There are few video game series that have such passionate fan bases as the Kingdom Hearts games. Combining two franchises that are at the top of their respective fields, the Final Fantasy RPGs and Disney Animation, the pair work together to create some sort of unholy Voltron. It's the sort of thing that, on paper, comes across as insane, and on screen looks absolutely bug-fuck, but somehow works so...so well.
Kingdom Hearts 3 is a game that is coming, someday. At this point, we have little idea when we will see it, other than not soon. Still, the game has been talked about so much that we actually know more than a few things about it even though we're still as much as a year or two away from actually getting to play it. Here's what we know so far about Kingdom Hearts 3
When Will Kingdom Hearts 3 Be Released?
The first trailer for Kingdom Hearts III was released during E3 in 2013. While the game had certainly been rumored previously, as both Square Enix and Disney had made statements that such a game was possible, it wasn't until then that we knew for sure the game was happening. Four years later, we're still not sure exactly when we'll see the game. Recent comments have put the game as far as three more years from completion, which would put the game release somewhere as late as 2020.
What Platforms Will Kingdom Hearts 3 Be On And What Will It Be Rated?
Currently, the game has been officially announced for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Obviously, with the game so far out, we have no idea what sort of ESRB rating it will receive. However, the previous two console entries for the series received E or E10+ ratings, so it's very likely that Kingdom Hearts 3 will fall in the same area. The game isn't without violence, but it's of the fantasy variety, with the enemies killed being monsters and not humans. Disney isn't going to let their animated characters be used in something that's too violent.
The Story So Far
Drilling into the lore of the Kingdom Hearts franchise is an exercise in utter madness. While the series only has two proper episodes released for consoles, the franchise has released numerous titles for handheld systems, and even mobile games, which at least try to fit into the same storyline. At its most streamlined the story looks like this.
We begin the original Kingdom Hearts with three characters Sora, Kairi and Riku. They live together on an island but all have dreams of leaving it. One night, the island is attacked by creatures called the Heartless and Sora finds himself ripped from his world and separated from Kairi and Riku. At the same time, King Mickey Mouse has vanished from his land and has left instructions for Donald Duck and Goofy to go find the one that will protect all the worlds from encroaching Darkness.
As it turns out, Sora is capable of wielding a magical weapon called the Keyblade, and he meets up with Donald and Goofy, with the three deciding to travel together. Sora does it to find his friends, while Donald and Goofy and looking for their king. They travel to numerous different Disney inspired worlds looking for their friends.
The Darkness is being controlled by a group of Disney Villains led by Sleeping Beauty's Maleficent. They have captured several Disney heroines in order to use their hearts to unlock the door to Kingdom Hearts, where immense knowledge and power is believed to reside. Maleficent also convinces Riku to join her by telling him that Sora has given him up for new friends. Riku finds Kairi, but she is without her heart. Sora uses the keyblade to unlock Kairi's heart, but loses his own and becomes a heartless in the process. However, when Kairi recognizes what has happened she is able to use her power as one of the Princesses of Heart to return him to normal.
Eventually, it's discovered that Maleficent herself is actually being controlled by a mysterious figure named Ansem. Sora, Donald and Goofy fight Ansem but he is able to open the door to Kingdom Hearts. However, in doing so, Ansem finds not the darkness he expected, but light. King Mickey is also on the other side of the door and he and Riku help Sora lock the door, with them on the other side. Sora is then able to lock the doors between worlds, meaning that travel between them will no longer be possible. The first game ends with Sora, Donald, and Goofy going in search of Riku and Mickey, believing they are somewhere out there.
Kingdom Hearts 2 introduces a number of new elements to the story, including the concept of Nobodies, which are living shells of people who became Heartless. The second game opens with players taking control of a character named Roxas, who is the Nobody created when Sora became Heartless in the first game.
Nobodies are controlled by Organization XIII and in Kingdom Hearts 2 King Mickey tasks Sora, Donald, and Goofy with stopping them while also searching for Riku. We also learn that Ansem still lives, as the battle in the first game was actually with an imposter named Xehanort, or more specifically, his Heartless. Eventually, after traveling to several more Disney worlds, Sora and party find their way to the heart of Organization XIII where they battle Xemnas, the Nobody of Xehanort. After winning the battle, back on Destiny Island, Sora, Riku, and Kairi read a letter from King Mickey, but players don't know what it says.
What Is Kingdom Hearts 3 About?
At this point, considering how bizarre the Kingdom Hearts games have become it's just about anybody's guess what sort of stuff will be in the game. However, we have received some details. The third game will follow the events of the Nintendo 3DS title Kingdom Hears: Dream Drop Distance and see Sora and company preparing to battle Master Xehanort, who is trying to balance light and darkness. Sora has achieved the Mark of Mastery from the previous title, and now Sora will be searching for seven guardians of light and the Key to Return Hearts.
