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POLL

Who do you prefer to play as in Kingdom Hearts 3D?

Sora - 100%
Riku - 0%

Total votes: 1, but the poll doesn't work yet

What if Kingdom Hearts 3 kept 0.2 as its prologue?

What if 0.2 was left as the prologue to Kingdom Hearts 3?

Spoilers for the entire series are detailed below.

At the Sony Pre-Tokyo Game Show conference, we were all surprise to learn of the existence of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, a game that was announced for the Playstation 4 with a remaster of Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, a new tale focused on Aqua (the long sought after Birth by Sleep -Volume 2-), and a HD cinematic movie based on the Foretellers from Kingdom Hearts Unchained X known as Kingdom Hearts X Back Cover. 

Through interviews, we learnt that Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep -A Fragmentary Passage- was originally the prologue to the long awaited Kingdom Hearts 3. Yes, the 2-4 hour game on the PlayStation 4 that we experienced in January 2017 was in fact cut content from Kingdom Hearts 3 and sold in a package. Kingdom Hearts 0.2, which continued the story immediately after Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance, was told through flashback, as Mickey Mouse recounted Master Aqua’s time in the Realm of Darkness. 

0.2 took place from the end of Birth By Sleep’s secret episode which was added in the 2011 re-release titled Birth by Sleep Final Mix (I am just now realising just how all over the place this story is. It’s one thing to keep up to date with the series online, but to stop and think that an extra episode released a year after the original game in a re-release would tie into a cut prologue sold in a HD collection.... it is insane).  

The experience gave us an idea of what to expect in Kingdom Hearts 3. Retained from Birth by Sleep were style changes and Shot Locks, however the former was revamped from an automatic system to one we could choose at our leisure through the use of situation commands. Situation commands are a big step forward with Kingdom Hearts 3’s gameplay however 0.2 only gave us a taste of how it worked, with only two style changes and three magic commands available. 

With its release in January 2017, the prologue had to be able to stand on its own, away from how it would have been in Kingdom Hearts 3. The Osaka team had to make the experience worthwhile and have the game feel fresh through replayability. Objectives and a secret boss were available in the game, the latter of which was available after completing the Final Boss and backtracking through the Dark Realm’s twisted versions of three Disney Princess home worlds. 

But imagine, for a second, that 0.2 wasn’t cut from Kingdom Hearts 3. That the story of Aqua was like the story of Roxas - a 2-3 hour story that we had to get through before we could jump back into Sora’s massive shoes and experience the true thrills of the story.

I, for one, can’t imagine that same outrage as there was in late 2005-early 2006 with Kingdom Hearts 2’s prologue featuring Roxas’ last seven days of existence. The prologue, which threw players into a confusing scenario that started off innocent, ended with a boy summoning the series staple Kingdom Key and being chased by a red haired man in a black hood. For those who didn’t get to experience Chain of Memories on the Gameboy Advanced, this opening was excruciatingly confusing. And for replayability, where even if you’ve memorised everything you have to do and skip every cutscene, you still have about 30 minutes before you begin Sora’s story. 

Thanks to Birth by Sleep, we know Aqua. We know her situation, how she sacrificed herself to the Dark Realm in the attempt to save her friend Terra, despite this sacrifice unleashing Xehanort onto the Realm of Light. The prologue for Kingdom Hearts 3 would be spent in a familiar setting. There is no mysterious figure in a black coat yelling cryptic messages to you. There is no man in a bandage mask appearing out of data.  

If Kingdom Hearts 3 were to have retained the Aqua prologue, fans would have accepted it. Well most fans, as I imagine there are those who skipped every game since Kingdom Hearts 2 and would be annoyed at how the characters they remembered; Mickey, Riku, Yen Sid, and Kairi, would talk about a character they never heard of and then be thrown into her shoes. But for even the casual crowd who kept up over the years, it would have been acceptable.

But would we have the same experience that we got with 0.2?

If 0.2 remained as the prologue to Kingdom Hearts 3, it would have acted as the tutorial to teach us most, if not all, of the upcoming elements at our disposal. It is hard to imagine summons and attraction flow being used by Aqua but it’s not out of the question for her to have been able to use those abilities so we could learn how they all work.

