Square Enix is finally getting ready to launch Kingdom Hearts 3 later in January for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. However, for gamers curious exactly why it took so long to get done, there's actually a reasonable explanation for that.
After more than half a decade of development, and more than an entire decade after the release of the original Kingdom Hearts 2, gamers will finally get to experience the next canonically chronological entry in the series when Kingdom Hearts 3 launches on January 25th. Co-director Tai Yasue spoke to Newsweek recently about the game and why it's taken so long to get it up and out for gamers. Yasue notes that changing engines really set the team back...
One of the main factors was the decision to switch the game engine to develop the game. Our current engine is great in terms of developing a high end AAA title, but because there was a change in technology and work flows, it took some time for the team to adapt and adjust.
Originally the game was being built on Square's in-house AAA engine, known as the Luminous Engine. This was a high-end, high-fidelity pipeline designed for systems above the scalability of the Xbox One and PS4, as demonstrated with the Final Fantasy: Agni's Philosophy demo, which came out during the time when Epic was also demonstrating the global illumination capabilities of the Unreal Engine 4 back in 2012.
The Luminous Engine was also used to power Final Fantasy XV, which came out many years later in 2016. However, in between that time, the team switched over to the Unreal Engine 4 in order to improve the overall compatibility and platform workflow for the development of Kingdom Hearts 3. This eased up on the amount of tools that needed to be created, how various gameplay features would be implemented, and how quickly assets could be worked into the pipeline to streamline development.
Yasue also went on to apologize for the amount of time it's taking to finish Kingdom Hearts 3 and how long people had to wait for the release date to arrive, saying...
I'm truly sorry to have kept everyone waiting for so long! It took a while, but we really wanted to make sure the game met everyone's expectations. I hope, more than I've hoped for anything else in my 20 years of making games, that you all enjoy it.
The game actually went gold back in November of 2018. This means that principal development is complete and the only thing left is to get everything certified, packaged, and patched for day-one release.
In addition to the game switching game engines Square also implemented all new gameplay features that haven't been present in previous outings, including the new wall-climbing mechanics, and the new theme park rides that coincide with some of the new worlds featured in the game based on Disney properties like Frozen, Tangled, and Big Hero 6.
You can look for the game to launch later this month for home consoles... finally.