Wild Hearts is EA and Koei Tecmo’s answer to Monster Hunter, a familiar mix of fantasy combat and gigantic boss beasts – with some lesser-known magical builds and traps.
Released back on February 17th, it came as a bit of a surprise to fans of Omega Force and Monster Hunter-like games, and there’s still a lot to learn even after taking a look at the first trailer. Luckily, we got an exclusive interview with two directors of Koei Tecmo, Kotaro Hirata and Takuto Edagawa.
We asked why the Dynasty Warriors developer is (again) making a new monster hunting game, if it’s an open world, if this building system is one meant to resemble Fortnite, and much more.
Wild Hearts – 13 screenshots
IGN: Omega Force is best known for its Musou/Warriors games, but this looks like a big departure from that approach. What sparked an idea for Wild Hearts?
Kotaro Hirata: This project started as an attempt to create a Japanese-style hunting game that could be enjoyed by a new generation of gamers around the world. It is based on our experience in developing hunting games, especially the Toukiden series.
Our goal of creating a Japanese-style hunting game for a new generation remained constant from start to finish, but realizing this core idea didn’t happen overnight. A challenge we faced was to create something unique with universal appeal that would be accepted by gamers around the world. To achieve this, we went through multiple prototypes and trial and error over a very long period of time.
The ideas that formed the core of the project were Kemono, a fusion of nature and animals; and Karakuri, a crafting element added specifically for this game’s hunting elements. Born from these core ideas, we believe that Wild Hearts is a hunting game that offers a new and innovative experience.
IGN: As you mentioned, this is similar to your previous work on the Toukiden series. Why did it feel like it had to be a new IP and not a Toukiden sequel?
Takuto Edagawa: We wanted Wild Hearts to appeal to a more global audience than the Toukiden series. As a Japanese-style hunting game, Wild Hearts certainly has some things in common with Toukiden. However, the original aspects of Wild Hearts, such as what you hunt, the combat system, the world setting, and the visual presentation differ from Toukiden.
IGN: Can you explain the building system shown to us in the trailer? Do you only create hunting tools or can you build structures like in Fortnite?
KH: Players hunt using a type of craft called Karakuri, an ancient technology that allows for extremely flexible and creative hunting grounds to take on powerful beasts. Karakuri can range from types that can be built instantly during combat to some that can be combined to create new Karakuri and also types that are used to build hunting grounds using many different materials.
Karakuri expands the freedom and possibilities of hunting combat and exploration in this game, making it different from the direction of crafting in Fortnite, which allows for the creation of huge structures.
IGN: One thing that’s less clear from the trailer is the combat system. Will this have the looser, more free-flowing combat of Musou games, or is this closer to Monster Hunter’s heaviness and necessary precision?
KH: Wild Hearts features a combat system that combines a variety of highly flexible actions with deep combat against Kemono.
Players can not only run, jump, grab, slide and perform other actions required in today’s action games, but they can further improve the performance of their actions by taking full advantage of the karakuri system. On the other hand, Kemono, a mix of nature and animals, can hunt down players with a variety of attacks that real animals cannot perform.
In Wild Hearts, players will experience a new type of combat, different from the Warriors series or the hunting titles we’ve seen before.
IGN: Is this an open world game or is the world divided into zones?
TE: Wild Hearts uses a zone-based system, which we think has significant advantages in a hunting game where the player hunts repeatedly. Each separated zone is a large area, and players can reach almost any point in a zone using Karakuri, making it possible to enjoy it like an open-world game where you actively explore the world.
IGN: Why did you choose 3-player max co-op?
TE: Originally we thought about using four players for cooperative play. However, during development we found that three-player combat offered the best balance of maintaining a sense of tension and cooperative combat due to the power of the karakuri. We also took into account that it is easier to gather three players.
IGN: Is this the first Omega Force game that seemed impossible on last-gen consoles? What did it teach you about creating games for the new generation that you will incorporate into future projects?
KH: We believe that the fantastic and unique worldview inspired by feudal Japan is one of the key aspects of Wild Hearts. In order to make the world more attractive, we felt it necessary to maximize the performance of current platforms.
In particular, we’ve improved the atmosphere by incorporating more accurate indirect lighting and higher density by placing higher resolution panels, kemono, and objects in the game.
At Wild Hearts we took on the challenge of using new technologies. We hope players will use Karakuri to roam freely in the colorful and expansive world we’ve created.
IGN: Koei Tecmo self-publishes most of his studios’ work. Why did EA get involved in this project?
KH: We wanted to create a hunting game that would be enjoyed by players around the world. Not only is EA very strong in international publishing, but they have brought a wealth of experience to Wild Hearts and are genuinely committed to bringing our game to a global audience.
IGN: Wild Hearts was only announced this month but will be released in February. How long did the team work on Wild Hearts and why was it kept secret for so long?
KH: If we start counting from the conception and planning phase, we’ve been working on Wild Hearts for four years. We’ve wanted to tell players about this game for a long time, but we thought the shorter the time between announcement and release, the less time players would have to wait and the more interested they would be in playing the game.
IGN: Is this a conscious attempt to appeal to a more western, mainstream audience?
TE: We’re very aware that we want more people in the west to play our games, and we’ve had a lot of feedback from EA on a lot of details from a western point of view, which helps us know where to adjust the game.
However, in terms of basic design, we’re not too aware that we’re only focusing on a Western audience, and as Japanese developers we’re trying to create something that we think is fun. EA feels the same and really respects our creativity.
Joe Skrebels is IGN’s Executive Editor of News. Keep following him Twitter. Do you have a tip for us? Would you like to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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