Kingdom Hearts 3: The best early choices to make in “the dive to the heart”

It’s Kingdom Hearts tradition to start every numbered title with a “dive to the heart.” Here, Sora is asked to make a few decisions which will flesh out how he will grow during the course of the game. In Kingdom Hearts 1 this affected his abilities and experience curve, and that’s what people assumed the KH3 dive to the heart would have affected. It turns out, however, that the experience curve is set in stone this time around. Instead, your choices affect your stats and the abilities you learn over the course of the game.

Your first choice – Your desire

Your desire determines both your starting stats and the rate at which your stats will grow as you level up.

Wisdom

  • Starting HP – 90
  • Starting MP – 120
  • Attack growth – Slow
  • Magic growth – Fast

Many of these choices are self-explanatory. Choosing Wisdom will start you with lower HP, higher MP, and will generally cause your magic to grow faster than your attack. If you want to focus on magic, this is the choice to make.

Vitality

  • Starting HP – 120
  • Starting MP – 100
  • Attack growth – Fast
  • Magic growth – Slow

Vitality is, of course, the opposite of Wisdom. You start with higher HP, lower MP, and your attack grows faster than your magic. Note, that this is actually the only choice in the game that will regularly allow your attack to outpace your magic, so if you really want to play Sora as a raging beatstick this is your choice. This is also your choice if you don’t plan on blocking much, as it gives Sora the highest starting HP.

Balance

  • Starting HP – 105
  • Starting MP – 110
  • Attack growth – Medium
  • Magic growth – Medium*

Balance is the middle ground between Wisdom and Vitality, but what the game doesn’t tell you is that this choice still favors magic. You start off with more starting MP than HP and although your attack and magic stats grow at a similar rate, your magic will still end up higher than your attack for most of the game.

Your second choice – Your power

Your power determines what abilities you start the game with, and what abilities you will learn and in what order. Note, that Sora will eventually learn all the abilities available in the game. This choice only affects the order he learns them in, and thus only has real impact for the first few levels.

Power of the Guardian

Power of the Guardian will start you with an extra Damage Control ability, causing you to take only a quarter of the damage you would normally take when your HP is low. The guardian also allows you to learn a good mix of skills. You’ll learn most defensive skills very early, and after that alternate between attack and magic oriented skills. However, you will usually learn damage boosting skills of any kind later in the game.

Power of the Warrior

Choosing the Power of the Warrior will start you with an extra ground Combo Plus, allowing you to do extra damage with your physical attacks right from the get go. As you might suspect, this path allows you to learn physical abilities like Combo Boost, Combo Plus, and a variety of abilities that enhance situation commands. What you may not know, is that you also get offensive magic abilities quicker than you would on the path of the guardian, as you’ll learn defensive abilities last.

Power of the Mystic

And of course, the Power of the Mystic will start you down the path of the mage. Your starting ability is Magic Combo Thrift which reduces the cost of each successive magic spell cast in a combo down to one. You’ll also learn abilities like MP Haste, and elemental boosts far before you learn anything else, as well as powerful defensive abilities like Leaf Bracer which aid in casting curative magic.

Which should you choose?

Obviously, there is no correct choice here. You should choose to play the game you want to play. However, in my personal experience, certain choices are better than others, largely due to the way the game operates.

Let’s start with HP and MP. The desire for vitality will give you thirty extra HP than the desire for Wisdom. That sounds like a lot, but many endgame enemies will do more damage than this in a single combo. The only time it actually makes a difference is the early game, when enemies do less damage, but early game enemies are easy to kill and dodge making this less of a bonus than you’d think.

The difference between Vitality and Wisdom’s starting MP on the other hand is just 20, making it appears as if Vitality is the better choice, but this is a trap. While 30 starting HP isn’t even one hit from a late game enemy, 20 extra MP is a potential 20 extra spells with the Power of the Mystic’s Magic Combo Thrift ability. This is huge! Possibly one of the best bonuses in the game.  Even if you don’t choose the Power of the Mystic, it’s at least one extra spell in a spell combo, which makes much more difference than 30HP.

On low levels of gameplay, it doesn’t really matter what you choose. Enemies melt and you’ll pretty much never end up in trouble. At normal or higher, however, I’d say your only choices are between Balance and Wisdom. You see, Sora will be a decent enough physical fighter no matter what your other stats are.

Yes, he might hit a little weaker depending on your choices, but your magic literally governs the damage of every other ability in your repertoire, including some keyblade form changes. Investing in magic makes these more useful at the expense of tanking your physical damage a bit. Investing in physical damage, on the other hand, makes these abilities nearly useless as you have to spend a resource to do less damage than your physical strikes would anyway.

I personally think Wisdom is the best choice here, but if you want to have a little bit more of an edge in physical combat, Balance is also valid (considering it also favors magical growth). Choosing Vitality, counterintuitively, actually makes the game a little harder since late game enemies can just teleport out of physical combos. Only choose it if you want a challenge.

Choosing your power falls along similar lines. The Power of the Warrior gives you an early game Combo Plus, but increasing your combo strings doesn’t actually do a whole lot until you get combo boost, and even then, remember, late game enemies can just teleport out of your strings. Not to mention, it’s only a ground combo extension and most of your combat will take place in the air. Many of your early game abilities will focus on combo extensions and, once again, that makes the game something of an easy mash fest but doesn’t do anything near enough to maximize your power.

The Power of the Guardian and the Power of the Mystic both have amazing early game abilities. Reducing your damage taken to a fourth of its normal value actually makes a semi-decent argument for picking Vitality as your desire. However, this is an ability that only does work if you are getting hit, which you really shouldn’t be, especially late in the game.

Which brings us to Power of the Mystic, which has the amazing ability of Magic Combo Thrift. Magic Combo Thrift reduces each successive spell you cast in a single combo. Eventually you’ll get an ability that lets your combos go on infinitely, and these two abilities together completely break the game. You can spam Fire until all your magic costs 1 MP, and then spam your most dangerous spells from a safe distance, making every fight in the game a cakewalk. Quite frankly, Wisdom/Mystic is the most overpowered combination in the game, and if you want to speedrun or run the game in proud mode, this is probably what you should pick.

So which choices did you make? Let us know in the comments.