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Journey to E3 2018: Kingdom Hearts 3

Throughout the month, we’ll be recapping what we know so far about the biggest titles at this year’s E3 Press Conference. Today’s game is none other than Kingdom Hearts 3, one of the most anticipated titles of all time.

Kingdom Hearts 3 was announced a half-decade ago at E3 2013, but anticipation for this game has been brewing for far longer than that. For many, Kingdom Hearts 3 was a mythical title alongside the ranks of Half-Life 3, but since its announcement we’ve received a whole slew of information surrounding its story, worlds, mechanics, and even development process. Let’s dive in!

STORY


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Kingdom Hearts 3 picks up with Sora and the gang setting out to unite the Seven Lights in order to go up against Master Xehanort’s Thirteen Seekers of Darkness. While we don’t know how their quest will play out, we do know some of the locations they’ll be passing through.

RETURNING WORLDS


Mount Olympus

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All signs point to this being the first Disney world we explore in Kingdom Hearts 3, as hinted at in the end to 0.2 Birth by Sleep A Fragmentary Passage-. An extension of the Olympus Coliseum seen in past games, this world boasts gargantuan Titans and scalable mountainsides. Hercules is confirmed to be a party member.

Twilight Town

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A fan-favorite from Kingdom Hearts II, Twilight Town will be returning along with Yen Sid’s Tower. Side characters Hayner, Pence, and Olette were even spotted in the recent mini-game trailer released last month.

NEW WORLDS


Kingdom of Corona

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As seen in 2010’s hit-film Tangled, Kingdom of Corona is shaping up to be one of the most beautiful worlds ever seen in the series’ history. Fun fact: it was one of the first worlds to be chosen for Kingdom Hearts 3. Rapunzel and Flynn Rider are confirmed to be party members.

San Fransokyo

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Little is known about this world, with only concept art being shown to us thus far. All signs point to Baymax being a party member, but will we see Hiro and the rest of the titular Big Hero 6 joining the fray?

Toy Box

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A milestone for the series, Toy Story will be the first Pixar property to ever be adapted in Kingdom Hearts. The history between these two properties dates back to Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, where models for Buzz Lightyear and Woody were found in the game’s files. From what we’ve seen in trailers and screenshots, Toy Box will incorporate locations spanning from Andy’s House all the way to Galaxy Toys. Additionally, Sora, Donald, and Goofy will sport new appearances to suit the world’s Toy theme. Buzz and Woody are confirmed to be party members.

Monsters Inc.

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The most recent world to be announced, Monsters Inc. features new looks for Sora and co., with all of them sporting ghoulish appearances befitting of a monster (I mean, just look at Goofy’s eyes). Trailers have shown us that we’ll be running amok inside the titular factory with some exciting chase scenes throughout, which leads me to believe that the CDA (Child Detection Agency) is chasing down Boo. Mike and Sully are confirmed to be party members.

RUMOURED


Files that leaked earlier in the year contained assets that gives us some further info on returning worlds such as 100 Acre Woods, Disney Castle, Land of Departure, and Radiant Garden. There were also files for a new world based off Frozen, and even screenshots of the then-unannounced Monsters Inc. world. If I had to guess, that Frozen world is as good as confirmed considering the leak was right about Monsters Inc., not to mention how insanely popular Frozen is.

GAMEPLAY


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Simply put, Kingdom Hearts 3 combines the best elements of all past games. Drive forms, dynamic gummi ship segments, shotlock, and a revamped take on the flowmotion mechanic introduced in Dream Drop Distance will return. Additionally, summons will be making a comeback, this time being refered to as “Links.” We’ve so far spotted Ariel, and Wreck-It-Ralph.

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Meanwhile, we’ll see new elements such as Attraction Flow, and Keyblade transformations. Attraction Flow will allow Sora to summon theme park rides such as Big Magic Mountain (clearly based off Big Thunder Mountain), Pirate Ship (inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean), Shooting Ride (based off the Buzz Lightyear ride in Magic Kingdom), and Teacups. Meanwhile, Keyblade transformations will allow Sora to weave in and out of different combat styles on the fly. Craziest of all, we’ll be able to switch through a whole 3 (that can’t be a coincidence) Keyblades on the fly by use of the d-pad’s left and right buttons.

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With all these new and returning mechanics, combat is sure to be more strategic than ever.

DEVELOPMENT


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With a nearly 13 year gap between Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts III, it’s no surprise that development has been a little rocky. While the first two numbered entries were developed by Square Enix’s Product Development Division 1, Kingdom Hearts 3 is being developed by the Osaka Team, who developed other entries such as Birth by Sleep, and Dream Drop Distance. While some fans were worried by this change, I find to be a non-issue. After all, series creator Tetsuya Nomura is still at the helm of this title.

Another interesting tidbit is that while the game was originally developed using an in-house engine, Kingdom Hearts 3 later switched to Unreal Engine 4 in 2014; a whole year after its initial announcement. While this surely resulted in a delay, it has proven to be a great decision. Kingdom Hearts 3 not only looks sharp, but it seems to run like a dream based off a hands-on preview that was held last week.

THE FUTURE OF KINGDOM HEARTS 3


Going into E3 2018 in a few weeks, we can expect a lot more to be revealed. Tetstuya Nomura has already gone on record to state that a release date would be announced soon, and it’s sure to take place during Square Enix’s very own press conference on June 11th, at 1 p.m EST. We’ll be sure to let you know as soon as it’s announced!

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, keep your eyes peeled for my upcoming Deep Dive Recap, where I’ll be providing a detailed look at all past Kingdom Hearts entries. It’s sure to get you caught up to speed in time for Kingdom Hearts 3!

A fan of all things storytelling, Brandon is a simple dude who just wishes he had more time to finish his backlog. Considers himself a scholar on all things Kingdom Hearts, and maybe (definitely) talks about it way too often.