Wild Hearts implements some interesting ideas that could make this franchise stand apart

Considering the global success and popularity of Monster Hunter, it’s somewhat surprising the game doesn’t have many direct competitors.

Since the game’s rise to success in the handheld space, it’s grown and evolved until just this year it’s considered one of the year’s key releases with Monster Hunter Rise swooping straight onto PS5 and into GamePass.

But just a few weeks later, it seems EA and their Originals brand finally want a piece of the pie and they’ve contracted Koei Tecmo to help them. Introducing Wild Hearts.

Now, first thing to say, it’s unfair to immediately call this a complete Monster Hunter clone. It definitely has all the halmarks you’d expect, the mechanics feel wholly familiar and you’ll immediately feel the essence of it all.

But there’s a few things here that also differentiate the game in this space and some actually really cool spins on convention that make it really engaging and enjoyable to play. Firstly, and probably most importantly, combat.

I love Monster Hunter as much as the next person, but honestly the stages of combat can be a bit off-putting as it’s never entirely free-flow and often feels quite stunted. Wild Hearts is just as overly reliant on a stamina bar, don’t get me wrong, but it also feels more fast-paced and responsive, which might be music to the ears of Nioh and Wo Long fans.

The other key thing to note is you don’t have to sharpen weapons when blades get dulled here, you just upgrade your weapons at camp and can go straight into battle without the worry of things breaking or not hitting to full effect.

But just like Monster Hunter, weapons do have their own combat path to follow, so you can adapt and adjust them however you see fit. These can be levelled up through campaign progression but also through the types of drops you get from enemies or find out in the wild.

Another interesting inclusion are Karakuri. Outside of bases, you can craft unique tools to help you get around or protect yourself, like creating blocks out of thin air or springs. These can be used to help you climb seemingly out of reach ledges, or to spring yourself out of danger or to get a drop attack. You can even craft a protective barrier between you and an enemy if, say, they’re about to charge you.

This is a fascinating feature that actually speaks to a Minecraft or Fortnite generation who’ve been building bases and ramps to get themselves out of trouble and even protect themselves. But it’s also a really cool strategic feature that really does distinguish itself from Capcom’s juggernaut.

Finally, rather than matching you up with the cute, cuddly and courageous Palicos you can create, evolve and craft your own way, Wild Hearts has spread out little robot droid buddies across its open map called Tsukumo.

These can be evolved by Campfires, upgrading their attack, defense, protection and other attributes, and do help you out in battle when the going gets tough, though I do feel this is something Monster Hunter does a lot better.

And ultimately, despite playing and enjoying myself for hours, progressing through a more coherant campaign rather than taking on random quests, while I enjoyed Wild Hearts, my mind kept switching back to Monster Hunter.

Particularly due to its pacing and balance. I found Koei Tecmo were trying to build the Souls-like of Hunter-fests with the brutal upward difficulty curve just hours into the game. Capcom have definitely better balanced the game and you feel more prepared for the challenges that await.

And when it comes to the Kemono themselves, these are some epic beasts that pack a punch and feel suitably epic in grandiose battles. Though you definitely feel those performance issues in the early going, so whatever you do, don’t default to Resolution mode and always opt for performance. It’s not pleasant.

What we do have here, though, is a very well-crafted, enjoyable, mostly well flowing experience with some creative ideas to appeal to people who wouldn’t normally play these games and those that do.

The difficulty is frustrating, the performance can be painful and the grind is definitely real, but Wild Hearts really does have a lot of heart and it offers an intriguing, albeit less effective alternative to Capcom’s juggernaut franchise.

How this game will continue to grow and develop post launch is one we’ll watch with vested interest, as if they can scale some things and optimise in other ways, this could grow to become a real hit and start to stand apart.

For now, though, it’s difficult to recommend this over the brilliant Monster Hunter Rise which just dropped and will be getting a further, even bigger expansion in the near future.


Wild Hearts is a franchise with potential and offers a refreshing take on a well-formed genre set in fuedal Japan. Between the more enjoyable combat and the Karakuri, Wild Hearts manages to stand apart from its competitors, but is sadly held back by poor performance and an offputting difficulty curve. Hopefully one that continues to evolve in the months ahead.


+ Intriguing long-term potential with lots of post-launch planned
+ Combat is free-flow and blends well with familiar gameplay mechanics
+ The Karakuri is an interesting implementation that works well within this style of game


– Bad performance issues are offputting
– Brutal difficulty curve

Wild Hearts is now available on PC, Xbox and PlayStation

Code Kindly Provided by EA

Played on PlayStation 5

About the author

Brad Baker

Brad is an absolute horror buff and adores the new take on I.T. He also fancies himself as a bit of a Battle Royale master but never when anyone's watching.
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