There are a number of high profile titles coming out next month but the one with perhaps the highest profile is Kingdom Hearts 3. Having spent years in development, it’s finally out on January 29th worldwide for Xbox One and PS4. Will it provide answers to all of our questions (and maybe for some we never asked)? Probably but in the meantime, let’s look at some of the things you should know before picking up Kingdom Hearts 3.
Kingdom Hearts initially started as a crossover between Disney and Final Fantasy. Sora, Donald and Goofy essentially travel to different Disney worlds which represent famous films. In Kingdom Hearts 3, represented films include Tangled, Big Hero 6, Hercules, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Winnie the Pooh and several established locations like Twilight Town and Destiny Islands. Some locations are fairly typical – you head to the 100 Acre Wood to complete mini-games with Pooh and friends like before. Others like Big Hero 6 will require teaming up with Hiro and Baymax to defend San Fransokyo. There’s a wide variety of locations to explore in each world with tons to uncover
If there’s one thing a Kingdom Hearts title has, it’s characters. New characters like Rapunzel, Elsa, Woodie and Buzz have emerged to fight with Sora. Familiar entities like Hercules, Jack Sparrow, Winnie the Pooh and so on are also included and will join Sora’s party. You can even meet Remy from Ratatouille for some cooking mini-games. Other returning entities include the dastardly Maleficient and Pete; Aqua from Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep; Hayner, Pence and Olette from Twilight Town; and of course, mainstays like King Mickey, Riku, Kairi and Roxas. Everyone is here, more or less.
Setting and Story
Summarizing the entire story that led to Kingdom Hearts 3 would take a while so here’s the Cliff’s Notes: Sora and friends are searching for the Seven Guardians of Light to battle Master Xehanort and Organization XIII. Xehanort has been instrumental in many of the tragedies throughout the series as he attempts to balance light and dark. A final confrontation between Sora and Xehanort seems a given but who will come out on top? Will the end of this saga mark the end of Kingdom Hearts? Time will tell.
PS4 Pro, Xbox One X Enhancements
Kingdom Hearts 3 will support the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro out of the box. According to Digital Foundry at E3 2018, the game ran at native 4K resolution and an unlocked frame rate on the Xbox One X. Many reports indicated a 60 FPS frame rate prior to this so it remains to be seen what the final resolution and frame rate will be.
Getting Caught Up
As noted before, the story leading up to Kingdom Hearts 3 is big and fairly confusing. However, speaking to VG247, director Tetsuya Nomura said there there will be several elements in the sequel like videos detailing the story thus far to help catch players up. “I would be delighted if people who played Kingdom Hearts 3 took an interest in the series overall and went back to play the previous games as well,” said Nomura. So whether you’re a new player or returning veteran, Kingdom Hearts 3 should have you covered in terms of lore.
Employing less of a floaty feeling compared to recent iterations, the combat in Kingdom Hearts 3 is fast-paced and brisk. Though the standard system for attacks and magic is more or less the same, players will have a variety of new abilities, team-up attacks and much more to wreck havoc on enemies. There are Ultimate attacks called Attractions (which we’ll get into later) and a modified version of Flow Motion called Athletic Flow which allows for wall-running. Link Attacks are also back and function as Summons. Make no mistake though – there’s a lot to learn.
Keyblade Abilities And Transformations
Further adding to the combat are the addition of Keyblade Transformations. It’s not odd to see certain Keyblades turn into, say, dual pistols to fire at foes. Keyblade Transformations are earned when completing all missions in a world and there will be “multiple layers of transforming” according to Nomura as players successfully connect combos. Some forms can change Sora’s skills altogether and using the new Drive Forms, our hero can swap between several Keyblades during combat rather than changing them in the menu.
Downloadable content will be coming for Kingdom Hearts 3 but Nomura wants to focus more on expanding the core gameplay with these releases. A Season Pass also seems to be unlikely as the development team releases standalone content for players to purchase. What this new content will be is unknown at this time.
Initially, it was thought that the game would have over 80 hours of content including both story missions and side quests. This was revealed via Geek.com but a Square Enix representative would later clarify that the exact length of the game was still to be decided. Could it be more? Perhaps less? Regardless of what the case might be, if previous games are anything to go by, Kingdom Hearts 3 will have a pretty long campaign for players to dive into.
You can definitely expect the Heartless – along with certain Rare Heartless – to return along with the usual enemies respective to Disney worlds. For example, traveling to Olympus means teaming up with Hercules to deal with the Titans. If you’re familiar with any of the worlds, then you’ll have some idea of the villains that will be fought. Could the Nobodies return, especially with Organization XIII being such a threat? It seems a given at this point.
Lo and behold, Summons are returning in Kingdom Hearts 3. They’re actually in the form of D-Link Attacks which see Sora bring in a character – like Wreck-It Ralph or Ariel from the Little Mermaid – to unleash some devastating attacks. Even adult Simba from The Lion King can be summoned to deal some overwhelming fire damage.
Party of 5
Previous Kingdom Hearts titles always stuck you with a party of three. When traveling to a new Disney world, the star character of that world would have to replace either Donald or Goofy. In Kingdom Hearts 3 however, you not only keep Donald and Goofy but have two additional Disney characters in your party. So for the first time in the series, you can have a party of five, traveling the world and bopping enemies left and right.
Ever wanted to fight a giant boss by summoning the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or even a pirate ship? Thanks to the new Attraction Flow attacks, Kingdom Hearts 3 lets you do just that. Though it seems limited to bigger bosses, the sheer visual splendor (inspired visually in part by the Main Street Electrical Parade in Disney Parks) makes them a joy to behold.
In Kingdom Hearts 3, there’s definitely a greater focus on the Gummi Ship with different stats to customize. Perhaps the coolest part is that the Gummi Ship gameplay is being handled by the staff behind Einhander, the classic PS One shoot ’em up. As such we’re going to see cooler mechanics like a battle specialization mode and free movement mode that gives the Gummi Ship an open world kind of feel. This will ideally lead to more nuanced exploration.
Dawn Till Dusk Keyblade
If you happen to purchase Kingdom Hearts 3 from Amazon, then you’ll receive a special bonus – the Dawn Till Dusk Keyblade. It’s coloured slightly different from Sora’s base Keyblade and doesn’t seem to be restricted to pre-orders (so you’ll still receive it when purchasing the game after launch). Square Enix has yet to clarify on whether it does anything special or has any unique abilities however.