Wild Hearts

released on Feb 16, 2023

Prepare for an epic adventure set in a fantasy world inspired by feudal Japan. Developed by Omega Force, the Japanese studio behind Dynasty Warriors, in partnership with Electronic Arts.


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I think there is this general thought floating around that when a company does something so well for so long it must be easy to create. In this particular example I am thinking of one of my favourite series Monster Hunter. Several other companies have put their hands into the hunter genre to various success but none have come close to the original's appeal and quality. Wild Hearts however gives a pretty good try and brings some really neat ideas to the table with it.

The most unique thing about Wild Hearts is it's Karakuri system. This allows the player to quick build wooden structures for use in combat as well as other functions. You can equip up to 4 basic ones that can also be used in fusion combinations to make different results. For example you can use a torch which on it's own will give a flame effect on your weapon but combine it with a celestial anchor which helps zip you around the map and it creates an extremely powerful cannon. These abilities create all sorts of effects like fireworks for knocking enemies out of the sky, walls for defence and to knock enemies over, hammers, traps, springboards, healing mist machines etc. The loadout you bring will depend on the weapon you use and enemy you face but are easy enough to switch out as and when is needed.

It is a brilliant system to be honest, they are quick to fire out, mostly nearly always useful and different players with different load outs can work well together. For example there is an enemy called the Kingtusk which is essentially a wild boar the size of a building who likes to charge attack. My friend's load out has a very quick release wall with a spring that only lasts a couple of seconds but will knock the boar on it's back when timed right allowing me to set up my above mentioned celestial cannon which takes some time to make and fire. The usage of these aren't infinite as they use a resource called thread you have a stock of. Depending what Karakuri you summon will effect the amount depleted. You build it back up through armour skills, environmental objects, attacking or jumping on wounded enemies and sucking it out of their wounds in a climbing exercise like shadow of the Colossus. Knowing how much thread you need to make things, how much you have and where to get more are the key loops to beating your enemies.

The Karakuri aren't limited to just combat though as you have another type called Dragon Karakuri which allow you to build permanent structures on each map. These structures are limited by elemental resources for each location you can expand as you play through the game to constantly work on what is available and as you unlock more Karakuri through upgrades. You can build your own camps for fast traveling, zip lines, updraft wind tunnels, giant wheel bikes, armour forges, search towers etc etc. Each player builds their own maps differently so joining online and seeing how they have theirs set up is really interesting. I tend to just have zip lines everywhere from camps to key areas like the worlds coolest assault course. Using a line from a cliff face, dropping off it half way to create a glider mid air to fly to your target before dropping down to attack will always be fun.

Alongside Karakuri you have your own weapon in which there are 8 to choose from; Katana, Nodachi, bow, maul, bladed wagasa, canon, claw blade and karakuri staff. Each weapon handles very differently with some being more simple than others but each having unique abilities. For example the Katana changing into a whip sword, or grappling in the air like an acrobat with the claw blade etc. I really like the weapons selections and some of them do some really interesting things like the Canon and Karakuri staff feeling more technical with a lot of steps to unlock their full potential. Their design is really interesting but honestly I feel they would be better utilised in a different game.

The issue is that the monsters you fight in most cases are so constantly aggressive it makes the Tigrex in Monster hunter look pretty laid back in comparison. They attack, non stop to the point at times it's actually ridiculous. Building up timed combo weapon changes in different rhythm multiple times to unlock the big hit with the Karakuri staff is more than often a laughable prospect. Their art designs are all really gorgeous at least. They are based mostly on fantasy looking corrupt animals like rats with flowers growing out of them, ice wolves, moss crocodiles etc. However there also just isn't enough of them, the game really lacks enemy variety. It plays over 5 chapters and just has the same half a dozen or so enemies over and over but the armour and weapon upgrades just aren't varied or interesting enough to not stop it feeling monotonous before you are even half way through.

I think if the story and characters could hold their own like the developers last attempt in the genre Toukiden then I could forgive that repetition along with the excellent combat system but sadly despite such a surprisingly large focus on characters and story it feels so dry and uninteresting with a terribly vague ending of nothing. It feels like the game needed more time in the oven to fully sculpt it's ideas. There is a lack of armour, weapon skills and build depth, a lack of enemy variety and a pretty uninteresting plot to boot and it's a real shame because some of the mechanics are really fantastic and I loved how it plays with it's gorgeous art design and music wrapping it all together. (I mean check out just the main menu theme.

It's a really good game, but it could have been an amazing one.

+ Karakuri system is utterly brilliant mechanic in and out of combat.
+ Beautiful art design and music.
+ Some seriously cool weapons...

