HomeNewsWild Hearts Review - A New Hunter Has Joined The Hunt

    Wild Hearts Review – A New Hunter Has Joined The Hunt

    Developed By: KOEI TECMO

    Published By: EA Originals

    Platforms: PlayStation 5 / Xbox Series S|S/ PC

    Reviewed On: PlayStation 5

    Review Code Provided By: EA

    The hunting genre has rarely seen any new IP in the scene since a few years ago and let’s be honest, we cannot talk about this genre without mentioning the Monster Hunter Series. Now, EA Originals and KOIE TECMO will try to take a stab at the genre with their Triple-A own hunting game, Wild Hearts.

    Welcome To The Land Of Azuma

    When you first enter the town

    Wild Hearts take place in the feudal Japanese era when the land of Azuma is taken over by monsters called Kemono. These monsters slowly ravage the land and the towns including one called Minato which was once a great hub for hunters. The players join the hunt for the Kemono and gain a special long-lost ability of the Karakuri. This enables the players to create objects in the game as tools to help with hunting or camps to help gear up and rest.

    The story of the game involves the players going around the land of Azuma and unlocking the secrets of the Karakuri. During your adventure, residents of Minato town will be there to assist you and the city serve as a hub for your journey. Story progress in quite a linear fashion with you being given a task to hunt down monsters as you go. You do help the residents in other Azuma cities as you bring them back to Minato as refugees.

    so ka….

    The story of the game is simple but because the developer tied in the mystery of the Karakuri into it, it is more interesting as you slowly learn how the power you gain at the beginning of the game can affect the whole land of Azuma. The voice actors are excellent with some Japanese quips thrown into the English dialogue. Most conversations are voice so you really feel the character of every person you interact with in the game. You are also given conversation choices at certain points but they do not change much of the storyline or conversation. It is just there to make you feel more involved in dialogues.

    Preparing for The Hunt

    After the tutorial, you are given a chance to create your own custom character. The character editor has quite a variety of customization so be prepared to spend some time there if you need to. The game adjusts you slowly to the building capabilities of the Karakuri and then it is time to slowly gear yourself up for hunting.

    One of the hardest things to do

    The game has 8 weapon choices in total with each weapon feeling somewhat unique. Weapons in this game have skill trees which allow you to bring forward abilities of a previous weapon on the skill tree to the next. This allows players to customize which abilities they want on their final weapons and give a much bigger playstyle for each weapon. For example, the first weapon, Karakuri Katana, can be spec for a damage dealer or tanky support.

    Upgrading path is never easy.

    The weapons in Wild Hearts are great to use and fit the Japanese theme of the game. There are some weapons which I felt are a little more difficult to use like the Karakuri Staff but if mastered, I am sure it will be a formidable weapon. One thing I also like is how each weapon has a separate execute animation for the Kemono.

    There is also Talisman which gives players abilities like extra health, more dodge distance and many more. With the variety of weapon choices and also Talismans, players can customize their build in many ways which are great in my book. Not forgetting there are also abilities from the armour set you craft. All these will feel familiar to some players and will not take long to understand.

    Human or Kemono Path?

    The game also added some kind of good and evil system in the Human and Kemono Modification path and depending on what armour you wear which unlocks extra abilities on your equipment depending on which side you are on. I feel that players will slowly find the best builds but at least we know there is a lot of room for experimentation in this game with the number of gear combinations available.

    The Nature Bound Kemono

    Kemonos in Wild Hearts are based on real-world animals that have gone through what feels like a mutation. I am happy to report that there are a variety of monsters and each of them feels unique not only by their appearance but also by how they attack. For example, there are two types of rat-like Kemono in the game which look nearly the same but in combat, they fight totally differently. One has a more direct charge approach to fighting and the other summons an army of rats to attack you while he shoots at you.

    No that is not a mountain

    Taking down these giants is not a simple task. Each Kemono will have some sort of weakness which you can exploit using the Karakuri but even with that, they are somewhat more aggressive with some having a limited window for you to attack. Aiming for the Kemono’s parts will severe it and drop extra materials for you to collect so using bladed weapons have an advantage in this.

    There is sadly no block in this game so you mostly have to rely on your dodging skills except for the Bladed Wagasa which has the parry ability. Parrying with this weapon is satisfying as it negates all damage and also charges your weapon bar to deal more damage. The downside is the window is quite small and with its weird animation you are left open if you fail.

    I can see that the developers pour a lot of work into these Kemono and they are right to do so as they are the highlight of the game. One of my favourite Kemono is the Chicken one or the Dreadclaw which is aptly named. I laughed when I saw that one of its attack moves is a flying karate kick. It is without a doubt that one of the best things about Wild Hearts is the design of the Kemonos.

    That is one ugly bear…

    Power Of The Karakuri

    Now we enter a new mechanic introduced in this game, The Karakuri system. The game splits it into two types, Basic Karakuri which you can use in combat and Dragon Karakuri which is basically building stations or camps in the islands of Azuma. Both systems has separate resources where Basic Karakuri uses Karakuri Tread while the Dragon Karakuri uses resources given by unlocking Dragon Pits around each island.

