Kingdom Hearts III is finally here. Fans have endured spin-off games and tie-ins for quite some time, but they finally have a direct sequel to Kingdom Hearts II in their hands nearly 15 years later. Many players have been eagerly awaiting the sequel while some have just been introduced the vast, dense mythology of the series. Regardless of where you fall, we’re here to help old and new keyblade wielders alike with some clever tips and tricks.
For this list, we'll be discussing the game's hidden content that only Kingdom Hearts experts know about, as well as some recommended strategies to help new players get the best experience. While some of these are secrets and Easter eggs, know that not all of the tips below are obscure. You can learn some of them just by playing the game, but since Kingdom Hearts III is dense with content, a lot of these features can get lost in the shuffle.
If you really want to be a Kingdom Hearts III expert, you'd have to sit through every single tutorial (and there are many), but nobody has time for that nonsense. The game stops players every few minutes with walls of text to explain its features, and you'll likely skip through most of them. After all, you probably want to get back to hanging out with Buzz Lightyear or Jack Sparrow.
In any case, write these down and pick up your keyblade. Here are 21 Things Only Experts Know You Can Do In Kingdom Hearts III.
21 Unlock The Starlight Keyblade
There are tons of unlockable keyblades in Kingdom Hearts III, but some of them require extra effort to earn. The Starlight is one of them, and it requires playing a totally different game just to get it. If you want the keyblade, start up the Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross] mobile game.
It's free and the unlock process doesn't even require that you play core game. Simply get high scores on the five Classic Kingdom mini-games in Union χ[Cross]. After doing so, the game rewards players with a redeemable download code for the console of their choice.
Enter this code on your Kingdom Hearts III console and the Starlight Keyblade will download. It's mostly just a palette swap of the standard Kingdom Key, but it's always nice to earn new toys.
20 Skip Gummi Ship Battles
The Gummi Ship missions have always been the worst part about Kingdom Hearts. These awkward Star Fox knockoffs used to act as brief mini-games between worlds. Now they have evolved into a three open-world levels.
If space flight is your thing, then go crazy. Most of us want to get back to the Disney stuff. Thankfully, while travelling by Gummi Ship is mandatory, space combat is optional. These combat stages only activate when the Gummi ship approaches an enemy.
Since space enemies only patrol small designated areas, players must simply avoid them to skip an encounter. Getting too close to an enemy will trigger combat, so keep your distance! The only mandatory Gummi ship mission occurs before reaching the last level, and you won't need expert skills to beat it.
19 Unlock Battlegates
Although there is no "New Game +" feature or bonus game mode after completion, Kingdom Hearts III does have endgame content: the Battlegates. Battlegates are interactive orbs found in each level that allow the player to tackle new and difficult boss battles.
These scenarios come with high-end rewards for Sora in the form of special gear and Secret Report pages. These text entries deepen the lore of the Kingdom Hearts universe. While some of these Battlegates feel like fun challenges, experts know that some of these can really test the player's skill.
Turn up the difficulty and give them a try if you're bored after the ending. It's not much for post-game content, but it should add an extra few hours to an already lengthy experience.
18 Cycle Through Reaction Prompts
An extremely useful new feature can get lost in the flurry of text-heavy tutorial screens. See all of those special attacks stacking up on the left side of the screen? Pressing L2 (or the left trigger for Xbox owners) will cycle through the different moves to select the one you want. You don't have to trigger them in order, so if you want to save a form change for last or break out a favorite in a tough situation, press L2.
Seeing as this button doesn't have an assigned function in previous games, returning players may not even realize this is possible. Nobody wants to sit through those tutorials (props to them, the real experts), but hopefully you learn this trick before, let's say, you complete a third of the game — hypothetically speaking, obviously.
17 Skip Special Moves
Here's an expert tip. Are you tired of watching those lengthy animations every time you use a special attack? Scroll through the options menu and you'll find a toggle that automatically skips them. You're welcome.
The game looks gorgeous and Sora's flashy special moves are quite the spectacle. However, watching the same time-consuming cut scenes over and over can get old quickly. Using this option will save a lot of time in the long run.
This is especially helpful when combat starts to feel repetitive later in the game, as players will have seen Sora's moves a hundred times over. It also makes combat feel faster and more fluid, as special moves fire off rapidly without short interruptions.
16 Ramp Up The Difficulty
We aren't trying to offend anyone who finds Kingdom Hearts III difficult. However, any series veteran will tell you that the game is surprisingly easy compared to previous installments. Beginner Mode is a total breeze and even Standard Mode can begin to feel safe as new moves unlock.
Even if you're new to Kingdom Hearts itself, fans of action games may want try Proud Mode from the start for an actual challenge.
While the hack-and-slash gameplay is simple to begin with, Proud Mode does require a bit more strategy. Proud Mode encourages that players block, dodge, and manage their inventories more carefully. It's still a breezy experience overall, but anyone look for a real challenge should consider this difficulty from the beginning or risk disappointment.
