Kingdom Hearts III‘s announcement at E3 this week was “a little early,” director Tetsuya Nomura said during an interview with Famitsu at E3.
“I was thinking of all the many fans who have been impatient for it since Kingdom Hearts II and the continued spin-offs, so I revealed it beside Final Fantasy XV,” he said.
Kingdom Hearts III, like previous games, will feature a party of three characters—usually Sora, Donald, and Goofy—but allow NPCs from each Disney world to take part in battle, too. Nomura promises flashy combat and a new aerial fighting style that will keep Sora afloat when attacking in the sky.
The game is being developed on the Luminous engine with over-specifications (likely a PC environment), and is being ported to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It will use a special “Kingdom Shader” to give Sora and company visuals adjusted differently for each world to suit its motif.
Nomura also said the game would include online components and other series firsts.
The end of the announcement trailer shows what appears to be a gameplay segment of Sora running away from, then battling a group of Heartless. Nomura confirmed that this was actually a movie, as they were unable to prepare gameplay in time for the trailer, but that it represents the “visual possibilities that are capable in real-time.”
Kingdom Hearts III is coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Find the full interview transcribed below.
― Since the impact of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance and Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix are still reverberating, we were surprised to see the early and unexpected trailer of Kingdom Hearts III being revealed.
Nomura: I was thinking of all the many fans who have been impatient for it since Kingdom Hearts II and the continued spin-offs, so I revealed it beside Final Fantasy XV. Though judging from the development status, I think it was a little early to announce it.
― Nonetheless, it seems that the visual direction is already certain.
Nomura: It’s a visual we’re currently developing called “Kingdom Shader.” While the characters have been these textures before, this is how they’ll be in original worlds. The shader will adjust in each world, so in Disney worlds, the visual will change to suit each world’s motif.
― Like Final Fantasy XV, will Kingdom Hearts III use Luminous Studio for development?
Nomura: Currently we’re using Luminous mainly and are exploring it. Producing it with over-specifications, porting to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will be the same. There was a problem with the tools, and real engine footage couldn’t be prepared in time for the battle scene shown in the trailer we premiered. So we went with a movie that shows the sort of visual possibilities that are capable in real-time. Regardless, when you look at the actual real-time movement in comparison, there isn’t much difference.
― Tell us about how action has evolved in Kingdom Hearts III.
Nomura: At the moment there is a demo version where you can move in the real engine, but… it’s a real struggle. (Laughs) “Bold action” will become even better. You’ll have a party of three in Kingdom Hearts III, but each world’s NPCs will take part in battles, too. At any rate, a very flashy style of action will unfold. We’re developing an aerial fighting style that won’t require you to land and allows you to fly into the sky.
― Only Sora would do that. (Laughs)
Nomura: He would. (Laughs) (Editor’s Note: Sora means “sky” in Japanese.)
The enemy AI has become quite elaborate too, and with that, coop actions that incorporate both enemies and allies are able to unfold. For example, there is a vehicular type enemy, I already have it so that Sora can jump on and ride around on it in battle.
― Lastly, a message for the fans.
Nomura: Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III being produced together creates a relationship of rivalry that will bring out the best in each. Within internal meetings, Kingdom Hearts III serves as the chicken, and although development degree is still low, we felt a real response to it. Kingodm Hearts III will include online components, and we’re looking into other developments that haven’t been in Kingodm Hearts previously, so please look forward to future announcements. This year we’ll have presentations at Tokyo Game Show and at D23 Expo Japan in October domestically, so I think we’ll be able to put out more information around then.
For the Final Fantasy XV part of this interview, click here.