While the locations are dull, combat itself is enjoyable. Every character uses unique weapons and combos. Trying to master swordsman Zoro's samurai moves is entirely different from cyborg Frankie's cannonballs and lasers--you can't fall into using the same attack patterns for every character, which forces you to learn and adapt. To help you learn each character's moves, a list of combos is displayed in every battle. Execute each one, and you'll enter a "rush mode," dealing out heavier damage for a limited time. A new list of combos is then displayed--this pushes you to try out new attacks in battle without being bogged down with tutorials and strings of button inputs.
After finishing a mission, you'll return to Trans Town, a new island that serves as your home base. Your job here is to expand the town with buildings like factories, pharmacies, and music halls. Each one allows you to further tweak your characters, with items that heal or buff them, making these side activities worth your time instead of wasting it with meaningless fluff. Since expansion requires materials found during missions or won in minigames, you're encouraged to do more than just punch through a few stages. It's fun and rewarding to actually play those minigames--especially Card Rush, which is a great trivia test for fans of the manga.
Paired with the story mode is Battle Coliseum, where you'll have the most fun battling waves of enemies and bosses, again alone or with a friend. You cannot go against each other, however--it's baffling and disappointing that a series that evolved from a fighter doesn't include a competitive mode. The flipside is that Battle Coliseum allows you to play as more than just Luffy's crew, with newcomers like the gas-bodied Caesar Clown or the gravity-controlling Fujitora as standouts. Battling in any of the coliseum's modes raises your rank, allowing you to eventually challenge the puppeteering Donquixote Doflamingo. Considering this is almost exactly the plot of the manga's current arc, the game's timeliness is praiseworthy.