-...some of which aren't worth using because the enemy AI is based around "relentless assault".
- Extremely limited enemy variety.
- Story and characters are uninteresting.
- Playing online due to EA's servers was a nightmare. Wouldn't let us play at all without telling why. Had to sign in with EA account on a PC to register it for this. It took us two days to figure this out. Why are they so terrible at everything they do? why?

Cuori grezzi

È arrivato il mio momento di dire due parole su questo titolo. Mi ci sono approcciato ben conscio di tutte le critiche che ha ricevuto e del fatto che EA stessa lo ha ritenuto un flop abbandonando il supporto dopo pochi mesi. E questo sicuramente significa che non vedremo un sequel. Voglio partire da questa ultima affermazione e dire che mi dispiace, perché WH non era un gioco e un potenziale franchise da buttare via, tutt’altro. È un gioco a modo suo valido e che ben riesce a distinguersi dal suo principale rivale, Monster Hunter (che io sto adorando), trovando un suo carattere e una sua personalità. Ma che diavolo si era messa in testa EA? Pensavano davvero di fare i numeri che fa Monster Hunter alla prima iterazione? Quanto potevano essere illusi? Soprattutto considerando le evidenti fallacie tecniche di WH, ma ne parliamo dopo.
Dicevo, un gioco con un suo carattere ed anima. Sì, a farsi dal gameplay. I karakuri sono davvero una meccanica molto carina e tutto sommato ben integrata all’interno del gameplay e da soli bastano a cambiare l’approccio alla caccia rispetto sempre a MH. Tanto che io, giocatore abituato a Monster Hunter, ho dovuto penare un po’ per capire quanto i karakuri fossero importanti non solo per il combattimento ma soprattutto per muoversi durante esso e schivare gli attacchi. All’inizio infatti mi approcciavo alla caccia come avrei fatto su MH. Nota un pelo dolente sono le armi, in numero inferiore a MH e con un grado di complessità decisamente inferiore ma comunque non insufficiente alla fine. Belli i modelli dei personaggi sia in termini di aspetto che di animazioni, sicuramente una mezza spanna sopra a MH per certi aspetti. Si vede che ci hanno investito in questo. Tuttavia la grafica, rispetto a quanto fatto vedere nei primi trailer, ha subito un discreto downgrade. Non tutte le texture sono di qualità e ci sono diversi glitch grafici davvero fastidiosi.
Tornando sulle fallacie tecniche a cui accennavo c’è sicuramente la telecamera che è stata gestita davvero male e ti porta spesso a perdere il controllo della situazione perché non vedi più un accidenti. E ancora più gravi sono i difetti nell’interazione con alcuni karakuri: io non posso ritrovarmi a fare il giro intorno alla cassa perché se non direizioni l’analogico in modo diretto e preciso il personaggio si rifiuta di salirci e ci scivola intorno. Oltre a questo ci sono anche le hitbox dei nemici che non sempre sono precisissime.
Insomma, al netto dei difetti elencati, Wild Hearts in sostanza è un piccolo diamante grezzo. Avrebbe avuto bisogno di un po’ di lavoro in più e di più supporto post lancio. Probabilmente, raccogliendo le critiche un secondo capitolo centrerebbe molto meglio l’obbiettivo, ma dubito che lo vedremo mai . Inizialmente Wild Hearts mi aveva anche convinto e pensavo di dargli anche un 8+ come voto. Però poi andando avanti le magagne sono venute fuori e non potevo fare finta di niente. Comunque sia non è un brutto gioco e penso che avrò piacere a tornarci sopra in futuro.

Uma aposta interessante apostando em elementos de outros jogo do gênero, é razoável em tudo que se propõe.

Monster Hunter with a Fortnite style building gimmick, a fraction of the depth of a real MonHun game, far less monsters with much less interesting designs as well, too much emphasis on the gimmick and nowhere near enough polish on the combat and animations. However even with all that said I'd argue Wild Hearts is still the best Monster Hunter style game that wasn't developed by Capcom and had some serious potential and cool ideas, but the execution left a lot to be desired and I just lost interest after about 20 hours into the game after finishing chapter 2. Apparently EA completely abandoned the game too so all the technical issues are never getting fixed and there's never going to be any more content added or expanded upon so honestly it's hard to even care at that point.

Wild Hearts shows a lot of promise for what it introduces to the monster hunting genre, and besides the technical issues, if Omega Force keeps at it, it could be a strong competitor to Monster Hunter.

Monster designs are forgettable, some of the armors are cool, the weapons are dope. The karakuri is fun for traversal, could do without it in combat. Pretty much all the monsters are annoying to fight. They leaned too much into the gimmick imo.