Recently announced by Electronic Arts, Wild Hearts is a Monster Hunter hunting game developed by Koei Tecmo and Omega Force, known for the Dynasty Warriors saga. An astonishing project, therefore, which we have been able to play for several years and on which we give you our frankly positive impressions.
- Did you say Toukiden? Well, not really…
- Better gameplay than Monster Hunter?
- The Karakuri, a mechanism inspired by Fortnite?
In the video game industry, collaborations between the West and Japan are not that frequent. So when it was announced that the next title from Koei Tecmo, one of the oldest studios in the Japanese archipelago, would be produced by Electronic Arts, one of the world’s most famous Western publishers for licenses like FIFA, Battlefield, Need For Speed, The Sims and so on, there was something to be surprised about.
This collaboration is all the more astonishing as the resulting project is a Monster Hunter hunting game in a feudal Japan atmosphere which obviously recalls Monster Hunter Rise. While this famous title was announced recently, we were able to play Wild Hearts for a few hours, the time to defeat some monstersand it sure looks like 2023 has just won a new title to watch.
Did you say Toukiden? Well, not really…
Wild Hearts is therefore a hunting game developed by Omega Force, Koei Tecmo studio that we know especially for the Dynasty Warriors saga and for all these spin-offs like Hyrule Warriors: Age of Plague, Persona 5 Strikers, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes, One Piece: Pirate Warriors or Dragon Quest Heroes. If this team is therefore renowned for developing Muso-type games, that is to say beat’em ups where you face armies on a battlefield that you manage to defeat with great ease, Omega Force has also produced other title genres. This is particularly the case of Toukiden which is a franchise of hunting games in the line of Monster Hunter and which had the particularity of taking place in a setting reminiscent of feudal Japan.
Inevitably, when Wild Hearts was announced, people wondered if it was not a Toukiden 3 in disguise. Just for rights reasons, this is not the case since behind this project, we find Electronic Arts with its label EA Originals which publishes the game. the title takes place in the country of Azuma, a sort of fantasized feudal Japan, which is plagued by disorder due to the regular attacks of the Kemono, the name given to giant creatures that represent the force of nature and who have powers related to the elements. In this context, the player embodies a hunter who has come from a distant land to settle this situation. Throughout the adventure, we will therefore have to defeat monsters, either alone or with others up to three players maximum, to help the inhabitants of the region to rebuild what has been destroyed. From the little we could see during our gaming session, the scenario does not seem to be the central element of the experience, as often in hunting games. However, the title makes efforts by offering dialogue choices so that we feel invested.
From a graphical point of view, the game is obviously reminiscent of Monster Hunter Rise which is itself a hunting game that takes place in a setting inspired by feudal Japan, but also in a way Ghost of Tsushima. With its way of representing nature and its more minimalist interface than Capcom titles, Wild Hearts is very reminiscent of the aesthetic of the samurai game of Sony and Sucker Punch Productions. On the other hand, for the technical part, we are obviously not in front of such a beautiful rendering, but the whole holds up. And then, for a hunting game, more than the graphics, the most important thing is that the frame rate is high so that the hunt takes place in good conditions and that the action remains fluid. And then, to finish on the visual aspect, note that the title offers a rather advanced character creation tool which should allow everyone to shape a hunter that they like.
Better gameplay than Monster Hunter?
Well beyond the story and the graphics, the most important thing in a hunting game is above all its gameplay, and without too much surprise, Wild Hearts takes up many Monster Hunter codes, at least the basics, to develop on top of its own elements. Thus, level playability, we have a normal attack, another powerful and a special ability related to each type of weapon. Because yes, like at Capcom, there are several types of weapons which are here eight in number. If we notice some duplicates with Monster Hunter such as the katana, the great sword, the bow or the club, Wild Hearts also offers original instruments like a kind of traditional Japanese umbrella. The latter is formidable and allows you to easily perform devastating aerial sequences, in addition to having a powerful guard as a special ability.
Thus, to be as effective as possible, it is necessary to make the best use of the different combos of each weapon according to each situation. If you can hit as many times as you want without being afraid that your character will get tired, the title still includes a stamina gauge but which only empties when you run, jump or uses a special ability. By this choice of design, the fights of Wild Hearts are therefore particularly nervous, with really impressive and twirling combos that push the player to strike from the air, which is hardly surprising coming from Omega Force. Where the title is also very classy is that once your target is defeated, you must complete it to end the mission and recover elements on the beast, which results in an animation of stylized execution. But in general, the gameplay of the Omega Force title seems more dynamic than that of Monster Hunter thanks to the great agility of the character who can run, jump and slide in all directions, while the hunters of the Capcom license retain a certain heaviness, although things have improved a lot with World and Rise.
As in Monster Hunter, and yes, you will often see this formula here, the goal is above all to target the weak points of the monsters to overcome them quickly. The advantage is that these are most of the time obvious, such as tusks or horns on the face, and it is easy to know if we have aimed correctly since the sum of the damage inflicted is displayed. The more you hit the creature, the more it will be weakened and this can be seen on its body as well as in the way it moves since it will look tired. However, a vulnerable animal remains dangerous and the Kemono can become enraged which allows them to use the powers linked to an element. Thus, some will be able to grow vines, a cherry blossom tree or explode lava around them to defend themselves.. This is where Wild Hearts is particularly impressive since entire structures can shoot out of the ground mid-combat, making the hunt even more epic. Despite everything, the clashes are not without flaws either because even if the title allows you to lock your target, something that Monster Hunter still does not offer to do, the action is often confused because of the camera which tends to easily getting stuck in the monster or in an element of the scenery when the arena becomes too small.
The Karakuri, a mechanism inspired by Fortnite?
Reading the title of the article, you wonder what Fortnite, the battle royale star of recent years with its third-person shooter gameplay and free-to-play economic system, is doing here. Admittedly, Wild Hearts seems to have a more dynamic gameplay than Monster Hunter, which should please those who don’t know hunting games, but its great originality is above all its Karakuri system. Behind this name is actually a mechanic that allows you to build small structures in the middle of combat for different uses, just like in Fortnite. Thanks to this ancient technology, players can create at any time a kind of trampoline which propels them in the air, a slab which makes them slide, or even a wall to stop a monster in its charge. Thus, these structures are to be used as often as possible because by stepping on them, one can trigger overpowered attacks, in particular on the weak points of the creatures. But even outside of combat, the Karakuri are very useful because they allow you to establish new camps in different places as well as to set up tools that make life easier such as a guard tower that spots monsters or a zip line to reach remote areas.
The other great originality of Wild Hearts is that its action takes place in a persistent world. To be clearer, remember that in Monster Hunter, the player is first in a hub from which he chooses a mission before being transported to an area in which he will face his target. Here, the camp and the place of the hunt are located in one and the same area, which makes it possible to arrange certain spaces to serve as bases or traps for your future targets. Thus, the Karakuri placed at one time remain from one mission to another as long as they are not destroyed by a monster, which makes it possible to make installations over the long term.
At the end of this session, Wild Hearts seems set to be a title to watch closely at the start of 2023. By taking up the codes of the hunting game introduced by Monster Hunter, the Omega Force project wants to stand out by offering dynamic gameplay and nervous mixed with an efficient building system. Beyond that, the experience also benefits from a successful feudal Japan-inspired aesthetic that also shines through in its monsters that represent the different seasons. While waiting to be able to get your hands on the final version, we remind you that Wild Hearts is currently scheduled for February 17, 2023 on PC, PS5 and Xbox Series.
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