Soon, Xbox fans will have their first chance to jump into the world of Kingdom Hearts with the release of Kingdom Hearts III on Xbox One. The much-loved series has spanned multiple games, comics, and books to weave a complex tale about light vs. darkness and the power of friendship.
For many of us, this may be the first time that we’ll be venturing into this mystical game that brings to life the world of Disney and Pixar – it’s taken more than 13 years for a direct sequel to be released, in between multiple side-stories and adventures. To say KH3 is highly anticipated to its fans would be an understatement.
If you’re like us, one who has not ventured into the world of Kingdom Hearts, or you just need a bit of a refresher on the game world, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a primer on some of the key things you need to know to prepare for your adventure with Sora, Donald Duck, and Goofy and help fight against the darkness that’s threatening their worlds.
What kind of game is Kingdom Hearts III and is it for me?
At its core, the series is a story-driven action RPG. The real fun is in the game’s real-time battle mechanics, which is a mix of button-mashing (think hack-n-slash) melee combat and utilizing magic to deal damage to your enemies.
You will also to be able to utilize a variety of items to help recover Hit Points (HP) and Magic Points (MP), and include Summons of powerful characters into battle, much-like that of the Final Fantasy series. Part of the fun in traveling between the various Disney and Pixar worlds is that character abilities may change your characters specific to that world, but the core of how you play should remain the same.
Returning to Kingdom Hearts III will be the Gummi Ship, a super customizable starship that you can use to fly between worlds. Throughout your journey you’ll be able to collect a variety of “Gummi Parts” and upgrades to customize your ship, allowing you to tune it to your liking by focusing on speed, shields, or firepower.
And returning to the series are a large variety of mini games that you can play in KH3. A few of these have been shown off in some of the video content that has been released, like learning to cook helpful power-ups or playing classic LCD-style games inspired by some early Disney handhelds.
So, if you’re a fan of the Final Fantasy series, escapism JRPG-type games with a fun, active, real-time battle system, mini games, and you enjoy Disney and Pixar films (who doesn’t?), Kingdom Hearts III is for you.
Who is Sora?
Sora is our hero in the Kingdom Hearts saga and the primary character you’ll play as (we assume) throughout Kingdom Hearts III. His best friends, who also appear throughout the series, are Riku and Kairi who all share the dream of venturing away from their home on the Destiny Islands to see what else is out there in the world (spoiler: quite a lot).
After his home is attacked by the Heartless – more on them in a minute — he leaves his home and it turns out he may hold the key, as it were, to saving the universe. In KH3, he finds himself back in a similar position where he aims to defeat the Heartless from invading and taking over the universe – this time (presumably) for good.
Who are the Heartless?
These are the primary bad guys throughout the Kingdom Hearts series and have plans on invading and taking over the universe in Kingdom Hearts III. Historically they have taken over Disney villains and other characters throughout the series, manipulating them to their own means.
When not invading bodies, they look like black colored alien-like creatures with yellow eyes – our best guess at what a de-robbed Jawa from Star Wars looks like. Their primary goal has typically been to access these various game worlds searching for their Keyhole, a mystical gateway that leads to the “heart” of that world. If they gain access to that heart and consume it, that world will fade from existence.
Who is Master Xehanort?
Where the Heartless are the primary baddies you’ll fight, Xehanort is the big-bad villain responsible for all the evil that has been unleashed as he seeks to control all the Kingdom Hearts. Throughout the series he has travelled back in time to prepare his younger self for battles that have yet to take place, making him an incredible formidable opponent for our young hero Sora. What exactly his evil plans are this time around is not exactly clear, but it’s safe to assume it involves controlling Kingdom Hearts (again).
What is a “Kingdom Heart”?
Think of Kingdom Hearts as the embodiment of all light and wisdom, “the heart of all worlds.” They are the ultimate power. If they’re healthy, everything in the universe is peachy. Naturally, to help move our story along, events have transpired that has given rise to darkness which (surprise) affects light and thus the health of the Kingdom Hearts — the bad guys want control of them so they can wield its power; the good guys want to protect it so the universe is at peace.
What’s a Keyblade?
The Keyblade is the primary weapon of Sora and that of many characters throughout the series. Each Keyblade has its own unique power tied into the world of Kingdom Hearts that can affect gameplay and combat, like raising your character’s MP or improved critical attacks, and many can be found hidden throughout the game’s world. Only those with the strongest heart may wield a Keyblade, thus making them a critical component in this whole, light vs. dark overarching theme throughout the series.
What’s up with all the Disney and Pixar characters?
Think of all of these fantasy worlds as somewhat-parallel worlds to Sora’s, ones that can be accessed by a particular Keyhole that leads to the “Kingdom Heart” of that world (one of the Heartless’ main goals throughout the series is to invade these worlds searching for Keyholes and eat the heart of that world).
The Keyholes are hidden throughout the series and its part of Sora’s quest is to find them, enter these worlds, defeat the Heartless who have invaded said worlds, and then seal the Keyhole saving that world from future harm. Got it? Cool, we think we understand that a bit better now as well.
We hope this brief look at the world of Kingdom Hearts III has both peaked your curiosity to learn more, or if you’re a fan of the series you’re now back up to speed where you left off (quite some time ago). We’re incredibly excited to play this soon-to-be classic game on Tuesday, January 29 on Xbox One. Let’s go save the world!
Kingdom Hearts III arrives on Xbox One Tuesday, January 29 and is an Xbox One X Enhanced title. You can pre-order it today via the Microsoft Store. Click here for more details.