Kingdom Hearts III (キングダムハーツIII Kingudamu Hātsu Surī ) is an upcoming action role-playing game, developed by Square Enix and published by Disney Interactive Studios for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It is the eighth installment in the Kingdom Hearts series. During E3 2013, after years of rumors and speculation, the game was confirmed to be in development.
In June 2013, Nomura discussed the updated visuals seen in the reveal trailer as well as the gameplay. On the visuals, he said that they tried to remember that these "Kingdom Hearts characters were originally paintbrush art from Disney productions, a texture that was one of our original aims, and that it was time to return to that. So [chief creative director Takeshi] Nozue went through a series of tests, and the results are the visuals that we refer to in the team as the Kingdom Shader. It may look like a pretty drastic change, but I see it as a rich evolution of everything we've shown you up to now." Regarding the gameplay, Nomura stated: "The action's pretty frantic. The really bold action we've always had is getting even crazier. Kingdom Hearts III has three-person parties, but NPCs and other characters join the fight in each individual world, and the resulting action is really flashy and exciting. The enemy AI is a lot more intricate, too, and I think the gameplay will reflect that new dynamic balance. For example, there's a foe that's shaped like a vehicle, and Sora may jump on it and fly around; that's already implemented." Sora will gain the ability to change the shape of his Keyblade, much like Aqua's ability in Birth by Sleep.
In a Square Enix Presents interview during E3 2013, Nomura stated that the combat in the game will be along the lines of the system seen in Kingdom Hearts II, with evolution similar to what was seen from Kingdom Hearts to Kingdom Hearts II. He stated that the handheld games' combat was a place he could experiment and try new things, and that some of the well received additions may appear in Kingdom Hearts III. He also stated that summoning will return, but in a different form and system than previous games. Nomura further stated that Sora will be the main character to play as, but will look into having others be playable, such as King Mickey, if it fits in the context of the game. Finally, Nomura said multiplayer is also being considered. Nomura added in an interview in July 2013 that the gameplay would be closely tied to that in Dream Drop Distance.
Sora will once again be the protagonist of this game. The game will also see the return of Riku, Kairi, Donald Duck, Goofy, and King Mickey, as well as the inclusion of familiar Disney characters. Continuing from Dream Drop Distance, Sora, Donald and Goofy will attempt to search for seven guardians of light and the "Key to Return Hearts", while King Mickey and Riku search for previous Keyblade wielders in an attempt to stop Master Xehanort's plan to balance the light and darkness, which will ultimately lead to the final showdown between Sora and Master Xehanort.
The game will feature new and familiar worlds based on Disney properties, and will serve as the final chapter of the "Dark Seeker" Saga.
- "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."
- —Kingdom Hearts III press release
After Square Enix finished development of Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+, Kingdom Hearts producer Tetsuya Nomura was approached by Disney who expressed interest in a sequel. In regard to a possible release of a Kingdom Hearts III, Nomura said "We have various ideas, but we're not at the point where we can say that." He added that due to the development of Final Fantasy XV (which at the time was Final Fantasy Versus XIII), "it's physically impossible at the present. I feel that it's not the right time to talk about the future of Kingdom Hearts." In response to questions as to the secret movie in Final Mix+, Nomura noted that it was of a "new series" in Kingdom Hearts rather than Kingdom Hearts III. When asked about Kingdom Hearts III, Nomura noted that fans and partners alike were interested in its release, and would work to "realize it" as soon as possible. In the Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Ultimania guide book, Nomura announced three upcoming titles, one of which was Kingdom Hearts III. However, Final Fantasy XV was still his primary focus, preventing him from starting production on Kingdom Hearts III. He later noted that Kingdom Hearts III would not see a release until after 2012, due to his pressing on Final Fantasy XV, regardless of the 10th anniversary of the series occurring in that year. The Nintendo 3DS video game Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance was announced to connect to Kingdom Hearts III, both in terms of gameplay system and story, similar to the connection between Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II. It has been confirmed by Tetsuya Nomura that the game will conclude the "Xehanort Saga" but will not be the final game in the series.