We would not have gotten objectives or a secret boss, as there wouldn’t be any way to return to this tutorial area after the prologue‘s conclusion. Just like those chests when you’re searching for the seven wonders of Twilight Town, the chests in 0.2 that you’ve missed would have been lost to oblivion. You then have to ask, would those items have transferred to Sora anyway, even if to start out your journey with a few potions in your pocket?

If 0.2 had a bit more time in the oven and launched in 2018 with Kingdom Hearts 3, then it might have been optimised so the quality of the game would be consistent and acceptable. I’m not that knowledgeable about the technical aspects of 0.2 but I have seen a few worries and complaints online. Framerate and resolution have both been called into question with 0.2 so maybe a year+ wait for it as a proper prologue would have improved on those areas. We have yet to see what Kingdom Hearts 3’s technical aspects will be, but whatever they are we could expect that 0.2 would have been at that level. 

A bit more time in the oven would have also allowed some parts of the game in that were missing in it’s January 2017 release. Nomura said he struggled to write dialogue for Aqua as for most of the journey she only had herself to talk to. It is baffling, then, that there is no journal in 0.2, for Aqua to have collected her thoughts, her worries, her hopes, and her travels. There is no treasure chest guide, there is no heartless count, there aren’t even any character bios. It’s hard to say if a journal would have been included if 0.2 was left in Kingdom Hearts 3, but even Roxas got a bare-bones diary during his seven days. Why shouldn’t Aqua?

Cutting 0.2 out of Kingdom Hearts 3 is also a dirty move for those who have shifted this generation to Xbox. 0.2 follows on from the very ending moments of Dream Drop Distance to the very beginning of Kingdom Hearts 3. It is harder for them to step into the series when their console of choice was skipped over for 0.2 and the other HD collections. For those relying on memory, or those who might have been excited to start the series fresh on Xbox, it is tougher for them to jump into Kingdom Hearts 3

We know, from playing 0.2 on Playstation, about three major plot threads - Riku’s rescue of Aqua, Kairi’s training with Lea, and Sora’s search for his strength. We know how Kingdom Hearts 3 will feel, and we are more in tune with how the game will play. We can jump into the game and blitz through most of the tutorials that they had to create for Kingdom Hearts 3 itself. We understand character motivations, where they are going and why. Those on Xbox unfortunately do not.

If 0.2 was left inside of Kingdom Hearts 3 this wouldn’t be an issue. When Kingdom Hearts 3 was announced, no one really knew that the Playstation 4 would take off like it did. Those who chose Xbox One, for whatever reason whether it be the franchises they prefer or how expensive getting a second console is, are missing out on a vital piece of Kingdom Hearts 3 that was originally meant to be given to them.

If 0.2 was left as the prologue to Kingdom Hearts 3, then we for sure would have experienced a more streamlined adventure with Aqua. We wouldn’t have objectives or the Zodiac treasures for the secret boss (all accounted for replayability), and instead we would have had a story that funnelled us through the warped Disney Princess worlds so we could get that piece of story out of the way. Thanks to it being cut, we got an expanded piece of gameplay straight from Kingdom Hearts 3 early, but at the cost of Xbox players losing a part of the story and a piece of Kingdom Hearts history that could have used the last year to be optimised a bit further.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you believe 0.2 would have been different if it were left as Kingdom Hearts 3’s prologue? Are there any differences that you would have expected with it being cut into its own standalone adventure?

COMMENTS

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VoidGear.

December 30, 2017 @ 11:56 pmOffline

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Oi, nice thread.

Personally, I think my "outrage" would have been bigger than with Roxas-TT in KH2, because while that was a whole new experience (even though not good imo, and a way too long tutorial all in all), giving us 0.2 and then KH3 as one game would just feel entirely wrong.
I just can't imagine playing through the game, seeing the cutscene where Riku, Mickey and Kairi leave, and then jump into new fun adventures with Sora, yay! Sure, Roxas's story wasn't exactly happy either, but it was still very different from the "definitive" ending that 0.2 had. Also, the time skip would feel very weird to me.

