[Spoiler Warning for the Kingdom Hearts series up to now.]
This is a project that has been anticipated for roughly a decade and has been in development for about half that time. Details on it are still scarce, but what is known for sure is that the game will be released within the next year or so. Kingdom Hearts 2.8 is officially the final game in the series before III and with 2.8 having a release date of 2016, it's safe to assume the game will arrive within the near future.
What We Know So Far
The details of this game have been granted sparingly and not all at once, but what we do know can be summed up in the following categories:
The Story is the End of a Saga
Most of these characters, and a few others not seen here, will be helping Sora in his final battle against Master Xehanort. The series has been building towards the final battle between the Seven Lights and Thirteen Darknesses. It is likely that this is referring to seven keyblade wielders and the members of Organizatoin XIII. It has also been announced by Square Enix that this will be the end of the "Dark Seeker's Saga" which is most likely referring to Xehanort. Whether this means we will see new characters after Kingdom Hearts III will hopefully be addressed by the story's ending. For now, it is likely that we will see Aqua, Ventus, and Terra reunite alongside Sora, Mickey, Kairi, and the newly awoken Lea. Their enemy will obviously be Xehanort and what appears to be a new form of Heartless.
New Worlds are Being Considered
Kingdom Hearts II, the last major title for the franchise, was released in 2006. With Marvel's Cinematic Universe starting in 2008, fans have been vying for a Marvel-related world to explore within the series. Now that Disney has also acquired Star Wars from Lucasfilm, it's no surprise that even more fans are eager to see Star Wars and or Marvel incorporated into the franchise. As a long time fan of the series, I've also noticed that the use of the same worlds is extremely repetitive. I understand that it fits with the plot for some of the games, but Birth by Sleep offered an actual change of pace with all new worlds. This is great as opposed to Dream Drop Distance which had some variety, but still offered different aspects of the same world (similar Traverse Town, a different part of Pinocchio, and another Tron world isn't exactly "variety"). So far, it seems that the only worlds they're willing to show are Twiight Town and what appears to be a larger grassy area which could be an expansion upon the area surrounding Yen Sid's Tower or a Tangled world.
Gameplay is Building on its Predecessors
Flowmotion (pictured above) is the combat system introduced in Dream Drop Distance. As seen in the trailer, Sora seems to continue that idea by jumping off of a wall and riding a sea of Shadows. This would seem to imply that they're incorporating the idea of flowmotion, but not as ostentatiously as they had before. Now it seems that flowmotion will be more effortless and less distracting as a mechanic. However, I wouldn't shrug off QTE's just yet because that was a staple of the first two games. It also seems to have new limits, but what those entail and how they're executed is still a mystery.
What I Want to See
Obviously I could go on for days detailing what I'd love to see from this game. I'm sure that some of these details will be revealed in a new trailer at E3 here in the next week while some aspects will be left burning in my head until release. However, I'll try to condense this as best I can:
How Is the New Combat Structured?
Continuing from what I was just saying, it's clear that we're getting new limit moves that may or may not require the aid of our companions as they have in the past. However, I am also curious regarding whether we will get forms or not this time around. I loved the forms in Kingdom Hearts II even though leveling the Final Form proved to be quite arduous. I feel like it added a layer to the leveling as well as the combat by giving you stat boosts as a reward for leveling the form as well as making you more powerful in difficult combat situations i.e. boss battles.
What Kind of Leveling System Do We Get?
I personally loved the upgrade system created in 358/2 Days and while the system in Re:Coded built on that, it was flawed in the permanence of chip placement. However, I prefer this system to the standard RPG leveling system of a skill tree, as seen in Bethesda games, or the generic, three option leveling used in Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts II, and Re: Chain of Memories. These all work just fine in their respective games, but I loved the variety presented by the chip system. Slapping in a row of chips granted me a doubling effect, a new ability, or a new keyblade (using the gears of 358). The leveling system won't make or break my experience, but I still feel it's a crucial aspect to consider.
What New Worlds are Coming / How Many Will We See?
This map is supposed to give a representation of the entirety of the Kingdom Hearts Universe. However, this is not an official map and has unconfirmed worlds on it whilst missing confirmed worlds. I've seen varying reports, but the worlds that seem to be officially confirmed are Twilight Town, Mount Olympus (and most likely the Coliseum), The Mysterious Tower (Yen Sid's HQ), San Fransokyo from Big Hero 6, and the Kingdom of Corona from Tangled. Others speculate Atlantis and Treasure Planet could make it into the game along with Frozen and various Star Wars or Marvel locations. That still brings up two more subsequent questions:
How Many Worlds Will We Get?
The smaller Kingdom Hearts games seemed to keep the number of worlds to under ten; however, Kingdom Hearts II made it a point to revisit several worlds throughout the game to introduce new enemies or open up new sections of the world. This may or may not work in Kingdom Hearts III since worlds like The Mysterious Tower will be revisited to check in on Yen Sid for advice whereas Mount Olympus is more likely to serve as a training ground for new items as it did in Kingdom Hearts II and Re:Coded. But, the important thing to note is that there will likely be the most possible worlds to explore to date in this game if only because this is Square Enix's chance to open up the game and make its most expansive world yet through Unreal Engine 4. After all, it's likely the final battle will take place in the Keyblade Graveyard. Such a massive battle opens up the possibility of showcasing other expansive worlds in a similar manner to allow the player to adjust to more open environments because every other world, excluding a majority of those found in Dream Drop Distance, were very limited spatially.
Will the Coliseum Return With Tournaments?
I will be the first to admit that fighting Hades, Cerberus, and Cloud in game after game got old pretty fast. However, I still enjoyed the turned-based RPG aspect of Re:Coded as well as the rewards and challenges presented by the Underdrome in Kingdom Hearts II. That being said, this is also something of a staple for the series, so breathing new life into this aspect of the series will keep it from feeling too monotonous especially since Square Enix has adopted the policy of limiting the use of previously used worlds quite heavily.
So, that's my Kingdom Hearts III recap and wishlist. Let me know of any details that I've missed in my research of this game and I'll add it in where appropriate!