Kingdom Hearts has earned a popular reputation for outsiders that the story is hard to keep up with, primarily due to the series release of different games on different platforms. The first Kingdom Hearts, for example, released on the PS2. It was then followed up by Chain of Memories on the GameBoy Advanced, a game crucial to setting up the plot of the third entry in the series: Kingdom Hearts 2. That game released on PS2 however, meaning those without a GBA were completely lost. The rest of the series followed in a similar manner. Square Enix has been trying to rectify this for the past few years, putting out HD re-release trilogy packs on both PlayStation 3 and 4. Up to this point, the biggest collection by far was the 1.5 + 2.5 HD Pack, which held everything barring the three experiences in 2.8. Now, you won't need to fuss over getting those; Square Enix is just combining them all. The other day, both they and Disney announced Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far, which combines everything from 1.5, 2.5, and 2.8 into one handy package.
Kingdom Hearts 1.5 comes with the first Kingdom Hearts in its Final Mix version, which features new cutscenes, a hidden boss, and more. Alongside it are Re: Chain of Memories (the PS2 remake of GBA's Chain of Memories), and Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days (a cutscene compilation of a DS game). Kingdom Hearts 2.5 ushers in Kingdom Hearts 2 Final Mix, which has a wide amount of new additions, such as a secret area and Organization XIII data battles. Alongside it are Birth by Sleep Final Mix (an improved version of the PSP game), and Re: coded (a cutscene compilation of a 3DS game). Last but certainly not least, there's 2.8. With that one, you get Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance HD (an HD-ified version of the 3DS game), Back Cover (a movie that ties in with the mobile game), and 0.2 Birth by Sleep (a pseudo-KH3-prologue that has you play as Aqua in KH3's game engine). All of this is the entirety of Kingdom Hearts, barring the games that were cut down into cutscenes, so this package will have everything you need to get caught up before Kingdom Hearts 3 arrives.
As a Kingdom Hearts fan waiting for each entry and then trying to find a way to play them over the years, keeping up was an endeavor. By getting the Story So Far, you can play each trilogy set in order to get the full story. What's most surprising about the announcement, however, is that it's only for PlayStation 4. Considering Kingdom Hearts 3 will be the first entry in the series to come to a Microsoft platform, it would make perfect sense to release the Story So Far for them as well. Saying you can play KH3 without playing the rest isn't advice you'll want to follow; sure, it'll be a fun game, but you'll be completely lost on what's going on. Even so, it's possible that Square Enix has simply not announced an Xbox version yet, instead planning to so at a later date. For now, we'll just have to wait and see. Hopefully, Xbox fans get something! If you've yet to purchase any of the previously released collections for your PS4, then this one will be for you. There aren't any new additions to the Story So Far that weren't in the previous compilations, so what you got in those, you'll get in this too.
Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far is set for an October 30th release, right before Halloween happens. You'll be able to get the compilation for a measly $39.99, which is quite a steal for the massive amount of content you're getting. This release will be just past Kingdom Hearts' cousin's time in the spotlight, The World Ends With You: Final Remix, which releases on Switch on October 12th. Kingdom Hearts 3 is slated for a January 29th release in 2019, and pre-orders are available. Once KH3 is out, you can play it on either PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. KH3 is set to be a game of firsts, being the first KH game made in Unreal Engine 4, the first KH game to feature Pixar worlds alongside Disney ones and the first to come to Xbox. Considering how monumental a leap KH2 was from KH1, 3 is shaping up to do the same. If you want to pre-order The Story So Far, Square Enix has a handy page on their website where you can do so! If there was any time to catch up on Kingdom Hearts, it would be now.