Oh, and I think it's really good that the Osaka team could give us a small bit of KH3 and actually work with the feedback they're given. If KH3 were the same as 0.2, oh boy, would I be disappointed by the gameplay. From recent trailers though, I really have my hopes up that KH3 will at least be a bit better and combine good elements from the series.

I do have to kind of disagree with the Xbox issue though. Giving the players 0.2 alone wouldn't really change much about the confusion in my opinion. Okay, I guess if they did play all the games in 1.5-2.5 and 3D, having 0.2 in the beginning could have helped a bit, but then again, someone who played all these will probably take the time to watch a cutscene video of 0.2 on youtube. Sure, it's not ideal, but it's a short game and thus not really that much of a problem, in comparison to just throwing a small segment with Aqua in and then switching to Sora in an entirely different setting (only to then possibly go back to Aqua later as in her getting saved by Riku and Mickey).

Silver_Soul

December 30, 2017 @ 11:59 pmOffline

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We wouldn't of gotten the awesome intro remix and visuals. I'm happy with what we got, but I do hope 2-4 hours of content were added to replace Aqua's journey in the dark realm.

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Vasquez

December 31, 2017 @ 04:44 amOffline

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I still think the scenario presented by the scene with Eraqus and Young MX will be the prologue.

Chaser

December 31, 2017 @ 05:02 amOnline

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I still think the scenario presented by the scene with Eraqus and Young MX will be the prologue.
Yeah, that conversation between them starts off the game, then it cuts to Sora arriving on Olympus.

alexis.anagram

December 31, 2017 @ 05:38 amOnline

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I like it. The lack of a proper intro/tutorial in KH3 is definitely going to be a knock against it for me; I already strongly dislike the notion of jumping right into a Disney world with no setup, I think it will feel fragmented and bad and start the game off on a flat note. I like Olympus, I like Hercules, but I wanted a real introduction to the final chapter of this saga-- starting the game off revisiting Aqua and seeing her story in the Dark Realm play out would have helped bookend the whole series, and it would have been poetic to see the foreword to KH3 link right back up with the final moments of KH1. It would have really brought everything full circle before blasting off on this new adventure, while catching new and returning players up on the current state of things. So it's poetic and efficient. I want this.

I also happen to like the KH2 prologue with Roxas, so there's that; it provided a throughline for the entire game, with questions of Roxas's fate and his connection with Sora driving a lot of the storytelling. Those questions were essential to linking Sora's story with the broader narrative and, y'know, giving the player reasons to care about the broader narrative in the process. Aqua's role in 0.2 does something similar in deepening her agency as a character and centering her as a critical variable in turning the tides. They can still do that with KH3 but it won't play as well, because it's almost certainly going to rely on a few lines of redundant exposition: the worst storytelling device-- flat, ugly, shoehorned-in exposition. Which goes right back to my feeling that KH3 is going to feel like a jumbled mess that's pulling from too many disparate parts in its early stages. I have confidence that it will work itself out into something plausible as it goes along, but it would benefit immensely from a streamlined, focused entry point. That hook which every book is supposed to have to convince the reader to keep reading? That's 0.2.

Instead we'll get The Chess Match trope cold open. Oi vey.

saintfighteraqua

December 31, 2017 @ 06:05 amOffline

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I don't want to sound like a fanboy, but really, I don't see why anyone who is a huge fan of the series would have chosen Xbox this gen anyway. It was always a PS series with Nintendo side stories (DDD being sort of essential).
I don't mind it being on XBox as well, as long as it doesn't suffer in development (it won't since it's being ported to XB as far as I know and not the other way around), but fans who complain this late in a series over 0.2 not being on Xbox...I just don't get them. Maybe the prologue will be included on the disc for 3? That could make sense.

Launchpad

December 31, 2017 @ 08:06 amOffline

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Cool topic. Overall, I'd have to say we're much better off without this prologue in KHIII. The Roxas prologue in KHII, while seemingly jarring, was actually well executed in the space of KHII's story. We knew that Sora was sleeping, and we eventually learned that this character, Roxas, was important to Sora being able to wake up, not to mention his significance in ORG XIII. Playing as Roxas, in short, was thematically appropriate.

