Oh, how things change.
I was getting ready to sit down here, to talk about the trailer that dropped during the first night of the Kingdom Hearts World Tour Orchestra encore in Los Angeles last night. I was going to tell you how we got a confirmed release date for Sora’s next adventure (yay!) for early 2019 (d’oh!) and how, despite the embargo from Square-Enix, different yet-to-be-confirmed leaks seem to hint at new gameplay and story elements (the appearance of Braig, one of Master Xehanort’s 13 vessels of darkness, and Remy from Ratatouille to name a couple.)
But before I could do all that, Square-Enix released a new Kingdom Hearts III trailer during Microsoft’s Xbox E3 2018 Briefing. The trailer shows some new footage, mainly highlighting the newest confirmed world, that of Arendelle from Frozen. So now, that’s what I will focus on, though I will talk a little more about the release date at the end of this article.
Check out the new trailer below from the Kingdom Hearts channel, and then read on for my analysis on this and the other latest Kingdom Hearts III news.
The trailer starts with Sora dispatching a Soldier heartless in the frozen snowscape of Arendelle (with an ice-themed keyblade, possibly the keyblade from this world). Goofy jokes about how Sora is too used to the beach. Sora then spies Queen Elsa running across the frozen sea, ice forming under her steps.
In the next scene, Sora runs into Olaf, along with Anna, Kristoff and Sven. Anna asks Olaf if Sora, Donald and Goofy are his friends, and Olaf, as only Olaf can do, replies that he does not know anyone blue, green or “oddly-spiky.”
We then get gameplay footage of Arendelle, with Sora, Donald and Goofy taking on the snow golem Marshmallow and showing off a new keyblade transformation with the Blizzard Blades. The Blizzard Blades appear to be a speed-focused transformation, allowing Sora to grow ice blades on his hands and feet for quick attacks and skating across the snow. The three are then shown eluding some ice dragon-type enemies, using Goofy’s shield as a sled in what looks to be a minigame.
Sora then calls in some help with a new link attack, summoning Simba from The Lion King. He looks like he will be Sora’s best friend in Arendelle, as his attack, KingsFlare, summons a huge ball of fire in this winter wonderland.
The trailer then shows off the Splash Run attraction flow and Wreck-it Ralph link revealed at last month’s preview event. That’s before the scenes shifts to both the Kingdom of Corona, where Sora uses Rapunzel’s help in traversing a large gap (could be either a gameplay element or part of a story cutscene), and Monstropolis, where Sora explores more of the Monsters Inc. factory.
We then get our first look at a returning element for Kingdom Hearts III, the Gummi Ships. The developers have stated they want the Gummi Ships in this game to focus on both combat and exploration. It looks like the combat is taking its cues from Kingdom Hearts II, while the exploration elements seem to be more open-world based, giving the feeling of actually traversing through space while looking for new worlds.
Back in Arendelle, Sora has run into Elsa, who saves him from an attacking Heartless by firing an ice blast at it. Sora seems totally cool (no pun intended) with this, and why shouldn’t he? He’s seen so much strange stuff, a woman who can control ice seems downright normal. Sora expresses his amazement that Elsa can control ice, before Elsa claims all her ice does is hurt those around her. Clearly, he’s run into the socially-awkward, unsure-about-her-powers Elsa.
We get more footage of the already confirmed worlds (except Big Hero 6, that is), as well as Sora arguing with Ansem: Seeker of Darkness and Xemnas that his nobody, Roxas, really does exist. The scene shifts back to Arendelle, as Organization XIII member Larxene makes her grand return. She casually states that Elsa has a choice to make between light and darkness, before Sora retorts he won’t let Elsa fall into darkness.
To be honest, the reveal of Frozen for Kingdom Hearts III shouldn’t surprise anyone, as Frozen is Disney’s biggest cash cow in quite some time. However, I’m quite pleased with the story direction for Arendelle. While it may be a rehash of the film’s plot, Elsa’s struggle fits perfectly with Kingdom Hearts‘ broader scope of light vs. darkness and the power of friendship.
Speaking of the film, it’s kind of hard to tell at this point if Square-Enix and Disney were able to bring back the original voice actors for the film’s characters, as we know that at least Woody, Mike and Sulley will have different voices. Olaf does sound like he’s voiced by Josh Gad, and that would be incredibly cool (seriously, no pun intended) if he was. However, Elsa and Anna don’t have enough lines for me to pick up if that is Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell lending their voices.
The last scene of the trailer takes us to the Realm of Darkness, where a shadowy figure, with Riku and King Mickey watching on, picks up a keyblade that looks to be a cross between the standard Kingdom Key and the Star Seeker. In quite the swerve, the shadowy figure reveals herself as the keyblade master Aqua. Sporting the yellow eyes of someone possessed by darkness and silver hair, she coldly tells Mickey that he’s too late.
Riku and King Mickey have been trying to track Aqua down in the Realm of Darkness. But whether she has ultimately been corrupted by darkness, or they have just run into some kind of Anti-Aqua, it’s not good either way.
And that’s the latest trailer. It does end with the newest release date, January 29, 2019, confirming the game has been pushed back. Granted, in the grand scheme of things, it may only turn out to be a one- or two-month delay. Even with word last year that Kingdom Hearts III was planned for a 2018 release, I kind of figured it would be a holiday season release, dropping in either November or December.
While I am a little disappointed in the delay, I’m not angry about it. In fact, I think I kind of knew in the back of my mind that 2018 was kind of a lofty goal. If another month or two helps the developers clean up and smooth out the game, as well as some of the critiques mentioned at last month’s preview event, I’m all for it.
And I might not be the only person who thinks that. Posting a live reaction to the Orchestra trailer, YouTuber Cynical (check out his channel at TheGamersJoint) and others in attendance seem genuinely excited, and not at all upset, at having a concrete release date.
At the very least, a release in January 2019 would mark five-and-a-half years since Kingdom Hearts III‘s reveal at E3 2013. As far as development hells go, that’s not too terrible, especially when you consider the delays titles like Final Fantasy XV, The Last Guardian and (shudder) Duke Nukem Forever went through.
With Square-Enix’s E3 showcase set for tomorrow morning, we may very well get some more Kingdom Hearts III news and trailers. Maybe they’ll reveal the Orchestra trailer to the public. Maybe we’ll finally see some footage of San Fransokyo. Maybe Sora will be confirmed for the newest Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo Switch (hey, a man can dream.)
I will be keeping an eye on Square-Enix’s E3 showcase, so keep an eye out for a future article on my reaction to the event.
What do you all think about the latest Kingdom Hearts III news? Are you excited with Arendelle’s reveal? Are you disappointed with the game being pushed back to early 2019? Let us know in the comments below.