The creators of Wild Hearts, an upcoming hunting game from Dynasty Warriors studio Omega Force, really want you to feel threatened while playing. Much like the Monster Hunter series, the goal in Wild Hearts is to take down giant almost mythological creatures by cleverly using a variety of weapons and gadgets. Often when I play these games, I end up feeling guilty as I watch a dinosaur-like creature limp away while I stalk it with a giant sword in hand. But according to Wild Hearts director Kotaro Hirata, one of the key design goals was to avoid that feeling — and that goes for every creature you’ll come up against.
“We didn’t want the players to feel bad when they defeated a monster,” he tells The Verge. “We weren’t exactly going for fear, but more the threat of nature suddenly becoming dangerous to you.”
Wild Hearts throws players into a feudal Japan-inspired fantasy world that’s teeming with dangerous creatures called Kemono. It’s a mix of hunting and crafting so that you’re not just killing monsters but also utilizing strange gadgets — called Karakuri — to take them down in inventive ways.
Here’s a seven-minute-long gameplay trailer to give you a feel for the game:
The game is being published by EA, and for developer Omega Force — best known for the hack-and-slash action series Dynasty Warriors — it was part of a concerted effort to broaden the studio’s audience, particularly outside of Japan. “This is a completely new genre for us,” says Hirata. “We have the Dynasty Warriors series as a strong pillar for Omega Force, and we wanted to build another pillar.”
That said, the team did have some experience. Hirata previously worked on the Attack on Titan games, which are similarly about taking down gigantic enemies, and fellow director Takuto Edagawa worked on the crafting game Dragon Quest Builders. “We were able to bring both of those experiences into this new game,” says Edagawa.
Given the breakout success of Monster Hunter: World, which went on to become Capcom’s bestselling release, exploring the hunting genre makes a lot of sense, especially for a studio looking to make a big splash. And there were a few places where Omega Force is hoping to differentiate itself. A core philosophy of the game’s design is giving players a lot of control over how they interact with the world — which includes crafting strange gadgets that look like some kind of ancient technology. “We wanted to give players a lot of freedom of movement and control over how they fight, especially using our Karakuri crafting element,” Hirata explains. You can also fight these monsters solo or with up to two other players via co-op play, with the difficulty adjusting based on the number of players.
And naturally, the monsters themselves are a big part of the experience. Hirata says that they were designed with the keywords of “animals” and “nature” in mind. Some of the creatures that have been shown off so far include a fiery ape and an icy wolf, both of which are huge. All of the creatures have one thing in common, though: they’re dangerous. “There is a certain aspect of the monsters that can be charming, or even whimsical in a way,” says Edagawa. “But we wanted you to want to fight them.”
“We wanted you to want to fight them”
Which brings us back to the idea of not feeling guilty for taking down a majestic beast.
“That is a core element to our game,” Hirata says. “We wanted you to, even when they’re comical, feel a threat, to feel a sense of danger from these Kemono. As you’re fighting them they will change shape, they will evolve, and we wanted to make sure that the player felt like their life was in danger as they’re fighting these evolving, natural beasts.”
Wild Hearts launches on February 17th for the PS5, Xbox Series X / S, and PC.