over an important aspect of an open world game, the world’s themselves. The two games take a very different approach in this regard. Dragon Ball Z Kakarot opts to be an adaptation of its anime with recreations of iconic locations while One Piece World Seeker is an original story on an entirely new island.
As one of the greatest appeals of Kakarot’s World is the fanservice and by definition World Seeker’s world wouldn’t have any I won’t compare that aspect. Let’s just compare the worlds from a gameplay perspective.
Dragon Ball Z Kakarot’s world is split into several segments as opposed to being completely open. However each of these segments is large in its own right and quick to traverse via flying. Other than flying there are other quick ways to traverse such as your fast running speed and even a car if you feel like taking a casual trip around the world.
One Piece World Seeker’s setting on the other hand is all one large zone. Unlike Goku, Luffy doesn’t really have a way to get around the world quickly. The quickest movement ability available to Luffy is the Gum Gum Rocket which launches him off of ledges and trees into the direction you’re facing. This ability, while useful, isn’t ideal for traversing a world of this size. Often I would end up launching into a wall and having to wait for Luffy to hit the ground or worse, get shot down by enemies. Let’s talk a bit about those shall we?
In DBZ Kakarot enemies are treated as encounters where if you run into them you must fight them. They can be avoided but it’s less of a hassle to just fight them. Fighting enemies gives you exp as you would expect from an RPG and orbs for upgrading your skill tree, making it worth it in that aspect. One Piece World Seeker doesn’t have EXP to level up and enemies only give about 1 or 2 points each for the skill tree compared to the 500 side quests and main storyline missions give, making them not worth fighting. However, you can avoid them much easier as the game doesn’t have battle encounters the same way Kakarot does, it just has enemies on the world.
But those enemies on the world can also be an annoyance as many of them have guns and can snipe you from a distance and stop your movement when all you’re trying to do is move across the world. Too many times I have been trying to move across town only to get repeatedly shot and stuck in place for upwards of a minute. These sniping enemies are a major pace breaker .
Both games feature items you must pick up in the world to either cook food or forge items. DBZ Kakarot has a major advantage over World Seeker in this aspect. In Kakarot you merely need to run over the items and they’ll automatically be collected. This keeps the pace of the game up as you’ll constantly be collecting items as you traverse the world at high speeds. World Seeker on the other hand requires you to press a button to pick these items up.
I hope my point has become clear by now. The biggest problem with World Seeker’s region can be summed up with a word: Pacing. For a series about adventure like One Piece, it should be fun to run around a new island and explore, but the entire experience is a hassle.
Let’s spare a moment to talk about the combat. Both games are simple. Dragon Ball Z Kakarot has you mash the X button for normal attacks and lets you do special attacks like the Kamehameha from a list of actions you can equip. The combat is reminiscent of the Xenoverse games but different enough to stand out on its own. It’s simplistic but visually flashy enough to be entertaining.
One Piece World Seeker’s combat is also simple with you mashing the button to attack with Luffy’s stretchy arms and being able to aim and shoot his arms like a gun. However it gets boring really fast as almost every fight is the same with no variation and the game locks skills like Gum Gum Bazooka off behind the skill tree.
It’s hard to put into words because they’re both very simplistic but Kakarot’s combat feels worlds better than World Seeker’s, of course this may be contributed to Dragon Ball developers already having learned what does and doesn’t work for DBZ gameplay.
Okay, now let’s talk about fanservice. Both DBZ Kakarot and One Piece World Seeker throw familiar characters into side quests for you to interact with them outside of the main story. In DBZ’s case this is done well! Seeing familiar characters in slice of life situations and just enjoying life is pure joy to a fan.
One Piece World Seeker’s method of fan service is to throw a bunch of major villains like all the Admirals, Crocodile, and Sanji’s siblings no one cares about on the island with you and give you quests where you fight them three times. Not only is this repeated pattern not fun but it’s very tiring that despite One Piece having one of the biggest casts in manga history every video game just uses the same small handful of characters when pulling for fanservice.
Overall it’s baffling to me that Dragon Ball Z, a manga about one on one fights, was able to have a really good Open World RPG. Meanwhile One Piece, a manga about adventure, has struggled and failed with the concept.
We are going to be getting another One Piece RPG soon with One Piece Odyssey and I really hope it’s a game worth of the manga but if it follows in World Seeker’s footsteps then it may not be worth picking up.