On June 10, 2013, Kingdom Hearts III was announced with a teaser at Sony's E3 event, to release on the PlayStation 4. In a conference the day after, Square Enix confirmed that the game would also be released on the Xbox One. Unlike Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II which were developed by Square Enix's Product Development Division 1 team, Kingdom Hearts III will be developed by Square Enix's 1st Production Department, who developed Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance, and worked on the HD 1.5 Remix collection.
Since the release of Kingdom Hearts II, Disney has acquired Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Entertainment, and Lucasfilm. When asked if any of these properties would appear in Kingdom Hearts III, Nomura said, "Whenever I hear of [an acquisition], I always say, ‘woah…they’ve done it again.’ The first thing I do when I find out this news is contact Disney and see if it’s something I can use [in Kingdom Hearts]." He went on to say that "Disney’s pretty honest [on the possibility of an inclusion]. If the situation is really difficult, they’ll say, it’s really difficult. If it’s impossible, they’ll say it’s impossible." In July of 2013 Nomura directly stated in an interview that with Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm, he would like to include Star Wars characters in Kingdom Hearts III if Disney would allow it.
Directly after E3 2013, Tetsuya Nomura claimed that Kingdom Hearts III was announced "too early", based on where the game currently stands in development. He continued by saying, "Many fans were feeling impatient due to our continuous releases of spin-off titles, so we decided to announce it at the same time as Final Fantasy XV". In an interview with Famitsu in June 2013, Nomura discussed the updated visuals seen in the teaser trailer as well as the gameplay. On the visuals, he said that they tried to remember that these "Kingdom Hearts characters were originally paintbrush art from Disney productions, a texture that was one of our original aims, and that it was time to return to that. So [chief creative director Takeshi] Nozue went through a series of tests, and the results are the visuals that we refer to in the team as the Kingdom Shader. It may look like a pretty drastic change, but I see it as a rich evolution of everything we've shown you up to now."
Series producer Shinji Hashimoto stated in a September 2013 interview with IGN that as both Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV are directed by Nomura, it is expected that there will be significant gap between the release of the two, "as [they] want each game to be perfect in terms of quality." Hashimoto also reiterated Nomura's statements about the game's announced at E3 2013, as "the company thought it was about time it addressed speculation about the long-awaited conclusion to the trilogy." In October 2013, Teruzane Utada, father of singer Hikaru Utada, stated on Twitter that Hikaru would once again be involved in the theme song for Kingdom Hearts III, as she did with Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II. He later clarified, however, that it is still undecided on their involvement.
In an interview in the January 2014 issue of Game Informer, Nomura stated that the plot of the game will pick up "immediately after the events of Dream Drop Distance." He also added that the plot will examine the seven lights and thirteen darknesses coming together for the final battle, but that everyone that is expected to fulfill these roles may not. On the new gameplay seen in the D23 trailer, Nomura revealed that all keyblades transform, each in different ways, and confirmed that the attractions seen in the trailer, such as "Big Magic Mountain", are not tied to the keyblade abilities, but the enemy you are up against. Also in January, Haley Joel Osment, voice of Sora in the series, stated he had been in talk with the development team after the announcement and, assuming he would be back, added that since dialogue was one of the last parts of the process, he believed he would not begin until mid-2014 at the earliest.
In June 2014, a short teaser was released at the end of the E3 2014 trailer for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX. Co-director Tai Yasue revealed that the sequence seen in the teaser was the opening scene for the game. He added that it was created by Nomura who had "a real clear picture of [what] the starting sequence" should be and that the text seen and heard was going to "be a real integral part of the story".
In September 2014, Nomura announced that he would be leaving Final Fantasy XV's development team to focus more on Kingdom Hearts III.
On October 6, 2014 it was announced that the game would be developed using Epic Games's Unreal Engine 4, instead of Square's Luminous Engine as previously announced.
In April 2015, Nomura stated there would be "news [and] new announcements" about the game in November 2015 at the Japan D23 expo.
