Kingdom Hearts IV confirmed to have moved development to Unreal Engine 5

Get ready for a new generation of Kingdom Hearts.

Image via Square Enix/Disney

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Following yesterday’s Kingdom Hearts IV announcement, there are still tons of unanswered questions. What platforms will it launch on? What Disney worlds can we expect? What narrative direction can we expect from this new arc? While details are still thin, we do at least know that Kingdom Hearts IV is slated to make use of Unreal Engine 5.

The news comes from Famitsu, which attended the Kingdom Hearts 20th anniversary event. Famitsu’s report of the event was translated by VGC, offering us a small bit of insight into the game’s technology. According to the Famitsu report, the Kingdom Hearts IV reveal trailer was rendered in real-time in Unreal Engine 4. However, the actual game itself is going to utilize Unreal Engine 5.

Simply transitioning from one engine version to the next does not automatically indicate that we will see a dramatic leap in visual quality. There’s no guarantee that the project will make use of the engine’s headlining features, such as nanite and lumen. With that said, Famitsu stated that the final game’s “lighting and detail will be several levels higher.”

The decision to render the trailer utilizing Unreal Engine 4 makes sense given it only recently officially released to all developers. A reveal like Kingdom Hearts IV needed a high level of polish to satisfy fans, so it made more sense to make a strong first impression with the older version of the engine while the studio tests its newest iteration in parallel.