Two Months in, Wild Hearts tech issues continue to be tamed
Every so often I like to return to games I’ve reviewed; and Wild Hearts, much like Monster Hunter Rise or Final Fantasy XIV is no different. My main complaint with Koei Tecmo and EA’s take on the Hunting Action genre was its technical problems, and so seeing how things might have evolved and changed in the 2 months since launch felt like giving the game enough time to sort itself out, as well as a chance to see if any of the new content added has made the game anymore worth indulging in than the state of the game at launch.
First things first; the issues that I had reported with Koei Tecmo’s engine during my Wo Long preview were eventually fixed a few weeks after Wild Hearts’ launch. It doesn’t excuse that the game was essentially unplayable on specific AMD cards for a period of time, especially with the onus landing on Koei Tecmo’s end rather than AMD’s. Overall performance has also been improved, particularly when it comes to CPU utilization.
FSR has also been introduced on PC, though it's not exactly a great implementation. It looks like it’s FSR1 instead of FSR2, but regardless of whatever settings you use TAA appears to be forced on, and you’re able to see some rather nasty ghosting regardless of whether you’re using the standard or Quality FSR setting. The image itself is also more than a tad oversharpened with no option to dial it back yet. Despite these issues, it’s still a better upscaler than the previous implementation, and Image Quality even at native resolution leaves a lot to be desired; so if you’re running the game at 4K as I’ve been, it’s worth keeping on.
Over the last several patch releases the team has been hard at work squashing bugs and tweaking game balance. Recently the hitbox for torches players have placed has been dialed back, which is greatly appreciated; before it was very easy to activate Torch attacks even when you didn’t want to, and with the current implementation that is much harder to do so. While there’s still jank here and there on animations, the overall presentation has been improved. There’s still a lot of work that can and should be done, and I’d like to hope improvements will continue to roll in, but things do in fact feel more polished than at launch.
As for content; a few new Kemono have graced the game with their presence. There’s a new subspecies of the Deathstalker, called a Grimstalker; as well as an entirely new Kemono in the Murakumo. There’s also been a number of Deeply Volatile endgame hunts that have been added over the last few weeks; needless to say, it’s been a steady stream of content, and while I haven’t personally kept up with it I wouldn’t say Wild Hearts ever had a particularly lacking amount of content to begin with.
What has been surprising has been how active the multiplayer has been; full crossplay has undoubtedly gone a long way to ensuring that Wild Hearts playerbase has remained healthy. It’s all seamless, and whenever you join a hunt you can tell whatever platform the other hunters you’re playing with are on with a simple next to their names. Even endgame hunts are populated enough that it shouldn’t be a concern you won’t find someone to hunt with; and regardless of the state of the game at launch, it seems likely the game will maintain its playerbase for a while yet.
I feel like the addition of crossplay should be given more credit; naturally during the review period I had a limited scope in which to judge the game's netcode, but not only has full crossplay made the game maintain activity even after a rocky launch, but out of all of the bugs I have run into during my time revisiting the game, netcode absolutely wasn't one of the game's remaining sore spots. EA and Koei Tecmo rightfully should be congratulated for nailing this aspect of the game, especially when the continued rollout of Monster Hunter Rise across its various platforms has made Capcom's lack of crossplay all the more painfully obvious.
Wild Hearts absolutely still has room to improve, but it’s at a point where I feel comfortable enough recommending it to anyone looking for a new Monster Hunter-type experience, especially for those that have already had their fill with Monster Hunter Rise and Sunbreak, and who haven’t been taking the plunge with Capcom’s recent ports on PlayStation and Xbox. I hope Wild Hearts will continue to improve; it’s one of the most refreshing attempts at the genre yet, and it would be wonderful if its launch missteps could be overcome and we could have a true competitor in the genre for the future to come.