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Kingdom Hearts 3 beginner’s guide and tips

Our best advice for new and returning players

Donald, Goofy and Sora look suspicious in a screenshot from Kingdom Hearts 3. square enix

On its basic difficulty, Kingdom Hearts 3 is far from a challenging experience. However, there are still plenty of moments that you’d likely not want to play again if something goes wrong. It can be overwhelming if you aren’t prepared from the start.

We’ve broken the game down into 11 different tips to help you on your way through the various Disney worlds.

Always be moving

Flowmotion is a new feature in Kingdom Hearts 3 that lets you zip around the battlefield in the air or on the ground. Mobility is your friend, and the best way to avoid getting hit is to keep moving.

Dash onto poles and try to stay in the air as much as possible. Attacking through Flowmotion won’t be as useful in most of the game as it is in the Olympus world, but staying in the air is key to victory.

Look up

Sora now has the ability to run up walls and climb poles with Flowmotion. This means a lot of your treasure won’t just be hiding at eye level. You can find chests on ridges, up walls, behind pillars — basically all over the place.

Exploring in Kingdom Hearts 3 doesn’t just mean walking a line around the map area. It means jumping and wall running and dashing into every nook and cranny until you find all of the chests.

Before you leave an area, just take a second and look up and around. You’ll thank us later.

There are. however, some chests you simply won’t be able to reach in the early game. You’ll gain some new mobility options as you go, so if you get too stumped, make a note and come back later.

kingdom hearts 3 Square Enix

Break everything and search the area

Sora, Donald, and Goofy travel between worlds to save everyone, and they’re a destructive force to be reckoned with. There are barrels and pots and boxes all over the place. Break them all.

Inside, you’ll find materials to upgrade your Keyblades or build items. You’ll find food materials that you can use to cook with Ratatouille. There are tons of items to collect in Kingdom Hearts 3, and you’ll be rewarded in some way — usually more items — for finding them.

Equip air-focused skills

No matter what your main strategy for combat is, there are a few occasions where you’ll be forced to battle in the air. If you don’t want to suffer through these aerial fights, there are a couple important aerial skills you’ll need to focus on.

Pick up Aerial Recovery and Payback Strike for Sora, and keep them on from the minute you unlock them (about halfway through Kingdom Hearts 3). Without spoiling it, a late-game boss fight involves some air combat, and these two skills were key to our success. Without them, getting hit mid-air will be a lot more punishing.

Stay in the air

The gameplay in Kingdom Hearts 3 should be very familiar to you if you’ve played the other games in the series. If not, it’s a little less responsive than your typical action game, with a needlessly complex action menu instead of traditional button combos. To get through normal difficulty, all you’ll need to do is press that attack command and ready your fingers for some quick presses of Triangle or Y.

However, one of the major upgrades in Kingdom Hearts 3 is the ability to air dodge from the very beginning of the game. Staying in the air and comboing Heartless will keep you above most of the action. This is great for a couple reasons. Not only will it protect you from some wayward spells and other moves below, but it’ll put you in a good place to jump to other enemies quickly.

Without spoiling anything, there are some critical boss fights that take place mostly in the air. You’ll need to get comfortable with fighting in the clouds if you want to take on all the content Kingdom Hearts 3 has to offer.

Feel free to ignore entire systems

There is a lot going on in Kingdom Hearts 3, and you’ll almost certainly find yourself overwhelmed at some point. Don’t panic! What you’re feeling is normal and not nearly as complicated as you might think. On its normal setting, Kingdom Hearts 3 is very easy, meaning you can get by with only engaging in a handful of systems, not all of them.

Don’t like using magic? Summons? Don’t use them.

Hate trying to upgrade your Gummi ship? Forget about it.

Curious why you have to cook with this rat or buy items from this demonic teddy bear? Ignore them.

Pick the things you like doing, and do them. If you start to feel underpowered, look into some things you’ve previously ignored. But if you’re just here for the story, you can get by and still ignore half of the tutorial prompts you get.

Goofy, Sora and Donald in Kingdom Hearts 3 Image: Square Enix

Diversify your Keyblades

As you beat up bad guys, the Keyblades all have their own unique forms and transformations. They also have stats and specialties. Thankfully, you can hold more than one of them at a time and swap between them on the fly.

Different Keyblade transformations are useful in different situations. For certain enemies, you’ll want to use the ranged Keyblade transformations. If getting up close can be dangerous, you’re better off distancing yourself the entire fight. Other Keyblades — like the ones from Toy Story and Pirates of the Caribbean — can be useful for taking out large groups of enemies at once.

When you get a Keyblade, even if it’s not from a stat you prefer, at least give its transformation a shot before putting it down forever.

Don’t waste your reaction prompts

You’re going to have a green reaction prompt very frequently in Kingdom Hearts 3. Sometimes it’ll be an improved magic spell, sometimes it’ll be a a transformation for your Keyblade. These very powerful moves will be a large source of the damage you deal in most encounters, including boss fights and major story engagements.

Do not waste these, and be sure to cast them in the order you want . It’s easy to make a mistake if you aren’t paying close attention. You can switch which reaction prompt you want to hit using the left trigger on both PS4 and Xbox One.

Be aware that using this prompt will almost always end whatever you’re doing. If you’re in the middle of an attraction move and hit the button to transform your Keyblade, for example, you’ll exit the attraction to do so.

If you’re having trouble with these, you’ll earn an auto-finish skill early in the game. That should help.

