As a huge fan of every game in the Kingdom Hearts series, I know very well how painful the wait for the long-awaited third entry into the series is. Every single E3 that comes and goes, fans are left waiting for a new trailer or any new detail to satisfy their craving and unfortunately, it appears that fans might be waiting till at least this Christmas for more information. With the reveal of the delay to Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, it is now pretty clear that 2018 will be the year that we finally get the conclusion to the Xehanort saga.
One of the big things to consider when talking about the release date for any game is when it was announced and what the developers have to say about the state of the game itself. Nomura has famously stated that the game was announced “too early”. The sparse amount of information that has been revealed about the game and Nomura’s own comments on how the game is coming along certainly implies that despite the many years fans have waited, the game hasn’t actually been in development that long. There is a common misconception that Kingdom Hearts III has been in development for over ten years but this is simply not the case, as it has actually only been in development around the time of its announcement in 2013. In terms of development, 4 years actually isn’t a huge amount of time, especially when considering the extra work needed for the HD ReMixes and now for 0.2 Birth By Sleep Volume 2.
The state of Kingdom Hearts III’s development is also a mystery in its own right, owing to the fact that we haven’t really seen that much of the game since its announcement. Nomura has stated that the game’s development is progressing well which is certainly good news for fans. This is also very impressive considering the development trouble that the game has had so far. In 2014, it was announced that the in house graphic engine developed for the game, Luminous, to Unreal Engine 4. Because of this, most of the assets made for the game had to be redone in Unreal and a lot of work was done to make sure that the graphics held up. This significant development change as well as Nomura’s divided attention with Final Fantasy VII Remake and originally Final Fantasy XV, really do go a long way to explaining the lack of information and the ‘slow’ development of Kingdom Hearts III.
Most of the speculation for the release date of the next main Kingdom Hearts game appears to optimistically place it as next year- 2017. This originally seemed plausible given that it is the 15th anniversary of the franchise and that 2.8 was originally slated for 2016, however with that titles delay to 2017 it appears as if we are going to be waiting a little longer for Kingdom Hearts III. Even if 2.8 had released this year, it seemed unlikely that we would be getting three until at least late 2017. Every title in the series so far has been released with a years gap in between, starting with 1.5 in 2013 and now all the way up to Unchained X this year and 2.8 in the next. The yearly release schedule gives each title room to breathe and now especially sets up Kingdom Hearts III for 2018.
The main thing to take away from all this is that it isn’t impossible for Kingdom Hearts III to release in 2017. In fact, given the timing with the 15th anniversary, it would make a lot of sense to have the long awaited title release then. However, with 2.8 being given a lot of attention as its own title and Square Enix clearly wanting to make the most out of the collection, 2018 is looking likelier and likelier to be the year of Kingdom Hearts III. Whatever year it releases, whenever we get information and whatever consoles it appears on; Kingdom Hearts III will be worth the wait.