Wild Hearts: Review-in-progress

by Ben Kirby
1 comment

Hopefully by now, either here or over at ninjarefinery.com, people know me as a big Monster Hunter fan. A series and a style of game that just clicks with me, and whilst it’s the major player in the genre, I think I can say with a degree of sincerity that there’s a new contender in town. Wild Hearts.

Developed by Omega Force, the Japanese studio at Koei Tecmo (the studio responsible for the “Warriors” franchises), and published by EA as one of the EA Originals. Wild Hearts is a great step into a genre that’s been dominated by one franchise for a long time.

I’ve been fortunate enough to get a review code and play pre-release to see how it is, and whilst I have a lot more to do, and will release a full review later. My initial thoughts of Wild Hearts as the review-in-progress, are below.

Before I dig into some of the detail, I think it’s worth noting that for a company like EA a game like this is a big swing for them. Often confined to a few big, yearly franchises and some licenced releases, Wild Hearts feels like a really significant step for them to come back into gaming and show that they understand their audience.

Wild Hearts - Scary shit

Wild Hearts

I really didn’t want to compare Wild Hearts to Monster Hunter so quickly in this piece. But it’s literally a monster-hunting game, and there are a lot of similarities here.

Straight out of the gate, Wild Hearts throws you at a small hunt (you CAN pet the animals!), and then into a bigger one, and into peril. You’re quickly setting-up camp and able to forge an array of weapon types. Sitting at camp and looking for monsters to hunt and kind of grind out (not a negative comment!).

The first thing I noticed here is just how comfortable the movement feels in Wild Hearts. It’s a really natural, lovely action-adventure feel. Less stiff than other franchises, and the attacks feel really fluid, no matter which weapon you’re using.

Oozing with style, you see inky slashes after a slick combo or special. Everything here feels fluid and natural. What a massive relief that was to me. I thought (for some reason) that it might feel a bit like other EA titles that don’t move so naturally. Koei Tecmo knows their business though, and this is their game!

Wild Hearts parallels Monster Hunter in a lot of ways, and that’s for good reason. Basically the progenitor of the genre, you have to stand on the shoulders of giants to see the future, right? Wild Hearts takes a lot of core elements, but then it adds new, interesting components.

Wild Hearts - ninjarefinery

What’s different?

Building on-the-fly! No, this isn’t Fortnite, but it’s certainly as seamless when building things out.

Why the hell are we building? Good question!

Using Celestial Thread (harvested from trees), you can create “Karakuri” which is described as ancient technology. So far I’ve built a camp, crates to climb up and jump off, springs to launch me in any direction I choose and even a campfire and camp!

Wild Hearts is using nature and technology derived from the spirit of nature as the core of its monsters and of the things happening in the world.

Mid-battle climbing up a stack of crates for a height advantage and powerful attack is fantastic, and with it being a couple of button presses, it’s seamless. Honestly, it’s a game-changer! I’m not looking for a specific weapon to use so I can be aerial. Wild Hearts lets all weapons get high and move about a bit.

As I play, I’m unlocking traps and field-based weapons, which is really cool, too.

Between the movement and the building. Wild Hearts isn’t just a Monster Hunter clone in any way. This is a new take on the genre and a really fun one to play.

Worth noting, too……there’s cross-play and easy online play. Wild Hearts knows that we want to play these games with friends and allows for co-op, on multiple platforms. This is huge, and likely a massive bonus to hitting some sales. Cross-platform play is so important in gaming now. Well done Wild Hearts.

Wild Hearts - Big chap

The review

The review will come in a couple of weeks. I can honestly say that with the initial reactions and how it feels, I’m really excited to dive into the world of Wild Hearts. Exploring Azuma and taking on new monsters, creating new armour and weapons, and just living that Monster Hunter life.

Currently running it on PC, I’m on the lower end of the requirements list, and I’m really hoping that there are some performance-related patches to come out. I’m seeing frame rate dips, texture pop-in and the usual “day one” style graphical issues.

Running a 1660 Super GPU, Ryzen 5 5600 and 16GB RAM it should be handling it a bit better, and I do see moments of it. Perhaps some optimisation on the Geforce Experience app will help, or some patching and some settings fiddling. It isn’t unplayable, but in a game like Wild Hearts, frames matter because you need to be dodging and attacking with precision.

Honestly, I’m not fussed about that yet, because I know that things will be improved, and we’re before the release date still.

I’ll hone in on that once we get into the scoring on the proper review, and that won’t be done straight away.

Wild Hearts has me hyped up to play a new monster-hunting game, and I love how it feels. Really excited to get stuck in and see what the end-game looks like.

To make sure you don’t miss when our full review goes live, keep an eye on our Game Reviews section.

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