Wild Hearts

Wild Hearts Is a Marriage of Fortnite and Monster Hunter That Somehow Works

How are your building skills?

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A small human body lies crumpled at my feet. I use magic to materialize a campfire out of thin air. Just as I lean down to roll their limp frame over, a huge, snarling monster crashes into the opposite side of a nearby wall. I shriek aloud as rock and debris tumble everywhere. The hulking, rat-like Kemono lunges for me with gnashing teeth, misses, and darts away. Do I check on my potential friend and let the monster get away?

Heck no. I am a hunter.

I whip out my bladed umbrella and dash after it. These Kemono are beasts that have mutated and fused with elements from nature, so they wind up with a sort of perverted Pokémon vibe. This one, called Hanayadoshi (a.k.a., “Ragetail”), is basically a giant rat with a flower on its forehead, and its tail builds up energy and swells like some kind of disgusting tumor. (Imagine the Pokémon Marill as a huge, photorealistic edgelord, and you’ll get the gist of it.)

Get BONKED you big rat!


In many ways, EA’s upcoming Wild Hearts — due out February 16 — feels identical to a Monster Hunter game. You can choose from an assortment of funky weapons and use them to hammer away at dinosaur-sized monstrosities on lengthy hunts. You track Kemono through various biomes, they interact with the environments in chaotic ways, and each battle phase ends with the Kemono running away. Eventually, you slay the beast and harvest its bones and stuff for resources.

Outside of the core gameplay loop, however, Wild Hearts stands out as a visually breathtaking hunting game inspired by Feudal Japan that leans into photorealism. (You won’t find any cats riding dogs here.) In cutscenes, character models look realistic and stunning — so much so that I couldn’t help but spend far too much time during character creation. You play as an anonymous stranger in a new land tasked with restoring balance to the land of Azuma.

The real standout feature here is your character’s unique power: construction magic called Karakuri. With it, you can build a wide variety of complex mechanisms to aid you in your battles and exploration.

In a press preview event, developers likened the combat to Nioh, which itself is a sort of looser and faster alternative to the slow and methodical Soulslike systems you see in Elden Ring. And it makes sense considering Wild Hearts is a collaboration between EA and Koei Tecmo, which is Nioh’s publisher in Japan.

Karakuri magic is easily the most novel thing about Wild Hearts.


The Karakuri system encourages chaotic experimentation.

In execution, it feels a bit like the Rune magic from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or even Fortnite’s fundamental building mechanics. Even if that makes it feel like Wild Hearts is chasing trends, what it ultimately achieves does feel like a balanced marriage of things that work.

The twitchy commands for constructing Karakuri feel a bit intimidating at first. But if you’re even remotely good at building in Fortnite, you’ll do just fine. With a flick of the wrist, you can conjure three climbable boxes that let you leap into the sky to then come crashing down on your foes. Or maybe you build a trap that springs an enormous hammer to bonk the Kemono on its head.

Wild Hearts has a faint whiff of forgettable recent experiments like Anthem and Outriders, which also emphasize online co-op with three-person squads. Yet, for the most part, its experiments seem to pay off. Linking up with friends to hunt down giant mutated Pokémon will likely be a blast — especially when one of you builds a spring-loaded Karakuri platform that the entire squad can launch from to pommel baddies into oblivion.

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