In the early years of gaming, there were quite a few swings taken at the creation of a game utilizing Disney properties. Most of those games ranged anywhere from unplayable to mediocre in quality.

Then in 2002, Square released Kingdom Hearts on PlayStation 2. Disney fans and gamers rejoiced as they finally had a significant video game with Disney characters. Thus far, there have been a total of nine Kingdom Hearts games but not until 2018 has there been a new title offered on Xbox.

We have been hearing rumblings about Kingdom Hearts III for years, but there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for fans of the series. As it stands now, we should see a release toward the end of 2018. However, what do we know about Kingdom Hearts III? Let's take a look.

See at Amazon

A whole new world

Since its inception, an important element of the Kingdom Hearts games has been the setting. Part of the joy of these games is the opportunity to explore familiar Disney worlds in a way that is not possible when you're watching a film. Some of the worlds that have been tapped for inclusion in Kingdom Hearts III include Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Tangled, and even San Fransokyo from Big Hero 6.

With Disney owning just about every existing IP under the sun, there doesn't seem to be many worlds left that are not within their reach. However, everything indicates that all the worlds tapped for inclusion will remain those who lie directly under the Disney Umbrella.

Characters welcome

Another critical element of the Kingdom Hearts series has, of course, been characters. There is something undeniably exciting about running into some of your favorite Disney denizens while you progress through a Kingdom Hearts game.

While your main characters will remain steadfast there are, as to be expected, some additions. With the inclusion of the aforementioned worlds, it should come as no surprise that we will end up crossing paths with their related character inhabitants.

Kingdom Hearts III for Xbox One gameplay

Everything we have seen thus far indicates that we will see similar gameplay elements as developed in previous Kingdom Hearts entries. That being said, director Tetsuya Nomura is incredibly skilled at taking existing mechanics and adding new things to bring increased depth to the gaming experience.

We have to imagine that we will see a hack-and-slash base to the combat like previous entries. Trailers seem to indicate that Sora has been practicing parkour and we should see new traversal methods available. In addition, we should be seeing some pretty epic team-up attacks between main characters.

When can you play?

As it stands, it's still a bit far away from release for us to start holding our collective breath. Everything is subject to change but at this very moment, Amazon has the release date set for December 31, 2018. If you want to get in line early, you can always head over and preorder a copy for $60.

See at Amazon

In its long and storied history, Kingdom Hearts has done a stellar job of taking the elements that work and adding new ones. Like a fine wine, Kingdom Hearts has (mostly) gotten better with age. At this point, we don't know everything about what is in store for us, but as the year progresses we will undoubtedly see more new pieces of the puzzle unveiled. I think Square knows that part of the magic and joy in these games is the surprise of running into unexpected characters. I have no doubt that they are holding a few cards close to their chests for the time being, but I can't wait to find out what those cards are.

What do you want to see in Kingdom Hearts III?