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KH3 underwent some unique circumstances being the first HD title of the franchise.2029 at the earliest, I say this because It's almost 10 years ago that KH3 was announced, and that came out in 2019 at the earliest.
I hope your right, I got into the KH series kind of late because a friend loaned me his back in 2005 or 2006, so the wait between KH1 to KH2 wasn't as big for me, but Chain of Memories was coming out around that time, and I ended up skipping it by mistake because I thought it was a remake for the GBA, but compared to that, KH3 almost took a decade, or that's what it felt like anyway, for the record the second after beating KH2, I was waiting for KH3 to be announced, then the release date, but got all the games (COM RECOM BBS recoded and DDD) in the mean time , so I did not skip any of the games after COM.KH3 underwent some unique circumstances being the first HD title of the franchise.
1) it was the first HD title of the franchise, which meant all assets had to be built from scratch rather than reused.
2) Swapping engines early on in development set it back by a year. The developers were anticipating using Luminous, but found out they wouldn’t be due to the engine’s many issues and the prioritization of using FFXV as the game to document the engine.
3) Assets that had been worked on by outside 3rd party asset farms were not up to the quality that SE and Disney required them to be, which required SE to recreate all of those assets over again.
4) The development team had never worked with Unreal Engine 4 before and had to be trained, which took time out of the development cycle
So yeah it took them 6 years to release from 2013 to 2019. But the game was only truly in development from 2014-2018, so a 4 year development cycle is a fairly good one considering all of the issues the development team was dealing with.
KH4 in comparison should not be as insane of a cycle like KH3 was.
They have a strong understanding of UE so working with UE5 will be easy.
UE5 has a ton of cool automation and scaling tools that has streamlined a ton of work processes.
Also SE probably isn’t going to hire asset farms without good vetting or prior experience with them so they don’t have to worry about that.
That doesn’t mean there can’t be issues, but I think KH4 will have a smooth development cycle. They had likely been working on it since 2018/19, and accounting for the pandemic setting them back by a year or so, 2024/2025 is a fairly appropriate window for release given they haven’t run into any extremely awful issues beyond that.
Handhelds aren't dead, the 3ds was still selling up until the Nintendo switch released, and the Nintendo switch is a handheld, and Nomura wanted all the games up to KH3 to be on one console, and we had games between 3D and 0.2/BC, they were the remasters.The wait between KH1 to KH2 wasn't big for anyone because it was only three years (also with an aforementioned full length RPG between the two).
If handhelds hadn't died, there probably would have been even more games before KH3 instead of a big gap between 3D and 0.2/BC, and then...
In addition to all this, they didn't even get started on KH3 until after DDD. This was because after KH2 instead of having the team begin work on the next main entry they instead started working on Final Fantasy Versus XIII. And then the Fabula Nova Crystallis ended up being a development disaster.KH3 underwent some unique circumstances being the first HD title of the franchise.