It has been almost a year since Nintendo first announced Metroid Prime 4 at their E3 Spotlight presentation in 2017. At the time of writing, we still don’t have a great deal of confirmed information, but with rumours of Bandai Namco supporting the development of the title, and some prior comments from series Producer Kensuke Tanabe, our team have shared their hopes on what they would love to see from the upcoming title.
RoyboyX (Story and World Building)
The Prime trilogy has always featured some of the best world-building and story in the Metroid series as a whole, and perhaps even in all of gaming. The Scan Visor was a crucial element of this world-building as it allowed you to access a massive repository of information from once prosperous alien races. Metroid Prime 4 absolutely must include the return of the Scan Visor with an equally deep amount of Logbook and other data to match. Perhaps the setting – suggested by Kensuke Tanabe to be on a single planet with a time shifting mechanic – will be the homeworld of the Ylla, a starfaring race mentioned in Lore in Metroid Prime 2 and 3 that have not been seen in the series. We can learn more about them, their culture, and their interactions with the Luminoth and Reptilicus, and possibly the Chozo, as well. The time-shifting mechanic, if implemented, could be established as an ability of the Ylla – one that is dangerous – and could be exploited by evil hands.
This game is likely to finally tell us the story of Sylux, the mysterious rival Bounty Hunter from Metroid Prime Hunters. For over a decade, we have argued and speculated about Sylux’s true identity, motivations and why the Cylosian hunter hates the Galactic Federation and Samus by extension. I hope that Prime 4 delves into Sylux’s character, in a non-intrusive and well-done manner, perhaps even a sympathetic portrayal of Sylux’s origins that at the very least shows Sylux is not completely evil. One theory suggests Sylux is Samus’s long lost brother, who was briefly mentioned in Blood of the Chozo, a non-canon Metroid fan story from the 1990s, but excluded from her origin story since.
Another suggests that Sylux is Ian Malkovich, Adam’s brother, who appeared in a flashback in Metroid: Other M. The Galactic Federation’s failure to stop the attack on Samus’s home of K-2L, or Ian’s feelings of embitterment toward them for leaving him to die, are motivations enough to want to destroy them. Going the Ian route would add a Winter Soldier flair to Metroid that could work if done right. Both theories are interesting, but at the end of the day are simply that – theories. I hope that whatever Tanabe’s plan for Sylux may be, he casts the Bounty Hunter as a complex and popular antagonist that serves as a worthy successor to Ridley and Dark Samus, rather than a generic space terrorist who only seeks to cause rampant chaos with no ultimate goal whatsoever.
KomodoZero (Hunters and Multiplayer)
It’s not a particularly well kept secret that Sylux will potentially play a large role in the upcoming game, but something I want to see is if the idea of other hunters will be expanded upon again. Metroid Prime 4 is effectively a blank slate without Phazon to worry about, so why not take an opportunity to revive the concept introduced in Metroid Prime Hunters and flesh it out further. Will the old hunters come back for more? I can imagine Weavel still has an unfulfilled vendetta with Samus he’d like to try clear up once and for all. Perhaps in addition to or instead of this, the game could introduce some new hunters into the mix, like with Metroid Prime 3?
However, what could the game do with them all? It could get too cluttered if they were all involved in the main story, but think back to what else Metroid Prime Hunters did. It didn’t just have a slew of hunters, it had multiplayer. Why not introduce a class based team multiplayer mode akin to Team Fortress 2 or Overwatch? The hunters can each fill in a role on a team, and some already do. Trace was the sniper, Weavel can lay down turrets, Sylux even planted mines that could be tripped by unsuspecting players. If handled well, there could be plenty to keep us occupied for a long time after the singleplayer mode. This wouldn’t be a necessity, after all this series really isn’t known for multiplayer, but it would certainly mark itself as a noteworthy entry if the bar was raised above what Hunters already did and brought up to the standard of current team shooters.
Deceptimike (Tone and Atmosphere)
The Metroid series is something different for everyone. Most define it by its gameplay, a facet so profound an entire genre of games is named after it (Metroidvania). However, some of the most alluring parts of the franchise for me are its tone and atmosphere. While earlier games had Samus trekking unaided from one area to another, many of the recent entries have included outside characters or organizations, such as the Galactic Federation, more intimately. Make no mistake, I have nothing against this. In fact, one of my favorite games, Metroid Fusion, prominently features Samus interacting with her new computer. The dialogue these two share helps flesh out Samus as a character and is a fresh take on her previous solo missions. That being said, I would like to see Metroid Prime 4 opting once again to have Samus venturing alone, with little outside interference or interaction.
The gritty tone and atmosphere of games like Super Metroid and Metroid Prime are some of their greatest strengths. One of the best parts in the entire series (in my opinion) is infiltrating the Space Pirate base in Phendrana Drifts. Perhaps it’s because I was still rather young, but when the Research Base lost power and Metroids were freely roaming around, it was a legitimately terrifying affair. As someone who had previous experience dealing with Metroids, I knew they were not to be trifled with. It was just me and them. The game’s atmosphere was so tangible and so inclusive, I truly felt like I was Samus. I felt the weight of the task she had to carry out and the resolve to get it done as I progressed and expanded my arsenal of weaponry.
While other games certainly accomplished this same feeling, the effect was diminished for me when there were side characters regularly conversing with Samus, or when she was a part of a larger whole. I want Prime 4 to instill that sense of dread, of purpose, like its forebears did. The game itself doesn’t have to be a lonesome journey, but ideally it would exude the same ambience of both Super and Prime. If Prime 4’s atmosphere is even remotely as oppressive, I’ll be a happy man.
Regardless, I’m confident Metroid Prime 4 will impress and I look forward to seeing more as it develops!
