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Analysis: Kingdom Hearts III E3 2018 Pirates of the Caribbean Trailer
Our first shot from the trailer is the same as the other recent E3 ones with the quote: “The light is gathering together hearts driven by one oath, one purpose.” It previously seemed like Kingdom Hearts III was going to be using the “Don’t assume your dreams are just fantasy” quote, but the appearance of this seems to indicate these are just for the trailers.
The first true bit of footage shows Sora, Donald and Goofy rendered in a much more realistic fashion and all sporting brand new looks. Sora looks very much like Captain Jack with a conventional pirate outfit, whilst Donald and Goofy wear shiphand uniforms complete with bandanas.
All three are extremely detailed, with Sora’s outfit in particular featuring lots of little touches like a crown emblem stitched into his hat and a cute gold tooth. He’s also sporting bare hands, which is extremely rare for him! Donald and Goofy both have realistic ruffles and fur, as well as realistic eyes which stands out quite nicely. It’s clear the development team is going for less of a stark contrast between character designs like it was in Kingdom Hearts II.
Another cute detail comes from Sora singing “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life For Me)” which was featured in both the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and film series. Speaking of music, the song we hear in the background is a brand new piece produced by Takeharu Ishimoto, which he later tweeted about. The track sounds very in line with both Kingdom Hearts and Pirates!
The next scene in the trailer introduces us to the Pirates of the Caribbean cast, as well as confirming that the game will take place during the third movie, At World's End. All of the character models in the Pirate universe look absolutely amazing, especially considering they’re all live action. Tetsuya Nomura commented on this in an interview saying that they purposefully wanted to test the power of the new generation and try doing a live action movie. Mission accomplished!
We finally get to see some gameplay from the Pirates world and it seems to incorporate a lot of ship combat, similarly to a game like Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag. The HUD has changed to represent the ship being controlled, with a meter showing the ships’ health and speed taking over Sora. We also get to see that situation commands will still be present when using the ship, as evidenced by the appearance of “Tidal Wave” and “Raging Cannons”, which look like upgrading versions of the regular commands, Water Wave and Cannons.
Another interesting aspect shown from this trailer is the enemy health bars. Both the boss and the ships that Sora fights against are shown with a huge amount of health, which implies that we’ll be playing in the Pirates world a bit later in the game.
We now see Sora boarding the ship using Flowmotion, which is unclear if the player gets a choice to get it started. This is where we get our first look at the Pirates of the Caribbean Keyblade, which is designed after a ship wheel and with a skull keychain as well as emitting aztec coins when hitting enemies. The detail in Sora's Keyblade is best seen in his character render.
We then see Sora using it’s first Keyblade transformation, High Wind. We know that this Keyblade is a power form as Sora’s bandana changes colour from blue to red when using it. This transformation seems to rely on area of effect attacks and crowd control, which is especially evident when it transforms further into the Storm Flag. The power form motif is even more obvious here with the red flag. Storm Flag looks similar to High Wind, but with a bigger focus on air attacks, with Sora’s dive attack reminding me of the Jump reaction command when fighting Xaldin in Kingdom Hearts II.
Sora is then showing his ability to run up walls before attacking a Heartless that looks extremely reminiscent of the Powerwild Heartless found in Deep Jungle. The white sheen that appears on walls that can be run up still appears here. We then dive in (sorry) to some underwater gameplay for the first time. We see Sora spinning his Keyblade in the water to move and we also get to see some combat, which looks like it’ll utilise combos underwater, although whether or not they’re the same as the ones on solid ground isn’t very clear. We also get to see some new jellyfish Heartless, although with the return of the Powerwild Heartless they could be from Atlantica in the first game.
The next clip shows Sora swimming up, before a sneaky trailer cut puts him in the middle of a battle. We can tell a cut is used here as when Sora emerges from the water his Health bar changes and he loses Donald and Goofy. This battle appears to also have the goal of protecting the Black Pearl, which is now shown with a health bar of its own. Sora uses his Shotlock Flowchain to start riding a Heartless, which he then uses to get close to the boss (which also has a lot of health bars). The mix of aerial, water and land combat seems to be the theme for the Pirates world. Sora then attacks the boss when attached to him, using barrier in between attacks to protect himself. The appearance of barrier, which is typically Aqua’s protection method, might imply that Sora has encountered her, or simply learnt her technique. The gameplay section ends with Sora using his Flowmotion-like ability to ride on a rainbow road that has been created by the boss Heartless.
As has been the case with previous Kingdom Hearts III trailers, after the gameplay we get to see a good look at the story towards the end of the trailer. The first scene features Luxord, now a vessel for Xehanort, talking to Sora, Donald, Goofy and Jack Sparrow aboard the Black Pearl. Jack’s mention of the Pirate code is a direct reference to the second game, where he said the exact same thing about Luxord, which is a nice little callback. Luxord specifically mentions a black box, which Jack seems confused about, which tells us that it’s not just Maleficent and Pete looking for Back Cover’s Black Box. Is Luxord looking for it for his own gain or does Xehanort truly want it? We previously thought it was just Maleficent looking for the item, but it could have even bigger implications if Luxord is to be believed.
