FF7 WEek

Kingdom Hearts 4 needs to add one compelling FF7 Remake mechanic

A refined combat system is key.

sephiroth sora super smash bros ultimate
Square Enix / Nintendo

Is it still too early to talk about Kingdom Hearts 4? Given the 14-year wait between the second and third installments, we might be jumping the gun here, but we’ve already started thinking about what we’d like to see from the bizarre Disney and Final Fantasy mashup that become a force unto itself. Although the core Kingdom Hearts, still works all these years later, there’s one innovative element from Final Fantasy VII Remake we’d love to see incorporated in the next sequel.

There’s a lot to love in FF7 Remake, from the dazzling cinematic storytelling to the excellent animation and voice-acting, but one of the best features is the spirited and innovative approach to combat, effectively blending the classic turn-based style with real-time action.

What if Kingdom Hearts 4 were to do the same?

Why the Final Fantasy VII Remake combat works

Player-choice is key in Final Fantasy VII Remake.

Square Enix

You swing Cloud’s Buster Sword, throw Tifa’s fists, and fire Barret’s gun-arm in real-time like you would in any modern action game. This style of combat feels fluid and intuitive, serving as a natural evolution that makes sense. All the while, you’re charging up your ATB meter (Active-Time Battle) which you can then use to execute more powerful techniques. With the press of a button, you can slow down time to select one of these moves, a magic spell, or an item. It hearkens back to the beloved turn-based formula of the original. This adds an element of strategy that works well in conjunction with the fluid hack ‘n slash action.

The impressive thing is that you aren’t necessarily forced to use one method or the other in FF7 Remake. You have the option of playing on the Classic difficulty, in which your character automatically attacks and defends in real-time, allowing you to focus on executing strategic commands solely. Or, you can certainly get by using your standard melee attacks, just like you would in an action game. The fact that you can choose whichever method you’d like is a superb addition.

How Kingdom Hearts 4 could adapt the hybrid combat style

All the pieces are in place for Kingdom Hearts 4 to change up its combat.

Square Enix, Disney

For Kingdom Hearts 4 to feel like it has evolved, it will need to implement a substantial new feature, while hopefully not making its player-base angry. Blending real-time with command-based combat is absolutely the way to go.

Kingdom Hearts is ripe for this evolution, offering a slew of magical attacks that could take on a command-based form to enhance the gameplay experience. Just like in FF7 Remake, players should be able to slow down the pacing in Kingdom Hearts 4 to add a bit of strategy to the fold, such as using buffs, summoning and commanding links, and unleashing magical attacks.

For instance, in Kingdom Hearts 3, you don’t have direct control over your companions Donald and Goofy. Sure, you can steer their attacks in one direction or another, but you can’t give them direct commands or control them at all. If Kingdom Hearts 4 implemented a turn-based system alongside the real-time action, it could allow the player to select individual attacks for Donald and Goofy, without making the real-time combat feel overwhelming. This would also give the player more agency to take on battles however they’d want.

Magic could be executed with turn-based style commands in Kingdom Hearts 4.

Square Enix, Disney

The most obvious implementation would be Sora’s magic abilities, which could be tied to several different commands. Rather than using magic in a fluid way alongside melee attacks, players could slow down the battle with the ability to select from a more comprehensive list of spells, with the ability to target one or more enemies before unleashing the attack. However, a simplified version that circumvents having to issue commands should also be included to allow all players a chance to play how they want.

Player choice should be the ultimate goal with the next Kingdom Hearts game. Some gamers like real-time action, others prefer turn-based combat, and many love both — sometimes simultaneously.

If Kingdom Hearts 4 has the exact same combat system as its predecessor, it might run the risk of feeling stale. But if it changes the combat too much, it could alienate longtime players. FF7 Remake’s hybrid combat strikes that ideal middle point. Maybe the next Kingdom Hearts game should do the same?

At this point, it’ll likely be a while before Kingdom Hearts 4 launches. It hasn’t even been announced. But given the success of the previous entry, it’s a safe bet a new game is in the works. We just hope it doesn’t take 14 years this time around.

FF7 Week is an Inverse celebration of the 25th anniversary of Square's landmark 1997 RPG.

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