Wild Hearts could end up being the first truly exceptional Monster Hunter rival. There have been other games that have tried to mimic the feel, and ostensibly the success, of the Monster Hunter series, but as it turns out, that’s not an easy thing to manage. The good news is that Wild Hearts has managed it somehow, and it’s a game that’ll feel a bit comfortable for long-time fans of monster-hunting. It is, however, surprisingly different in some incredibly cool ways. If you’re wondering what to expect, then you’re in luck, because we’ve decided to talk about some of the notable differences.
More integrated monster design
Even before we get to gameplay, there’s one huge difference between Monster Hunter and Wild Hearts, and it lies in how the monsters feel. In Monster Hunter, the beasts you’ll be battling are dragons, or giant sabertooth cats, or horrifying armadillos. They’re all inspired by natural animals, but they’re also just kind of there. There’s not always anything tying them to the environments they’re in.
Wild Hearts has kemono instead of monsters, and the design of them makes them feel as though they’re part of the scenery itself. A lot of monsters are part plant, and they often fit with their environments as though they’d climbed out of the ground itself. It’s a nice touch that makes each one of them feel as though they belong, but you don’t.
Your character has a lot more respect for the world around them
We know that Monster Hunter generally frames things as you being someone who’s trying to defend a village or whatever, but that doesn’t change the fact that you regularly invade a monster’s home, capture it, put it in an arena, and then kill it there for practice. The whole thing has bad vibes.
While you’re still defending a village in Wild Hearts, it has a very different feel to it. First of all, you can’t capture the kemono. There are people who study them, but the feeling is that if you let them go about their business and respect them, they should mostly leave you alone. You also apologize or thank every creature you end up killing, and bow toward a lot of the natural world as you pick up resources. It feels as though your hunter is almost sorry to have to fight back, and it’s a refreshing change.
You can’t really influence the maps as you go through them in Monster Hunter. Everything is sort of stuck as is, and while some maps grow larger as you go through the game, you can’t do anything to actually make them easier to traverse, outside of finding other camps.
In Wild Hearts, you can summon things called Karakuri which can help you move around. In the early game, these are just things like a spring to help you get across a gap, or blocks to help you climb. As you progress, you start to unlock more permanent things like zip wires you can reposition to help you move about the map faster. It’s nice to be able to create your own shortcuts, and it helps the flow of the game immensely.
There are fewer items
When we say fewer items, we mean there are basically no usable items in Wild Hearts. Monster Hunter gives you an overwhelming number of consumables to try out, master, and mess with. It can be a hassle farming up items, which is one of the things later games in the series have streamlined with literal farms.
Aside from some food, which we’ll get to, there aren’t really consumables in Wild Hearts. You have your healing water, but that’s basically it. Instead, you have to use your Karakuri and Karakuri fusions as your items. It’s a fun little twist, and because you can only have a small number of Karakuri equipped at once, you need to keep in mind what they all do and how they can work together before setting out.
Eat on the go
One of the most adorable features of Monster Hunter are the eating sequences. This is especially true in both Rise and World, because you have the wonderful Calico chefs cooking up glorious meals for your weary hunter. These meals give you stat boosts, and can help specialize your character against specific monsters.
Eating works very differently in Wild Hearts, because you just kind of shove morsels into your mouth as you go. You can’t eat during battles, but you can munch down on whatever food you’ve acquired once you’ve spotted a monster you want to fight. Each thing has its own buff and value, and you can only eat a certain amount of food before you’re full. It’s definitely a recognizable similarity in terms of the effects, but the way you do it is very different.
The difficulty is very different
It’s nearly impossible to say whether Monster Hunter or Wild Hearts is more difficult, but the way they approach difficulty is certainly very different. Monster Hunter has a lot of its difficulty tied up in assumed knowledge. While the recent games have gotten better at helping new players out, they’re still hard to parse without previous knowledge. Plus, fights don’t really get tricky until you’re into the High Rank quests.
Wild Hearts has a little less going on to keep new players locked out, the combat throws itself, and the kemono, at you from the first hunt. A single slip-up can be fatal even against early-game monsters, and once you’re into the higher difficulty quests things are truly brutal. Multiplayer gives monsters a big boost in both games, but it feels a lot more pronounced in Wild Hearts too. It’s fun though, make no mistake.
For more on the new entry to the action-hunter genre, check out our Wild Hearts tips and a guide on how to unlock all Wild Hearts weapons.