Kingdom Hearts IV Officially Revealed During Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Event

On April 10th, 2022, during a Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary broadcast, Square Enix and Disney announced the development of the next game in the Kingdom Hearts series, Kingdom Hearts IV, alongside a brand new mobile game titled Kingdom Hearts Missing-Link. Kingdom Hearts IV is said to be early in development, and a closed beta is planned for Kingdom Hearts Missing-Link sometime in 2022 according to Square Enix’s press release.

The “Kingdom Hearts 20th Anniversary Announcement Trailer” begins with a trailer for Kingdom Hearts Dark Road, the final chapter of content coming to the current Kingdom Hearts mobile game, Kingdom Hearts Union χ.  This final chapter is releasing August 2022 and is going to be a free update to Kingdom Hearts Union χ on iOS and Android. Following this trailer came the gameplay trailer for Kingdom Hearts Missing-Link, also coming to iOS and Android. Missing-Link drops the 2D chibi-esque presentation of Union χ and is instead a 3D game with a combat system that appears to be closer to the numbered entries in the Kingdom Hearts series but adapted for mobile phones. 

However, the most exciting draw for many was the trailer for Kingdom Hearts IV. According to the beginning of the trailer and the press release from Square Enix, Kingdom Hearts IV is the “beginning of an epic new storyline titled the ‘Lost Master Arc’". The trailer begins with shots of a modern metropolis named “Quadratum”, an environment quite different from the typical Disney-inspired worlds the series has been known for. An older Sora has awoken in Quadratum right as it comes under attack by a massive heartless monster. There is a brief glimpse at gameplay where Sora charges the towering monster, running and jumping off of walls, sliding down crumbling buildings, and using his keyblade as a magical grappling hook of sorts. The combat is large and flashy, reminiscent of Kingdom Hearts III but with a higher visual fidelity. Some hooded figures appear atop a building which could mean they are linked to the infamous “Organization XIII”, and after the game’s logo is displayed, we get one last look revealing Sora’s trusty companions, Donald and Goofy. 

Kingdom Hearts series Brand Manager, Ichiro Hazama, says “We’re thrilled to celebrate the series’ 20th anniversary with the announcement of two new KINGDOM HEARTS titles.” Hazama also thanked the fans for their years of support and his excitement for the future adventures with Sora. Nana Gadd, Director at Walt Disney Games also says “Sora is an original Disney video game hero like no other, beloved by our team, and fans across the world. We’ve been honored to work with Tetsuya Nomura and his team for two decades to introduce these original stories of discovery, courage, and friendship”. 

Seeing as Kingdom Hearts IV is in the early stages of development, we likely won’t see it released anytime soon. The game seems to be heading in a different direction stylistically, which will be interesting to see how these new, more grounded environments blend with the traditional Disney worlds. Many players were disappointed in the lack of Final Fantasy characters in Kingdom Hearts III, so it is also curious to see how these criticisms will be addressed, if at all, in the follow-up. 

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