Wild Hearts Early Impressions: Gameplay, Story, and More

Hunting with a twist.

by Christian Bognar
Wild Hearts Early Impressions

Wild Hearts is an open zone monster hunting game from the developers of Tuikoden, Omega Force, and KOEI TECMO, with EA’s help this time around. An unusual partnership, indeed, but from what we have played so far of Wild Hearts, the game is turning out to be a great addition to the hunting genre while also bringing fresh ideas to the table.

Wild Hearts Gameplay and Combat


Wild Hearts follows the same formula as other monster hunter games, hunting giant beasts, gathering resources from that beast, improving your equipment, and repeating the process. It’s this type of addictive gameplay that fans of the genre have fallen in love with, but what makes Wild Hearts unique is that they have implemented a crafting mechanic called Karakuri into the hunts, giving it a new feel. Karakuri allows players to build structures to help them take down the game’s beast, Kemono. While we have only unlocked a handful of Karakuri options, this addition could separate Wild Hearts from its most known competitor, Monster Hunter by Capcom.

So far, we have unlocked a Pounder, a structure that rains down a heavy hammer onto your opponent, a spring that allows you to dodge out of the way of a devastating blow, a firework that will shoot down flying Kemono out of the sky and a bomb that, when timed correctly, can deal significant damage. These structures must be built on the fly, making the hunts all about quick thinking and strategy. What is so great about this is that some Karakuri works better against certain Kemono, making you have to plan before going out on the hunt and decide which builds you will bring into battle with you. It’s a complex system that excited us to learn more Karakuri as we progress into our playthrough.

All of this can be especially fun when paired up in co-op, which the game allows three hunters in total. Every Karakuri built in your world by other players will stay there until it is destroyed by either the beast or yourself. Every player can use each other’s Karakuri, making for one crazy combination of attack moves on screen while also alleviating teamwork.

Wild Hearts Story and Visuals


The story is a classic mashup of good vs. evil, and while we aren’t very invested in what it has to say, we are still rooting for the good to come out on top. Kemono, beasts infused with nature, have taken over the land and are destroying everything in their path, and it is up to you to go out and take these beasts down through hunts. We hope to see some exciting dialogue or events transpire as we continue, as most of it has left us bored or uninterested. Still, we are willing to look past this, considering the story is the least important aspect of hunting games.

Regarding setting and visuals, Wild Hearts shines in its beautiful reimagining of Japan. Each region is set around one of the four seasons, and exploring these locations is breathtaking, whether it’s the pure white winter of Fuyufusagi Fort or the flowery spring of Harugasumi Way. Co-directors, Kotaro Hirata and Takuto Edagawa, have mentioned how they wanted to emphasize the idea of Kemono merging with the beauty of nature, so it’s only fitting that the seasons pop on screen, and they do big time.

After hunting around 40 Kemono, there is still plenty more to do and see in Wild Hearts. We are pleased that, so far, this could be another hunter’s obsession and a game that stands alone in the genre. Stay tuned for our full review of Wild Hearts when the embargo lifts on February 16th, but for now, we make our way to learn more Karakuri and discover what other Kemono the game has in store for us.

Wild Hearts will be available on February 17, 2023, on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.