Kingdom Hearts fans are thirsty. They’ve been waiting for Kingdom Hearts III (KH3) for years. Square Enix and Disney confirmed development of the next game in the series combining characters from Final Fantasy and Disney in 2013. And since Kingdom Hearts II dropped in 2006, the follow-up has been a long time coming. Square Enix has shared updates on gameplay, worlds, and characters in the years since the announcement, and this is everything we know about Kingdom Hearts III so far.
Square Enix revealed a new trailer for Kingdom Hearts III at Tokyo Game Show on Monday, and it focuses on the world inspired by Disney’s Big Hero 6. We already knew the streets of San Fransokyo would be part of the next game, but this is our first real look at Baymax, Hiro, and the rest of the team in action. Though brief, the footage shows Sora’s Big Hero 6 Keyblade transformations and also a look at Gummi Ships in action.
Release Date and Consoles
Kingdom Hearts III will be available on January 29, 2019 on PS4 and Xbox One.
Square Enix’s synopsis of Kingdom Hearts III says: “Believing light and darkness must remain in balance, Master Xehanort seeks to spark war against the ‘tyranny of light’ to restore equilibrium. In an effort to undermine Xehanort’s plot, Sora, Donald, and Goofy search for seven guardians of light and the ‘Key to Return Hearts,’ while King Mickey and Riku search for previous Keyblade wielders.”
Director Tetsuya Nomura confirmed to Game Informer in 2014 that KH3‘s plot picks up after the events of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. It’s about the seven lights and the 13 darknesses facing off in the final battle.
For the most part, none of the returning characters shown in trailers so far will surprise you. Sora, Donald, and Goofy continue to be the primary party traveling from world to world. Duh. The story will also include King Mickey and Riku, as well as Aqua (which probably means more Ventus and Terra). Past friends will likely return for the Summons feature, such as the glimpse of Ariel we see in helping Sora in the Tangled world.
On team darkness, we have Xehanort, Marluxia, Xemnas, Ansem, Maleficent, Hades, and Pete. And the surprise: Vanitas.
Exploring the different locations of Kingdom Hearts is perhaps the most exciting part of the game. Discovering which world has just been unlocked is a thrill. That said, learning about the worlds ahead of time comes with its own buzz. Nomura said at D23 Expo Japan that Kingdom Hearts III will have ten worlds, but it’s not clear if that means ten locations total or just ten Disney or Pixar worlds. Here’s what we know about:
Big Hero 6
Picture what San Fransoyko would look like in a video game. Now imagine that game is Kingdom Hearts. Pretty excellent, right? This is the only world we haven’t seen gameplay footage or images from, only the above concept art. I’m not okay with the Heartless that resembles Baymax, but I am okay with more Big Hero 6.
The first Pixar world to be announced for Kingdom Hearts, the Toy Story themed spot set in what looks like Andy’s house will see Sora and pals shrink down to toy size and change form to look like action figures.
Hercules has been part of the past Kingdom Hearts games, but only through the Coliseum. In both games, players spend time at the Coliseum training and doing combat for trophies instead of exploring and following a story like on other worlds. But now, players will actually get to go to Olympus.
The Kingdom of Corona will host Sora, Donald, and Goofy in the next game. We’ve seen a glimpse of Rapunzel’s tower in the background and the gameplay. Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, a.k.a. Eugene, are both in Sora’s party in this fight. Rapunzel’s hair should offer some interesting options.
Welcome to Monstropolis! Revealed at D23 Expo Japan in February 2018, the world features Sully, Mike, and Boo. Sora, Donald, and Goofy turn into cute monsters while hanging out with the Monsters, Inc. crew.
Twilight Town, the home of Roxas and Nobodies, will return in KH3. Nomura has mentioned Sora will begin the game here, so Twilight Town will be Kingdom Hearts III‘s tutorial world. The Old Mansion, where some bizarre things with Roxas and Organization XIII happened in Kingdom Hearts II, is back too, and so is the Mysterious Tower, home of Yen Sid (it’s technically part of Twilight Town, but it’s kind of a world apart).
Is anyone surprised to learn a Frozen-themed world is coming to Kingdom Hearts III? Sora and his pals are dropping into Arendelle right before Elsa unleashes her powers and runs away into the mountains. And of course they get to do battle against Marshmallow.
With a few different trailers showing gameplay–all available on YouTube–we have a glimpse of new features. One of the notable changes appears to be how the Keyblades work. Previously, you only received a world’s Keyblade after you’ve completed it. But in the Tangled, Monsters, Inc., and Toy Story worlds, Sora appears to have the themed Keyblade while fighting on the world; perhaps he’ll receive it upon arrival instead? Or at least, his blade will transform temporarily and he’ll get to add the new style to his inventory after he’s done on the world.
The other highlight I noticed is how it seems Sora doesn’t have to swap out Donald and Goofy for temporary party members. I don’t like having to rotate Donald and Goofy out since they’re Sora’s permanent party, and I want to level them up. But on all the worlds, the classic trio is shown fighting alongside two more characters–Rapunzel and Flynn, Woody and Buzz, and Mike and Sully.
Nerdist joined a small group of journalists in going hands-on with a ninety minute preview of Kingdom Hearts III. Gameplay took place on Olympus and in Toy Story World, the first Pixar world in the Kingdom Hearts franchise. The most notable takeaway was how many more variables combat has now between links (formerly known as summons), the ability to switch between Keyblades during battles, and calling upon attractions. Learn all about our experience with the demo in this post.
Kingdom Hearts III will have minigames! Via Polygon, the upcoming game will include minigames steeped in nostalgia. They’ll be styled like ’80s LCD games and be inspired by some of Disney’s Mickey and Friends shorts. The above trailer shows The Barnyard Battle, Musical Farmer, Giantland, and The Karnival Kid, but Kingdom Hearts Insider reports over 20 LCD games will be KH3.
If you want to sample these games ahead of Kingdom Hearts III, they’ll also be included on Kingdom Hearts Union χ Cross, the mobile Kingdom Hearts game.
The gallery below features more images from the upcoming game, and the official Kingdom Hearts III site has even more.
What about Kingdom Hearts III are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments.
Images: Square Enix
Amy Ratcliffe is an Associate Editor for Nerdist. Follow her on Twitter and keep up with her Disney food adventures on Instagram.