How Can Kingdom Hearts III Live Up to Impossible Expectations?
Last week, gamers around the world looked to Los Angeles as E3 took over the city with new game announcements and demos. However, one game noticeably absent from E3 proper was Kingdom Hearts 3. Instead, it was during the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra concert (also in LA) that we received a brand new gameplay trailer and a promise that another trailer would be coming to the D23 Expo next month. This is all well and good but we still haven’t seen an extended gameplay demo of Kingdom Hearts 3.
The game was officially announced as being in development back in 2013 at E3 and just recently, Square Enix has said to expect it (along with Final Fantasy VII Remake) “within the next 3 years.” From the trailers we can see the game looks great in motion but the fact we haven’t seen a live demo is worrying to say the least. Now the development history of Kingdom Hearts 3 is well documented. So what I want to focus on is, with all the anticipation surrounding this title, how can it possibly live up to all the hype? This is how Kingdom Hearts 3 could meet that hype for me.
This is going to sound extremely obvious, and that’s because it is. We need closure. A large portion of the Kingdom Hearts fanbase played the first and second game in their early teens. Now they are all adults ready to step into the next part of their lives. The same can apply for Sora and friends. They’re going to take on the final challenge of Xehanort and close the book on this saga. Whether we see Sora return along with Kingdom Hearts in some capacity in the future is up in the air but there needs to be a definitive end to the Xehanort story in Kingdom Hearts 3. No more hanging plot threads, no teaser that this battle isn’t over, and no last second escape to extend this story even more. We want to see the end more than anything.
More New Worlds, Less Old Ones
Besides the already confirmed and shown Olympus Coliseum, it is a safe bet we’ll see a few returning worlds in Kingdom Hearts 3. A world like Hallow Bastion has been the center of many plot points and key story events throughout the series and we’ve gone back to places like Traverse Town and Twilight Town more than I could count. But we need more new here. The Disney catalog has grown exponentially since the last KH game so the need to reuse old worlds should be minimal. We’ve gone through places like Agrabah and Halloween Town so much. We don’t need to visit those places again. Instead keep the focus on places like the announced Big Hero 6 and Tangled world. Take advantage of Frozen. And there’s always the big elephants in the room known as Marvel and Star Wars. But more on that in a bit as I think they could be used to greater effect elsewhere.
Healthy End Game Content
One of the strengths of the Kingdom Hearts series has always been after you complete the narrative. You unlock several high level bosses and side activities as well as whole new areas in later games. Square Enix is usually very good on supplying plenty of challenging and fun stuff to do after the credits roll but I believe following the example of Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix can produce some of the best results. I would love to see the return of the Cavern of Remembrance where you fight Data Battles against past enemies that are much stronger with improved AI. Instead of using Organization XIII again though, I think it should feature Data Battles against allies as well as foes. I would love to see Data Battles against Aqua, Ventus and Terra. For anyone who played Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix and the Lingering Will battle, you know how powerful Terra is. To fight an even better version is an exciting idea. Other cool Data Battles could be Riku or even King Mickey. I would love to see this idea return and expanded upon. It was a true highlight.
I’m pretty sure we have nothing to worry about here but we absolutely need the third and final battle with Sephiroth. He has become a staple of the mainline Kingdom Hearts games as much as anyone else and his fights are always a true test of skill for the player. I only ask this fight be replayable again as it was in the first game. Only being able to fight Sephiroth once in the second game was a let down. Especially considering how much of an improvement it was over the original with the new animations and attack patterns. Adding things like this along with more collectibles like the puzzle pieces in KH 2 Final Mix and more tournaments in the Coliseum will go a long way. Also the optional objectives added in Birth by Sleep 0.2 were a good addition as well and that can also be expanded on. Maybe giving Sora, Donald and Goofy some customization instead of just Sora. Let’s just hope it’s not a DLC expansion.
Kick Ass Secret Boss Battles
Piggybacking off the “End Game Content” section, I wanted to specifically mention the secret boss battles. Found in just about every RPG ever, Square Enix has become quite good at making secret boss battles. Except the Adamantoise in Final Fantasy XV. We don’t talk about that one. But Kingdom Hearts has some great secret boss battles, from Kurt Zisa and the Phantom to the previously mentioned Lingering Will and the one found in 0.2. Even the handhelds had some, albeit not as good as the console ones. For Kingdom Hearts 3, I think this would be the best place to use a property from either Star Wars or Marvel. Have one of the major villains show up in a secret portal and just get right into it. Imagine Sora and company walks in and you hear a familiar breathing sound followed by loud footsteps. A shot of a black glove with the handle of a Lightsaber and the iconic noise plays as it’s drawn. The signature music starts playing and you enter into a tough as nails battle against Darth Vader. Or, if you prefer, you enter into a giant throne room with a huge figure sitting at the top. It’s reveal to be Thanos and he slides on the Infinity Gauntlet and stands up as the music starts playing. I don’t need a full world for these things. Give me a secret boss battle with Star Wars and/or Marvel and I’ll be happy.
Hopefully Kingdom Hearts 3 is coming sooner rather than later and we get more information on a release date or window in a month at D23. The game looks almost done based on trailers but we’ll just have to wait and see. How can Kingdom Hearts 3 live up to your expectations? Are you expecting anything at all? Let us know down in the comments.
Kingdom Hearts 3 will release for PS4 and Xbox One.