Wild Hearts

wild heart review

wild heart review

need to know

what is it? Monster fighting action.
Expect to pay: $70/£60
release date: February 16, 2023
Developer: Koei Tecmo
Publisher: EA
commented on: Intel Core i5-13600K, RTX 3070, 32GB DDR4-4000 memory
multiplayer game? Yes
Steam deck: Unverified
Association: Official Website(opens in a new tab)

Wild Hearts’ moral isn’t “people have always been real monsters” but a threat to transform I Hours before I start writing this review. I never imagined that I would be one of those horribly rich people grinning at the camera while standing in front of the endangered animals they just slaughtered for their sport. But when I finally killed the Flying Tiger that had been haunting me for hours, I knew I had it.

Wild Hearts is a hunting game that emphasizes the delicate balance of the natural world at every opportunity, but there were times when I was ready to raze all of feudal Japan and go through some of the game’s more tedious combat and irritating performance issues . At least I can now do the next best thing: wear that dead tiger skin as armor and continue the genocide. Wild Hearts doesn’t technically allow me to erase this species from existence, but it’s nice to have dreams, right?

Like Capcom’s Monster Hunter before it, Hearts of the Wild puts you on the path to behemoths that need to be culled. Each has the complexity and ferocity of a boss in a Japanese role-playing game, with a set of telegraph attacks to learn and some more powerful moves to throw at you when they’re enraged. The goal of each fight is not just to win, but to break a specific body part – usually the face, tail, claws or wings. The reward is some sweet crafting materials for your next piece of armor or a more powerful weapon.

The line developer Koei Tecmo is taking here is blatant: you can imagine the writers sweating as they try to twist dialogue around the words “hunt” and “monster,” when every conversation is about you needing to go out and hunt monster. The resulting world feels slightly less pure fantasy and more folklore. It is explicitly set in feudal Japan and insists on using Japanese words throughout much of its text: beasts (Beasts, not monsters!) Behemoths that fight for you; Karakuri Devices built to help you hunt; Jin Yun For mechanical beings that act as your AI companions.

A handful of characters, like Natsume the blacksmith and Ujishige, the scruffy samurai you meet in the opening scene, are more subdued than the bumbling anime hunters and cow cat chefs in Monster Hunter. Wild Hearts takes it very seriously, and I appreciated the change at first, but quickly grew tired of it, as it resulted in every character babbling about how they wanted to protect the town and clumsily acknowledging their swamp-standard NPC backstories. After a while, I started removing the headphones every time someone started talking.

The more striking difference between the two games is that in Wild Hearts, you’ll find yourself fighting the same monsters long, many times before reaching the endgame. There just isn’t enough kemono, and it recycles designs too quickly to maintain the grind needed to progress through the armor and weapon trees.

worth hunting

Wild Hearts is really good at grabbing a monster’s back with a claw blade while you’re flying through the air, transforming yourself into a projectile Edward Scissorhands, or hitting a monster’s face with a hammer combo string third hit. There are only eight weapons, But the pared-down arsenal is full of surprises. I like the bladed wagasa umbrella, which spins attacks like a top and powers up when you parry a kemono. It’s the only weapon in the game that has a defense option, and it kept me alive and made me look like a broken Mary Poppins.

Then there’s the big gimmick: karakuri, traps and tools you build during battle using button combinations on your controller or a few keys on your mouse and keyboard. At first, you’ll spawn simple crates to jump off of or springs that bounce you towards monsters, but soon you’ll unlock fusions that build defensive walls or launch harpoons to stun monsters and do massive damage.

Karakuri can bring exciting moments such as using spring only Dodge monster charges and unleash your own attacks in jumps, but most of the time it’s frustratingly clumsy. I can’t count how many times games have missed one of my button inputs, or failed to put one of my karakuri in the correct position, leaving me with a pile of worthless torches and springs in front of me, and An empty resource table. The system is not reliable enough.

Builds feel like drafts of features that could be great in the sequel, and the same goes for the progression system. In a game about constantly accumulating resources, I’m baffled by how skimpy Wild Hearts’ armor is. There’s no small steps here to make you feel tougher, just leveling up to give your armor a human or kemono “affinity” that seems woefully inadequate, along with a few scattered skills tied to both factions. I hope these skills pay off for dedicated endgame builds, but for the majority of the campaign they seem far less important than finding the armor that will help you survive the right monster attacks.

Each kemono has an elemental affinity and “Mother Nature gets dirty” design, such as the sapscourge, a sap-covered, pollen-spitting asthmatic nightmare, or the goldshard, a porcupine with giant crystals in its spines. Some kemonos did surprise me in a good way, beyond their obvious gimmicks. Lavaback is a huge flaming gorilla who looks straight up until he gets enraged—then suddenly he slings his molten arms like elastic rubber bands toward your feet.

