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access_time January 30, 2020 at 6:00 AM in Previews by David Poole

Preview | One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows

Last November, we checked out the closed beta for One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows. While it gave us a lot of experience with the combat, it didn’t quite touch onto the single-player content. Thanks to a recent preview event from Bandai Namco, we were able to get our hands on the story mode of the upcoming anime fighter. While we didn’t have a lot of time to dive into it, we still played enough to get the idea of what to expect. Here’s what we thought of the game so far.

Starting up the game, we were prompted to create a hero to represent us throughout the game. In the closed beta, we were only able to choose two generic templates with no ability to customize them. With the full game, players will have tons of customization options to make their perfect hero. Think the Create-A-Soul in SoulCalibur, but more modern and with sillier accessories. While there were a ton of options for costumes and hair styles, some based on existing characters, one thing did bug us. The series is known for having a ton of creative hero names, but when you’re prompted to make one for yourself, you’re limited to 10 characters. With a few exceptions, I can’t think of many hero names in the series that are less than 10 characters.

Moving into the story, it starts out with your character being saved by Saitama, the “One Punch Man” himself. Upon being saved, your character blacks out and the game moves to the present day where you’re a part of the Hero Association. One of the most surprising elements right off the bat is that the game uses the Viz English dub actors. The original Japanese is still an option, but it’s rare to see a series other than Dragon Ball or Naruto get an English dub from Bandai Namco. It’s rather welcome, especially during combat sequences where subtitles aren’t really an option.

At the Hero Association Headquarters, you’ll meet Lecture Man, who is basically your exposition hero. He’ll catch you up to speed if you so choose, and the game will throw you into the hub world. You’ll receive emails on your in-game cell phone that will notify you of various events. As you complete missions, you’ll open up more areas of the hub world city and gain more access overall. Completing missions from the Hero Association will help gain a higher Hero Rank, either being C, B, A, or S. Finishing missions on the first go will also give to a player’s contribution level, allowing more access overall.

Completing missions in the city works about how you would expect. You’ll find an NPC to brief you and in most situations, it will involve a fight. In some rarer cases, it will involve finding something in the city and reporting back. Sometimes you’ll have to take the missions from an NPC, while others might have to be taken from the Hero Association Branch Office. Eventually, you’ll be able to take on missions directly from the Hero Association HQ. Missions themselves will always reward with money, items, and experience, as well as Contribution or Hero Rank.

As you explore the city, you’ll eventually run into more notable characters. These will usually be various heroes like Tank-Top Tiger, Spring Mustachio, or Silverfang. Not only will these heroes be important to missions, but they’ll also raise “Social Strength” with these characters. Having a higher Social Strength with someone will raise the chance of them showing up to your customizable room. It’s a bit unusual for random heroes to visit, but there are likely rewards in store for these interactions.

Some things that seem a bit off with my time mostly involve the clear conditions of missions. In various missions, certain rules and stipulations might not come across very clearly. One mission I played said I would fail if time ran out, despite the enemy being far too strong for me to defeat. Turns out I was supposed to survive for 30 seconds, prompting the mission to progress. Dying multiple times trying to defeat the foe just gave me failure after failure screens. Had the instructions not been deceptive, it would’ve saved me from attempting to fight a losing battle. Another instance in one mission, I was told to either drop the enemy HP to 50% or survive for 180 seconds. I got defeated in two attacks and the mission ended. Maybe it will be updated before release, but it’s still an unusual communication.

Missions overall tend to range from fights using one, two, or three heroes against a villain or team of foes. Sometimes it will have a teammate on approach, though the early missions are easy enough to complete that it usually doesn’t matter. Some will have various environmental hazards, some of which being incredibly deadly (for both sides). Heroes will also occasionally enter a fight to attack someone in their path. It feels like the environmental hazards might need to be toned down in the damage department, but otherwise, they’re a welcome obstacle.

It seems, at least based on my short preview, that One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows, isn’t just a simple arena fighter. The campaign takes a very different approach, making it more comparable to something like Dragon Ball Xenoverse. Creating a character and participating in missions that take place in the world of One Punch Man feels like more effort than one might expect. Spike Chunsoft clearly didn’t want to make this a simple cash grab. The fact that the extra budget was spent to get English voice acting involved shows a bit more effort already.

As mentioned before, my time with One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows was fairly short. Even so, I got a lot more out of this demo than I did from the closed beta. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the campaign, and I didn’t even come across Saitama a second time. Fans of the series might be in for a pleasant surprise with this one. If you’re not a fan, there’s still fun to be had, albeit with a lot less commitment. One Punch Man: A Hero Nobody Knows will release in just one month, on February 28th, 2020. It’ll release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC via Steam. Are you excited for the first One Punch Man game? Let us know in the comments below!

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