One of the most highly anticipated games of all time sent fans into a frenzy at E3 2013 when Square Enix announced Kingdom Hearts 3. It’s well over a year later and we still don’t know much about the upcoming collaboration between Square Enix and Disney Interactive Studios. However, we know enough to whet your appetite, so let’s take a look at what Square Enix is cooking up for the next installment in the Kingdom Hearts series.
The director of Kingdom Hearts 3, Tetsuya Nomura, was originally directing Final Fantasy 15 as well. However, Square Enix recently moved him off Final Fantasy 15 so he could focus all of his attention on Kingdom Hearts 3. The initial news surrounding this move seemed to indicate that we might see Kingdom Hearts 3 a bit sooner than expected, however it was later revealed that development on Kingdom Hearts 3 had shifted from Square’s in-house Luminous engine (the same engine that Final Fantasy 15 is running on) to the more traditional Unreal Engine 4. This change set the development process back a bit, but it seems likely that Nomura will be able to get things back on track now that he doesn’t have to focus on Final Fantasy 15 as well.
Generally speaking, Unreal Engine games have a very specific look. When the announcement was made that Kingdom Hearts 3 would be developed on the next-generation engine, many wondered if the look and feel of the Kingdom Hearts series would change. Thankfully this is not the case, and fans can breathe easy knowing that while Kingdom Hearts 3 will look better than any previous game in the series, it will still retain the trademark cartoon-style of the past.
The preview trailer for Kingdom Hearts 3 released during E3 2014 as a bonus to be included with Kingdom Hearts 2.5 is actually the opening cinematic for the game. When eager gamers first play the new title, that trailer is exactly what they’ll see, and the words within the trailer have a significant impact on how the story unfolds.
While there have been a great deal of rumors surrounding which characters and worlds will be included in Kingdom Hearts 3, the only confirmed characters are Sora, Donald, Goofy, King Mickey and Riku. Disney has the final say on which worlds and characters can be included, and with Star Wars and Marvel now falling under the Disney corporate umbrella, and releasing major movies in 2015, it’s heavily rumored that characters and worlds from both franchises will make appearances in the upcoming game.
That said, the game takes place after the events of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. At the moment, the story of Kingdom Hearts 3 revolves around Sora, Donald and Goofy searching for the seven guardians of light and the key to return hearts. It likely has something to do with the Heartless, but we know for sure that Master Xehanort is featured in the game and likely the last boss, as Kingdom Hearts 3 is the final chapter in the Dark Seeker Saga (the battle between Sora and Master Xehanort). Meanwhile, King Mickey and Riku are in search of former Keyblade wielders. At the very least, the scope of the game is said to be considerably bigger than any previous Kingdom Hearts adventure.
Kingdom Hearts 3 does not have a set release date, but many have assumed the game will debut sometime in late 2015. The game will be available for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, marking the first time a Kingdom Hearts title has graced an Xbox console. With Unreal Engine 4 powering the game, it should take everything fans have seen in Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5 to the next level, and bring to life the various Disney characters and worlds.
Prima Games will have more on Kingdom Hearts 3, as well as multiple strategic articles for Kingdom Hearts 2.5 in the coming months.