Aqua is nowhere near as important, like her or not. She is one third of a trio that is ultimately just not as important as Sora, or even particularly important TO him. Let me break this down.

The structure of a character game like KH is a lot like a well structured musical-- From the moment a player hits the start button, (especially a player new to the franchise or revisiting after a long while) they're in trouble. They're in trouble because they're immediately being presented with information that could potentially confuse them or cause them to focus their attention into things that don't ultimately matter that much. It's the writer's job to get audiences out of trouble. We don't even figure out who our protagonist is until a character expresses a profound desire for something that is currently out of their reach, and if done well, we can now relate with and root for this protagonist.


If we open up with Aqua, and she passionately expresses her desire to be home with her friends, then we're going to view her as our protagonist. It doesn't matter that we know Sora is, because that moment with Aqua will stick with us and cause Sora's adventure to lose a great amount of interest in the player, twofold for new players. KHII avoided this pitfall by centering a lot of Roxas' prologue around Sora's plight and making it important for Sora to return. It wasn't executed perfectly, but it was servicable.


KH1 opens with Sora on Destiny Islands, and he draws a paopu fruit in the secret place for Kairi. It ends with her finding it and returning the gesture.


KH2 opens with Roxas angrily questioning his existence, and ends with Sora and Roxas merging and finding peace. (this changes later, but doesn't affect KH2 as a singular package)


KH1 shows us Sora and Riku's rivalry, and the end of KH2 shows a truly satisfying reconciliation between the two on an important level.


These instances of thematic bookending are what set KH1 and KH2 far ahead of their more ancillary prequels and sequels-- they have a stronger pathos and they feel more complete because of it. KHIII opening with Aqua doing something, and most likely ending with Sora doing something would be unfortunate.


------------------------------------


There's also the technological side of it. KH0.2 was warmly received for the most part, but it received two big criticisms. First being the game performance being anything but consistent, with inputs being much laggier and delayed than it's predecessors. Second being that the game balance (especially on Critical Mode) was just completely terrible. The latter ended up being fixed entirely through an update, changing the Critical mode to be much more akin to 2FM's risk/reward system. This patch ensures that KHIII's Critical will follow a similar style without us ever having to get the bad version first. Complaints about 0.2's boss reactions (Heartless swarm bad, Phantom Aqua good) and bad movement (double jumping? really?) may also end up being heard by SE and result in a better experience in III.




wow this turned into a big post. kudos for the thought provoking subject.

Misayler

December 31, 2017 @ 08:27 amOffline

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(even though not good imo, and a way too long tutorial all in all)
I'd like to think they had learned from the Roxas intro in KH2 with the tutorial/intro skip remedy present in BBSFM in 2.5. Since they had the option of skipping the tutorial segment in BBSFM each time you start a new game with each character, I'd like to think that if 2.0 had been retained, it would've been an optional skip upon replay.

I still think the scenario presented by the scene with Eraqus and Young MX will be the prologue.
Yeah, that conversation between them starts off the game, then it cuts to Sora arriving on Olympus.
^However, had 2.0 been retained in KH3, I would wonder how they'd write in the fact that this was told via Mickey's retelling flashback. If the timeline is something like

Xehanort/Eraqus flashback --> Yen Sid 2.9 Meeting --> Sora at Olympus

...then the only way I could see 2.0 told as a flashback is if after Sora going to Olympus the "B" plot with Riku and Mickey begins with the flashback being told during the rescue--with Mickey filling in Aqua's involvement as they go. Either way, for 2.0 to be coherent in KH3's plot it'd have to be drastically rewritten. It's difficult to imagine how it'd flow naturally as plot and as gameplay. (Just the timeline I suggested above would make it a hard transition to start with Sora only to switch to Aqua right after.)

