Metroid Prime 4: everything we know so far

Metroid Prime 4
Image credit: Nintendo

It's been 10 years since the last Metroid Prime game, so to say fans are hungry for more Samus would be an understatement. Then finally during its E3 2017 livestream Nintendo announced a brand new Metroid Prime game is coming to Nintendo Switch: Metroid Prime 4.

But that's all we got, an announcement that included a logo for the new Metroid Prime and little else. No release date, no developer information, no footage. Nothing.

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.

However in January 2019 fans were disappointed to learn that Metroid Prime 4 is probably going to be a while off as Nintendo scrapped the project and decided to start again with the help of Retro Studios. 

Regardless of the extra wait time, we're excited to see Metroid Prime 4 on the Nintendo Switch (whenever that will be). So here's everything we know about Metroid Prime 4 on Switch so far.

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 

Release date

We weren't quite sure when Metroid Prime 4 would release but now we know it definitely won't be for a while as Nintendo announced in January 2019 that it had scrapped the project and started again with help from Retro Studios. 

Trailers

Back at E3 2017, Nintendo released a first-look trailer for Metroid Prime 4. 

Check it out below:

News and rumors

No appearance at E3 2019

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the recent changes to its development, Metroid Prime 4 did not make an appearance during Nintendo's direct at E3 2019.  At the moment it's not entirely clear when we will hear about the game again, though Nintendo isn't completely against hosting Direct presentations at short notice so we can only hope that we won't be waiting until E3 2020. 

E3 2019 Direct announced

E3 2019 is gaining on us and Nintendo has now confirmed the time and date it will be streaming its Nintendo Direct. The stream will begin on Tuesday June 11 at 5pm BST/ 9am PT/ 12pm ET. Nintendo has also confirmed that it will be bringing back its Treehouse livestreams which will go live each day of the show, showing off gameplay from upcoming releases. 

Nintendo hasn't released any kind of schedule for either its Direct stream or its Treehouse streams which means we can't be entirely certain that Metroid Prime 4 will appear. However, there's been little word since it was announced that Retro Studios took over development earlier this year and E3 would be the perfect time for Nintendo to update anxious fans. It seems unlikely, however, that the game would be a Treehouse livestream focus at this stage so a press conference mention is most likely if there's to be any sighting of Metroid Prime 4.

Retro Studios is hiring for Metroid Prime 4

It was something of a shock when Nintendo announced that it would be starting from scratch on the development of Metroid Prime 4 with Retro Studios. The latest news from this new phase in the game's development is that Retro Studios is now hiring and looking to increase numbers on its development team. The roles are wide-ranging and all are based at the studio in Austin, Texas. 

These advertisements suggest that the game is still in the early stages of development so it could be some time before we get any more solid updates on its progress. If you're a world class developer and a fan of Metroid, though, this could be your big break!

Nintendo scrap Metroid Prime 4 and start again

In a shock announcement back in January 2019, Nintendo revealed in a development update video that it scrapped the current project as it wasn't happy with the current progress. However, Nintendo still plans to reboot the project with help from original creators Retro Studios. 

“This change will essentially mean restarting development from the beginning, so completion of the game will be delayed from our initial internal plan,” Nintendo's senior managing executive officer Shinya Takahashi explains in the update video. “We strongly recognise that this delay will come as a dissapointment to the many fans who have been looking forward to the launch of Metroid Prime 4.”

You can watch the development update from Nintendo below:

The story

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.

Gameplay

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, 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. 

Metroid Prime 4

What we want to see

A more open world

As we said above, this is a new start for Metroid Prime which 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. 

Be accessible

Just as a new start 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. 

(Image credits: Nintendo)