'Kingdom Hearts 3' Critical Mode Explained: Changes, Abilities & More Details

Kingdom Hearts 3 Critical Mode arrived earlier this week, and players are just starting to discover its secrets. Below, we'll outline the mode's major changes and explain the new abilities Sora can unlock during his journey.

Kingdom Hearts 3 Critical Mode Changes

Critical Mode is the highest-level difficulty setting in Kingdom Hearts 3. In other words, if you found Standard or Proud difficulty too easy, Critical is the next logical step. It prioritizes skillful combat and emphasizes underused mechanics like strategic ability loadouts, cooking and more.

Kingdom Hearts 3 Critical mode
Critical Mode is the hardest difficulty setting in 'Kingdom Hearts 3.' Square Enix

While the game doesn't make it very clear, there are quite a few changes that make Critical Mode much harder than other difficulty levels.

  • MP and HP are halved compared to all other modes.
  • The frequency of situation commands and magic use is decreased.
  • AI is high-level
  • Sora learns Critical Counter, Critical Recharge, Critical Converter, Aerial Recovery, Counter Slash, Counter Impact, Counter Kick, Final Blow, Risk Dodge, Rising Spiral, Groundbreaker, Air Slide x3, Superslide x3, Combo Master and Damage Control after the Dive to the Heart trait segment at the start of the game.
  • There are no changes to the Gummi Ship.

New abilities in Critical Mode

There are three brand-new abilities exclusive to Critical Mode in Kingdom Hearts 3. Here's everything we know about them.

  • Critical Converter (1 AP) — "Green attraction indicators no longer appear, but filling the gauge always produces a formchange command. Indicators may still appear for certain battles."
  • Critical Counter (5 AP) — "Deal extra damage with reprisals by blocking right before an enemy attack lands."
  • Critical Recharge (3 AP) — "Fill situation command gauges more quickly while recharging MP."

In other words, many of these new abilities work to counteract the situation command debuffs applied by default in Critical Mode. They have a fairly high AP cost, though, so you'll need to use them sparingly alongside the other combat-centric moves listed above.

Tips for success in Critical Mode

Critical Mode will almost always be hard to beat, but here are a few tips to help you on your perilous quest.

  • You shouldn't play Critical Mode without fully mastering Kingdom Hearts 3's combat system. Maneuvers like counters and blocks are far from essential on Beginner or Standard, but they're mandatory on Critical. For more details, read our Kingdom Hearts 3 combat guide.
  • Cooking is also an optional part of Kingdom Hearts 3 that becomes mandatory on Critical. The right recipes offer timed stat buffs that can be an absolute godsend during late-stage boss battles. You can buy a decent selection of food from the Moogle shop, but you save Munny and get better results by preparing it yourself. Make sure you visit Ratatouille at the Bistro in Twilight Town often!
  • It might also be helpful to Synthesize as well. You'll collect dozens of synthesis parts during Kingdom Hearts 3 that would traditionally go unused on other difficulty levels. Check out our synthesis guide to find recipes that best suit your needs.
  • When entering a tough battle, plan your ability loadout accordingly. Other difficulties may have allowed you to stick to a balanced strategy throughout the whole game, but this isn't possible on Critical. If a boss is weak to certain elemental magic types, for example, leverage that weakness with the right ability buffs.
  • If you think Critical Mode on its own may be too challenging, remember that you can always start a new save using previously obtained Keyblades. This lets you start the game with late-stage Keyblades at the same base level as a previous save. That advantage may be just what you need to complete Critical.
  • If you see the Proof of Times Past in your inventory, that means you officially beat Critical Mode. Congratulations!

That's all you need to know about Critical Mode in Kingdom Hearts 3.

Kingdom Hearts 3 is available now on PS4 and Xbox One. Critical Mode is available as of update 1.05.

What are your thoughts on Critical Mode in Kingdom Hearts 3? Do the changes and abilities make it difficult enough? Tell us in the comments section!

'Kingdom Hearts 3' Critical Mode Explained: Changes, Abilities & More Details | Gaming