I, for one, can’t imagine that same outrage as there was in late 2005-early 2006 with Kingdom Hearts 2’s prologue featuring Roxas’ last seven days of existence. The prologue, which threw players into a confusing scenario that started off innocent, ended with a boy summoning the series staple Kingdom Key and being chased by a red haired man in a black hood. For those who didn’t get to experience Chain of Memories on the Gameboy Advanced, this opening was excruciatingly confusing.
As confusing as it was, the Roxas segment did well at the start by setting itself up as a seemingly standalone mystery. Not to mention, the opening did a great job to lead into Roxas' involvement.
Spoiler Spoiler Show

And this is where players who hadn't played CoM started to kick their own butts in not being able to do so. (I know I did, because while I own GBA CoM, I was unable to finish it before playing KH2. But the KHCoM manga helped me out lol, in an abridged way.)

KH2 doesn't feel like a KH, or even a Disney game at first. I'd say it really felt like the intro to an 80's B movie, or a parody of the Sandlot/the Goonies. (The designs/fashion style of Roxas' group doesn't help either.) But it IS pretty effective in you giving a diddly about what's going on even before the traditional KH elements kick in.

Spoiler Spoiler Show

^People tend to forget about this bit, but don't tell me this didn't make you want to know what the shit was going on because holy god.

As far as accessibility goes, I feel newcomers felt impartial (at the very least) to the KH2 intro since Roxas is just as confused as you are. At least for me, I definitely connected to him because of this.



A good number of players are also able to access the KH franchise even after playing KH DAYS as their first KH game since the writing team are pretty effective in making you want to understand the what's behind every mystery (even as collectively asinine as it gets with each game but first time players don't know that yet) with the highly empathetic Roxas.



Point is, if 0.2 was included in KH3, I don't think the flack would be as bad as it was back in 2006 with Roxas. Back then, yes, it angered many to even consider that you'd have to buy a separate game and console just to experience a handheld KH game (that had a completely different combat system to boot!!) for the sake of the plot, and Re: Chain of Memories wouldn't even be out until 2008. But it's different now with the HD Remixes, assuming you're a PS4 owner and not XBox.

Any backlash on not knowing anything about Aqua is on part of the player at this rate, and I kind of mourn the fact that 0.2 isn't in KH3 because it would've been highly effective on giving players a swift kick for not experiencing the other games very early on. If I still believed the KH3 is the only sequel I needed, it would've been nice to start KH3 with Aqua and go "oh, man, this isn't gonna work" and have the option to stop the game to instead buy/play the remixes before continuing KH3. I see 0.2 as the last warning to those who care about the story.

but at the cost of Xbox players losing a part of the story and a piece of Kingdom Hearts history that could have used the last year to be optimised a bit further.
Honestly though, new players trying to get into KH3 without prior knowledge of past games wouldn't be helped that much even with 0.2 in it's entirety. Even missing out on ONE of the unnumbered games is too much of a loss. (I had thought I didn't need to play KH3D after CoM/BBS/Re:Coded/Days; especially after Coded, I felt like I got the message LOL.) 0.2 remarkably, would be the least amount of loss.

We would not have gotten objectives or a secret boss, as there wouldn’t be any way to return to this tutorial area after the prologue‘s conclusion. Just like those chests when you’re searching for the seven wonders of Twilight Town, the chests in 0.2 that you’ve missed would have been lost to oblivion. You then have to ask, would those items have transferred to Sora anyway, even if to start out your journey with a few potions in your pocket?


Teleportation definitely made me wonder whether or not it'd be implemented to make Aqua's story revistable; or to have this unlock during Aqua's route (like it does normally) as a signal that because you CAN'T turn back once the main plot starts up again, it would've been a cue to constantly backtrack during the events of 0.2.

As for items/abilities carrying over, since we don't know who is/are the other available playable character[s] in KH3, since Aqua is part of the Seven Guardians perhaps it carries on over to her later involvements further in the game, assuming she is playable. (This opens up another question on how multiple playable characters would work--would they have full range of control just like Sora/Aqua with special limitations, or a fixed set of commands like Riku in KH2?)

Overall, I feel that 0.2 feels more essential to be bundled with 2.8 instead of KH3, as cool as it would've been. There's also the account of the 2.9 scene to act as a reward for going through it--of which I can't seem to figure out where 2.9 would've fit in the flow of KH3's narrative.

