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How Capcom created one of Monster Hunter Wilds’ terrifying new monsters

Art of the Balahara in Monster Hunter Wilds.
Summer Gaming Marathon Feature Image
This story is part of our Summer Gaming Marathon series.

How does one go about making a new monster for a game like Monster Hunter Wilds?

Each game in the series introduces new creatures for players to hunt down, and many of them go on to become iconic or appear in future games. That’s a lot of pressure for Capcom when it’s creating something new for an upcoming game like Monster Hunter Wilds. One of Wilds’ new monsters, Balahara, debuted at Summer Game Fest this year.

It’s a giant serpent- and worm-like Leviathan monster that hides under the sandy dunes of the Windward Plains and can ruthlessly ambush players or other monsters that walk above where groups of them are resting. I spoke to Monster Hunter Wilds‘ Executive Director Kaname Fujioka at Summer Game Fest to learn how Capcom goes about creating a new monster like Balahara. According to Fujioka, it all starts with what function the developers want it to serve in the game before becoming a back and forth between gameplay designers and visual designers.

“Gameplay is thought of as a sequence of meeting more monsters as you progress through the story,” Fujikora tells Digital Trends. “Each new monster is going to have a function, whether that’s being your first monster of the game, teaching you a certain gameplay mechanic, or having a story function.

“The idea for what that monster will be is then considered from a design perspective; how will it look and behave? There’s actually quite a lot of back and forth between our gameplay and visual designers … It lets us eventually get to the point where it’s not just a boss or an enemy. It feels like a living, breathing creature that’s part of an ecosystem. While it has a gameplay or tutorial function, it also feels like it just exists, and you’re dealing with it on its own terms. That is difficult, but it can be really rewarding”

A hunter fights a Balahara in Monster Hunter Wilds.

When it comes specifically to the Balhara, Fujoka tells me that Capcom wanted to create a creature that “would be able to move around in packs in a unique way in a desert context.” From there, the idea emerged to make a monster that could dive in and out of the sand and move underneath the dunes. That influenced both its visual design and the gameplay element of the Balahara’s quicksand traps that are dotted throughout the Windward Plains. “That journey went from functionality to ecological plausibility to gameplay contribution in a really interesting way,” Fujioka admits.

While Capcom was hunting another monster during the hands-off demo of Wilds I saw at Summer Game Fest, the Balahara still left a lasting impression. I’m glad that I’ll now understand more about how such a threatening monster was created when I play Monster Hunter Wilds after it launches on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S in 2025.

Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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