Kingdom Hearts 4 is the upcoming mainline entry in the iconic franchise that meshes Disney properties with Final Fantasy’s aesthetic and characters, all wrapped up in an original story about the magic of friendship. It’s also about a lot of other stuff, but explaining every one of the franchise’s plot points would require a novel that rivals the length of George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones.
Its announcement took the world by surprise during a seemingly insignificant Sunday morning, and now we’re now clamoring for any and all details we can get our hands on. Since Kingdom Hearts revolves around crossovers, we’ll be theorizing for years to come. It's hard not to go wild with excitement, as although Kingdom Hearts III was a little disappointing for some of us, it still doesn't change our faith in this franchise and what it's capable of.
So without further ado, here’s everything we know about Kingdom Hearts 4 thus far, including details on its release date, trailer, setting, music, story, and more.
Kingdom Hearts 4 release date
Kingdom Hearts 4 does not have an official release date, but we can make a few guesses based on the distance between Kingdom Hearts 3’s reveal and its eventual launch. Kingdom Hearts 3 received its first trailer at E3 2013, and it wasn’t until 2019 that the game would come out.
Square Enix had a similar situation occur with Final Fantasy VII Remake, which was revealed at E3 in 2015 and launched in 2020. Given these previous five-to-six year gaps, even though we’re excited for Kingdom Hearts 4, it’s best to keep expectations in check. If history repeats itself, we might not play the full game until 2027-2028.
We're not expecting to get much info on Kingdom Hearts 4 in 2023. After all, this is a pretty packed year for Square Enix, with the upcoming launches of Forspoken, Final Fantasy XVI and Final Fantasy VII Rebirth.
Kingdom Hearts 4 trailer
During the Kingdom Hearts 20th anniversary celebration, Kingdom Hearts 4 received its first trailer. We see Sora thrust into a realistic world, with a mysterious character leading him outdoors overlooking an expansive city that resembles Tokyo. This place is called Quadratum, and it will be one of the game’s major settings.
Shortly after, we see Sora face off against a huge boss as civilians rush out of their cars in fear at the presence of a seemingly Pureblood Heartless (that greatly resembles Darkside from other games in the series).
This reveal trailer has a series of shots featuring a photo-realistic forest. And during a very short clip, we see the bottom of a metal foot that greatly resembles an AT-AT (All Terrain Armored Transport) from the Star Wars series.
Kingdom Hearts 4 could meet Star Wars
Although it's just barely noticeable, you can see the AT-AT foot in the top right of the image. It’s not confirmed that this is exactly what it is, but there are no other prominent theories as to what it could be.
If it is our first hint towards the inclusion of Star Wars, which could be a huge deal for the future of Kingdom Hearts. Unlike other Disney properties that get featured, Star Wars isn’t something that exists within a contained film that the player can explore. Instead, this is a universe that boasts a long-running catalog of films, TV shows, games and books.
We’re talking about an entire culture of history and lore, which could easily be expanded into something far larger than a single level. While certainly possible, it’s hard to imagine that the inclusion of a Star Wars world would boast a size similar to that of The Little Mermaid’s Atlantica. Instead, players might explore these worlds throughout multiple levels, each based on different parts of the films.
It’s also important to keep in mind that its predecessor, Kingdom Hearts 3, was less focused on the already-represented properties. Out of the game’s 11 levels, five of them were brand new, specifically based on the Big Hero 6, Toy Story, Tangled, Frozen and Monsters, Inc. franchises. Hercules, Winnie the Pooh and Pirates of the Caribbean were featured in the series, and the rest of the levels are original to the game.
Kingdom Hearts crossover theories
Although Kingdom Hearts 3 launched in 2019, its most recent crossover only dates back to 2014’s release of Big Hero 6. As a result, modern Disney Animated classics such as Moana and Zootopia didn’t find a place within the game.
There are also many Pixar films that Square Enix can play with in this sequel. Since Kingdom Hearts 3 utilizes some of the oldest Pixar worlds (Toy Story and Monsters, Inc.), it’s possible that we’ll continue to see these universes get introduced by their order of release. Suggesting worlds based on Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, or Cars may arrive in the upcoming sequel.
It’s also important to point out that A Bug’s Life did not receive its own world in Kingdom Hearts 3, even though it was released in between Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. It’s likely that this had to do with the film’s relative unpopularity, so we probably won’t see it come to Kingdom Hearts 4.
Regardless, Square Enix has a lot to work with for the future. Pixar is still pumping out fun films with lovable worlds, including last year’s Luca, and most recently, Turning Red. It would make sense for the company to introduce these worlds sporadically to give them all a fair chance to shine and allow for future Kingdom Hearts games to introduce them.
