Kingdom Hearts III Hands-On Impressions from E3 2018

It would be the understatement of the century if I said fans have been waiting seemingly forever for the oncoming release of Kingdom Hearts III. Exactly one week ago during the Kingdom Hearts Orchestra: World Tour event held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, franchise director Tetsuya Nomura took the stage.

He revealed, alongside a new trailer confirming the inclusion the worlds of Frozen and Pirates of the Carribean, that Kingdom Hearts III will finally be out in the west on January 29, 2019 (January 25 in Japan).

This is huge for those of us who have been desperately craving the next mainline entry in the series, even if it meant having to indulge in remasters, spin-offs, portable titles, and more.


Personally, I hold a huge amount of nostalgia for this amazing series that blends Square Enix’s undeniable focus on art direction with the majesty of Disney’s whimsical cast of characters (which has certainly grown through the mega-conglomerate's acquisitions over the years). I still love to recall the incredible ending to Kingdom Hearts II and the emotional charge it gave me.

From the different trailers shared over the years since its original announcement way back in E3 2013, the same show where Final Fantasy Versus XIII became Final Fantasy XV. It’s crazy to think how far we have come since that moment, yet we were still only given tiny morsels of information.

Thankfully, we are getting ever closer to the official release, and with that holiday on the horizon, Square Enix finally gave the wider public an opportunity to try out the game for themselves on the show floor of E3 2018.

I’ll say right off the bat that this demo appears to be identical to the one our boss man Alex got to try out last month in Burbank, so I don’t think I have to delve too deep into what I got to try out - he did a pretty good job himself.


But speaking as a huge fan of the series, Kingdom Hearts III appears to already deliver what those in our fandom truly adore. I got to try out two sections of the game - one set in the world of Toy Story, and another in the old favorite, Disney’s Hercules.

Toy Story’s “Toy Box” level is all about acclimating the player to the controls and the different mechanics featured in this experience. When I wasn’t busy dispatching the Heartless and other pestering minions of the darkness, I was using a bevy of special attacks at my disposal, some of them themed around different Disney attractions (such as a rollercoaster and teacup ride), with others driven by those I had brought along in my journey like Wreck-It Ralph.

There were also a few different keyblades I could switch between in the midst of combat, and much like the past entries, you will be able to level up these weapons to unlock more potent combo maneuvers to defeat the enemies of the light. As you can imagine, this particular aspect will prove to be pivotal in your success in the main game, and one of many different systems at play.

Fortunately, the game is rich with shortcuts and other quality-of-life improvements to make combat far more manageable than ever before. I am really looking forward to playing around with the more advanced move sets with hopefully an extra layer of difficulty the series sorely needs to keep players engaged.


People talked about it during the re-reveal a couple years ago, but Kingdom Hearts III looks absolutely gorgeous up close, presenting faithful adaptations of their original Disney properties.

There was this comparison of the visuals that it surpasses earlier Pixar titles (because let’s face it - they’re currently in a league all of their own), and that correlation feels more apt than ever in the latest build.

Square Enix has done an amazing job with the bright and fluid visual design of this game, and being able to play only a snippet of the finished product makes the wait all the more challenging.

Whether you got into this series for Nomura’s signature designs or the nostalgiac characters of Disney, Kingdom Hearts III is definitely shaping up to be the title millions of fans around the world have been waiting for.