Why Kingdom Hearts 4 Probably Won't Take as Long as KH3

Over 15 years ago, Kingdom Hearts 2 continued the story of the Disney action-adventure that had captured many young hearts. Releasing only three years after the original, it followed a typical development cycle, and the mechanics were considered a vast improvement. However, fans were in for a long wait for Kingdom Hearts 3, as Square Enix and Disney Interactive put out multiple spin-offs between the two mainline titles. Some assumed the 14-year wait between the two titles was about making more games, and the Kingdom Hearts 3 development confusion has caused worry about the potential Kingdom Hearts 4 release date.

But prior to Kingdom Hearts 3's release date, the game's co-director Tai Yasue gave some insight into why fans had to wait over a decade for the series next entry. The reasons make a lot of sense and should give a little hope towards the release date for Kingdom Hearts 4. Given that there are no huge leaps in gaming engines in the next few years, it's likely that fans can expect a much shorter wait for the next main title.

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Square Enix's Unreal Engine

The original Kingdom Hearts was a beautiful game in its time, but the sequel really stepped up the visual appeal. Kingdom Hearts was in the process of leveling up the graphics again when someone higher on the food chain decided it would be better for the game to move from the in-house Luminous engine over to Epic's Unreal Engine 4. This decision, ultimately, lengthened the time between releases.

The Unreal Engine created new ways for the developer to make choices during Kingdom Hearts 3. It certainly evolved on the past titles in many ways, with beautiful new worlds and exceptional reimagining of the locales from the past games. Seeing as the engine change was the primary issue regarding getting the game out faster, with anything else likely playing a small role in comparison, it's likely that fans can expect the next title much sooner. Unless there's a drastic evolution in game engines, Kingdom Hearts 4 should be made in Unreal Engine as well. It may not be Unreal Engine 4, as Unreal Engine 5 is the next enhancement, but that would likely be decided early, not later.

Kingdom Hearts' Abundance of Spin-Offs

It isn't a secret that there are a lot of story threads to follow throughout the Kingdom Hearts series. Between the first and second games, there was only one spin-off, which still held crucial information to the story of how Sora became trapped. However, between the second and third games, there were a lot more spin-offs, not counting the multiple remaster collections. While this creates a deeper world and lore, it also led to a lot of confusion around certain in-game facts, and many fans have been quick to point that out. That's not likely to go anywhere anytime soon, but it likely won't have as big of an impact, if any, compared to the previous Engine swap.

A Kingdom Hearts project is currently in development.

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