15 Skip The Recaps
Kingdom Hearts III is the finale to a very convoluted story. It's not very accessible to newcomers, despite the fact that the game offers recap videos to catch everyone up. Players can start the series with Kingdom Hearts III if they wish, but anyone determined to dive in should avoid those recaps at all costs.
New players might have already made the mistake of watching them. The recaps explain Kingdom Hearts so vaguely that the plot will still seem nonsensical.
Players should consider reading about the story elsewhere or watching a recap video online. Don't waste your time with those in-game recaps unless you're already familiar with the Kingdom Hearts universe. The basics are simple: anime characters hit each other with big keys while interrupting Disney movies. If you're new, you'll catch on.
14 Cook Often (Or Never)
Kingdom Hearts III is brimming with mini-games. The game introduces so many different mechanics that sometimes it feels like another genre all together. Sometimes it's a cooking game, inspired by Pixar's very underrated film, Ratatouille.
Ingredients can be brought to the Bistro in Twilight Town where Remy and Sora can cook them into meals. These dishes offer decent stat boosts for Sora, which can help in tough combat situations. Completing the cooking challenges even unlocks a unique keyblade.
However, any Kingdom Hearts expert knows that this game is incredibly easy — much easier than most of the other games. If the cooking segments aren't your thing, you'll make out just fine without the boosts from meals. Feel free to dive into the kitchen or avoid it completely. Sora and company will survive.
13 Swap Between Keyblades During Combat
While the older games only allow Sora to wield one keyblade at a time, Kingdom Hearts III lets him switch between three during combat. This is a new feature that even some experts might overlook, since most returning players remember having only one weapon.
Utilizing the three keyblade slots helps tackle different kinds of combat encounters. Keep an eye on the keyblades' varying stats, as some are built for strength, some are built for magic, and some are balanced.
The expert strategy here is to designate the first two slots for strength and magic but use the third slot for long range fights. Keyblades like the Shooting Star transform into gun-based weapons that make it easier to fight at a distance.
12 Play Hidden Mini-games
Video game completionists will want to keep their eyes out for these. Hidden in various chests throughout the game are Classic Kingdom mini-games, which also appear in Kingdom Hearts Union χ[Cross]. These heavily stylized mini-games are reminiscent of early Disney animation, albeit with the addition of a retro-looking Sora.
They aren't necessary for completing the game, but they are a nice break from the hack-and-slash gameplay without being as frustrating as the Gummi Ship. While the mini-games are collectables themselves, playing each one will unlock the Classic Tone keyblade if you want to add another treasure to your collection. It's a decent weapon when fully upgraded, so it acts as a nice incentive to find those mini-games.
11 Find Lucky Emblems
Players may have noticed the Mickey Mouse symbols hidden in each level. Kingdom Hearts III introduces the Gummiphone, a smartphone for Sora that comes with a digital camera. It's primarily used for taking selfies with your favorite Disney characters, but snapping shots of these Lucky Emblems will log them throughout your journey.
It's hard to justify this as an expert tip considering some of them are so obvious. Donald and Goofy will often notice the Lucky Emblems before the player does, and they'll shout about them until they're found. However, experts know that they can be in odd places. Some things must be viewed from specific perspectives before they finally look like the Mickey Mouse logo. Keep an eye out for round objects in groups of three!
10 Use Shotlock To Check For Secrets
Shotlock is Sora's primary long-range attack. Activating it makes Sora paint enemies with a target and shoot them. Shotlock can also be used for traversal, as it marks perches and ledges that Sora can dash to. However, experts will use this technique early on to search for environmental secrets.
This feature marks any interactive objects in your sights with a square, so scanning an area with Shotlock can point out areas you might miss otherwise. While it works best against crowds of enemies, it might be worth activating to map out large areas. It's especially useful in the Pirates of the Caribbean level where Sora and the gang must collect hundreds of small crabs. Try using Shotlock to look up at the rooftops and tall trees!
9 Craft The Ultima Weapon
The elusive Ultima Weapon is back in Kingdom Hearts III and it is still the strongest weapon Sora can get his hands on. As usual, unlocking the keyblade is quite the endeavor. The player must collect several crafting items, namely the rare "Orichalcum+" among others.
These items only appear in certain places and after completing certain tasks. For example, finding all 80 Lucky Emblems earns only a single Orichalcum+. The Ultima Weapon recipe requires seven.
If you've never played a Kingdom Hearts game before, you should know that the Ultima Weapon is worth it. It gives Sora a noticeable edge, even in the more difficult battles. It can feel like quite the chore, but the true fans are likely in it for the long haul.
8 Complete The Flantastic Seven
Did you know there are giant Flan monsters hidden throughout the Kingdom Hearts III that offer mini-game challenges? Ignoring the absurdity of that last sentence, it's true — these challenges are called the "Flantastic Seven," and completing them should be a priority.