(Image source: Koei Tecmo)

The interplay between Wild Hearts’ weapons and the kemono is fantastic. Big hits, quick hits, unique karakuri attacks: every game feels different, and there’s a lot to chew on here. There’s barely enough downtime between replays. Wild Hearts has 22 kemonos, only 15 of which are unique (including the final boss and a gimmicky fight that I don’t feel like repeating too many times). That shallow monster bored me as I progressed through the campaign, as each new chapter had me bashing the same monsters–except now they deal more damage–or changes that didn’t feel obvious.

The gear system is also thin.Since unique monsters are rare, the best armor for fighting kemono on the new difficulty levels is usually that kemono’s own armor. If you built the most powerful suit at any given moment, it would have several glaring elemental weaknesses, so more than once I felt like I needed to take hours of detours just to focus on one of my sets knowing that once I Overcoming a particular difficulty the hump becomes redundant.

With multiplayer hunting, this isn’t much of an issue, but solo Wild Hearts gear break-in is too slow, repetitive, and “cumbersome,” and there’s no way to gradually upgrade old gear to keep it relevant for longer.

(Image source: Koei Tecmo)

The weapons system is better–it’s a huge skill tree that you can go through in any direction you like, and you don’t lose resources if you bring weapons back to earlier nodes in the tree. There’s a lot of potential for endgame theory crafting here, but for most of the campaign I ended up blocking some of the upgrade paths because I didn’t go out of my way to fight the palette swaps of the kemono I’d grown tired of fighting. Some nodes on the tech tree are either misleading or completely mislabeled – they ostensibly show how many orc stars (aka difficulty) you need to defeat to show a node, but for example Icefang Orcs are listed as two The first time a star there appeared on the world map was a four-star battle. Confusing.

poor performance

With more weapons and kemono available for free after Wild Hearts’ release, a fat bestiary might offer a more elegant sense of progression a year later. But Wild Hearts’ problems right now are more serious than too few monsters: horrible PC performance makes me wonder why the game didn’t have more time to make. On the Intel Core i5-13600K and RTX 3070, I was rarely able to achieve a stable above 60 fps at 1440p, and turning down the game settings had no effect. Certain areas of the game run particularly badly – something about the icy fourth area drops my framerate into the 20s. For my fellow PC Gamers using an RTX 3060 Ti, Wild Hearts barely beat the 30 fps average at 1080p.

Wild Hearts ran poorly more than it did well, and that’s just baseline performance. I also ran into these problems:

  • Some sound effects trigger with a delay and then stop completely while the music continues to play.I had to reload to fix this
  • Dialogue lines would occasionally overlap or fast-forward as if I had pressed a button (I didn’t)
  • Once the geometry of the whole world starts flickering until I leave the area
  • UI popups occasionally get stuck on screen
  • Lots of slowdowns and frequent stutters to the point that it feels like I’m fighting in slow motion (honestly, once or twice this actually helps a bit)
  • The AI ​​of the last high level beast was glitchy, so after 10 minutes of me banging on it it just sat still

Wild Hearts doesn’t look at all like a game that should be pushing the PC so hard–while the environments are dense, they’re often simply lit and rich in low-res textures. Publisher EA says it plans to fix the “CPU bottleneck” and add DLSS and FSR support, but my CPU usage usually hovers around 40%. The problem here is with the GPU, the game was able to hit a solid 60 fps without DLSS. I tried playing with the internal framerate limiter and the Nvidia control panel, but nothing helped, and Wild Hearts’ current “Upgrade” option turned the game into a low-res, smudged game. There’s no reason to release an action game that relies on quick reflexes and such wildly unreliable performance.

While much of Wild Hearts looks good, some scenes look dated and the acting is rough. (Image source: Koei Tecmo)

It’s a shame, because Wild Hearts actually lured me into spending hours exploring its environment, setting up karakuri ziplines, and finding ideal spots to set up camp and scavenge for resources. There is a reason for these spaces to exist beyond hunting, and I hope Monster Hunter learns that lesson in its next installment.

But again it feels like Wild Hearts came with a half-formed idea. Its story and element kemono are so focused on nature, but WIld Hearts doesn’t try hard to convey a real ecosystem. The monsters never interact with each other (outside of a few scripted scenes where the developers pull strings). They don’t eat small animals that roam around. “Hunting” is as easy as pressing a button on the karakuri device to reveal the kemono’s location on a map. These areas subtly change throughout the game, as elemental kemono bring deep freezes to once-sunny beaches, or set forests ablaze, but the monster doesn’t do that by itself; it’s just ready for battle The dressing is neatly arranged before you arrive.

If some of these were more powerful, Wild Hearts could be a savvy, streamlined hunting game.much less thing In many places, Capcom’s series has excess fat compared to Monster Hunter, but without losing the essence of what makes these boss battle hunting games so fun. Wild Hearts makes online play incredibly easy – whether joining a quick hunt, or playing with friends and advancing the story and side quests together,…

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Bart Thompson
Bart is's List Writer . He is from Houston, Texas, and is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in creative writing, majoring in non-fiction writing. He likes to play The Elder Scrolls Online and learn everything about The Elder Scrolls series.