But there’s so much more to this than just Disney’s line-up of animated features. This is a company that now owns the rights to Marvel, Star Wars and 20th Century Fox. Not only does this include the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which boasts dozens upon dozens of worlds that could be implemented over the next few games in the series, but Star Wars is massive. If Square Enix only implemented a couple of Marvel’s worlds per game, they’d have enough content to last them an eternity. After all, Kingdom Hearts 4 is shifting towards a far more realistic aesthetic, so perhaps it’s time to introduce Iron Man’s New York City and Thor’s Midgard.
Even just focusing on 20th Century Fox, it features its own animation studios responsible for stuff like Ice Age and has the entire X-Men series in its back pocket. Perhaps we’re reaching territories of complete goofiness, but Kingdom Hearts has introduced live-action properties like Pirates of the Caribbean before. So who knows, maybe we’ll see Ben Stiller reprise his role as Lawrence Daley from Night at the Museum in Kingdom Hearts 6. Or maybe alongside the release of Avatar 5, Sora will travel to Pandora and stave off militaristic imperialism! I’m mostly joking, but I would have a fantastic time with these worlds if they made their way into Kingdom Hearts.
Kingdom Hearts 4 gameplay
Kingdom Hearts 4’s reveal trailer didn’t show exploration or combat, but we saw a flashy QTE (quick time event) of Sora sliding in a collapsing building, bouncing off of railings, and using his keyblade to twirl around a lamp post.
Otherwise, it'll probably play similarly to its predecessors with a focus on using special abilities attached to your keyblade, summoning Disney and Final Fantasy characters to do super moves, and casting classic spells such as Fira and Watera.
Kingdom Hearts GameInformer interview with Tetsuya Nomura
GameInformer interviewed Tetsuya Nomura about Kingdom Hearts 4, offering plenty of exciting details to discuss. When asked if Kingdom Hearts could evolve beyond Sora, Nomura claimed that "Sora is actually the only real candidate for the main character," going so far as to say that the entries would no longer be numbered if he wasn't present. "He's that important to the series," says Nomura.
Nomura also suggests that Kingdom Hearts 4 "might feel slightly different from previous Kingdom Hearts titles," but also reassured players that it is definitely a "Kingdom Hearts" game. We can expect "a few Disney worlds in there," but as far as these big differences go, it's my speculation that this game will jump between other properties like Star Wars. Considering we saw an enormous hint towards it in the trailer, it's certainly an expected occurence.
Kingdom Hearts 4 story
All we know about Kingdom Hearts 4’s story is that Sora has found himself in an entirely new world and is currently fighting off the Heartless in the city of Quadratum, which has been hinted at throughout the series before. It’s essentially our world and looks remarkably like the Shibuya district of Tokyo.
As for Donald and Goofy, we see them side-by-side in the trailer looking for Sora before being attacked by who we can only assume is Hades. It seems Donald and Goofy are trapped in the Underworld for a chunk of the game.
Kingdom Hearts 4 setting
In the Kingdom Hearts 4 announcement blog post, Square Enix claims that Quadratum is "a large, expansive city" and is set "in a gorgeous, realistic world." This makes it seem like the city won't just be a small nugget within a sea of worlds like other Kingdom Hearts games. Perhaps Quadratum will act as a hub, or Sora will spend quite a while there before moving on to other Disney worlds.
In an interview with Director Tetsuya Nomura on Famitsu, as translated by VideoGamesChronicle, he suggests that Sora sees Quadratum as “a fictional world that is different from reality,” while inhabitants of Quadratum see it as reality, and view Sora’s world as the fictional one. It seems like a key theme of Kingdom Hearts 4 will be testing what it looks like for Sora and his friends to find themselves in the real world.
Nomura specifically refers to this city as “Tokyo,” and claims that “Shibuya is part of Quadratum.” This place that looks a lot like Shibuya’s Tokyo isn’t just inspired by it, but it’s seemingly an actual depiction of it.
Kingdom Hearts 4 music
If the game’s trailer is any indication, we’re hoping that Yoko Shimomura is returning to compose the game’s soundtrack. This would be a huge deal, as her compositions are iconic for the franchise, and the series’ music is some of the best in gaming.
And because Japanese pop legend Utada Hikaru has done an opening song for every numbered game in the franchise, we hope they come back to do so again. Frankly, I’ll never get Kingdom Hearts’ “Simple & Clean” or Kingdom Hearts 2’s “Passion” out of my head (and since their latest album, BAD MODE, was an absolute banger, I’m sure they’ll continue knocking it out of the park).
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Self-described art critic and unabashedly pretentious, Momo finds joy in impassioned ramblings about her closeness to video games. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies from Brooklyn College and five years of experience in entertainment journalism. Momo is a stalwart defender of the importance found in subjectivity and spends most days overwhelmed with excitement for the past, present and future of gaming. When she isn't writing or playing Dark Souls, she can be found eating chicken fettuccine alfredo and watching anime.