Returning Places and Characters
Sora is the primary player character of the Kingdom Hearts series. He's original to the game as opposed to being based on either a Disney or Square Enix property. In previous games, he's been voiced by actor Haley Joel Osment and, as far as we can tell, Osment will voice Sora again for Kingdom Hearts 3
Donald Duck and Goofy
Donald Duck and Goofy have been two of the biggest names in the history of Disney, making them fitting sidekicks for our lead. Traditionally, these two have been the default characters in your party, with the ability to swap one of them for whatever Disney character is available in the game's current world. Interestingly, one screen shot in a Kingdom Hearts 3 trailer shows Donald, Goofy, and Hercules all on the screen at once, implying that this time the game may actually increase your party size rather than make you give up one of the characters.
Disney's Hercules played a unique part in the first Kingdom Hearts title as it wasn't so much a full world as a place to have arena battles. It appears the movie will play a larger part in the new game as a couple of different gameplay trailers have shown off Sora fighting one of the Titans from the end of the film, and Hercules will also be a character that will join the party this time around. Also, a summon spell that looks like Pegasus has also been shown off. Finally, one trailer has shown that Hades will return for the new game as well.
The villain of Sleeping Beauty, who has been one of the primary bad guys in the series has been seen in one trailer and will be back.
Next to Maleficent in the same trailer was Pete, one of the classic bad guys from the old school era of Disney short cartoons. He was in Kingdom Hearts 2 as well and will be back.
One side of the massive mash-up that is Kingdom Hearts is Disney, and the other is Square Enix's Final Fantasy series. Several different characters from different Final Fantasy games have made appearances in Kingdom Hearts. Thus far we haven't seen anything confirmed from that side of the team, but we expect it's only a matter of time before that starts to change. Considering how much Square Enix has put into recent titles, it would be shocking if characters like Lightning or Noctis did not appear.
New Places And Characters
One of the most fun parts of the Kingdom Hearts series is being able to play within various Disney worlds. While a lot of what will be included in the new game has yet to be revealed, we do have confirmation of a few of the characters, locations, and other items that will be part of the new game.
The first confirmed world in Kingdom Hearts 3 was the Disney movie Tangled. One of the early trailers showed lead character Sora come upon an area with the familiar tower in the distance. Based on everything else we know, it appears that Rapunzel herself will become a character that joins the team. It sounds like she'll actually use her hair to perform attacks, as opposed to a frying pan, I guess.
Big Hero 6
The second confirmed world for Kingdom Hearts 3 is San Fransokyo, the city from the Disney/Marvel movie Big Hero 6, which will be part of the new game as well. All we know for certain is that the events of the game will follow the movie, which means the team of heroes will already be working together. Whether any of them will join Sora's party is unclear but we wouldn't be shocked to see Baymax, Hiro, or possibly a combination of the two show up as either a summon or party member.
Theme Park Rides
One of the most interesting things that we've seen in Kingdom Hearts 3 is the inclusion of Disney Theme Park rides in the game. They appear to work like summon spells in previous titles, but different trailers have shown off at least three different Theme Park based attacks that appear to work similarly to summon spells.
Thunder Mountain Railroad
Spinning Tea Cups
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Whether or not there are any more, or how these particular new concepts will be integrated into the game, remains to be seen.
Potential New Locations
With so much that we don't know about the new game, there's plenty to speculate about what could be included. Here are some thoughts on what we might see in the new game.
Marvel or Star Wars
A lot has happened in the world of Disney since the last Kingdom Hearts game. Specifically, the House of Mouse purchased two of the other biggest names in entertainment, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. As such, this means that it's at least theoretically possible that Marvel Heroes or Star Wars characters could become parts of the new game. While nothing has been confirmed from either camp, rumors have persisted that both franchises might very well appear.
While Disney's relationship with Pixar goes back to the studio's first films, the fact is that Disney didn't actually own Pixar until after the release of Kingdom Hearts 2. Now that they do, adding Pixar worlds to the new game seems obvious. There are so many Pixar films that would make for unique worlds to visit or interesting characters to team-up with or fight. The Incredibles is so obvious it almost goes without saying.
What better world for a video game to visit than a video game world? Kingdom Hearts 2 already visited Tron, but since then Wreck-It Ralph has become a huge Disney hit that has a sequel that will likely be in theaters before this game is. To that end, a Wreck-It Ralph world would be great. Ralph or Felix could join your team and the world itself contains multiple games, including Sugar Rush and Hero's Duty. Kingdom Hearts cart racing? Bring it on.
Is there a chance in hell that Frozen won't be part of the new game? There is no property that's been bigger for Disney since the last game came out, and the movie even includes a character who can use magical ice attacks. It's like it's made for the game. Wish List: An Olaf summon spell that includes an "In Summer" heat wave attack.
Disney's newest blockbuster movie is the Oscar winner Zootopia. The world created by the movie was one of the stars of the film, and so being able to dive into it in Kingdom Hears 3 would be amazing. There are multiple environments here that could be explored offering unique enemies and game types, and really, we just want to work alongside Officer Judy Hopps.