It was Saturday, July 15th. I was at work waiting for news of KHIII, because I knew the new trailer would be coming out. A coworker had told me that the game had been confirmed for 2018—he found out while he was in the restroom. I pulled out my phone and looked through Youtube, finding reactions and trailers already posted. My timing was off. It’s always off. I took my break and watched the trailer I had been waiting for. It was a trailer that had been hyped up, not letting loose of the grip that the Orchestra Trailer had on us fans, and then hyped down because of Tetsuya Nomura’s fear that we’d expected too much, but I knew that we’d get something exciting. And as I looked at my phone for five minutes and thirty-eight seconds, there was nothing (well outside of the confusion for the first part of the trailer, because there were words overlapping parts of the gameplay which then showed up as a message before the truly exciting part of the trailer) except joy on my face.
I have mainly positive expectations for this game, and kind of chose the reveal of this trailer, along with the reveal of the game’s release window, as a good time to talk about Kingdom Hearts III (my expectations, my fears, my observations from the trailers, etc.).
So first off I’d like to say that the graphics have really improved and have gotten to a point in which I can say that they’re aesthetically pleasing. I mean at first, due to the engine switch I didn’t expect the graphics to be that great or I was kind of cautiously optimistic. I mean that 2015 trailer, though I was hype, kind of looked rough and though I was fine with the thought of rough-ish graphics, I kind of hoped that we’d eventually see Sora in game (not just cutscene) with a better face and less of a plastic finish. This trailer gave me that more so than the Orchestra trailer and I’m looking forward to looking at Sora now.
From the Orchestra trailer, you could tell that you could have a four man party, but with the introduction to a Toy Story world, I had been wondering if you’d have to choose between Woody and Buzz or if you’d simply get one (probably Buzz) and have the other one delegated to just cutscenes, but I was happily surprised to find out that you’d just have a five person party. And while this is cool, it makes me wonder how the final battle in Kingdom Hearts III will be. In Kingdom Hearts II, Sora and Riku were cutoff from the rest of the cast and fought Xemnas alone and I found that to be really fun, but would the final battle include most of the cast? Or would it be a four person party with Riku? Would you get a Sora, Riku, and Kairi party? Now that a five person party is a reality, you have to wonder.
Since I started my last point with the fact that Toy Story was introduced to the game, it makes me wonder what other Pixar movies will be in the game. And also, having Toy Story in Kingdom Hearts III is a dream come true. It also seems that this world will be somewhat important to the overarching narrative of Kingdom Hearts III, and if that’s the case, I’m glad that the non-original worlds will have more importance. Though KHI made certain Disney worlds important due to the Princess’ of Heart, in KHII the Disney worlds felt less important other than you simply stopping an Organization XIII member from wreaking chaos. With Toy Story in KHIII it more so feels like this world has been put under threat for the sake of learning something that’ll be purposeful to the game and not simply a random attempt to turn Disney characters into heartless. I like it is what I’m saying.
In a recent interview, it was confirmed that there would be less Disney worlds in KHIII and that has seemed to set some fears in fans and Kingdom Hearts Youtubers. When I first heard about it, I didn’t feel concerned because the operative word here is Disney. And the question is what the definition of Disney is. If it means all things that are under Disney’s property, I could understand the concern. If not, expect a lot of Pixar worlds and maybe a Marvel or Star Wars (though those are long shots). But if the definition is all things under Disney’s property, I still wouldn’t have much fear, because that just means there might be more original worlds, and frankly I love the original worlds of Kingdom Hearts, because this is the end of the Dark Seekers saga, I would expect a lot of original worlds to finish off this saga and maybe (hopefully) gain way or peek at what’s to come. Or who knows, maybe Destiny Islands will be a world again and wouldn’t that be dope?
Another thing quite a few fans are fearing is the revisitation of worlds. Apparently there won’t be any, though that probably means there won’t be many, second trips to worlds, and if that’s the case, the sky is not necessarily falling. It was said by Papa Nomura himself that 0.2 Birth by Sleep, the entire game, was the length of a world in Kingdom Hearts III. If that’s the case, each world would be 2-3 hours long. Depending on how many worlds that is, it would still average out to be the length of your usual JRPG. As fans we kind of need to stop fearing short lengths for games, and hope that simply the quality is good. I love Kingdom Hearts II more than I love people, but the second go round of worlds (after the first three playthroughs) feels like fodder added on to pad the game (sort of like Ape Escape 3 (you should still play that game though)). We liked KHI without that many return visits. We liked BBS without many return visits. We liked 358/2 Days—said no one. I don’t like that game, but my point is that a lack of return trips won’t stop the game from being good. Oh no! The game might be twenty four hours long, but did you have fun? If you did, then good. On the same note, I feel as though it won’t be all of the worlds that don’t get second visits. We’ll probably have a hub world that’ll get run through and a few other really plot relevant worlds that’ll require a second or third visitation. Don’t worry. And for those who read this and still fear for the game because you like size over quality: A) Jeez. Size isn’t everything ya compensator. B) I’m sure there’ll be side quests, optional bosses, extra features, etc. that’ll keep ya playing for hours on end.
My only real fear is the gameplay itself. I know that the Osaka team is developing it, and I quite like their games, but from the gameplay it still looks like it might be a bit floaty and I really want there to be a speed to the game. I don’t want the game to be Kingdom Hearts II, but I still want it to be kind of fast like it. And for the most part it does look kind of fast (look at the speed of the combos), but I still fear that the game might end up being floaty. I think more or less my fear might be in the fact that I just haven’t seen proof that abilities will be a feature in this game, and I really need abilities to be a feature. I like to have variety in my combos and for them to not be reliant in mixing it up with magic. Can the square button be utilized? Can you go from ground to air? Can there be customizations you make to your Sora that’ll make him feel different to someone else’s Sora? These are questions I still have and hopefully I’ll eventually answers for it (hopefully in a demo?).
The other concern comes in the case of keyblade transformation and the triangle button finishes. While I understand and fully respect the idea to having transformations fit for each keyblade, I have to wonder if this will allow for balancing the stats of keyblades. In previous games the stats differed, but it would be a shame if one were to use a statistically better keyblade, but be relegated to a transformation they didn’t like. Though this would probably force players to become better acquainted with all the keyblade transformations the game has to offer. In the case of triangle button finishes, I like them, but hope they don’t be come super cheesable. Anyways, I believe that that’s all I wanted to talk about. I’ll leave you with the first half of the D23 trailer, but without the worlds overlapping it so you can fully enjoy the epicness that is Kingdom Hearts III. Later days.