Box art - Kingdom Hearts 3

What to Play Before Kingdom Hearts 3 – In What Order Should I Play the Other Games?

Stuck deciding what to play before Kingdom Hearts 3 or even questioning if you need to play the other games in the series? It’s pretty tricky to dive in and get to grips with the Kingdom Hearts play order, whether you’re a newcomer to the Kingdom Hearts series or someone who’s a dyed-in-the-wool Sora fanboy.

So, should you play every Kingdom Hearts game before Kingdom Hearts 3? Or maybe skip the Fragmentary Passages, the Remixes, and all the rest of it? Here’s what you need to play before Kingdom Hearts 3, whether you’re looking to do it quickly, want to focus on story, or want a complete Kingdom Hearts experience before playing the final game in the series.

What to Play Before Kingdom Hearts 3 – Should I Play the Other Games?

what to play before kingdom hearts 3

Unless you’re in a rush to play Kingdom Hearts 3 upon release, you absolutely should play the other games in the series. Not only are they a nostalgia-filled love letter to all things Disney, but the series is well known for its addictive combat and, yes, its headscratcher of a story.

Ah yes, the story. Kingdom Hearts 3 won’t be anywhere near the experience you want it to be unless you’re fully clued up heading into the final chapter in the 17-year journey.

Fun fact: you can now pre-order the Complete All-In-One Package which brings together the 1.5 Remix, 2.5 Remix, and 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue as well as Kingdom Hearts 3. So now there’s no excuse to not making your way through at least a fair chunk of the series.

What to Play Before Kingdom Hearts 3 – The Complete Kingdom Hearts Play Order

what to play before kingdom hearts 3

  • Kingdom Hearts (PS2/PS3/PS4)
  • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories/Kingdom Hearts: ReChain of Memories (GBA/PS2/PS3/PS4)
  • Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (DS/PS3/PS4)
  • Kingdom Hearts 2 (PS2/PS3/PS4)
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (PSP/PS3/PS4)
  • Kingdom Hearts: ReCoded (DS/PS3/PS4)
  • Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance (3DS/PS4)
  • Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage (PS4)

Hunting down every Kingdom Hearts game used to be a chore. Now it’s easier than ever. If you want the (mostly) complete experience, you should be looking to immediately purchase Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 Remix on PS4, as well as the 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue release, also on PS4. These extensive collections include remasters of Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts: ReChain of Memories on 1.5, Kingdom Hearts 2, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (both 2.5), and Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance (2.8). There’s also the Kingdom Hearts 3 prologue (of sorts) 0.2 Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage

Even better, the collections all in the correct order in terms of what you need to play and when. The fat has been trimmed with some non-essential games being reduced to story-heavy cutscenes and walls of text. Following these guidelines (no longer do you have to have literally five different consoles to play everything) is as simple as it gets – and Kingdom Hearts 3 will be a richer experience for it.

However, it is important to note that the 1.5 Remix and 2.5 Remix only include cinematics of both 358/2 Days and ReCoded. The former is infinitely more important in terms of story than the latter, and if you can hunt down the DS version, it’s well worth a play through if you’re willing to put in the hours. Its fleshing out of certain Organization XIII characters could prove invaluable come Kingdom Hearts 3. ReCoded, though, is a tired re-telling of the original, and its cutscenes in the 2.5 Remix are skippable if you’re short on time before January 29 rolls around.

The only other game/series of cutscenes I haven’t touched upon so far is Kingdom Hearts Unchained X, included as a mini-movie in 2.8. Ignore it. While the lore is pretty fun, the story takes place hundreds, if not thousands of years before the events of Sora, Donald, and Goofy and can be disregarded completely. If anything, the events of the mobile game/re-purposed movie in 2.8 will factor in further down the line beyond Kingdom Hearts 3 but are an irrelevance now.

So, use the order above to sketch out your long and winding road to Kingdom Hearts 3. It’s well worth the trouble, trust me.

What to Play Before Kingdom Hearts 3 – The Story Route

what to play before kingdom hearts 3

  • Kingdom Hearts
  • Kingdom Hearts: ReChain of Memories (Cutscenes)
  • Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (Cutscenes)
  • Kingdom Hearts 2
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
  • Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance (Secret Movie)
  • Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage

Deep breath. We’re going into the Kingdom Hearts story. You’ve probably heard whispers about a narrative so convoluted that it makes War and Peace look like The Hungry Caterpillar by comparison. It’s not that bad, but does take some time to wrap your head around everything. If you don’t know your Ventus from your Vanitas, then here’s where to start.

