Monster Hunter rival Wild Hearts is almost here, and everything we’ve seen of the EA-published fantasy game from Koei Tecmo’s Omega Force division is shaping up to be a serious contender to Capcom’s crown. The idea of beating Monster Hunter at its own game with a first entry is perhaps a little bold, but Wild Hearts steps certain things forwards in ways that should make fans of Monster Hunter and the genre as a whole excited for the future.
I’ve played over 2,000 hours of Monster Hunter World. That’s a lot of time, and not something I say lightly – but I say it with confidence, because it’s a game that earns your attention. I didn’t play it for that long out of some weird obligation or because I was adamantly stuck in a grind, I was simply having fun. I’ve also put several hundred hours into Monster Hunter Rise, a game that’s even more impressive than World in some ways despite its intentionally smaller scope.
After all that time, you notice the small things – and Wild Hearts is set to make some key improvements that Monster Hunter would do well to learn from in the future. Among these is fully fledged crossplay for players on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox – including the option for in-game voice chat along with the text chat and emote options you’d expect in line with Monster Hunter’s stickers and shoutouts. That’s a very welcome change, especially as my gaming friends are somewhat spread out across platforms nowadays.
Hunts in Wild Hearts – much like their Monster Hunter equivalents – will fail after three faints. However, the ability to revive teammates and salvage yourself one of your three chances makes the appeal of tackling the hardest Wild Hearts monsters in a group much more enticing. Some of the toughest fights in Monster Hunter World and its Iceborne expansion almost felt easier alone, because you weren’t sharing that failure counter across a wide group that could see the entire hunt end with one devastating attack.
Also a welcome improvement is the way Wild Hearts camps work. Much like Monster Hunter, you’ll be able to build additional camps as rest points around the world. However, as demonstrated by YouTuber ‘Ms 5000 Watts’ (seen below, at the 9:33 mark), you can place these down anywhere you like and can then build out on them as you see fit, including the likes of ziplines and other Wild Hearts tools to help get to and from them quickly.
Once again, that’s a nice evolution of the systems seen in Monster Hunter World and Rise. In addition to this, you can eat food at any time to gain stat buffs, as long as you aren’t in combat. The most recent Monster Hunter games did make improvements to allow you to eat at camp once out on a hunt, but being able to do it anywhere is an even nicer feature.
Changes such as this let you focus on your task at hand without being punished for forgetting the perfect order of activities – something that comes easily to veterans, but can prove yet another stumbling block for newcomers. On a similar note, Ms 5000 Watts shows off the Wild Hearts training area (at around 6:28 in the video above), which gives you complete, step-by-step guidance to your weapon alongside adopting the Monster Hunter World moveset in the corner of the screen (something notably absent from Rise).
Along with aiming to ease newer players into the experience more smoothly than Monster Hunter has ever quite managed, Wild Hearts promises more direct accessibility settings including a screen reader, text-to-speech and speech-to-text options, and other settings such as colourblind tools to help players enjoy the game as intended.
As a Monster Hunter diehard, it won’t surprise you that I also ploughed quite a lot of time into Dauntless – a more arcadey spin on the format from Phoenix Labs and Epic Games. While that game was a pretty solid take on the genre, it definitely leant hard into the faster, simpler side of things, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that it had some influence on Capcom making the notably nippier Monster Hunter Rise next. Wild Hearts, by comparison, seems to be angling much more directly for the scale, scope, and spectacle that World gave us back in 2018.
There’s no word on Monster Hunter World 2 yet, but it feels like a fairly safe bet that Capcom will want a direct follow up to its best-selling game of all time. Hopefully Wild Hearts proves to be just as good as it’s shaping up to be. Whether it does that or falls short, however, its very existence should drive Capcom to make Monster Hunter even better in the future. Competition ultimately benefits us all, in the end.
Wild Hearts releases on February 16 on Steam, the Epic Games Store, and the EA Store. In the meantime, check out more of the best games like Monster Hunter, along with more of the best co-op games if you just fancy a good time with some pals.