What do Kingdom Hearts and Gears of War have in common? Before this interview, they were like night and day, but Director Tetsuya Nomura has confirmed with Famitsu that the upcoming action RPG from Square Enix will be powered with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4.
Nomura says that Kingdom Hearts III has switched from Square Enix’s in-house Luminous Engine, used to power Final Fantasy XV, to the Unreal Engine 4 for “various reasons.” All we know is that the game’s development is currently on schedule for what Nomura has in mind, but his team is having difficulty with rendering issues. Epic Games is working closely with the team to help solve them, though.
Nomura also confirmed that he is busy writing scenario scripts for the game.
What are these “various reasons,” do you think? No doubt, similar to Bandai Namco and Tekken 7, the team simply wanted an easier engine to use and Square Enix was more than happy to oblige. Affordability and efficiency were no doubt deciding factors, because the Luminous Engine looks ridiculously complex to take full advantage of.
Could the Unreal Engine 4 also mean a potential PC port could be easier to get up and running?
Despite the good news that will undoubtedly speed up development, it’s a little disheartening to see Square Enix once again pile hard work into a multi-purpose next-gen graphic engine, and once again toss it aside for something more convenient. Is this Crystal Tools all over again?
I like the Unreal Engine well enough. It powered a handful of my favorites games from the previous generation, but does it and Frostbite really have to power everything? In-house engines are great because they play specifically to what developers have in mind, and they make their games feel much more impressive and unique. As great as the Unreal Engine is, you really have to do something impressive with it, or the final product just comes off as an action game with similar graphics to the rest of the gelatinous blob of AAA game development.
Take this for example. Do you want to play Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain in Unreal Engine 4 or the FOX engine? Just as I thought.
That being said, I think Kingdom Hearts III will have what it takes to beat that stigma. It’s not often a Japanese studio, especially Square Enix, turns to using Unreal in its games, and the results could be something new and interesting at least.
Let’s just hope Nintendo doesn’t follow suit and turn to Unreal Engine 4 for the next Mario game. Kingdom Hearts III has no release date, but it is confirmed for release on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.