You can change your reaction prompts

Reaction commands are powerful in Kingdom Hearts 3 because they enable you to deal some serious damage without much work. But sometimes the order can be frustrating to deal with. While Kingdom Hearts 3 doesn’t communicate order well, there’s a way to switch them.

Tapping the left trigger on either console will highlight the reaction command you currently have selected and swap between them. You can also change the order that they stack through the menu, which can stop you from getting surprised by what Sora does when you hit Y or Triangle.

Eat a meal, get free stats

Early in the game, you’ll start collecting food items. But you won’t be able to use them until you run into Remy from Ratatouille. Remy will act as the game’s head chef, and you’ll be able to cook all sorts of delectable dishes to hold in your inventory.

Cooking involves simple minigames, but actually eating the food will provide you with substantial boosts to your stats. Different menu items will boost different stats — magic, health, strength, etc. — and eating a full course meal (multiple food items from multiple categories) may give you bonus abilities.

Before one encounter, we dabbled with our meal prep until we were given an ability that let us cast a powerful thunder spell randomly as a reaction command. Once you find a combo you like, you can save it to use later.

In our time with Kingdom Hearts 3, we rarely used the cuisine feature. But if you’re struggling on a hard boss or to get through a difficult world, this could be the small push you need.

Sora, Buzz Lightyear and Woody look upward in a screenshot from Kingdom Hearts 3. Square Enix

Upgrade your Keyblades and yourself regularly

There are many things you can easily ignore in Kingdom Hearts 3, but don't forget to upgrade Sora and his weapons. Every time you level up, you need to hop in that menu and check out what new skill you have. Maybe you don’t equip it. Maybe you do. But Sora gains access to some seriously powerful abilities as you play, and missing out on them is wasteful.

Similarly, stop by the Keyblade workshop whenever you pass by a Moogle. You’ll always be collecting items in Kingdom Hearts 3, and you may miss a Keyblade upgrade here or there if you’re not paying attention.

Find a Keyblade that works for you, and start upgrading it right away. Just don’t forget, or you may find yourself fighting a boss longer than you need to.

Take pictures when you can

Early in the game, you’ll get the Gummiphone. This gadget comes equipped with a camera, which is helpful for all kinds of things. Mostly, you’ll use this to take pictures of lucky emblems (Mickey Mouse ears) and do various picture missions for the Moogles.

Listen to your party as you walk around. They’ll give you clues if a lucky emblem is hiding nearby.

For picture missions, check in with the Moggles occasionally. Most of the time, the missions are as easy and straightforward as “take a picture of the scarecrow in the 100 Acre Wood.” These missions are easy and will get you some early items to upgrade your Keyblades or allow you to synthesize new potions.

If you can lock on, you can interact

There are a few places in the game where Sora can lock on to the environment. For example, in Olympus you’ll come across a statue of Achilles. If you lock onto his ankle and hit it, the statue will crash through the wall and reveal a chest. Similarly, there are a bunch of rock piles that you can only destroy by hitting them from a high point.

Keep an eye out when the yellow lock on indicator shows up. You may be able to pick up some extra treasure for almost no effort.

Engage with each world’s minigame

There aren’t many worlds in Kingdom Hearts 3, but each of them has their own style or minigame. There’s a reason these are there, and you should play them.

For example, the Toy Story world offers a variety of mech toys for Sora to pilot. Combat in this level is designed for mechs. You can do it all on foot, but you’ll be needlessly handicapping yourself. When the game pushes you in a certain gameplay direction, listen to it and reap the reward of easy progress.

Square Enix

To prevent failure, prepare

Dying in Kingdom hearts 3 is hard, considering it’s almost always preventable. You can activate a Risk mode when your health reaches low levels. That’ll heal you and give you increased strength for a short time.

Activating a Link (this game’s Summons) will fully heal you, and you also have access to cure magic from early on. You can even use Munny to purchase coins from the Moogle that’ll resurrect you immediately if you die.

Dying is a choice in Kingdom Hearts 3. With enough preparation, you can almost avoid it altogether.

Remember that it’s an RPG

Because of its bombastic nature, it can be easy to forget Kingdom Hearts 3 is a role-playing game.

After you level up, jump into your menu and assign new skills. When you pick up new accessories and armor items, move them around on your characters. Don’t let your stat boosts go to waste.

The same goes for weapons in your party. Even if you want to ignore the Moogle shop for synthesizing items, you should check in to make sure you’re regularly replacing Donald and Goofy’s weapons as well as upgrading your own in the workshop.

Menus are scary, but Kingdom Hearts’ are relatively easy to navigate — at least to find the stuff you actually need to engage with.

Consider Pride mode

That Kingdom Hearts 3 is easy has been a common theme in this guide. While playing through the normal version of the game, we were never really challenged — at least not to the extent the older Kingdom Hearts games challenged us. Playing just the opening hour on Pride made a significant difference.

It wasn’t hard or overly challenging, but getting hit was more punishing, and it forced us to consider where we needed to be instead of just mindlessly hitting attack.

If you’re new to the series or only have interest in the story, you’ll likely be able to find some fun in the normal version of the game. But for veteran Keyblade wielders, you should at least consider bumping up the difficulty a bit before diving into this new adventure with Sora and friends.

Play the way you want

If you’re playing on Normal, you can button-mash your way through the game and still be OK. But that means you can play the way you want and get by just fine. If you enjoy the raw, Keyblade combat then do it. Even if it’s not as effective as using all the attraction moves and magic spells, do what you have the most fun with above all else.