    Unlocking more Karakuri as you go

    The Basic Karakuri is what you use to help you traverse and fight Kemono. There are simple ones like crates which you can jump off and torch which lights your weapon to deal fire attack. The more complicated ones are when you start combining different Karakuri together. For example, pressing Circle, Triangle, Circle which creates a crate, torch and a crate will combine into a Star Bomb.

    The game challenges you to create items on the fly which is actually quite a nerve-wracking experience for me at first but it slowly felt second nature as I progress in the game. I soon felt like a Shinobi doing hand signs to cast a spell.

    Increase your resource limit for Dragon Karakuri

    This also reduces the amount of time players have to check whether they brought the right items into battle because everything you need is basically always with you only limited by the cost of thread which you can easily get either from the environment, your sidekick Tsukumo or even from the Kemono themselves.

    Dragon Karakuri is also an excellent idea where players can basically create their own island in the game. This means that if you play online and go to another player’s game, you will have a different version of the island where jump pads and flying foxes are all around helping you traverse. Placing campsites also helps you create custom waypoints which allow you to fast travel so you have faster hunting times.

    Don’t forget to name your Tsukumo

    Overall I am happy with the Karakuri system. Players who are not used to the building mechanic might be put off but I encourage you to give it a try as it is implemented perfectly to flow with the gameplay.

    A Long Hunting Journey

    The hunt continues once you finish the story with the introduction of Volatile Kemono. If you defeat these monsters, they will drop a Keystone which will then allow you to challenge the game’s hardest monsters, Deeply Volatile Kemono. It is just more hunting with harder monsters and better loot which is kind of a letdown because I thought that it will change the formula compared to Monster Hunter.

    Remember to eat your food buff

    There are promises of new content for months to come with new Kemonos coming to the game but we shall see how long this free content will continue. With things like cosmetics, stamps and not forgetting the Keystone needed to face Deeply Volatile Kemono, there might be a chance that in-game purchases might be coming.

    A Little Rough On The Blade

    I reviewed this game on the PlayStation 5 and I am happy to report that the game does run quite smoothly. There are a few frame drops even in performance mode on this game but other than that, nothing much. I will say however that the game does look a little dated which some textures looking blended and the environment looking a little flat at times. I also felt the game loads a little slow on the PlayStation 5 compared to other games on the system.

    Rise and shine

    I did manage to also try the game on the PC and visually it does look better but some might suffer even worst performance issues compared to the console counterpart. I feel that the game could use more optimization and hopefully, it can be rolled out in a future patch as this I feel, is one of the biggest issues of the game as of the time of writing this review.

    There are also body part collisions and also bad camera angles when you are in battle which makes it hard to see if you are trapped in a corner with the Kemono. These are minor issues but at least these things should be fixed before the game launches since this is what they called a Triple-A game.

    Multiplayer Co-Op

    Hunting monsters is even better with friends and Wild Hearts even comes with Cross-play function so you can play with players from other platforms. The game does limit you to having a maximum party of 3 and I get it because even with 2 people, hunting seems easy since one person can just distract while another dishes out the damage.

    You can even steal the final blow from your friends

    Setting up or joining a hunt is also very simple by either visiting the campfire or interacting with a small blue portal to ask for assistance. The network latency seems fine, and loots are separating so you won’t have to snatch for healing water or items. There is a bug currently for the PlayStation 5 where if you put the game in Rest Mode, you are unable to connect back to the EA server if you resume. It would be great if that is fixed in a future patch.

    What I Liked

    • Streamline Hunting – There are a few things that make this game accessible to new players like fast travel, no fall damage and many more.
    • Gameplay – The core gameplay is solid and well thought off. The addition of the Karakuri gives the game a unique mechanic.
    • Story – The characters and the mysterious power of the Karakuri make the game a little more interesting and is enough to push your hunt forward.

    What Really Should Have Been Better

    • Visuals – The game does not have that current-gen look even though it is only available for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Seris X|S.
    • Performance – Loading times and framerate look like it could be better not only on consoles but also on PC.

    In Another Multiverse

    So what do I feel about the game? Well as a busy man with limited time for gaming in my life now, I felt that things that the game streamlines like the sprinting not requiring stamina, custom waypoints, and easier monster tracking are a blessing. The game mechanic is well though and works great together. Some people might say it is a little more casual compared to Monster Hunter and they are right but it might not be a bad thing.

    The sky is the limit….

    Mechanically the game is solid but the technical issues that plague it really need to be looked into. Luckily these issues can be solved with a patch hopefully but even still, these are the things that should be ironed out before release if not we might have another Cyberpunk 2077 in our hands.

    If you ask me to choose between both, I would say they are equal because it really depends on the player which they prefer. Honestly, there are some things that Wild Hearts does better than Monster Hunter and there are some that feel lacking. If I could, I would like to urge the hunting game community to work together and support both games to move this genre forward as it is already quite a niche genre compared to the others.

    Final Score – 8/10

    An old school gamer who plays every genre of games. Prefers games which are unique and innovative instead of just pretty looking. All he wants is content, content, content..... The more the better.

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