The main story
Following the hot tracks of the newly released Kingdom Hearts III trailer that featured the brand new Monsters, Inc. world, Tetsuya Nomura announced that the game would look even more stellar upon its release, as the game is still in development. The engine will allow more dynamic detailing to be present, including more realistic and organic facial expressions, including more subtle details such as Rapunzel’s hair moving along with the wind.
The biggest news that was revealed by Nomura was the general developmental progress of Kingdom Hearts 3. The game, currently believed to consist of 10 worlds, is segmented into 3 main areas. Namely, the beginning locations, the mid-level locations, and the final locations. Nomura stated that the beginning locations are 90% complete and the mid-level locations are 60-70% complete. He also added that one world is equivalent to 1 previous Kingdom Hearts game, with a variety of things to do. Each world also has its own unique elements for fans to explore.
What you should know
Kingdom Hearts is a joint collaboration game between Square Enix and Disney, hence why there are many familiar faces present in this games. The game involves a tangled jungle of plot twists, body swaps, betrayals, memory loss, clones, hearts, kingdoms, and much feels which revolve mainly around Sora and Riku, best friends separated by darkness and light.
The main story follows Sora and Riku who set off to rescue King Mickey but are instead caught in an epic struggle in which they must save multiple entwined worlds from an evil force of heartless creatures (called Heartless) while battling a black-cloaked organization (called the Organization) with ambiguous motivations, all whilst learning the truth about keyblades and the wars surrounding them (called the Keyblade Wars) so they can destroy evil before they succumb to the shadows and allow the nasty Xehanort to claim victory.
The crux of the matter
Kingdom Hearts III has been in development for over 10 years, with Square Enix releasing multiple games not in the main line series to buy time for this gem to be complete. Having released Dream Drop Distance and Kingdom Hearts 2.8 alongside a total remaster of Kingdom Hearts 1, 2 and other spin off titles associated to the franchise.
Square Enix has been actively expanding the story from beyond what it is supposed to be, as evidenced by their move to launch a mobile version of titular series as well. They have been shifting their focus to release these small tasty morsels to keep their hungry fans from going totally ballistic.
However, there is still no release date as of yet and the game is still in development.
My personal take
Square Enix is notorious for delaying the release of fan favourite games, as witnessed by the long developmental hell Final Fantasy XV was in. And I have been waiting for a lot of Square Enix titles for a long time. So much so that I have actually gotten tired of it. However, the main drive for me to keep believing in Kingdom Hearts III lies in the game director himself, Tetsuya Nomura.
While he gave us the completion rate for 2 areas, there was no mention on the completion rate of the final locations. If I was to hazard a guess, it would be less than 40% complete. They have about 7-8 months to complete the game before they release it, and if they are adhering to the 2018 release plan, they have a lot of things to take into consideration.
Firstly, the release of a playable demo or episode to garner feedback from fans and critics alike. This will also serve as a platform to identify bugs and glitches before the final game goes on sale. Secondly, the announcement of the release date itself, which I believe will be done during the time frame of E3 2018. Thirdly, the timeline of releasing the game might be delayed if they detect any game breaking glitches during the launch of the playable demo, much like Final Fantasy XV.
Taking into account all these factors, it is safe to say that Kingdom Hearts II will only be ready for release in 2019. However, Square Enix plans to release Final Fantasy 7 Remake in 2019 and they rarely cannibalize their own titles by putting release dates so close to each other.
I am going to go all in with Tetsuya Nomura and a late 2018 release date. Let us all hope it pays off!
Watch the trailer released at D23 Expo Japan 2018 for Kingdom Hearts 3 here: