Wild Hearts Hand Cannon weapon guide for beginners

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(Image credit: EA)

The Wild Hearts Hand Cannon weapon is a challenging one, whose massive damage output is hampered by complex mechanics, ammo and overheating. It's not our favourite weapon in Wild Hearts, but the Hand Cannon can be powerful, and can be even better when used as part of a team effort with other hunters. For those who want to bring a gun to a monster fight, we'll walk you through the Wild Hearts Hand Cannon as a weapon and how you can best make use of it.

How to use the Wild Hearts Hand Cannon

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(Image credit: EA)

The Wild Hearts Hand Cannon fires two kinds of projectiles: regular shots, which do pretty high damage to enemies, and deployable Ki Bases, which are special zones that restore your ammo when you stand in them (you can't get ammo back otherwise). Players have to use the Ki Bases to keep firing, but obviously standing in one place isn't always safe when giant monsters keep trying to step on you. You also need to keep the cannon's heat down - if it overheats, you'll be briefly staggered, and the cannon will do vastly reduced damage until it cools down again. 

So… yeah, a lot to keep in mind. It's a weapon that can do a lot of damage when used well, but it's a complex enough process that we didn't rank it especially highly against the other Wild Hearts weapons. If you're interested in ranged combat, the Wild Hearts bow might be a better bet.

Hand Cannon moveset and attacks

The Hand Cannon has the following basic moves and functions, with further nuances depending on how you combine them with Karakuri structures and more. Here's the core instruction manual:

  • Square/X: Conjure Ki Base beneath player
  • Triangle/Y: Aim Ki Base (conjure with R2/RT) 
  • R2/RT: Fire Hand Cannon
  • R2/RT + Square/X: Dispel all conjured Ki Bases

However, this doesn't nearly do justice to the Hand Cannon's complex nature. Let's talk about the fine details.

Overheating, Ki Bases and Fortified Shot explained

Let's start with Ki Bases. Hand Cannon users can deploy up to five Ki Bases at any one time (marked by the little hexagonal symbols to the right of your ammo count), and they're deployed by pressing either Square/X (which puts one beneath you), or Triangle/Y, which allows you to fire one at a distance. Ki Bases are how you restore ammunition - when you stand in one, your Thread Ammo count naturally regenerates. And because you can only have five Ki Bases deployed at one time, you have to wipe the slate clean, which you can do by de-conjuring all existing Ki Bases with R2/RT + Square/X.

Then there's overheating. The new gauge above your ammo marks the Cannon's heat, which rises as you keep firing and cools down when you stop. Overheating is fine until you max it out - at which point your character will be briefly staggered, and the Cannon will fire much weaker shots more slowly until it cools off completely. Basically, you never want it to overheat if you can avoid it.

Finally, there's Fortified Ki Bases and the Fortified Shot, which Wild Hearts is bad at explaining, but is what allows you to do the most powerful attack the Cannon has. I'll explain the process here:

  1. Fire the Cannon until the heat gauge starts flickering, but not so that it's overheated (roughly three quarters full)
  2. Use Triangle/Y to fire a distant Ki Base at the enemy. It has to hit a foe, or this doesn't work.
  3. This Fortified Ki Base will instantly cool your weapon, bounce off the enemy, and land with a special gold thread effect on the ground
  4. Run into the new Fortified Ki Base you just made, and when safe, press R2/RT + Triangle/Y to drain energy from the base, charging your Hand Cannon.
  5. Aim at the foe and press R2/RT + Triangle/Y again to do a Fortified Shot, the Cannon's most powerful attack. 

Hand Cannon tips and tricks

The Hand Cannon gives players a lot to learn, but here's some basic pointers to help you get to grips with it.

  • Players move slowly when the Cannon is equipped. You should sheathe it regularly to get your full mobility back.
  • Never fully overheat if you can avoid it, there's no benefit to doing so.
  • The Fortified Ki Base is a great way to instantly clear the heat in your weapon, though aiming ranged Ki Bases is a bit fiddly (as it has an arcing mortar trajectory)
  • Make sure your Ki Bases are spread out, so you always have one nearby.
  • Jumping off a Karakuri Crate and firing creates a huge blast, while a shot from a spring results in five shots in a horizontal spread.
Joel Franey
Guides Writer

Joel Franey is a writer, journalist, podcaster and raconteur with a Masters from Sussex University, none of which has actually equipped him for anything in real life. As a result he chooses to spend most of his time playing video games, reading old books and ingesting chemically-risky levels of caffeine. He is a firm believer that the vast majority of games would be improved by adding a grappling hook, and if they already have one, they should probably add another just to be safe. You can find old work of his at USgamer, Gfinity, Eurogamer and more besides.