Wild Hearts Preview – Become the Tony Stark of Monster Hunting
Wild Hearts is coming, and with it a new take on the familiar Monster Hunter genre is as well. Here is a hands-on preview of the game.
One of the year’s biggest gaming titles is landing soon and it seems as though it will definitely take fans of the Monster Hunter franchise by storm. That game is none other than Wild Hearts, an action role-playing game developed by Koei Tecmo’s team Omega Force. Its announcement came as a pleasant surprise to me, as it seemed to take the elements I enjoyed from Monster Hunter and combine them with a stronger focus on crafting. In some strange, almost Fortnite-esque manner, I saw that I would no longer have just the aid of my weapons while hunting but the comfort of being able to build various structures mid-fight to assist me in my victory.
Admittedly, I was initially unsure of how this combo would pan out in terms of gameplay as I worried about the hunts losing their charm or the technology proving to be too complicated, but my worries were quick to fade as I played through the beginning of the game.
The character customization is something that came as a swift surprise following a small bit of combat and conversation. It was extensive, to say the least, and I probably spent half an hour just tweaking my facial features. This is a feature I cannot praise enough, even as the game drops in its earliest state of access. There is already a good variety of options for pretty much everything, from your character’s hair to their eyes. You can also mess around with the settings on your own with sliders that reminded me of The Sims 4’s character creation to produce any sort of face you would like. I can already see some horrifying creations coming from players, along with some really beautiful ones, which tells me that the customization is perfect in the freedom it offers.
After making my dream monster-hunting self, I got to really see the world. The fantasy feudal Japan Wild Hearts presents players with is stunning, from its flora to its wandering Kemono. I was enchanted as I saw unique combinations of animals and plants, even by the monsters that I knew I would eventually have to hunt. There were large rabbits with branches and berries growing from them, and rats hosting beautiful flowers.
In terms of visual appeal, Wild Hearts is winning in every category. Monster Hunter never really left me wishing I could live alongside the monsters due to their beauty and grace rather than hunt them as much as Wild Hearts has thus far. While I did have a few framerate issues, this is likely to be resolved in the future.
In true Monster Hunter fashion, I found myself wishing that I had people to join me during some of my hunts. Thankfully, co-op will be available immediately upon release so I can only praise how well the game seems as though it will work with others. I struggled to master some of the combat combos, but once I got to understand my weapon more it became much easier. Dodging takes form in the classic roll and I spent a lot of my initial fights rolling constantly. It works well enough, and I eventually had a new weapon forged that I could use to parry instead.
From what I have seen of it so far, the weapon system is definitely unique as it plays out as more of a class system. Players can choose whichever weapon fits their style, and each weapon brings its own perks and drawbacks. Some are better for quicker strikes or longer distances, while others require you to get up close and personal with the beast you are fighting. After using my katana for a while, I swapped to the Bladed Wagasa, a bladed parasol that is useful for close-range combat and parrying. While I did end up going back to my katana for its wide range of abilities, I really like that I can swap between each weapon “class” and use it to my advantage with certain hunts in the future.
Thankfully, combat can be just as forgiving as it is brutal. You are able to access ten flasks of the healing water you gather throughout the world at any moment during combat, and the world is certainly generous with the amount it provides. I never really found myself struggling to find healing water and was able to gather it quickly, even during combat. The healing item’s balance comes into play with its usage as you have to take time to drink it which can render you dead if not timed well mid-combat. Fans of the Dark Souls franchise should have no trouble with this, however.
Healing water is not the only thing I used to my advantage while fighting, though. One of the most helpful features the game has to offer is perhaps its companion system. Just as Monster Hunter allowed players their own Palico companion, Wild Hearts offers its own version of a cute follower. These little rotund robots are known as Tsukumo and can be found scattered throughout the world.
You can upgrade them to buff different abilities, such as their carry capacity or healing potency while in combat. The Tsukumo coupled with the new building system known as Karakuri makes for a smoother solo experience. I have been able to employ the Karakuri, an ancient technology allowing for hunters to build anything from walls to ziplines, in a few hunts now and have really enjoyed it. It was difficult to balance the pressure from the combat and pulling up the menu to place Karakuri at first, but I got used to it quickly and can now manage to build while fighting with ease.
The new technology is a lot of fun to play with while hunting, especially as the Kemono seem to react to it. I build a strong wall in front of myself and the ferocious pig-like Kemono I was hunting thrashed around to destroy it. Kemono will also charge into the structures, leaving players with an open opportunity to attack. All around, it seems to be a cool addition to the monster-hunting genre and feels fitting for the lore. It is useful in both combat and outside of it, which made me happy as I could build and customize bases where I wanted to (as long as my materials permitted me to do so). This also meant I could place my own fast travel points by building tents near camps, a feature that comes as very useful if you are struggling with a Kemono that is further away from the initial tent.
So far, I would say that Wild Hearts stands as a solid game for gamers in the monster-hunting niche. It definitely builds upon the same foundation that made other action role-playing titles such as Monster Hunter successful. It also brings new qualities to the table, like its focus on technology and building, while keeping the familiar elements that fans would not want to see go. The few characters I encountered were interesting and their dialogue gave a lot of personality to them in a short amount of time. I have not been able to cover everything yet, but I am almost certain that as I continue progressing through the game, my love for it will only multiply. Interested players can jump into the first ten hours of the game right now with an EA Play subscription or Game Pass Ultimate to see if it lives up to their monster-hunting dreams.
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