This year’s E3 had more ups than it had downs, with one upside is that a ton of news about Kingdom Hearts 3 cropped up between Microsoft’s and Square Enix’s conferences. This long-awaited sequel has been in the works long enough and is now finally coming to gamers everywhere on January 25th 2019.
I’ve been a Kingdom Hearts fan for a long time, it was probably one of the first games I played all the way through. The fact that Kingdom Hearts 2 came out as I was done with UPSR and Kingdom Hearts 3 is only now coming as I finish my degree really shows how much of a testament being a Kingdom Hearts fan has been. I can fairly say that the wait is worth it.
The very first thing to be excited about when a new Kingdom Hearts game is released is the worlds, and Kingdom Hearts 3 is definitely not slouching in this department. The new worlds are based on Disney’s movies and so far they’ve announced worlds based on Tangled, Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Big Hero Six, Ratatouille, and a few returning worlds as well. We haven’t seen much, if not at all, of the Ratatouille or Big Hero Six worlds, but this year’s E3 they showed off a Frozen world and a return to the Pirates of the Carribean world.
With Kingdom Hearts 3, the worlds are just massive. Unlike previous games where the world would be segmented into multiple different areas, this time around the worlds look to be open-world areas all to their own. The new Frozen world shows this off spectacularly, with the kingdom of Arendelle covered in snow, Sora and the gang are able to slide down snowy hills on Goofy’s shield, escaping the heartless.
One thing this game has going for it is the variety, especially in the world geometry. While the majority of Kingdom Hearts games usually had a flat terrain with a few platforms strewn about to add some verticality, Kingdom Hearts 3’s worlds are wide and expansive, featuring all kinds of terrain that has never been seen before. The newly revealed Pirates of the Caribbean world is a testament to this, showing off the wide open Carribean sea that Sora is able to swim through and even fly around. Frozen’s Arendelle also has tall mountains to scale, and the Kingdom of Corona level even has Rapunzel helping Sora cross certain platforms using her long hair.
Another point of variety comes in the combat which is the bread and butter of the series. The difference is night and day when compared to the combat of Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2. Sora is hardly using his keyblade to hack and slash enemies anymore, rather the keyblade acts like a swiss army knife, changing forms on a whim. Every keyblade has their own forms attached to it, with the new Pirates of the Caribbean keyblade being able to transform into a staff while the Frozen keyblade allows Sora to have bladed ice-skates. Many fans are worried on whether this new mechanic will hamper the core hack and slash experience and actually make the combat a little too easy.
It wouldn’t be a Kingdom Hearts game without the multitude of minigames within the massive worlds to explore. Besides the previously announced LCD, Game-and-Watch inspired minigames, the E3 trailers confirms the return of Gummi Ships. The on-rail shooter section has been a mainstay of the series and it seems to be returning bigger and better. Other new minigames include open sea ship battles ala Assassin's Creed 4, and a Ratatouille cooking game.
The last major news the trailers dropped were brand new story revelations, most people shudder at the thought of the Kingdom Hearts story, while I for one don’t think it is as complicated as it seems. Long story short, Master Xehanort is finding and possessing 13 evil people to fill up his new Organization 13 and the trailers reveal new members joining his evil regime. This includes Larxene, the only female member of the old Organization 13, Luxord, the gambler of the Organization who reappears in the Pirates of the Caribbean world to taunt Sora and Jack Sparrow, and lastly, Aqua, the long-lost protagonist of Birth by Sleep, who seems to be possessed (or Norted as the fandom calls it) at the end of the trailer.
While these are the major game changers of the new Kingdom Hearts game, there is still a whole bunch of things to speculate on. Like how many more worlds are appearing in the game, who else can we summon, and why is Riku Replica still around? All these answers and more will finally be answered next year on January 25th.