In the early years of gaming, there were quite a few swings taken at the creation of a game utilizing Disney properties. Most of those games ranged anywhere from unplayable to mediocre as far as quality goes.

Then in 2002, Square released Kingdom Hearts onto the PlayStation 2. Disney fans and gamers rejoiced as they finally had a significant video game with Disney characters. Thus far, there have been a total of nine Kingdom Hearts games and here in 2018 Square stands poised to release a new entry to the gaming public.

We have been hearing rumblings about Kingdom Hearts 3 for years now but there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for fans of the series. As it stands now, we should see a release toward the end of 2018. However, what do we know about Kingdom Hearts 3 right now? Let's take a look.

What's new with Kingdom Hearts 3?

All the latest Kingdom Hearts 3 details can be found straight ahead. Be sure to check back often to find out everything new as we head toward release!

June 11th, 2018

Sony had their own piece of exclusive Kingdom Hearts 3 footage to show at E3 2018. The new footage confirms the inclusion of Pirates of the Caribbean. This isn't the franchise's first appearance in a Kingdom Hearts game, with Kingdom Hearts 2 having been the first.

Yes, Captain Jack Sparrow is back, and Sora's crew are on deck to help him live the pirate's life. The gameplay sequences for this world seem pretty epic, with both a ship battle and a fight with a huge sea monster being featured. The trailer also shows that a replica version of Riku will make an appearance.

Alongside that new footage, we get word that not only will there be a special edition Kingdom Hearts 3 PlayStation 4 console, but you'll also be able to buy all three mainline Kingdom Hearts games as a bundle. That means you'll get Kindom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix, Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix, and Kingdom Hearts 3 in the same package. They've even thrown in Kingdom Hearts 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue for good measure.

A release date for the special edition PS4 has not yet been confirmed, though it's likely we'll see it on or close to Kingdom Hearts 3's release date, which was previously confirmed to be January 29th, 2019.

June 10th, 2018

Square Enix has announced a release date for Kingdom Hearts 3. It'll be arriving January 29th, 2019. Originally, their goal was to get the game out in 2018. However, the company needs more time to ensure the game is the best it can be before launch.

With that news, we also saw a new trailer at E3 2018 that revealed new details, namely showing off new content and abilities surrounding previously unannounced Disney franchises. Those franchises include heavy-hitting staples such as Frozen and Lion King, with Elsa and Mufasa making appearances, respectively.

A whole new world

Since its inception, an important element of the Kingdom Hearts games has been the setting. Part of the joy of these games is the opportunity to explore familiar Disney worlds in a way that is not possible when you're watching a film. Some of the worlds which have been tapped for inclusion in KH3 include Andy's House from Toy Story, Twilight Town, Mount Olympus from Hercules, Monsters Inc, Tangled, and even San Fransokyo from Big Hero 6.

With Disney owning just about every existing IP under the sun there doesn't seem to be many worlds left that are not within their reach. However, everything indicates that all the worlds tapped for inclusion will remain those who lie directly under the Disney Umbrella, as well as some from underling Pixar.

While Kingdom Hearts 3 isn't a traditional open world game, Square Enix has a clear goal to increase the scope and capacity of each world. Some of these levels are the most expansive we've ever seen in a Kingdom Hearts game. You'll especially feel the scale at places like Toy Box in the Toy Story world, or Mount Olympus over in Hercules' corner. Despite the increased size, Square Enix manages to create each world with the level of detail that'll make you feel like you're in the theater watching your favorite movies all over again. It's this nice balance of scope and focus that gets us excited to be sucked into Disney's magical kingdom once more.

Characters Welcome

Another critical element of the Kingdom Hearts series has, of course, been characters. There is something undeniably exciting about running into some of your favorite Disney denizens whilst you progress through a KH game.

While your main characters will remain steadfast - Sora and the gang are back - there are some additions. With the inclusion of the aforementioned worlds, it should come as no surprise that we will see end up crossing paths with their related character inhabitants. You'll certainly be seeing Woody, Buzz, and the glutton of other toys living in Andy's room for the Toy Story sections. I, for one, am totally ready to get some heals from Beymax.

And that's alongside mainstays such as Goofy, Donald Duck, and Mickey Mouse, all of whom have proven to be valuable comrades for Sora over the years.

Gameplay

Kingdom Hearts 3 will seemingly feature a keen blend of all the combat mechanics introduced in each previous title. Keyblades still cut foes down with ease and magic is still here to help you quickly dispel waves of enemies. However, we'll also be seeing new mechanics such as character summons, keyblade transformations, link attacks, something Square Enix is calling "attractions," and more. Here's a quick rundown of what those types of attacks are:

  • Character Summons: You can call on one of your Disney or Pixar friends to fight alongside you for a short time.
  • Keyblade Transformations: Alongside your keyblade's normal abilities and combos, you can transform the keyblade after hitting a series of uninterrupted attacks. The temporary transformation unlocks a wealth of new abilities, as well as a finisher attack.
  • Link Attacks: Like Character Summons, this mechanic brings your friends into the fray, but instead of being there as a sidekick they'll execute a more coordinated and powerful attack with Sora.
  • Attractions: These are flashy, big abilities that play out like rides you'd see at Disneyworld and Disneyland. For instance, you can call on something like a water ride to splash through a ton of foes.

There will also be other miscellaneous gameplay mechanics that may be unique to certain worlds and sequences. For instance, Sora can take control of robot Gigas at Toy Box to help him get around the store and fight enemies faster. Expect a lot of variety in this regard.

Players will get stronger as the game goes on with a leveling system that should increase your power, health total, mana pool, and offer new abilities. And it's not just Sora getting this treatment, either - all your mainstay companions have their own experience to grow.

World traversal has been a big part of the Kingdom Hearts series, and Sora's movement abilities are seeing some interesting changes with this entry. Sora has seemingly been practicing parkour as a new mechanic allows him to scale up, down, and across walls. This is likely to help players quickly maneuver through a world is just as wide as it is tall, with verticality being a staple element of Kingdom Hearts.

As was the case in most Kingdom Hearts games to date, you'll be fighting enemies who use Darkness for evil. Darkness is both an alternate realm and an actual force of energy. Good characters can use Darkness to augment their abilities, though the bad ones use it with far more malevolent intentions. Much of your battling will be done against those known as the Heartless, a common enemy in the game. The Heartless are actually living forms of the darkness that exists in everyone's heart. Their goals are likely driven by some evil no-gooder behind the scenes, as the heartless don't act on any sort of feeling or emotion of their own.

When can I play?

Square Enix has announced that Kingdom Hearts 3 will now launch January 29th, 2019. The game was originally given a 2018 launch window, but Square Enix has felt the need to delay it, likely to make sure it gets the polish it needs.

If you want to get in line early, you can always head over and preorder a copy for $60.

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In its long and storied history, Kingdom Hearts has done a stellar job of taking the elements that work and adding new ones. Like a fine wine, Kingdom Hearts has (mostly) gotten better with age. At this point, we don't know everything about what is in store for us but as the year progresses we will undoubtedly see more new pieces of the puzzle unveiled.

I think Square knows that part of the magic and joy in these games is the surprise of running into unexpected characters. I have no doubt that they are holding a few cards close to their chests for the time being but I can't wait to find out what those cards are.

What do you want to see in Kingdom Hearts 3?

Updated June 2018: Kingdom Hearts 3's release date has been announced, we have details on a brand new limited edition bundle, as well as new character information! We've added all the latest details above.

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