Koei Tecmo’s WILD HEARTS is out on February 17th for $69.99 on Xbox Series X/S, PS5, and PC, and serves as a brand new hunting game in the vein of Monster Hunter or even Toukiden. Developed by Omega Force of Dynasty Warriors fame and published by EA Originals, it’s been in development for more than four years, mixing traditional elements while adding spicy new twists. Here are 15 things you should know before picking it up.
The “story” isn’t usually the most important part in games like WILD HEARTS, but it’s worth discussing. It’s set in Azuma where monstrous forces known as the Kemono wreak havoc for reasons unknown. All hope seems lost until a hunter (aka, you) appears, wielding powerful weapons and the Karakuri. It’s up to you to lead the charge and maybe learn more about the Kemono’s rampages, though stopping them probably takes more priority.
Azuma is described as a “fantasy world inspired by feudal Japan,” and consists of four different regions. Each adheres to a different season, like Hanagasumi Hills and its Spring-like grandeur, or the Golden Sea with its expanses of sand that call Summer to mind. Also, while these are separate zones instead of one interconnected open world, they look large in scale with plenty to discover.
The Kemono are your main threats, created to be as fierce as possible and use nature to their advantage. For instance, the Deathstalker is a wolf-like creature whose claws can inflict ice damage, while the Kingtusk is boar-like but mixed with roots and charges mercilessly. Then there’s the Aragane or Golden Tempest, a tiger-like being with tendrils that can blow wind and flakes of gold and even use the vents on its body to go airborne. Studying each Kemono and learning their weaknesses is key to survival. And yes, it seems they can fight amongst each other, though whether this happens during gameplay a la Turf Wars remains to be seen.
WILD HEARTS offers eight weapon types to hunt your prey, including the Karakuri Katana, Bladed Wagasa – which functions like a sword/parasol – and Bow. Each has its unique play style and abilities and can be influenced by the Karakuri in different ways. The Karakuri Katana, for instance, can extend into a whip-like shape for greater reach and more damage. It’s easier to pick up than most other weapons, but it takes time to master the various combos and abilities. Then you have something like the Wagasa, which is inherently complex and can parry and unleash extensive air combos.
Gear and Upgrades
While progression hasn’t been extensively detailed, the gameplay loop – like Monster Hunter – is simple enough. Hunt and take down Kemono, then use the materials carved from their bodies to craft better armor and weapons. Use these to hunt stronger Kemono, and repeat. It’s a simple loop reliant on grinding. Of course, you can also create your character from the outset and customize them to your liking with various emotes, chat stamps and more available for communication.
One of the biggest differentiating factors from Monster Hunter is the Karakuri. Previously dormant, the ancient technology comes to life with the player’s involvement and allows for constructing unique structures and items to help in hunts. Karakuri falls into three categories – Basic, Fusion and Dragon. The Basic Karakuri, which includes the crate, spring for jumping higher, glider, torch, and more, can be constructed quickly and doesn’t require many resources.
The Fusion Karakuri are combinations of Basic Karakuri and are defensive options against the Kemono. The pounder (which is that giant hammer we’ve seen in trailers), star bomb, bulwark (which constructs a massive wall that stuns charging enemies) and repeater crossbow fall into this category. You’ll need to defeat different Kemono to learn more.
Finally, there is the Dragon Karakuri, which directly impacts the environment and requires Celestial Thread. These range from the flying vine acting like a zipline to the roller, both used for quickly traversing the environment. The training bear, wind vortex (great for gaining height when using the glider), and hunting tower (for better detecting Kemono) also fall into this category.
Main Story Playtime
Given that it’s a new title in the action RPG hunting genre, it’s perhaps surprising that the main story will take around 30 hours to complete. However, this likely doesn’t include optional quests or post-game content, and as any Monster Hunter player will know, the different weapon types, armor sets, and materials can lead to a hefty grind. Either way, there should be enough to do when the story is wrapped.
In addition to main story quests, there are optional quests to hunt previously encountered Kemono. These can be pursued from a campfire or the map, and along with materials for crafting upgrades, they also provide points for new Karakuri skills. If you’re looking to increase your repertoire of tools or farm better gear, then optional quests should be worth pursuing.
Aside from battling Kemono, players can also collect artifacts and find Tsukumo. The latter is interesting since it unlocks a hunting companion that follows you around. Collecting more Tsukumo will buff it further, with the Hanagasumi Hills having 50 in total. Other secrets have also been promised, but we’ll need to wait for more details.
Of course, WILD HEARTS supports co-op with parties for up to three players. This may seem odd for Monster Hunter veterans used to groups of four, but the developer told IGN that the power of Karakuri means three players are the best for balance. Whether there will be larger activities like Monster Hunter World’s Siege quests that use multiple groups remains to be seen, but it would be cool.
One major area that WILD HEARTS has Monster Hunter beat is cross-platform play. Xbox Series X/S, PS5, and PC players can all play together without restrictions (aside from PS Plus and Xbox Live Gold requirements on consoles, of course). On PC, users across multiple storefronts like Steam, Epic Games Store and Origin can party up without issues.
Unfortunately, it’s more demanding than Monster Hunter’s recent PC outings. Minimum requirements include an Intel Core i5-8400 or AMD Ryzen 5 2600, 12 GB RAM, and a GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB or AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT 8GB. Recommended requirements include a Core i7-8700K or Ryzen 5 3600 with 16 GB RAM and a GTX 2070 8 GB or Radeon RX 5700 XT 8 GB. In both cases, you’ll need a whopping 80 GB of available storage space to install the game.
4K and 60 FPS on Xbox Series X, PS5
Those playing on Xbox Series X and PS5 take note, as WILD HEARTS supports HDR10, 4K Ultra HD and 60 FPS on both platforms. The Xbox store listing also indicates Dolby Atmos and DTS: X support for even more immersive sound. The resolution and frame rate on Xbox Series S remains to be seen, though.