Let’s go through the reasonings one by one: Kingdom Hearts, invariably, is the best starting point. It also eases you slowly into the story and doesn’t really complicate matters too much. It’s here where you’ll be introduced to the likes of Sora, Riku, and Kairi alongside the whole host of classic Disney heroes and villains that populate each world.

I love Kingdom Hearts: ReChain of Memories but it’s undoubtedly an acquired taste thanks to its experimental card-based system. You should be looking to hit up the cutscenes on YouTube (or on the 1.5 collection), however, as this is the first canonical appearance of Big Bads Organization XIII along with its many, many members. It also leads directly into Kingdom Hearts 2.

The same can also be said for Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days. While the game is a fine effort, the cutscenes included in 2.5 alone really dig down into the heart (pun absolutely intended) of the franchise. The adventures of Axel, Roxas, and Namine will crop up again in Kingdom Hearts 3 and you also get to delve into the background of some villains before you have to face off against them in later games.

After Kingdom Hearts 2 you should be going on to Birth by Sleep. Chronologically the first entry in the series, you’ll be able to better comprehend the importance of Keyblades, as well as clapping your eyes on ultimate series villain Xehanort for the first time. Aqua, Ventus, and Terra are all also hugely important when it comes to Kingdom Hearts lore.

Dream Drop Distance can be swept to one side for the most part but that, and Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage (both included on the 2.8 collection), are the last stops before Kingdom Hearts 3. Seek out Dream Drop Distance’s Secret Movie on YouTube if you’re short on time as it presents a big change for a character that otherwise would be missed out on.

What to Play Before Kingdom Hearts 3 – The Quick Route

what to play before kingdom hearts 3

  • Kingdom Hearts
  • Kingdom Hearts 2
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep

While many will decry only going down the numbered entry route in Kingdom Hearts, chances are that time is of the essence before things take a left turn down Spoilerville and the internet is filled with a blow-by-blow account of what happens in Kingdom Hearts 3. So, here’s the quick route, if you can call a trio of 20-plus hour games quick, that is.

These three are essentially the abridged version of the Kingdom Hearts story. You’ll miss out on the intricacies but you’ll also have your fill of the main themes, characters, and have a rough idea of what the hell is going on, all while playing three of the best games in the series.

What to Play Before Kingdom Hearts 3 – The (Super) Quick Route

what to play before kingdom hearts 3

  • The story recap bundled with Kingdom Hearts 3

Now you’re just being lazy. According to a translated interview (via Famitsu), series director Tetsuya Nomura has promised a five-episode, hours-long recap to be included with Kingdom Hearts 3. Sure, you might miss out on a few things but this is the simplest way to get on track if you’ve not touched a Kingdom Hearts game in your life.

What to Play Before Kingdom Hearts 3 – The Optimum Route

what to play before kingdom hearts 3

  • Kingdom Hearts
  • Kingdom Hearts: ReChain of Memories
  • Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (Cutscenes)
  • Kingdom Hearts 2
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
  • Kingdom Hearts 0.2 Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage
  • Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance
  • Kingdom Hearts: ReCoded (final 15 minutes of cutscenes)

I’m hardly a Kingdom Hearts scholar (and this isn’t an exact science), but it seems to me that there are a handful of things that can be trimmed from the Kingdom Hearts canon, and a few things that need to be highlighted that might be otherwise glossed over. This is what I would tell anyone if I was sitting them down and saying “This is what you need to play before Kingdom Hearts 3.”

Go through the entirety of the 1.5 Remix in order. Nothing changes there. Once you move on to 2.5, however, there’s a few things to suggest: play Kingdom Hearts 2 and Birth by Sleep in order, but then move on to Birth by Sleep A Fragmentary Passage as it provides a fitting epilogue for parts of the story set up in Birth by Sleep and otherwise left hanging for far too long.

Once that’s dusted off, you can complete Dream Drop Distance (as well as watching its Secret Movie) and, in a weird twist but one I’m all-in for: watch the final 15 mins (from 2hrs 37 mins in this video) of ReCoded. It sets up Kingdom Hearts 3 far better than any other game in the series, bizarrely, as well as neatly tying several plot lines together into one ultimate objective for Sora to aim for.

Now, wasn’t that Simple and Clean… kinda.