The next scene shows Sora, Donald and Goofy about to be attacked by the three Titans atop Mount Olympus. The fact that Sora is still in his Kingdom Hearts II outfit implies this is near the end of the visit to the world, and that this could be leading to the end boss battle. Hercules shows up just in time to join the party and help fight the Titans. We also hear Hades’ voice for the first time in English and he is indeed still voiced by James Woods.
The next scene shows a Vic the Visitor UFO kidnapping the three Aliens in the Toy Box world, whilst Sora, Buzz and Woody cry out for them to stop. This could be leading to a boss battle of sorts, but it could also be an indication to the ‘new seven hearts’ (more on that later). Elsa is seen building her ice castle and the Rapunzel is seen dancing around in Corona’s plaza after getting her hair done in two quick scenes. Curiously we still don’t hear Rapunzel speak, which could be because the English voice work isn’t quite done yet, as she does speak in the Japanese trailer.
Vanitas appears in the world of Monsters, Inc and we get to hear his voice performance by Haley Joel Osment for the first time. He sounds just like he did in Birth By Sleep, which is definitely a good thing. He talks about how “the Unversed collected enough screams and sadness from those children”, which could mean that during the events of the first Monsters, Inc film, the Unversed were collecting the negative emotions that the Monster’s were producing which would be a nice way of connecting the first film to the Kingdom Hearts universe. Mike then reacts accordingly, with Carlos Alazraqui’s voice performance being heard for the first time.
We then see Larxene again who drops one of the bigger story bombshells of the trailer. Sora accuses Larxene of following Elsa who claims “Maybe she’s one of the seven pure lights we need. The new seven hearts.”. Dream Drop Distance told us that if the seven lights can’t be gathered then the seven princesses will be gathered in their place. This shows that there are now seven new hearts, and they’re not linked to being a princess or not, just a pure-hearted individual. This could be why the green Aliens from Toy Story were abducted before, and it could be why the Organisation is after characters like Elsa and Rapunzel. This is exciting for a few reasons, but the idea of each world actually taking damage like they did in the first game certainly fits the idea of this story being dark. With the removal of Aqua as one of the seven hearts of light, it would make sense for the Organisation to be chasing the seven pure lights instead to fulfill the prophecy.
Ansem and Xehanort and then seen outside Twilight Town’s mansion, telling Sora to “set your heart free”, providing him with what looks like a dark portal. Is this the way that Roxas returns, through Sora unlocking the dark? We don’t get enough detail, but with Sora’s commitment to bringing Roxas back being a central theme for Kingdom Hearts III, we might just see him do it. Xigbar (with his hair going silver now) is then seen telling Sora that his reward “might be right around the corner”. Since Sora is clearly still in Olympus, he could be referring to the power-up he seemingly receives after getting his strength back, but he’s likely hinting at something much darker.
One of the highlights of the trailer is getting to see our first look at Lea and Kairi and both of them look absolutely incredible in HD! Lea is still wearing his Organisation coat, but that’s hopefully something that’ll change later in the game. Kairi is shown in her brand new outfit that was seen previously through a Unchained X datamine, but she’s also shown here with a much shorter haircut, reminiscent of her original Kingdom Hearts look. Where in the world they are is a complete mystery, but it can be presumed they’re training still or have just finished. Nomura has also said that where they are is a location we can’t visit in the game, so it’s probably not important. Humorously, Kairi also refers to Lea as Axel again which doesn’t seem to bother him as much anymore, which might mean he’s just got used to the name. It’s a cute reference to Dream Drop Distance, even if it probably doesn’t mean much.
The trailer ends on one more bombshell by having Riku sat on Destiny Island talking to Riku Replica from Chain of Memories. Although he was presumed dead after the end of Chain of Memories, he’s seen here perfectly alive and well sitting on the beach. This means that Riku was almost definitely referring to him when he said, “In case the other me needs it” after leaving his broken Way to the Dawn Keyblade in the Realm of Darkness. How he’s come back to life is very uncertain, but it does make a good case for Roxas’ return too. Riku Replica is made up of data yet is clearly back here, and in a previous trailer Roxas’ data was discussed and said that it needed to be collected. This could be a big hint to how Roxas is (hopefully) brought back.
Another interesting detail from the trailer is that the Japanese version is labelled as "vol. 3" which is almost presenting them in a story like fashion. The Japanese trailer also shows Marluxia, and this time his eye's are yellow which indicates that he's been turned into a Xehanort Vessel too. Why this wasn't included in the first trailer is unknown, but it really shows the extent of Xehanort's plan.
Overall this was a pretty great trailer that told us a lot of new information about Kingdom Hearts III, especially in regards to the story. Watch the newest trailer here and catch with our coverage of the E3 2018 here.
Did you see anything that I missed? Let us know in the comments below!