Square Enix finally released Final Fantasy 15 today, which means role-playing game fans can check off one of their most elusive and anticipated titles from the list. With that game finally out into the world after 10 very, very long years, there are a handful of other titles that players are keeping their fingers crossed for — and none have players more anxious than Kingdom Hearts 3.
The wait for Kingdom Hearts 3 has in fact lasted just as long as the one for Final Fantasy 15, its Square Enix-developed cousin. Kingdom Hearts 2 launched stateside in March 2006, just two months before the reveal of Final Fantasy Versus 13. The end of that wildly popular PlayStation 2 game teased a third entry in the series, which set diehards off in search of Kingdom Hearts 3 news.
Since then, there have been no less than eight Kingdom Hearts spinoffs and compilations in the years since, but nothing to move the story much forward. Kingdom Hearts 3’s official reveal didn’t come until E3 2013, the same year that Square Enix announced that Final Fantasy Versus 13 was now Final Fantasy 15. It was a huge turning point for Square Enix fans and those who dug both franchises, but while things have been on the up-and-up for Final Fantasy 15, Kingdom Heats 3 remains a mystery.
An engine change came in 2014, which didn’t bode well for how development was going. New trailers and teasers have mostly been scant ever since. Most recently, we saw footage tucked into a Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue trailer, back in December 2015. Since then, Kingdom Heats 3 has been largely missing from public view.
There’s been no dearth of Kingdom Hearts series announcements in general, like a remaster of the first two entries in the series coming next March. But when it comes to Kingdom Hearts 3, fans continue to twiddle their thumbs and hope for the best.
The release of Final Fantasy 15 has fueled Kingdom Hearts players’ optimism, by the looks of social media:
I'm relieved that Final Fantasy 15 is out because now they can focus on #KingdomHearts III. Y'all had to delay it. But it's coo.— Jayus (@lahgom) November 28, 2016
I'm not a big Final Fantasy guy but I'm glad it's finally coming out so Kingdom Hearts 3 can be Square's only project to work out. pic.twitter.com/MYG49IISMi— Jack Nesmith M.A. (@AmbitiousLeader) November 28, 2016
v happy and excited about the new final fantasy— Yolksuke @home (@Sailboat_Sparv) November 29, 2016
also v excited that kingdom hearts is next (or at least sooner)
Now that Final Fantasy is out, let's focus on Kingdom Hearts 3 and getting a lightsaber keyblade.— King Lennie (@LennieDiFino) November 29, 2016
Final Fantasy fans: Final Fantasy XV released today can't wait to play it!— (@L1LBOUGIE) November 29, 2016
Kingdom Hearts fans: pic.twitter.com/80jKceZQHj
JRPG fans are getting even more excited after discovering a possible reference to Kingdom Hearts within the new Final Fantasy. It seems that even the cast of Final Fantasy 15 is looking out for the younger, Disney-fied franchise.
Final Fantasy 15 and Kingdom Hearts 3 are otherwise mostly bonded by their shared developer, but Kingdom Hearts 3 was always meant to arrive after Final Fantasy 15 was through. That’s because both games initially shared director Tetusya Nomura. That changed in September 2014, when Hajime Tabata replaced Nomura on Final Fantasy 15 so that Nomura could devote himself elsewhere — like Kingdom Hearts 3.
Kingdom Hearts 3 remains but a dream to us, a source of speculation, a great white whale that we know is out there, somewhere. Now that we’re able to jump into Final Fantasy 15, we also expect to hear more about the new reigning Moby Dick of RPGs in 2017 — the year of Kingdom Hearts’ 15th anniversary.