Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts III spent almost an entire decade in development, and especially since January 2020's Re Mind DLC teased that this franchise isn't over just yet, we can't help but ask what's next for everyone's favorite weird Disney-Final Fantasy crossover.
Will there be a decade-long wait for the next sequel? If Kingdom Hearts IV even happens, what will even be about? Aladdin’s loyal monkey sidekick, Abu? We sure hope not.
Kingdom Hearts IV won't be the next Kingdom Hearts game that Square Enix releases, but here's everything we do know about the potential main title, along with some speculation about when it might be released and what it could entail.
What is the Kingdom Hearts IV release date?
As of this writing, Kingdom Hearts IV remains unconfirmed in any official capacity, but given the popularity of the franchise both within Square Enix and among the fan base, it feels inevitable.
The game isn't even confirmed as in development yet, so it won't be released for at least several years unless some kind of incredible surprise happens. By our best estimate, we might see Kingdom Hearts IV sometime in 2023 at the earliest — and even that's a longshot when Square Enix devotes a lot of resources to other games.
Will there even be a Kingdom Hearts IV?
In an interview with Ultimania from early 2019, KH3 game director Tetsuya Nomura said he was "looking into the possibility of sandwiching [Kingdom Hearts IV] between [upcoming] works," but that "there's something that must be written before it." He was probably referring to the Re Mind DLC or another project he's been working on like Final Fantasy VII Remake, but we can't be sure. It's entirely possible that writing of the next major KH title is already underway, but it's equally as possible that it will be stuck in some kind of development hell just like Kingdom Hearts III was for years.
The good news is that there will be other Kingdom Hearts games to fill that void between now and then.
The closest thing to a straight answer about new KH games comes from Square Enix Q&A shared by the official Kingdom Hearts Twitter account in late January 2020. The company said the next Kingdom Hearts title will release “sooner than we expect.” However, this is the same company that announced Kingdom Hearts III in 2015 and subsequently delayed the title multiple times. "Soon" could mean many things.
Given Square Enix's track record, fans should be skeptical, but recent behind-the-scenes developments add some weight to this promise. According to the same Q&A, two separate teams are now working on the KH franchise: one focused on console games like Kingdom Hearts III and another for mobile titles like Kingdom Hearts Union χ. With a dedicated team working on it, there should be a far shorter wait for the next Kingdom Hearts title.
"We still need some time with regards to mainline Kingdom Hearts," Nomura also said in a January 2020 Twitter response, "but first up the KH UX team will have a surprising announcement tomorrow." That announcement was for a new mobile game called Kingdom Hearts: Dark Road, implying that the other team is working on more KH3 DLC and/or Kingdom Hearts IV.
What is Kingdom Hearts: Dark Road?
The aforementioned Q&A teased that one of these teams would be releasing something very soon, and it wound up being announced in early February 2020 as Kingdom Hearts: Dark Road, scheduled for release in Spring 2020.
Dark Road will focus on a young Xehanort, exploring why he defected from the light to become a Seeker of Darkness. From a picture posted by the Kingdom Hearts Union χ Twitter account leading up to the official announcement, you can expect Eraqus to appear in the spin-off. It's unclear how gameplay might work in this spin-off just yet, but given the scope, we know it's a prequel to the entire Kingdom Hearts saga as we know it thus far.
Now, what about the console arm?
Will the next Kingdom Hearts game for consoles be Kingdom Hearts IV?
Whether or not it winds up being an official Kingdom Hearts IV remains to be seen, but Square Enix's other KH development team is working on a new game in the franchise rather than more updates for Kingdom Hearts III.
“As for downloadable content, Re Mind is the first and last," the aforementioned Q&A confirmed. "We’re already working on the next title.”
Don’t expect any updates for Kingdom Hearts III either: “We don’t have updates planned at this time, but if something comes up in the future, then we will deal with it."
For now, the version 1.09 update for Kingdom Hearts III will be the last. In some fashion, the next entry in the franchise will have to address some of the compelling plot twists from the Re Mind DLC.
What is the plot of Kingdom Hearts IV?
[Spoilers ahead for Kingdom Hearts III's Re Mind DLC]
From Re Mind’s secret ending, we can assume a few things about what could happen in the next game.
Firstly, the Master of Masters will play a much larger role, as will the remaining members of Organization XIII. The secret ending of Re Mind revealed that Luxord is somehow involved with the Master of Masters, an enigmatic and seemingly ancient character who may have been pulling the strings all along, making him an even bigger bad than Xehanort.
Future titles will likely have some focus on Yozora (voiced by Dylan Sprouse), a character introduced in Kingdom Hearts III as a fictional character within the Toy Story universe (yes that's three layers of fictional worlds). Yozora also appears as the final boss at the very end of the Re Mind DLC, delivering some cryptic threats and promises to Sora in an intense battle before he "wakes up" in his home reality in a scene that's reminiscent of the Final Fantasy Versus XIII trailer. Many of the game's concepts and characters were repurposed in Final Fantasy XV, so all of these connections are bewildering, to say the least.
This could involve some kind of ongoing crossover with The World Ends With You universe as well. Sora has entered Shibuya multiple times thus far, each time he does, the viewer is shown Shibuya’s 104 building, a structure located only in The World Ends With You-verse.
We'll update this article with more information and theories about the future of Kingdom Hearts IV as the news comes.
Kingdom Hearts III: Re Mind is now available on PS4 and will launch on Xbox One February 25.