It’s been more than a decade since Kingdom Hearts 2 and fans have long wondered how the upcoming Kingdom Hearts 3 will differentiate itself in terms of gameplay.

In an interview with IGN, Kingdom Hearts 3 co-director Tai Yasue elaborated on the new gameplay features set to be introduced in the long-awaited sequel. Check out what they are below:

-Gameplay Gimmicks Unique to Each World: Every Disney world in Kingdom Hearts 3 will feature its own unique gimmick or gameplay mechanic. Examples include piloting the Giga mechas in Toy Story’s Toy Box, sledding downhill with a shield in Frozen’s Arendelle, and even captaining a ship in Pirates of the Caribbean’s Port Royal.

Players will need to complete these world-specific gimmicks to advance the story at first but returning to these worlds afterward will allow players to replay the gimmicks as minigames.

“We all love the original Disney films, obviously. We watch them over and over again and we just ask ourselves, ‘What will be the most fun [thing to do] there, in the world,’ said Yasue. “The first time around you just clear it, but the second time around there are new routes and there’s a score attack mode.”

-Keyblade Transformations: Sora’s signature weapon can change into non-Key forms like yo-yos (Hercules’ Olympus), toy hammers (Toy Story’s Toy Box), and more, according to which world he is currently visiting.

“The tempo was quick and I think it’s really important to have a change in rhythm in the battle systems, and the game, so we wanted to take that feeling and put that into Kingdom Hearts 3, as well,” said Yasue. “We wanted our players to be surprised. But at the same time, we wanted it to be true to the world. So by using that, by changing a [Keyblade]’s look and also how he fights, you never get really tired or bored of the game.”

Attraction Flow Mechanic: These special attacks summon iconic Disney theme park rides into combat. For example, Mad Tea Party cups can be conjured against enemies, or even a Pirate ship, swinging back and forth, hitting enemies in the process.

“Art-wise we wanted to pick up [an]… electric parade-like look, and change the rules for each sort of ride, so you have a new feel to it,” said Yasue. “We decide which ride we want, according to the field and which enemies you fight with, so it’s not really story-linked. There is another point where you use an attraction, and that really fits into the sort of overall game flow, but usually, it’s just battle-based, and you know, your enemies and your environment, and how that fits in.”

Gummi Ship Differences: The Gummi Ship was already in the original Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2, so it’s not a new gameplay feature. However, in Kingdom Hearts 3, it will be much-improved, featuring a 360-degree world in which can players can freely fly around with no fixed path.

“You choose your own route. There’s also treasure all over the place, and missions, and things to explore. You can use the camera feature to take pictures of stars, and that gives you a recipe to make a gummi ship,” said Yasue. “The Gummi ships, we have the team from Einhander…working on that with us. For the ships as well, we have a programmer or an engineer who actually works a lot on cars and driving games as well.”

Improvements to Magic: While magic-based attacks will largely remain the same Final Fantasy attacks that players are used to (like Fire, Blizzard, and Thunder), they will be much more fluid in Kingdom Hearts 3. No longer will Sora stop in his tracks when unleashing magic attacks.

“When you look at the animations, for example, even when you’re running and you shoot a fireball, Fire, for example, you’re continuing to run and shoot at the same time,” Yasue said. “We wanted it [to have] that seamless look. We wanted the magic spells to evolve, so you get the Situation Command after you’ve, for example, used fire a lot, you have a new level of Fire coming up on your Situation Command.”

Additionally, Keyblade transformations will also affect how Sora’s magic is conjured. For example, the toy hammer form will unleash a “circular movement” of fire when using Fire-based magic instead of just shooting it forward like he normally does with his Keyblade.

More Exploration Opportunities: Exploration in Kingdom Hearts 3 will be more than just reaching hidden places to find secret treasure chests.

“For example, the smartphone camera picture feature. You [can] take pictures of hidden Mickeys, and by taking pictures of hidden Mickeys that are placed all over the place you get items,” said Yasue. “There’s also a lot of food items hidden away. And if you have food items, you [can] take that to Remy’s restaurant at Twilight Town and make your own dinner.”

In a Kingdom Hearts 3 demo I experienced last year, I noticed that the core gameplay remained the same with its predecessor, albeit with several small changes. It seems that there’s a lot more content awaiting me in the full version of the game. In the meantime, check out my hands-on preview of Kingdom Hearts 3 here.

Kingdom Hearts 3 is slated to release for the PS4 and Xbox One on 29 January 2019.


 

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