Developer Omega Force is best known for its series of Warriors games (Dynasty Warriors, Hyrule Warriors and more), but Koei Tecmo’s next project returns to a genre it last flirted with half a decade ago, with Toukiden: monster hunting. . Wild heartspublished by Electronic Arts, takes the gameplay style popularized by Capcom’s Monster Hunter and gives it a few twists, allowing players to take on massive creatures mutated by their natural environment and adding a bit of tower defense mechanics.
On Thursday, at The Game Awards, Omega Force and EA showed off more creatures called kemono that are coming to Wild hearts. There’s an ice-filled wolf named Deathstalker, a hawk full of maples and sunlight known as Amaterasu, and a tiger named Golden Tempest that’s infested with roots and gold dust.
Creative Wild hearts told Polygon in an interview with Zoom earlier this week that their kemono monsters were designed to be believable, despite their seemingly magical nature, and terrifying in terms of their aggression and will to survive.
The design of the kemono began with a game boar, a beast with giant tusks and many eyes that are filled with the trees of its surroundings. These wild animals are affected by their environment and they in turn affect the environment around them, Wild hearts art director Yu Oboshi told Polygon through a translator.
“The boar was the first kimono we came up with,” said Marina Ayano, the game’s other art director. “[Wild Hearts] it has several themes, such as the threat of nature and animals, how they combine [together]and in the process of designing the boar, we considered many ideas, including a yokai style or a fantasy-oriented style. But we wanted to preserve the rawness of the boar and its blending with nature.
“The original Kemono [form] he is shy, but becomes more aggressive as he mutates. Ayano noted that the art team took inspiration from ukiyo-e artwork, hanafuda cards, and religious shrines and temples to create their unique enemies.
Game director Takuto Edagawa said that in the world Wild hearts, kemono are naturally occurring creatures. “There’s something that allowed them to evolve over time and permeate nature,” Edagawa said. “That’s normal in their world—that was the design intent behind it. They are your enemy in the game, but not a clear villain. They are also fighting for survival; what they want is against the interests of the people in the game.”
Edagawa said that Wild hearts does not carry an environmental or ecological message “but there was the question ‘What is nature to us?’ Nature is not aware of human beings and what we do with it. We can have a positive or negative influence, but animals don’t realize it. Nature is circular – things come and go – and that’s part of our story.”
Players will need to pay close attention to their surroundings when fighting kemon. in Wild hearts, one-on-one combat can last anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, with 15 being the sweet spot, the developers said. A monster saturated in nearby tree cover can be relatively calm and green, reflecting the verdant surroundings, and can change to red autumn colors as it becomes angry and nears death. Different environments can also change how a kemono behaves in battle; a monster filled with ice and snow will behave differently than a variation of the same monster affected by wind and heat.
But fear not, arachnophobes. One thing players won’t face Wild hearts are giant bugs and insects, the developers said. Instead, expect giant, angry, nature-filled apes, porcupines, rats, wolves and boars when Wild hearts it will be released on PlayStation 5, Windows PC and Xbox Series X in February.
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