Dennis (Gameplay and Interface)
An overlooked staple of the Metroid Prime series has always been its interface mechanics, such as the control setup. The first two entries on the Nintendo GameCube explored a single-stick lock-on aiming system reminiscent of early Resident Evil while Metroid Prime Hunters on the Nintendo DS explored analogue aiming by manipulating the camera with the touch screen. The third main entry on Wii, along with the New Play Control-versions of the original two, introduced IR-pointer based motion aiming to the series, allowing for previously impossible freedom of movement. With Federation Force on the Nintendo 3DS, the series went back to the lock-on setup of the first two entries but enabled an optional gyroscope-powered motion aim-assist.
With Metroid Prime 4 on Nintendo Switch on the horizon, considering the available features in the hardware, the question of controls and interface design looms over that generic logo we have been staring at since E3 2017. Now, the Switch essentially combines the features from the Nintendo GameCube, Nintendo 3DS, and Wii into one with a traditional controller, holding the screen in the palm of your hands, and the option to hold a Joy-Con in each hand. As the recent update to the Nintendo Switch version of id Software’s modern classic DOOM (2016) has shown, the system is capable of fully delivering the gyro-aim-assist control method in all play-styles. This means the Wii-style point-and-shoot (or scan) can be fully recreated in Metroid Prime 4. The same holds true for a motion-free version or even a traditional dual-stick aiming setup with optional gyro-assist. DOOM already showed several options to customize the settings and sensitivity for motion detection and Splatoon 2 even offered separate sensitivity settings for TV and handheld modes (an absolute must!), so we’re confident that MP4 will deliver on this front as well. All very good indicators for a great control experience.
Does this mean motion will be used to handle certain game mechanics again like in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption with the Grapple Beam, for example? Who can say, but it will be difficult to replicate in handheld mode so those might be out. But then again, the touchscreen could be used in that case. Will the HUD resemble the inside Samus’s helmet again with reflections and and immersive representations of her visor/beam selection interface? I’d love to see this brought to the next level since in-world HUDs are still somewhat of a rarity and always cool to see. The right Joy-Con comes with an IR-camera that was used for a unique take on motion-controlled reloading in the Switch versions of the Resident Evil Revelations games, it would be cool to see this feature used optionally for puzzle sections. Either way, the main takeaway from this should most definitely be that there should and likely will be control input options for everybody, no matter their preference. And that makes me really excited, personally.
Darren (Music and Sound Design)
Despite the original games having some brilliant music, I feel that after ten years, the score of a new Metroid Prime title can be taken so much further. The upcoming Metroid Prime 4 title could benefit from an adaptive musical score, one that changes dynamically depending on how Samus interacts with the environment. For example, the score could become increasingly sinister as you edge closer to a larger enemy and calm down as you leave the area after the threat is removed. Perhaps, the score could employ vertical layering, where two or more tracks play in unison and swap between each other when specific events occur. This could work well for changes in the overall area, such as night and day mechanics or changes in the weather.
With regards to musical style, I want the music to remain true to its origins and retain its alien spirit, but taking on an orchestral/electronic hybrid approach could be a suitable enhancement over the original trilogy. Choirs are probably my favorite part of the soundtrack to a Metroid game, so I hope they are present in Metroid Prime 4. In terms of sound design, I would love to hear some weird and wonderful creations, such as a Geemer being obliterated by a missile, with realistic squelches and screams as they approach you. Foley is a brilliant tool, and it should be used to full effect.
Kensuke Tanabe suggested that Metroid Prime 4 could have a “time-shifting mechanic”, which sounds like it could be a pretty notable feature and would likely have a big impact on the music. Perhaps, as Samus travels through time, the music will reverse or distort until the event ends. It makes me intrigued as to how the score could change around that kind of event. Technology has progressed so far, music no longer has the same limitations it did, and it excites me to think about what could be possible next. I look forward to hearing the first sound clips from the game!
Glaedrax (General expectations)
It’s been ten years since the mysterious cliffhanger from Metroid Prime 3, and we are finally about to witness the next adventure of our beloved galactic bounty hunter! The Metroid Prime Trilogy (especially the first one) were always some of my favorite games of all time. Whether it is the gameplay, the ambiance, the lore or the music, the Metroid Prime series never ceased to amaze me, and as Kensuke Tanabe is the producer of Metroid Prime 4, just like he was for the 3 previous games, I’m confident about the amazing experience that this new team is working on.
I am deeply passionate about all things related to the lore of the series, and I hope we’ll get to learn some new stuff about the Chozo or the reasons of Sylux’s hatred toward the Galactic Federation and Samus Aran. Also, now that Phazon was eradicated, I wonder what kind of power-ups she will get in this game! I’m looking forward to discovering her new suit designs and I’d really love if her Power Suit could get more and more damaged as the game progresses (just like the Batsuit in the Batman Arkham series).
I know it may not be reasonable since we saw him explode right before our eyes in Prime 3, but as Metroid Prime 4 will certainly have the best graphics of all the series, I’d like to have an epic fight with Ridley (seeing how bad he is at dying, it wouldn’t surprise me that much if they found a way to make him come back in the fourth game). As for the soundtrack, Kenji Yamamoto, who made the mindblowing soundtrack of the series, is back for Metroid Prime 4 so I am confident the music is going to be absolutely amazing.
I never played the original Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2 on Gamecube, as my first Metroid game was actually Prime 3. I loved how the motion controls turned out since I can’t aim properly in a FPS game without a mouse and keyboard. I wonder if they’ll go back to regular controls! Finally, I would love to see Samus being way more agile than in the three previous games (running, sliding, or even melee attacks for exemple).
Published on 17th March 2018