Update (Thu 9th Nov, 2023): With Wild Hearts arriving on Xbox Game Pass as part of EA Play today, we thought we'd re-share this review from earlier in the year so you can get an idea of what it's like, and whether it's worth a download.

Keep in mind the game has also received multiple patches since release, as documented on the EA website.

Original review (Thu 16th Feb, 2023): Let’s set the scene – Monster Hunter Rise finally arrived on Xbox last month and it’s arguably the greatest entry in the nearly two-decade-old series. For a long time, there’s been no real competition in sight, and now less than a month on, there’s a new title that takes a lot of inspiration from Capcom’s mighty hunting series. Introducing Wild Hearts – a brand new action role-playing “hunting game” developed by Koei Tecmo’s Omega Force (famous for the Warriors series & various other Musou) and backed by the western juggernaut Electronic Arts as part of the ‘EA Originals’ line – known for award-winning hits like It Takes Two.

Wild Hearts wastes no time throwing you into a world of chaos. You take on the role of a hunter, who you get to customise how you like, and travel to a location known as Azuma – a fantasy-style landscape inspired by feudal Japan. Here you gain the power to wield “ancient Karakuri technology” and must deal with nature-fused beasts known as “Kemono” who have begun to rampage across the countryside. Minato, a once thriving community, is your last bastion. If the whole thing sounds similar to the latest Monster Hunter, it’s because it is!

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The immediate task when you begin your adventure is to make your way to Minato, and along the way you’ll receive the sophisticated Karakuri tech, slay some giant beasts and learn the basics of battles. What sets Wild Hearts slightly apart is the construction and building in combat. Along with an option of eight distinct weapon types, which kind of function like character classes, you’ve also got your hero powers in the form of this ancient Karakuri technology.

Now, this is where there’s a little more to the hunt beyond the regular old hack, slash, dodge and roll gameplay you might have grown accustomed to over the years. This special power allows you to craft and build objects to assist you in battle, and to navigate the lands of Azuma. You’ll be able to craft crates and springs to launch yourself at all sorts of beasts from the air, heal up, and unleash more powerful attacks and even giant hammers, and then you’ve got handy creations like workbenches (to forge on the go), zip lines, gliders, towers, and some more serious-style weapons to take down and track your targets. In addition to this, you’ll be encouraged to gather materials from each hunt to craft unique weapon sets and armour, which is obviously familiar territory.

The new Karakuri powers will likely take some time to adapt to, but when you get the hang of it, you can deploy various defenses such as walls and more powerful attacks in the heat of battle. At times, it's sort of like a more advanced version of 'The Rampage' in the latest Capcom entry. And then there’s co-op & crossplay – allowing you and two others to hunt Kemono together – opening up more building capabilities and even some special missions, and balancing out the challenge of certain encounters. If you are running solo though, you’ll still have some company in the form of Tsukumo, little collectible companions similar to Felyne, who can help out in battle.

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Wild Hearts has a similar grind to Capcom’s hunter. You go out, fight and experiment with different weapons – ranging from Katanas to bows and hand cannons – slay some beasts, return to base, upgrade and craft, and then go back out bigger and better. The beasts also follow a similar pattern, unleashing their own set of attacks while running all over the map until you deliver the final blow. An immediately notable difference is their fusion with nature – meaning they’ll tear up the environment at the same time in all sorts of ways, and often be elemental-themed. This can make battles even more hectic. The Kemono themselves are inspired by animals like rodents, wolves, crows, and even larger creatures that can look like moving land masses. There’s a decent range, but it’s also not quite as fleshed out as Capcom’s series. You’ll be taking on these creatures across mountains, isles, beaches, and canyons throughout the region. The hunt itself requires you to take on a mission, head off, track down the beast, and then duke it out. Battles can take time, depending on how you’re geared up, and as you would expect, you can also rely on food, healing powers and more to sustain yourself throughout the fight.

Battles during our own playthrough were mostly fine, but targeting enemies wasn’t always the easiest. The combat at times did feel a bit more like the Warriors series making it slightly simpler – with lighter and less weighted movements with certain weapons – but that might not appeal to everyone. One issue that kept popping up was the wild camera. In certain environments, the game camera was all over the place, and you just don’t have enough screen or room quite often to see the full monster. Despite this, Wild Hearts may still seem a bit more welcoming to some players (than Monster Hunter) with its easier controls, movement, and even menu navigation.

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Outside of battles, you’ll meet a variety of people across your adventure who will help you in different ways. There are blacksmiths, ornament makers (to help you set apart your look from the rest), sellers, and even some more mysterious characters. There are handier gameplay features as well, like being able to fast travel around maps by setting up tents, and being able to form a party with relative ease when out in the field.

In terms of the game’s artwork, sound, and visuals – Wild Hearts achieves its feudal Japan-inspired themes, it also has a lovely soundtrack that lifts when it counts, but falls short from time-to-time in terms of graphics and performance. At the time of writing, there have been mixed reports regarding the game’s performance, especially on Xbox Series S. Based on our own playthrough on Xbox Series X though, we’ve not encountered any serious problems. The game can suffer some drops in frames here and there during certain moments like when you're in town or in a more hectic battle. Apart from this, there are some occasionally muddy textures that make it look more past-gen than next-gen, but the landscapes, Kemono, and even the characters look vibrant enough most of the time.

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When putting Wild Hearts alongside Monster Hunter, it's a decent effort - but it does fall short in certain areas. It's not quite as polished as Capcom's series in terms of production value and doesn't really do enough to set itself apart from the source material. The combat feels somewhat different, but it's not quite as refined or satisfying, and the core systems supporting it aren't as extensive making it feel second-best, even if it is initially refreshing. It's these sorts of shortcomings combined that might make some veterans question whether it's worth their time when it borrows so much from the series it's "inspired" by but doesn't necessarily make it better.


If you’re hungry for a new hunter-style experience that isn't Capcom's premier franchise, Wild Hearts is probably as good as it’s going to get right now. It's perhaps an easier entry point with fewer things to overwhelm newcomers and has plenty of fun moments for sure. For veteran hunters, it does bring some new ideas to the table, especially with the building mechanics, but it might not necessarily meet your expectations in other areas of gameplay, and can be rough around the edges at times. If Wild Hearts does have a future beyond this (and there's DLC on the way, we should mention) it would be nice to see it form its own proper identity.