Wild Hearts Preview – A Worthy Challenger

EA Originals and Koei Tecmo’s hunting game, Wild Hearts, is an interesting prospect with a huge challenge ahead of itself – how do you compete with something as classic and as iconic as Monster Hunter? The answer, it seems, is something that they’ve seemingly figured out.

Over the course of the past week, we got a chance to play an early build of Wild Hearts, and based on what we’ve seen so far, the game definitely has the potential to make a name for itself in a genre where Monster Hunter has stood unchallenged for the longest time.

It plays out exactly as you would expect it to, with a satisfying gameplay loop of hunting and crafting that’s been tried and tested across many similar games. In order to stand out, Wild Hearts adds the Karakuri System, a crafting system that allows players to set up contraptions on the battlefield that will serve as allies in taking down the ferocious beasts.

This building system is reminiscent of titles like Fortnite, and while it may sound like an odd fish out of water, it adds a layer of depth and strategy that surprised us and kept us wanting more. One example is a box that can be used to spring into the air for some aerial maneuvers and can even be stacked on top of each other for a tactical advantage.

wild hearts official screenshot karakuri 3 players

Obviously, there will be more in the final build, and based on the gameplay trailer, there will be Karakuri that can disable monsters with a flashbang-like blast or a hammer that can be used to stun. It would be interesting to see how much of it is actually usable in battle and not just as a temporary gimmick.

Players have a choice of whether to engage in building the said Karakuri or not. While it is perfectly possible to play the game around just bashing monsters with your weapons, the developers have reinforced that Wild Hearts is balanced and tuned with the use of Karakuri in mind, so using it will be integral to victory.

Fans of the genre will also look for certain non-negotiables, particularly with how good and strategic monster battles will play out along with the combat mechanics. Thankfully, Wild Hearts seems to have both of these in good supply.

wild hearts official screenshot combat

One key difference that separates Wild Hearts from other titles is its faster-paced gameplay, owing to quicker movement and attacks that feel more combo-based than normal. This feel worked wonders while facing off against the monsters, resulting in a more action-oriented outing across 8 weapon types that have distinct playstyles.

The monsters in Wild Hearts, called Kemono’s, are equally as impressive. Their designs really stand out and push the theme of nature-fused beasts. The King Tusk, for example, has attacks that send out tendrils across the battlefield. We’ve only seen a couple so far, and it will certainly be a big challenge for Koei Tecmo and Omega Force to see if they can continue to come up with Kemono’s that not only look fearsome but are fun adversaries as well.

With the combination of hunting and crafting on the fly, you can expect that battles in Wild Hearts can get very involved. It is commendable that the developers are not only taking inspiration from Capcom’s masterpiece but also adding features that make it stand out from the usual clone.

Being an early build, it is also clear as to how much more work is needed before Wild Hearts can be a polished product that can impress from the get-go. The foundation is there, and it is quite solid, so the devs are clearly on the right track.

Overall, Wild Hearts has the potential to stand out from the pack with its interesting mix of monster hunting and crafting that can breathe new life into the genre.

Wild Hearts is scheduled to release on February 17, 2023 for the PS5, Xbox Series, and PC.

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