One Piece: Burning Blood’s story mode, Paramount War, is central to the whole game. It’s through playing this, that you unlock story based characters and the other playable game modes. Granted, most of the modes are unlocked just by playing through Luffy’s chapter which covers all the essential parts of the Paramount War arc as well as acting as a tutorial. Once you’ve cleared Luffy’s chapter, Whitebeard’s chapter unlocks followed by Akainu and Ace. For me, One Piece: Burning Blood is the best looking adaption of One Piece that I’ve seen so far. Characters are notably 3D but retain much of their manga appearance with a heavy emphasis on the manga style shading techniques. Cutscenes are pre rendered but look great and are faithful to the original series with an almost 1:1 recreation of the most iconic panels from the manga. Burning Blood however has chosen quality over quantity as each chapter will take around two or so hours to get through the main missions, with Aces being much shorter, acting as a bookend for the story.
The chapters have some degree of crossover, especially when it comes to Akainu’s chapter but there’s a nice level of consistency between them. For example, one mission as Luffy has you face off against Akainu, Aokiji and Kizaru and you just have to survive the battle for 60 seconds. As Akainu, you face Luffy but you must defeat him within the time limit instead. Between the four characters, two of each play fairly similarly. Ace and Luffy are similar types in terms of speed but Ace’s moves have a much more range. Akainu and Whitebeard are both hefty guys though Whitebeard is the bigger presence of the two. Whitebeard almost stomps across the battlefield with his weighty attacks but Akainu’s Logia allow him to teleport across the battlefield as well as dealing a lot of short range damage.
There’s still more to do once you’ve finished the main story chapters as there’s plenty of EX missions to unlock and these missions are where the real difficulty lies within the Paramount War mode. While the last few battles at the end of a chapter can be challenging (with one in particular approaching throwing controller out the window levels of difficulty) but these take things to the next level. First, you have to fulfill certain conditions within the main missions to unlock them, some are easier than others. A common condition is to finish the match with 70% or 80% of health remaining. Others might be to defeat your opponent if the match has a timed “survive” win condition or to pull off a certain move in battle. The EX battle act as side stories that follows on what’s happening around the character’s whose chapter it is, though most of them lack the cutscenes that precede the battles.
For example, one early EX mission in Luffy’s chapter follows on from when Robin blocks Kuma’s path while chasing Luffy. Luffy’s next main mission has him go up against his next opponent while the EX battle has you play as Robin against Kuma. Since these EX chapters deal with a lot of characters, you can unlock quite a few characters this way. The biggest issue going into the battle is you’re playing with an unfamiliar character yet you need to be familiar with their moves and speed to stand a chance of winning, especially when the odds are stacked against you. Some battles will have you going up against three opponents in one battle or put you against someone that can seemingly knock you out within three attacks while you’re left whittling away their health.
Some may feel the Paramount War mode is too short and if you’re just going to quickly work your way through the main missions and stop then I’d probably agree. With the addition of the EX missions, there is more to enjoy that still fits within the story without feeling too much like padding. Also, by the time you’ve completed the last chapter, you’ll have likely reached a skill level where you’ll be more comfortable taking these challenges on.