It was during its E3 2017 livestream that Nintendo announced Metroid Prime 4 for Nintendo Switch with a logo and little else. No release date, no developer information, no footage. Nothing.
To say fans were left hungry for details is an understatement; ten years is a long time sans new Samus. A brand new Metroid Prime title for the Switch is an exciting proposition - the Metroid Prime games, released between 2002 and 2007, were critical gold for the GameCube and Wii consoles; to see the series return on Nintendo’s most successful console in years would be fitting.
Almost one year after its announcement, official Metroid Prime 4 details are still rather thin on the ground. But to help you keep track of what’s what, we’ve pulled together the news and rumors from across the web and gathered them here for your convenience.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A brand new Metroid Prime game
- What can I play it on? Nintendo Switch
- When can I play it? No release date just yet, but don’t expect it for a while
Given how quiet Nintendo has been with regards to Metroid Prime 4, it’s quite difficult to even hazard a guess at when we might see the game released. Following E3, our instinct was to shoot down any notion that the game would be released in 2018. ‘2019 at the earliest’ was our mumbled and far from conservative agreement.
However, not so long ago, Nintendo’s Norwegian website made a post in which it was stated “We are all looking forward to 2018, which will include games like Bayonetta 3 and Metroid Prime 4.”
Unsurprisingly, the post has since been edited to remove all mention of Bayonetta 3 and Metroid Prime 4, and nothing further has been confirmed.
It’s worth noting that Nintendo’s Norwegian site isn’t actually run by Nintendo - it’s official Scandinavian distributor, Bergsala, which is behind the site. However, given Bergsala’s status as an official distributor, it’s not impossible that the company could know the release date (or at least the expected release date) of Metroid Prime 4.
‘Not impossible’ doesn’t mean likely, though, so we’re inclined to take the post with a pinch of salt for now.
All in all, we’d say even at your most hopeful, don’t expect Metroid Prime 4 until the latter end of 2018. Perhaps factor in enough time to allow for the release of a Switch port of the collected trilogy released on Wii U.
Bandai Namco developing Metroid Prime 4?
After it was first announced, Nintendo did tell us one thing about the developer of Metroid Prime 4 - Retro Studios, the studio behind the original trilogy, wouldn't be working on it.
The developer was then a mystery, until a report from Eurogamer in February 2018 stated that it was Bandai Namco working on the game.
With information from several anonymous sources, Eurogamer reports that Metroid Prime 4 was initially being worked on by Bandai Namco Singapore, before Bandai Namco Japan took the lead so that Singapore can focus on another title.
Though nothing has been confirmed by Nintendo itself, this is a rumor that’s been going around since fans started to piece together the LinkedIn job descriptions on the pages of various Bandai Namco Singapore staff.
There’s so little Metroid Prime 4 information out there that piecing together the story is nigh impossible. What we will say is that Metroid Prime 3’s ending didn’t strike us as open enough for any kind of direct continuation. Though Samus’ went into hyperspace, giving the opportunity for a sequel to enter a new world or galaxy, we’d say the core story of the original trilogy is now closed.
Back in 2015, Eurogamer interviewed series producer, Kensuke Tanabe, who stated that “The stories of Dark Samus and Phazon are done” adding that any new games in the series would focus on other Prime-series elements.
Given that the game is not being created by Metro Studios, this is likely to have an impact on the story or, the very least, the direction of the franchise.
One thing we can be fairly confident in is that, like other Prime games, Metroid Prime 4 is likely to be a first person shooter. Other than that we can’t say what kind of gameplay changes will arise from either the new developer, or the new Switch platform.
Coming in as a fresh start with a new developer, there’s actually plenty of room for Metroid Prime 4 to innovate. Given The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario franchises have embraced more open worlds, we wonder if this is something that Nintendo will want to bring into the Prime series, too.
It’s like that, like other Switch games, there will be optional motion controls with the Joy-Cons - we’re imagining aiming, firing, an environment scanning, for example.
What we want to see
A more open world
As we said above, this is a new start for Metroid Prime and a new developer means room for changes. Though we’re worried it could be a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’ we’d be interested to see the Metroid Prime games follow in the footsteps of Zelda and Mario to embrace a more open-world format.
The first three titles were already pretty big, but the Switch offers more scope. We think the Super Mario Odyssey approach of large interconnected worlds could translate well. The Metroid series is replete with interesting environments we’d love the chance to see more of and the Switch is the console that has enough power to make that possible.
Just as a new start with a new developer is a chance for innovation, it's also a chance to welcome a new generation of Metroid fans. It's the same with any series that goes on for a long time - there's a certain amount of assumed knowledge and lore that makes coming in as a new player feel more like a chore than a joy.
We'd love to see Metroid Prime 4 take a Monster Hunter: World approach by retaining what makes it great while giving new players a way in.
New weapons and abilities
The Metroid series has some seriously cool weapons and abilities for Samus’s armor and we’d like to see more of them. By all means, bring back the classics but bringing a couple of exciting new upgrades to the table will make us feel like we’re truly progressing in the game as well as the franchise as a whole.
Make it feel like a true Switch game
With its motion controls and HD Rumble, the Switch has more than its portability to help its games stand out. We'd love to see Metroid Prime 4 make the most of them, though perhaps more of the HD Rumble and less of the motion control.
Motion control could create some fun and interesting shooting and environment scanning opportunities, but integrating HD Rumble into puzzle solving or integrating it into combat situations to act as an enemy alert would be interesting.
Bring in Sylux
Back in 2015, producer Kensuke Tanabe said that the ship at the end of Metroid Prime 3 actually contained Sylux, a Hunter from Metroid Prime: Hunters.
Tanabe said that he'd like to create a Metroid game which featured both Sylux and Samus and explored their dynamic, something which we'd also like to see happen; the characters have an unexplored and potentially interesting history. It's known that Sylux isn't the biggest fan for Samus or the Federation, yet he uses a Federation weapon. That alone has us thinking he'd make an engaging villain for a new title.