What E3 revealed about Kingdom Hearts III’s story

Last Updated February 14th, 2022

If you’re a fan of Kingdom Hearts, then you know that it has one of the craziest and most convoluted plots in the history of video games. You also know that the Kingdom Hearts fanbase has been dying to hear more plot details about Kingdom Hearts III.

Luckily, E3 brought us three new trailers, and with them, we got the plot details we’ve been waiting for. You just might not be able to understand those details if you don’t have a huge Kingdom Hearts conspiracy wall in your basement.

Xehanort’s Plan

For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with every Kingdom Hearts spin-off over the years, here’s where we stand:

Xehanort, the big baddy from Birth By Sleep, and the original person that gave rise to Ansem, Seeker of Darkness, and Xemnas, is looking to have seven lights and thirteen darknesses clash in an immense battle. Doing so will allow him to create the X-Blade, the true keyblade of origin, and the one thing that can truly unlock and control the power of Kingdom Hearts.

The first attempt to gather seven lights was when Ansem, Seeker of Darkness attempted to kidnap the four princesses of light with the help of Malificent in Kingdom Hearts 1. The first attempt to gather thirteen darknesses was when Organization XIII was made in Kingdom Hearts 2.

Neither worked out well.

So Xehanort had another plan, which we became aware of in Dream Drop Distance: time travel! To do this, he has to become just a heart. Once he does that, he is able to move through time freely. This is why Xehanort, in Terra’s body, was looking for the key to become a heartless during his time working under Ansem the Wise in Radiant Garden.

With me so far?

OK, so Xehanort succeeds, and splits his heart from his body. His now disembodied heart travels back in time to speak with his younger self, because, in the Kingdom Hearts universe, you may only travel to time periods in which there is already a version of you in existence. Also, in the Kingdom Hearts universe, any time you come in contact with another version of yourself they too gain the ability to travel through time. So now Young Xehanort has the ability to travel through time.

Finally, Ansem, Seeker of Darkness (Xehanort’s heartless), and Xemnas (Xehanort’s nobody), are both destroyed, allowing master Xehanort to once again form as a whole. This puts a version of himself solidly in the present, allowing every version of himself from the past to travel to this timeline, though they will forget everything if they return to their normal timeline.

This leads us to Xehanort’s new plan to create a “True Organization XIII” filled with thirteen versions of himself! He does this by either yanking versions of himself through time to join the organization, or by putting pieces of his heart into other people in order to control them.

In Dream Drop Distance he attempted to do this with Sora.

As expected, it didn’t work.

A huge portion of the plot of Kingdom Hearts III comes down to the identity of these thirteen darknesses that make up the “True Organization XIII,” and the seven lights that will oppose them.

The 13 Darknesses

We know that the thirteen darknesses will be the new “True Organization XIII.” We also know that there are two possibilities for the seven lights. They can be either A) seven princesses of light or B) seven keyblade wielders wielding the power of light.

So let’s go over Organization XIII first. Prior to E3 we know that Organization XIII included:

  • Old Xehanort (Revealed in Dream Drop Distance)
  • Young Xehanort (Revealed in Dream Drop Distance)
  • Ansem, Seeker of Darkness (Revealed in Dream Drop Distance)
  • Xemnas (Revealed in Dream Drop Distance)
  • Xigbar (Revealed in Dream Drop Distance)
  • Saix (Revealed in Dream Drop Distance)
  • Vanitas (Revealed in the Monsters Inc. Trailer)
  • Marluxia (revealed in the Monsters Inc. Trailer)

That’s eight darknesses so far. The new E3 trailers revealed to us a few more, notably:

  • Larxene, returning from Chain of Memories
  • Luxord, returning from Kingdom Hearts II
  • Aqua, converted to evil after falling to the darkness

It’s worth noting that whenever someone turns to darkness and gives themselves up to Xehanort’s heart (colloquially “gets norted”) their eyes turn bright yellow. This is how we know that Aqua, was in fact, norted in the Frozen trailer. This would mean that Xehanort had gathered 11 darknesses, and if he managed to turn Sora in Dream Drop Distance, that would be 12.

This makes sense when we examine how Xehanort was talking in Dream Drop Distance. There he said he would have “two of the lights” should he turn Sora, and at the time we assumed that meant Sora and Ventus. Now we clearly see that he meant Sora and Aqua. He also never talked as if the Organization would be complete after Sora, so there is still someone else he needs to induct into it, making twelve members the sweet spot we are looking for.

However, it’s also worth noting that Marluxia might be a double agent. In the Monsters Inc. trailer he noted that he only serves one Organization, the “true Organization.” However, this may not refer to the “True Organization XIII” but rather then Organization XIII that Marluxia tried to usurp in Chain of Memories. This is because he is the only character in the True Organization XIII who does not have yellow eyes, meaning he is not being directly controlled or influenced by Xehanort.