Echoecho6

December 31, 2017 @ 09:56 amOffline

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I still don't think Olympus is going to be the first world, or the tutorial in KH3. It seems too weird having a Disney World be first. Yea I get Sora said they are trying to get to Olympus, but that doesn't mean they will make it there first lmao. They could easily get summoned or crash land into Twilight Town first somehow. Or, like its been theorized, we wont play as Sora at the start, so the first world will be wherever the character we play as is (like possibly young Eraqus or Kiari).

Also Aqua, nor any tutorial character other than Sora, doesn't have to be used to show us a majority of the new elements. Roxas didn't have magic, drive forms, summons, or have access to limits. We couldn't use limits till the 3rd world, and we couldn't get access to summons till the 5th world! We aren't going to get access to every single ability immediately. Well, I certainly hope not atleast. This is also more reason as to why Olympus most likely isn't going to be the very first world we play in.

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Arli

December 31, 2017 @ 10:55 amOffline

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@Echoecho6

Nomuro already confirmed a while back that Twilight town will be the tutorial world in which we learn how to play the game and not Mount olympus.

Alpha Baymax

December 31, 2017 @ 12:09 pmOffline

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Honestly, I feel that 0.2 Birth by Sleep was a necessity to be a standalone experience. For starters, a Kingdom Hearts III sample is just smart marketing. It makes the naysayers question their lack of faith for the game, and it also gives Kingdom Hearts III a much more streamlined experience. You have to remember that Dream Drop Distance was also initially part of Kingdom Hearts III in its early stages.

Also, it means that another character will take Aqua's place as the second playable character. Whoever it is would be anyone's guess, but it may provide the opportunity to flesh out Eraqus or Kairi. A sacrifice which I believe to be of value in the long run.

MATGSY

December 31, 2017 @ 12:39 pmOffline

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I don't want to sound like a fanboy, but really, I don't see why anyone who is a huge fan of the series would have chosen Xbox this gen anyway. It was always a PS series with Nintendo side stories (DDD being sort of essential).
I don't mind it being on XBox as well, as long as it doesn't suffer in development (it won't since it's being ported to XB as far as I know and not the other way around), but fans who complain this late in a series over 0.2 not being on Xbox...I just don't get them. Maybe the prologue will be included on the disc for 3? That could make sense.
Yeah, you really are sounding like a console fanboy. It's not inherently wrong to want more games to be multi-platform nor for any given gamer to want games they have an interest in on their console of choice.

In any event, there's a particularly big reason for why precisely one would choose the XBox version of KH3 over PS4: The XBox One X is the most powerful machine that KH3 is confirmed to be released on. Plain & simple the absolute best KH3 experience possible is not gonna be on PS4, Pro or base. So yes, it's entirely reasonable for someone to choose that platform for KH3 & thus by extension want 2.8 & other entries on XB1 as well.

Alpha Baymax

December 31, 2017 @ 12:57 pmOffline

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Yeah, you really are sounding like a console fanboy. It's not inherently wrong to want more games to be multi-platform nor for any given gamer to want games they have an interest in on their console of choice.

In any event, there's a particularly big reason for why precisely one would choose the XBox version of KH3 over PS4: The XBox One X is the most powerful machine that KH3 is confirmed to be released on. Plain & simple the absolute best KH3 experience possible is not gonna be on PS4, Pro or base. So yes, it's entirely reasonable for someone to choose that platform for KH3 & thus by extension want 2.8 & other entries on XB1 as well.
Eh... was anybody even anticipating the Xbox One X when they considered their preferred console for Kingdom Hearts III? It's ideal to play Kingdom Hearts on the PS4 because it's a cost effective means of playing the entire series under one system. I mean sure, there'll be people who buy Kingdom Hearts III as a standalone experience, but realistically speaking, I don't see the logic of dedicated fans expecting Kingdom Hearts on something that isn't either Sony or Nintendo.

Muke

December 31, 2017 @ 02:02 pmOnline

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I'm so glad they released 0.2 before KH3, Had KH3 been like 0.2 (pre-patch), it would've been a massive disappointment for me.

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