Wild Hearts game review: Redefining the monster hunt genre

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Electronic Arts’ Wild Hearts game was immediately compared to Capcom’s successful Monster Hunter franchise when it was officially announced. However, Wild Hearts offers unique features that aim to provide its own identity. Despite the game’s central focus on hunting colossal monsters, players must utilize their ingenuity and creativity to gain an advantage, rather than brute force.

The game rewards strategic thinking and knowledge of the enemy’s weaknesses, with the added bonus of being able to construct structures to further tilt the scales in the player’s favor. Wild Hearts is redefining the monster hunt genre with its emphasis on player skill and resourcefulness.

Electronic Arts entrusted the development of Wild Hearts to Omega Force to expand its EA Originals brand. Omega Force is recognized for its extensive work on the Dynasty Warriors franchise and has experience with monster hunting games, such as Toukiden. Wild Hearts blends elements from these games with hunting, crafting, and other activities, making it a unique RPG experience.

The game’s appeal lies in its spectacular combat, detailed character customization (especially in weapons and equipment), and extensive construction elements. However, it also presents a high level of difficulty from the very first mission. Wild Hearts can be extremely challenging if players do not follow the game’s rules or venture into solo play. The difficulty level does not decrease when players add two companions through cross-play, but it does make it less frustrating since some creatures can be particularly challenging to defeat.

Nature-infused supernatural monsters in a high-tech civilization

Wild Hearts introduces fresh elements to the monster hunting genre, including resource gathering and crafting. The game takes place on the Azuma archipelago, where mysterious colossal beasts known as Kemonos have appeared, causing chaos and fear among the inhabitants of Minato, the main city in the region. These Kemonos have the ability to modify the archipelago’s structure and climate due to their unique synergy with the land.

As players explore the various regions of the archipelago, they will discover their own connection to nature and the ability to create Karakuris. These are ancient technologies that allow players to construct different structures for use in combat and exploration. Through this connection to nature and the use of Karakuris, players can become the savior of Minato and the entire Azuma region.

To create Karakuris for exploration purposes in Wild Hearts, players must gather elemental resources unique to each region by finding “dragon wells.” These resources can be used to construct various structures such as shops for fast travel, campfires for missions, towers for detecting Kemonos, transportation devices like a giant wheel, zipline, or fan for flying, and decorative or hunting items. Hunting, exploration, and resource management converge in Wild Hearts, and players must take the time to select the best armor and weapons for each enemy they encounter to succeed in this challenging game.

Wild Hearts game review

On the other hand, Karakuris for combat require the use of fiber, which can be obtained by defeating enemies. These Karakuris are critical in combat and can be combined by stacking them together or placing them side by side. Basic forms of Karakuris include an aerial attack cube, a torch to imbue attacks with fire, a long-range booster for evading, and a small helicopter for movement from high altitudes.

Players can combine Karakuris in Wild Hearts to create powerful effects. For instance, six torches built into two sets of three towers become a stunning flare that is particularly effective against flying Kemonos. Building a specific number of bouncing cubes forms a barrier that can stop charges, while constructing six helicopters creates a healing incense that restores health when nearby.

As players progress through the game, they will discover numerous Karakuri combinations, each with its own strengths and weaknesses for each challenge. Wild Hearts is a challenging game that requires players to study their enemies’ weaknesses and understand their own strengths and weaknesses. Players can select from nearly a dozen weapons (though only four are available until Chapter 3) and have access to an extensive passive skill tree that enhances statistics, catering to various elemental diversities. The game requires careful consideration and strategy, and success depends on a player’s ability to combine resources effectively.

Wild Hearts indirectly demands careful attention to the player character’s construction. Each weapon has a unique combat style and mechanics that can be improved for more effective hunting. For example, one staff weapon can be disassembled and transformed into other weapons. Additionally, the weapon increases in power if the player correctly presses a button when a flash appears. This game requires players to think critically and adapt their character’s equipment and combat techniques to each enemy’s strengths and weaknesses.

The Kemonos: The most lethal threat

In Wild Hearts, using the same weapon to hunt every Kemono is not a wise decision. Each weapon has a unique type of attack that is better suited to certain creatures. Players must modify their weapons according to each enemy’s weaknesses, and this requires careful consideration and management of resources and time.

