Square Enix’s long-running and fiercely beloved saga is finally coming to a close.
It’s been a long time coming, but Kingdom Hearts 3 is finally almost here. What started as an ambitious crossover between Disney properties and Final Fantasy during the early days of the PS2 has blossomed into one of the biggest JRPG franchises of the industry with a massive, devoted fanbase, and soon, we get to see it all come to fruition. As we count down the days to its imminent launch, let’s first take a look at fourteen more things that you need to know about Kingdom Hearts 3, in vein of a similar feature we did quite recently- you can read that through here.
THE COMPLETION OF A SAGA
Kingdom Hearts has woven a long and winding tale over the course of several games in the last decade and a half, and soon, we’re going to see it all come to an end. Kingdom Hearts 3 serves as a conclusion to the Dark Seeker saga, picking after the fateful events of Dream Drop Distance, and hopefully proving to be a worthy culmination of this beloved franchise.
SECRET ENDING CUTSCENE
Kingdom Hearts 3 will have a secret ending scene, which you will only be able to see if you’ve met “certain criteria” throughout your entire playthrough- what these criteria are is something that we will obviously learn only once we’ve actually played the game. What’s interesting is that the secret scene isn’t actually part of the game that has been pressed onto discs, and will be added as free DLC on January 31. Why? Well, according to director Tetsuya Nomura, this scene is one of the biggest spoilers in the entire game, and wanting to prevent any premature leaks was one of the reasons, Square decided to hold it back until after launch.
Kingdom Hearts 3’s voice cast is full of huge names. For starters, Haley Joel Osment, Tony Anselmo, and Bill Farmer will obviously be reprising their roles as Sora, Donald, and Goofy respectively. Additionally, from the world of Frozen, Elsa, Anna, Olaf, and Kristoff are all being portrayed by the actors who played them in the movie- Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, and Jonathan Groff respectively. Zachary Levi and Donna Murphy will be reprising the roles of Flynn Rider and Mother Gothel from Tangled. From Toy Story, John Ratzenberger will play Hamm, while Wallace Shawn will play Rex. Meanwhile, Tate Donovan will play Hercules, while Kevin R. McNally will play Gibbs from Pirates of the Caribbean. Meanwhile, for the Big Hero 6 characters, most of the actors who played major characters in the movie will be returning. This will include Ryan Potter as Hiro Hamada, Scott Adsit as Baymax, Khary Payton as Wasabi No-Ginger, Jamie Chung as Go Go Tomago, TJ Miller as Fred, and Genesis Rodriguez as Honey Lemon.
With Toy Story and Monster Inc. both being featured in the impressive list of Disney worlds we’ll be visiting in Kingdom Hearts 3, this game marks the first time that a Pixar property has crossed over into the franchise. And apparently, that was something that director Tetsuya Nomura had been adamant on right from the beginning. As soon as development on Kingdom Hearts 2 wrapped and a sequel was being considered, Nomura told Disney that he would not make the game if he weren’t allowed to use Pixar properties.
NO SURPRISE DISNEY WORLDS
From Toy Story, Big Hero 6, Tangled, and Frozen to Hercules, Monsters Inc., Pirates of the Caribbean, and more, we’ve already heard about a lot of exciting Disney worlds that are going to be featured in Kingdom Hearts 3. But if you’re hoping that there’s still more secret Disney worlds in the game that Square Enix are choosing to keep under wraps, well, don’t. Square has stated in no vague terms that all the Disney worlds that are included in the upcoming RPG have already been revealed.
As is always the case with Kingdom Hearts games, the worlds in Kingdom Hearts 3 are also going to serve the purpose of injecting heavy doses of variety into the way the game plays, with each world having some mechanics or systems that will be unique to them. From naval combat in the Pirates of the Caribbean world, to flight in the Big Hero 6 world, to being able to sled down hills, to controlling mechs in first person shooter segments, there’s going to be a lot to sink our teeth into.
One new mechanic that Kingdom Hearts 3 introduces is Athletic Flow, which will give players more traversal options and abilities, and allow players to use the environment to get to areas in the world that might otherwise be inaccessible. This includes actions such as running up walls or jumping over huge gaps. As you may have guessed, it is based on the Flow Motion mechanic from Dream Drop Distance, but is, of course, going to be improved upon.
Kingdom Hearts 3 will also see the return of the Drive Form mechanic, which was originally seen in Kingdom Hearts 2 what feels like a million years ago- however, it’s going to work a little differently. It will, essentially, be tied to Keyblade transformations, with each of the four Drive Forms transforming not only your outfit and your appearance, but also your Keyblade into something different- a shield with Guardian Form, and a hammer with Power Form. Then there’s Rage Form, in which Sora will take on the appearance of a Pureblood Heartless, and his Keyblade, now enveloped in darkness, will become quicker and more powerful. Finally, there’s there’s Second Form, which gives Sora his outfit from Kingdom Hearts 2, as well as some “familiar abilities”.
There are, of course, also going to be several minigames that players will be able to try out in Kingdom Hearts 3. In Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood, these will mostly be puzzle games, while in the Classic Kingdom, there will be over 20 games, all of which will be presented in a classic 1980s LCD style.
One area where Kingdom Hearts 3 will differ from its predecessors is in how it will allow players to switch their equipped Keyblades. While in previous games players would have to go into the menu and scroll through their Keyblades to equip the one they wanted, you will now be able to do so on the fly during combat itself, which should not only make for faster combat, but should also present some interesting combo opportunities. In addition, each Keyblade can also be levelled up and upgraded.
MID-DEVELOPMENT ENGINE SWITCH
When Kingdom Hearts 3 first started development, it was built on the Luminous Engine, the engine that was designed by Square Enix for Final Fantasy 15. However, midway through development, they decided to switch engines, and build the game instead on Unreal Engine 4. This switch, according to the developers, added to the game’s development time significantly, as they learned the ropes of how to make UE4 work, but as it turned out, it was all for the better, because in their own words, Unreal Engine 4 turned out to be very versatile (unsurprisingly), and easier to develop on.
The soundtrack is a vital part of any Kingdom Hearts games, and with Kingdom Hearts 3, Square Enix is going to pull no punches. Yoko Shimomura, the long-time series composer, returns for Kingdom Hearts 3. Also returning is Hikaru Utada- just like she did with Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2, she has written and performed a song for the upcoming sequel- actually, she’s written and performed two. One for the game’s English version, and one for Japanese.
Wait, scratch that, she’s been involved in three songs. Her third song, “Face My Fears”, is one that she actually collaborated on with Skrillex and Poo Bear.
Kingdom Hearts 3 will also launch with a deluxe edition. Other than a copy of the game itself, the deluxe edition, for a price of $80, will include a collectible pun, an artbook, and a steelbook case. For the hardcore fans who want to celebrate the occasion that is this game’s launch (and also want to shell out a lot of extra cash), there’s also another deluxe edition that you can only buy from Square Enix’s own store. On top of all the contents from the regular deluxe edition, it will also include three figures, one each of Sora, Donald, and Goofy. It’ll cost $230.
As is the case with almost every game these days, one question that people often ask about Kingdom Hearts 3 is- will there eventually be a Nintendo Switch version as well? The answer to that? There might be- or there might now. Director Tetsuya Nomura has said that a Switch version is possible, but also stated that beyond getting the Xbox One and PS4 versions of the game shipped on time, there isn’t much else that the development team is thinking of right now.