Kingdom Hearts III has been a long time coming. While the series has had several spin-offs and side-stories since Kingdom Hearts II released 13 years ago, this is the game fans have been waiting for. To prepare you for what's ahead, here's what we know about Kingdom Hearts III today, and what we're hoping to see from it at E3 2018.
What We Know So Far
Kingdom Hearts III was confirmed to be in development at E3 2013. The game is set after the events of KH: Dream Drop Distance, and puts you in control of returning protagonist Sora, who is joined once again by Donald Duck and Goofy in their search for the Guardians of Light and the "Key to Return Hearts" as they attempt to thwart Master Xehanort's plan to bring about another Keyblade War. At the same time, King Mickey and Riku embark on a search for previous Keyblade wielders.
Kingdom Hearts III will feature a variety of worlds based on popular Disney franchises that are new to the series, which includes Tangled, Big Hero 6, Toy Story, and Monsters, Inc. However, nostalgic fans need not worry, as the game will also sport locations from previous games, like Twilight Town and Olympus.
In terms of new features, Kingdom Hearts III introduces five-person parties, more intricate enemy AI, theme-park ride summon attacks, and a host of new keyblade transformations. Returning to the game are character summons and the Gummi Ship mini-game. In addition, an updated version of the Flowmotion mechanic from KH: Dream Drop Distance--called "Athletic Flow"--makes a return.
Unlike Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II, which were developed by Square Enix's Product Development Division 1 team, Kingdom Hearts III is being developed by Square Enix's 1st Production Department, which has previously worked on side-stories KH: Birth by Sleep and KH: Dream Drop Distance. However, veteran Kingdom Hearts director Tetsuya Nomura is returning to helm the project.
What's Confirmed For E3?
Though Kingdom Hearts III is not technically confirmed to appear at E3 2018, the game is still scheduled to release sometime this year. And what with Square Enix holding an E3 press conference on June 11, it's likely that we'll be hearing more about the game in a few week's time.
What We Hope To See At E3
In recent months, Square Enix has ramped up its announcements for the game, often showcasing gameplay footage and clarifying details about its story and mechanics. With so much out there now, we're hoping that the company will finally reveal a firm release date. At a recent event, Nomura had alluded to the fact a release date could come next month.
While some of the initial world reveals have been nice, we'd like for Square Enix to offer a glimpse at something even bigger. If the company was able to secure rights to use Marvel or Lucasfilm properties, its press conference would be an amazing time to confirm such tantalizing deals. Hardcore fans are already excited about the game, but if Square Enix is able to floor them with a larger-than-life reveal that's even grander than their current expectations, then all the better. After all, the thought of Sora, Donald, and Goofy rubbing shoulders with Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Wolverine, and Iron Man still gives us goosebumps. It may be a pipe dream, but the possibilities are too exciting to ignore.
Lastly, it would be amazing to see Square Enix confirm that Final Fantasy 15 protagonist Noctis is in the game. Famitsu did a poll in 2017 for Kingdom Hearts' 15th anniversary, asking fans which Final Fantasy character they’d most like to see make an appearance in the franchise. Noctis Lucis Caelum won by a large margin. Plenty of Final Fantasy characters have already appeared alongside Sora and the gang, so it makes sense to include the newest member of the Final Fantasy family. The series is just as much a Final Fantasy crossover than anything else, so what better than to have Noctis enter the fray. Throw him in and maybe Balthier from Final Fantasy XII, and we're golden.