E3 2013 Sony Conference
The trailer begins as scenes and images of past games and their scenes from the Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance intro fill the screen, starting with Kingdom Hearts, followed by Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts II, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. As the computer-generated Sora from the intro of Dream Drop Distance rises, he slowly changes in appearance to a newer, in-game model.
The beach of Destiny Islands is then shown, with the Master Keeper keyblade lying on the sand. Sora, now in his Kingdom Hearts II attire, approaches it and lifts it, looking at it curiously before shifting his gaze to the horizon. The trailer then cuts to black, revealing the new logo and the title of the game.
A gameplay video follows, revealing the HUD. An extra gauge, entitled "EX", appears around Sora's HP gauge. The MP gauge returns from Kingdom Hearts II. Gauges for Donald and Goofy appear to the right, rather than above like previous titles. The Command panel looks very similar to that of the previous console titles, albeit with a graphical revamp.
Sora begins running through Twilight Town, wielding the Kingdom Key. He is chased by a swarm of Shadow Heartless and flees, dodging the swarm by jumping off the sides of buildings in a way similar to his Flowmotion abilities from Dream Drop Distance. After riding the swarm in a manner similar to Vanitas riding the keyblades in Birth by Sleep, Sora turns around and leaps to confront the swarm head on as the trailer cuts to black, revealing the game to be in development.
D23 Expo Japan 2013 Trailer
The trailer begins with Sora, Donald and Goofy running into a group of Heartless in Twilight Town's Tram Common, consisting of Shadows and Large Bodies. Sora casts Fire as Donald and Goofy begin to aid him. Sora then commences to enter "Two Shoot Blaster" mode, a new battle technique that allows Sora to turn his Keyblade into twin pistols. Afterwards, the video fades to Sora using a "Pirate Ship" summon, lit up and swinging dealing damage to the Heartless below, finally ending with a massive barrage of circling the boat around.
Gameplay fades into another scene where Sora, Donald and Goofy are on a "Big Magic Mountain" train ride going around the Rock Titan, the camera closes in on Sora then out as Sora attacks the Titan a couple of times before jumping on top of the Titan's hand getting back into his seat. The camera closes in on Donald now then back out as Sora attacks the Titan yet again. Sora leads the train upwards into the sky, high above the Titan, turns around facing the Titan and sends the train ride right into the Titan. As the group falls in the sky, the screen then fades to black and reveals that the game is in development.
On June 5, 2014, Square Enix released the E3 2014 trailer for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX. Towards the end of the E3 2014 trailer, there is a teaser for Kingdom Hearts III. The 30-second teaser begins with several scenes from Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance along with the line "The next act opens--" and then the line "KINGDOM HEARTS III" appears. The remainder of the teaser features two unidentified people who are talking to each other. The screen remains black, with sketches of their faces in white, though their faces are too zoomed-in to identify. One says, "Have you heard of the ancient Keyblade War? Many years ago, Keyblade wielders started a war over the ownership of light." The other responds, "Yep, the Master loves telling that story." The first speaks again, saying, "Then I take it you also know of the 'lost masters'.", to which the second one says, "Nope, where'd you hear that?" The first one continues, "On that land shall darkness prevail and light expire," followed by a black screen and a flash of the roman numeral III from the Kingdom Hearts III logo. The last line appears: "But you knew that, didn't you?" The roman numeral III from the logo flashes again, followed by the note that the game is "Now in Development".
- It will be the first Kingdom Hearts game to be featured on a Microsoft platform, having previously only released on Sony and Nintendo platforms.
- Unlike Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II which were developed by Square Enix's Product Development Division-1, known as the "Kingdom Hearts Team", Kingdom Hearts III will instead be developed by the "Osaka Team" the team responsible for Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance, and worked on the HD 1.5 and 2.5 ReMIX collection.
- It has been rumoured that the game will feature the worlds of Star Wars and Marvel, due to Disney's ownership of the Lucasfilm and Marvel companies.
- Tetsuya Nomura also stated that he would really like to include the worlds of Star Wars and Marvel in Kingdom Hearts III, if Disney allows it, hinting that it might happen.