The game features nearly 20 different Kemonos, some with subclasses or variations, broadly segmented into robust, agile, and flying types. Players must distinguish between these different types and adapt their strategy accordingly. Hunting a colossal boar is not the same as hunting a giant crow that fires projectiles from the air. Each Kemono presents unique challenges, and players must adjust their tactics and equipment to succeed.

Wild Hearts features epic and frustrating battles that can last several minutes. Players must use all available strategies to defeat each Kemono, which typically involves fighting the creature across multiple regions. This process can be repeated 2 or 3 times, depending on the enemy’s class, resulting in lengthy battles.

Wild Hearts review

However, the game’s challenging difficulty level adds another layer of complexity. Players cannot simply attack blindly but must instead use Karakuri to increase their chances of success. Unfortunately, the game’s camera can be problematic at times, and players may find themselves struggling to see the situation clearly or to identify incoming attacks. Despite this, Wild Hearts remains an engaging and rewarding game for players who enjoy complex monster hunting RPGs.

The camera in Wild Hearts can sometimes be problematic, and players may find it difficult to precisely place their Karakuri and to fuse them together during battles. Due to the instability of the game’s surfaces or the camera’s perspective, players may inadvertently build ineffective structures that fail to combine properly. While this is not always a critical issue, it can be frustrating when players are under attack and pressed for time. Despite these challenges, Wild Hearts remains an engaging and rewarding game for players who enjoy complex monster hunting RPGs.

Storyline and gameplay

Unlike Monster Hunter or other games in the genre, Wild Hearts attempts to give prominence to the story it proposes, and it does this from different perspectives. Firstly, through a significant amount of scenes, dialogues, and interactions with secondary characters. Minato, the main city of the game and also our “base of operations,” is a source of interaction from which most of the missions derive, and it expands the game’s lore.

Overall, Wild Hearts constantly seeks to find a reason for each exploration or hunt that we undertake that is not just about finding a Kemono. However, in several instances, it ends up paying for it, as several of the NPC encounters are quite dull and repetitive. Although some of our main allies have deeper storylines and will be company on several missions, it does not engage enough.

Wild Hearts is structured around a chapter-based gameplay system that can be replayed to complete any secondary missions that were missed. The game’s map is composed of five zones that unlock progressively, each with its own Kemonos and resources, and promises to expand with new content through free updates in the coming months.

The game’s difficulty and challenge level coexist with an adventurous spirit and the desire to hunt increasingly complex Kemonos. The strategic layer adds depth to the proposal and the user experience is very clear and explanatory. However, at first glance, Wild Hearts can be confusing, and it requires getting used to the game mechanics.

The online component is the icing on the cake, where the strategy can truly shine. Wild Hearts allows cross-play for up to three players simultaneously, and the difficulty becomes a little more manageable as you are not constantly the center of attention of the enemy, which allows you to pivot, take cover, and rethink your strategy.

Wild Hearts full review

Although it is a title only for the current generation of consoles, Wild Hearts is not exactly a visually stunning display. Its setting in feudal Japan does allow for a truly vibrant color palette: fields of beautiful flowers crossed by rocky structures or caves full of minerals. However, there is not a level of detail that impresses, and the Kemonos attract attention more for their size than for their artistic expressions.

Performance is also a complementary factor, somewhat irregular in its fps rate, which worsens at times in online matches. There is a feeling that the game slows down, and movements are perceived as slower. This doesn’t make a hunt more complicated, but it does detract from the fluidity of the game.

Final words about the Wild Hearts game review

Wild Hearts is a pleasant surprise that distinguishes itself from Monster Hunter through its unique ideas. While it shares the main concept of hunting monsters, the game features many successful concepts that give it its own identity. The game’s most distinctive feature is its building system, which changes the level of strategy needed to complete missions.

While Wild Hearts is not perfect, its high difficulty and complex system for weapons and armor may discourage more casual players. Nevertheless, the game is a great example of the sub-genre and a solid release for a game that had more uncertainties than certainties before its launch.

EA has promised to provide various updates for the game, which will hopefully maintain the quality of life and keep Wild Hearts relevant for a long time.

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