The 7 Lights

Whether or not the seven lights end up being seven keyblade wielders or seven princesses of light, it’s important to know the identities of both. If we are going to go by scenes we have seen in Dream Drop Distance and 0.2, the seven princesses of light are going to need seven guardians, hence the seven keyblade wielders.

The original seven princesses were:

  • Alice
  • Snow White
  • Jasmine
  • Belle
  • Cinderella
  • Aurora
  • And Kairi

It’s worth noting that none of these princesses will have a world featured in Kingdom Hearts III.

We do, however, see Larxene referring to Elsa as one of the princesses. That leads us to believe that Organization XIII are searching for seven completely new princesses. It’s incredibly likely that both Elsa and Rapunzel are two of the princesses we are looking for. However, the rest of the Disney worlds that we have seen are not known for their princesses (unless you want to count Boo from Monsters Inc.)

Unfortunately, this means that the E3 trailers have raised more questions than they’ve answered. Here are the protagonists that can currently wield keyblades.

  • Sora
  • Riku
  • Lea
  • Kairi
  • Mickey Mouse

So we would be looking for two more keyblade wielders to fill those slots. Sora is currently on a journey to figure out how to control his latent power to touch hearts and bring them back from the darkness. In the E3 trailers, we see Ansem and Xemnas talking to Sora about how the hearts that live inside him are key.

There are three keyblade wielders that currently live inside Sora’s heart.

  • Roxas
  • Ventus
  • Xion

We actively see Sora attempting to bring Roxas back through the use of data twilight town in the E3 trailers, so it is safe to assume that Roxas is one of the seven keyblade wielders.

However, if Sora brings back every keyblade wielder in his heart, then we have too many. There’s always a chance that we will just ignore Xion, however there’s also a chance that one of the original keyblade wielders will either fall or become unavailable. Originally I would have theorized that Mickey Mouse would have not counted as one of the guardians, but we actively see him poking his head into the realm of darkness in an E3 trailer.

What Is Each Organization Member Doing?

Finally, it appears as if each True Organization XIII member is encountered in a different world and has a completely different plan, if we are to believe the E3 trailers. So let’s try and keep track of them all.

  • Xemnas and Ansem both appear to be preoccupied with bringing Roxas back from Sora’s heart. Likely this means that the True Organization XIII is looking to fill their last slot with Roxas. They are shown in front of an orange brick wall, which seems to be the color scheme for Twilight Town.
  • Luxord is looking for the box that the Master of Masters left Luxu in Back Cover. He is seen in the Pirates of the Caribbean world. We do not know what is in the box, but we do know that the Master of Masters left it to Luxu shortly before he disappeared and after he saw the future, i.e. presumably the events of Kingdom Hearts III.
  • Vanitas is harvesting screams and negative energy from the Monsters Inc world. It’s unclear why, however we do know that heavy amounts of negative energy can be used to make someone fall to the darkness, become heartless, or even become a vessel for Xehanort.
  • In Dream Drop Distance it was shown that Saix is acting as a guard to old and young Xehanort, they are likely the final bosses of the game, so we probably won’t see these characters until the very end.
  • Larxene is looking to corrupt the new Princesses of Heart. We see her in the Frozen level attempting to make Elsa fall to the darkness.
  • Marluxia is attempting to gain control of nobodies, it appears. We saw this in the Monsters Inc trailer. Perhaps this is pointing to him eventually betraying the Organization.
  • Xigbar is being mysterious and cryptic, like he always is.
  • Aqua appears to still be stuck in the realm of darkness, though it is unclear what she is doing there.

Putting It All Together

What does it all mean? Well we aren’t quite sure… yet. However we do know some key things about Xehanort’s plan.

First of all, the seven lights and thirteen darknesses aren’t decided yet. Xehanort will be attempting to finish this list over the events of KH3. They will likely include someone whose heart currently resides in Sora. So if part of the plot of KH3 is Sora learning how to utilize his unique power to touch others’ hearts, it will likely be the first act.

Unfortunately, everything else still has holes in it. For example, we have no idea why replica Riku, or Repliku is hanging out with real Riku in the Pirates trailer.

However, it’s looking as if, at the very least, each world will have an Organization member boss, like Kingdom Hearts 2 did. If it follows the entire story structure of Kingdom Hearts 2, then the first act will largely involve visiting each world for the first time and setting up a bigger conflict while the second act becomes much darker, and ties in the greater Kingdom Hearts plot.

That’s all the details we could get out of the Kingdom Hearts E3 trailers. Did you notice something we didn’t? Let us know in the comments.

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