- Haley Joel Osment, the voice of Sora, has hinted that the game will most likely be released in 2015 instead of 2014, due to the development being very far from completion.
- During his visit to Sydney Oz Comic Con 2014, Bill Farmer, the voice of Goofy, has hinted that the game might feature characters from Frozen.
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Incorporated Films and shorts: Alice in Wonderland | Aladdin/The Return of Jafar | Beauty and the Beast | Cinderella | Fantasia | Hercules | The Hunchback of Notre Dame | Lilo & Stitch | The Lion King | The Little Mermaid | Mickey, Donald and Goofy: The Three Musketeers | Mulan | The Nightmare Before Christmas | Peter Pan | Pinocchio | Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl | Sleeping Beauty | Steamboat Willie | Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs | Tarzan | Tron/Tron: Legacy | The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Villains: Master Xehanort | Ansem | Xemnas | Maleficent/Dragon Maleficent | Pete | Organization XIII | Vanitas | Xigbar/Braig | Xaldin | Vexen | Lexaeus | Zexion | Saïx/Isa | Demyx | Luxord | Marluxia | Larxene | Terra-Xehanort | Young Xehanort | Xehanort's Guardian
Other Characters: Jiminy Cricket | Naminé | Ansem the Wise/DiZ | Yen Sid | Xion | Axel/Lea | Master Eraqus | Dilan | Even | Aeleus | Ienzo | Lingering Will | Data Sora | Data Riku | Data Naminé | Data Roxas | Hayner | Pence | Olette | Riku-Ansem | Kairi's Grandma | Riku Replica | Anti-Saïx | Anti-Sora | Anti-Riku | Sora-Heartless | Jiminy's Journal
Disney Characters and Villains: Queen Minnie | Daisy Duck | Pluto | Tarzan | Winnie the Pooh | Aladdin | Genie | Tron | Magic Brooms | Peter Pan | Quasimodo | Judge Claude Frollo | Merlin | Tigger | Eeyore | Rabbit | Ariel | Mulan | Mushu | Jack Sparrow | Chernabog | Simba | Timon | Pumbaa | Nala | King Triton | Jafar/Genie Jafar | Alice | Cheshire Cat | Jack Skellington | Esmeralda | Phoebus | Beagle Boys | Scrooge McDuck | Huey, Dewey and Louie | Master Control Program | Sark | CLU | Rinzler | Beast | Stitch | Hercules | Tick-Tock the Crocodile | Snow White | Wendy | Ace "Chicken Little" Cluck (More coming soon)
Objects: Sea-salt ice cream | Wayfinder | Door to Darkness | Keyblade | X-blade | Mickey's Letters | Thalassa Shell | Kingdom Hearts Encoder | Keychain | Gummi Blocks | Bug Blox | Black coat| | Keyblade Armor
Locations: Land of Departure | Disney Castle | Disney Town | Timeless River | Datascape | Radiant Garden/Hollow Bastion | Keyblade Graveyard | Destiny Islands | Traverse Town | Dive to the Heart | End of the World | Realm of Darkness | Castle Oblivion | Twilight Town | The World That Never Was | Castle That Never Was | Halloween Town | Neverland | Wonderland
Music: Dearly Beloved | Simple and Clean | Sanctuary | Mickey Mouse Club March | Swim This Way | Part of Your World | Under the Sea | Ursula's Revenge | A New Day is Dawning | Destati | Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo | He's a Pirate | Beauty and the Beast | This is Halloween | It's a Small World | Night on Bald Mountain | Winnie the Pooh | The Sorcerer's Apprentice | The Pastoral Symphony
Soundtracks: Kingdom Hearts Original Soundtrack | Kingdom Hearts Final Mix - Additional Tracks | Kingdom Hearts II Original Soundtrack | Kingdom Hearts Original Soundtrack Complete | Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep & 358/2 Days Original Soundtrack | Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance Original Soundtrack | Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX Original Soundtrack | Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX Original Soundtrack