Each one presents a unique mini-game that comes with a scoring system. They can often be found in places off the beaten path, though some are located in obvious spots early on so players know they exist. They're quite fun if you're looking for a break from the battle against darkness.
Achieving high scores in the Flantastic Seven is a must if you want to craft the Ultima Weapon, as high-scoring them all earns an Orichalcum + for the recipe.
7 Always Break Everything
You don't need to be a series expert to realize Sora can break objects. However, as a rule, always break everything. Even though the game isn't very difficult, smacking everything in sight will usually yield ingredients, items, and sweet, sweet money (or "munny" in this universe).
It doesn't sound like a groundbreaking tip, but chests and items can often be obscured by breakable objects. If you want to be able to craft any item or go on guilt-free shopping sprees, make sure you sweep every room thoroughly for breakable items.
This will pay off at the end of the game, especially if you plan on upgrading your keyblades before the final fight. Missing a single ingredient to max out your favorite weapon? You'll have more money than you'll know what to do with, so buy ten from a shop.
6 Exploit The MP Gauge
With all of the magic in Kingdom Hearts III, it can be easy to burn through the MP gauge without noticing. When that meter empties, magic is disabled until it recharges. Thankfully, there are some expert strategies that can help exploit that system.
Leave the healing spells last! Cure will drain the entire MP gauge, so if you want to use some combat spells, make sure you perform them first. However, if there isn't enough MP left for a Cure, you're a sitting duck. Turn on "MP Safety" in the Abilities menu to make sure that you always save enough MP for a heal.
Bonus tip — if MP is recharging but you need to heal, use any special moves sitting above your menu. They'll buy time for the gauge to recharge and keep you invulnerable briefly.
5 Don't Forget Shortcuts
Kingdom Hearts veterans know just how important these shortcuts are. Do not brush them off! With so many tools at Sora's disposal — between spells, form changes, Link attacks, items, and more — it helps to pick a few favorites to keep in a Shortcut Set.
Managing these sets lets you choose your favorite moves without scrolling through the menu, and it'll help organize moves for different kinds of encounters. You'll want to have a healing spell or potion in each of these sets at all times, but play around with the rest of the shortcuts to see what suits your play-style.
Maybe you want to keep some ranged attacks on hand, or you maybe want to make sure your favorite Disney character summon is only a button-press away. Either way, use shortcuts!
4 Prioritize Traversal Skills
Traversal options are plentiful in Kingdom Hearts III. Sora has a dozen new moves that make him more agile than he ever was before, and series experts know just how important it is to keep him moving.
As you unlock traversal skills like extra jumps and dashes, prioritize them in your build. Sacrifice some magic boosts or attacks you rarely use in favor of improved movement. This hinges on spending Ability Points or AP — you should have no problem getting enough AP to equip all your moves, but if not, focus on movement.
This is especially useful at the end of the game as Sora will need to close in on enemies very quickly. He'll spend so much time fighting in the air that some battles don't even require touching the ground.
3 Find The Hidden Level
There is no shortage of worlds in Kingdom Hearts III, there's one that players might skip if not careful. The Hundred-Acre Wood is a series staple, but it takes some backtracking to discover. If you tend to skip cut scenes, you might not know it exists.
After completing the Monstropolis level, a cut scene reveals that Merlin wants to meet Sora for tea. Meet Merlin at the Bistro in Twilight Town and he'll allow access to Winnie the Pooh's storybook.
Hundred-Acre Wood is a completely optional world. The level doesn't even feature combat. Instead, it features a set of mini-games for Sora to complete. It's worth a visit for treasure, a unique keyblade, and some wholesome quality time with Pooh and the gang.
2 Photography For Moogles
The addition of a camera will have you taking selfies galore, but it does have practical uses. Aside from snapping Lucky Emblems, Sora can take on photography missions at the Moogle shop.
There are dozens and dozens of challenges to complete if you find the camera fun to use. Moogle often wants very specific pictures, so read over each mission goal and keep it in mind as you play. It helps to keep an eye out for rare enemies and Disney movie landmarks
To start, take a photo of every new party member you come across. It's perhaps the easiest mission, and one that you'll likely do anyway. If you take the proper photos, Moogle will reward you with unique synthesis recipes.
1 Unlock The Secret Ending
Kingdom Hearts loves its elusive secret endings, most of which often tease future games in the series. Kingdom Hearts III has one, and you should attempt to get it if the regular ending made you emotional.
To unlock this ending, players must find all 80 Lucky Emblems in the game. Find the ending in the game's Theater mode, labeled "Secret Movie" with a spoilery subtitle we won't mention here.
Without spoiling any of it, it suggests that the Guardians of Light can't afford to rest just yet. There will be more Kingdom Hearts games to come. Are they spin-offs? Are they sequels? Will the world see a Kingdom Hearts IV? All we know is that this series is far from over.
Are you enjoying Kingdom Hearts III? Share your expert tips in the comments!