The mighty Kemono – the creatures inhabiting Wild Hearts, the new monster hunting game by Koei Tecmo and EA – aren’t easy. In fact, they’re hard enough that even one of the game’s directors has trouble defeating his own creations.
“I have quite a lot of difficulties,” Wild Hearts co-director Takuto Edagawa says with a laugh. “When we look at [the toughest Kemono in the game], those ones I die [against]. If I’m not properly prepared, I’ll go in and I’ll be killed.”
But luckily for Edagawa, a helping hand is always close by — literally. His development partner, co-director Kotaro Hirata, smiles and says, “I’m totally awesome at [Wild Hearts], actually.”
The Omega Force division of Koei Tecmo is primarily known for Dynasty Warriors, the wild power fantasy series that sees players effortlessly taking out hundreds of foes at a time. With Wild Hearts, which will seek to capture the appeal of Capcom’s popular Monster Hunter series, Koei Tecmo is well aware it is developing a very difficult game. Edagawa and Hirata want you to fear the Kemono, the nature-infused beasts that inhabit Wild Hearts’ world.
But the development has also been careful to introduce several mechanics to encourage players new to the monster hunting genre to give Wild Hearts a try.
How Omega Force Crafted Wild Hearts’ Karakuri System
What does set Wild Hearts apart is, in fact, crafting. Players will be able to take advantage of the new Karakuri crafting system, which gives players the power to instantly construct objects during the heat of battle. Whether it’s a box to climb on to launch yourself closer to the massive Kemono, or a spring that helps you quickly evade devastating incoming attacks, the Karakuri are designed to give players the edge.
The Karakuri crafting system came about when Edagawa and Hirata realized the beasts were too difficult for players to defeat. Rather than nerfing the Kemono’s abilities, the two decided to give the player the power of the Karakuri to even the score.
“Before [the Karakuri system] came along, the Kemono were way too strong for the players,” Hirata said. “They were just massive creatures with too much power. But then the Karakuri idea came in, and then we realized, ‘the Karakuri system might be too strong now!’… We wanted to make sure the Kemono were really strong and really difficult to beat, because we wanted the players to feel the sense that it was a challenging endeavor. But trying to find that right balance between the actual strength of the Kemono versus the strength of the players was the hardest balance to figure out.”
The directors say the difference between great Wild Hearts players and those who are still figuring it out will be the mastery of the Karakuri system. For players struggling against the nature-infused Kemono, Wild Hearts’ flexible multiplayer support will make calling in help a breeze. Wild Hearts supports online multiplayer for up to three people, and Hirata said watching how more experienced players use the Karakuri can teach rookies very useful strategies.
Unlike Monster Hunter World and Monster Hunter Rise, Wild Hearts also supports crossplay, allowing players on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC to tackle the game together.
“[Crossplay] was actually quite a significant decision for us, and it was one of the toughest things we actually had to work with in development,” Edagawa said. “EA actually said that cross platform play is definitely a plus, and so we thought, ‘Then okay, we’ll do it.’ And ultimately we’re very happy that we decided that… When we think of the fact that we want more people to play, and people from more diverse environments to play, it was definitely worth the additional effort that was required to be able to do this.”
A New Hunting Franchise for Omega Force
While Hirata and Edagawa shied away from drawing comparisons to Capcom’s hunting juggernaut (the two didn’t use the word “Monster” during the entirety of the interview, referring to the beasts in Wild Hearts as “Kemono”, “creatures”, and “prey”, exclusively), it’s impossible to not look at Wild Hearts and see the similarities to Monster Hunter. The two titles are cut from the same cloth, both focusing on the central gameplay loop of hunting creatures to improve your gear, and using that better gear to take down even more powerful foes.
Given Monster Hunter World’s sales success, it’s easy to understand why the Dynasty Warriors studio wanted to take another stab at a hunting action game.
Omega Force previously developed the Toukiden series, which saw three games released between 2013 and 2016. The franchise never caught on in the West, causing a long hiatus for hunting action games from the studio.
Wild Hearts is a fresh start in the genre for Omega Force, and the directors have high hopes for the game beyond this week’s launch. The studio will continue to support the game with free, post-launch updates that will add new Kemono for players to face off against.
There are currently no plans for microtransactions, with Edagawa saying, “when it comes to gameplay and content, players will not be charged anything for any of the actual gameplay.”
If the developers do implement microtransactions down the line, it will strictly apply to cosmetics. Beyond that, Hirata said Koei Tecmo wants Wild Hearts to be a new core franchise for the studio.
“We wanted to build a new pillar for Omega Force. I think in the past we had experiences with the Warriors series and also Toukiden as well, but… When we talk about the reach to a global audience, those titles were not quite there yet in appealing to a wider audience. So one of the things we really wanted to work on and one of the things that started off this project was for Omega Force to have a game that had a global appeal, that was accepted more by a much wider audience.”
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