After nearly a decade (and many spin-off titles), Square Enix has finally announced Kingdom Hearts III, a director sequel to its smash-hits, Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II. Being a long-awaited and highly anticipated follow-up to two such ultra-successful games, Kingdom Hearts III (which is thus far slated for release only on the PS4 and X-Box ONE) has fans riding the edges of their seats for the least information—not to mention, the latest rumors. Let’s take a look at what we know (and hope) so far:
Kingdom Hears III will pick up where 3DS spin-off Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance left off. Keyblade wielder Sora will return with his pals Donald, Goofy, King Mickey, and Riku. (There’s no word yet on whether or not Kairi will rejoin the fray.) The mission this time? To stop Master Xehanort and his plan to balance light and darkness once and for all. While King Mickey and Riku tag-team to find other keyblade wielders (presumably to build an army to go up again Xehanort), the original Kingdom Hearts dream team of Sora, Donald, and Goofy rejoin forces to find the Seven Guardians of Light as well as something called “the Key to Return Hearts.”
Persistent online rumors claim that this game will feature “the final showdown” between our heroes and Xehanort—a theory that sounds highly likely, given that game director Tetsuya Nomura confirmed that the game will conclude the “Dark Seeker” story arc.
The Cast and Crew
According to one massive (and regrettably improbable) rumor, Maleficient will return as a sub-villain—with none other than Angelina Jolie (who donned the sorceress’s trademark horns and black cape to play her in last summer’s Sleeping Beauty retelling, Maleficent) will voice her.
There’s no word yet on whether or not Haley Joel Osment will reprise his own role as Sora, but some vague comments that the actor has dropped when asked of his involvement in the game have pretty much confirmed his return.
Utada Hikaru (who sang the themes for Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II) is not yet confirmed as the vocalist for Kingdom Hearts III‘s theme. Her father had previously confirmed her involvement via Twitter but later retracted his statement.
No information regarding visitable words has been released, but Nomura has promised that we’ll see plenty of new ones and return to classic old ones. Rumors of worlds based on Disney’s computer-animated films The Incredibles, Toy Story, Wreck-It Ralph, and (of course) Frozen are running rampant. Disney’s recent acquisition of LucasFilms and Marvel Studios also raises the question of whether or not we’ll see elements from beloved franchises such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and the Avengers. (There’s even a rumor going around that Iron Man will appear and ask Sora to help him defeat Darth Vader.) A recent video of gameplay footage as well as the original teaser trailer seem to hint at a return to the Destiny Islands, Traverse Town, and the Olympic Colosseum (based on Disney’s Hercules).
Kingdom Hearts III will feature gameplay most similar to that of Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II with small variations based on the well-received elements of the series’s spin-off titles. (For example, Sora can change the shape of his keyblade, much like Aqua could in Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep.)
Fighting will be much more intricate and intense than in previous titles as the enemies will possess more advanced AI. In addition to the incorporation of the series’s traditional three-party system, other non-playable characters will be able to partake in beatdowns.
The special attacks seen in the gameplay footage are not the result of an evolved keyblade’s abilities as previously assumed but a sort of apparition that will appear according to the enemies with the protagonist is engaged.
A multiplayer mode has not yet been confirmed but is strongly being considered.