Saturday, January 6, 2018

Metroid Prime 4: Quotes & Visions

One of the big Nintendo games in 2018 could become Metroid Prime 4. Even if the game doesn't get released this year, we will certainly learn more about it soon and it probably will become one of the biggest games at E3 2018. We might even see something in the rumored Nintendo Direct next week already. So, this is the perfect time to speculate and to gather everything that we might already know about the game.

Officially we only know that the game is in development for the Nintendo Switch and that a "talented new development team" led by Metroid Prime series producer Kensuke Tanabe is in charge. But Tanabe has been interviewed various times about a potential fourth installment and he always has been quite open about sharing his visions. Especially around E3 2015, where they first had shown Metroid Prime: Federation Force, he gave some interesting quotes, which we can use to get a vision ourselves.

For starters, in an interview with Eurogamer he already teased back in 2015 that developing Metroid Prime 4 would take around three years and most likely place the game on the "NX", better known as the Nintendo Switch today:

If we started for Wii U now, it would likely take three years or so. So it would likely now be on Nintendo's NX console. It's a long time but it would need to include a lot of content, which would take a lot of work on the development side.

If the game really is to be released in 2018, this already adds up. So, let's see what else there is.

A Story About Sylux

Each title in the Metroid Prime Trilogy ends with a secret cliffhanger that gave a hint about the antagonist of the next game. In case of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Dark Samus finally seems gone and instead we see Delano 7 from Metroid Prime Hunters chasing after Samus at the end of the game:

Tanabe confirmed in the Eurogamer interview that this was indeed Sylux and that he wants to do a story about him, while the story about the Phazon and Dark Samus really is over.

The stories of Dark Samus and Phazon are done now. [...] It was Sylux, another hunter from Metroid Prime Hunters at the end of Metroid Prime 3. Personally I'd like to create a story centring around Sylux and Samus.

He confirmed something similar in an interview with Wired:

Are you familiar with the ending of Prime 3? You might remember the scene where Samus gets on the ship and you see the planets, but after that, there’s another ship that lands in that place. That was actually Sylux, who appeared in Metroid Prime Hunters. In my mind, I still have that idea where Sylux is going after Samus. So to continue that story is something I’d love to work on.

In an interview with IGN he added the following:

There’s still more I want to build around the story of Sylux and Samus. There’s something going on between them. I want to make a game that touches upon [it]. I’m also thinking that, in that eventual game between Sylux and Samus that might get made, that I want to involve the [Galactic] Federation as well.

From the information in the games we also know that Sylux uses stolen Federation technology and that he hates both Samus and the Galactic Federation for unknown reasons. Reasons that we probably will get to know in Metroid Prime 4. His character has been completely shrouded in mystery to a point, where we have no clue, who or what is underneath his "Power Suit". And this might lead to an interesting reveal.

On top of that, there's a secret ending in Metroid Prime: Federation Force, which further teases Sylux' actions against the Federation.

Artist Logan Foster, who created that ending scene, even confirmed that it indeed featured Sylux and that this was actually one of the first tasks that he was given about the game (source). So, we know for sure that Sylux is still on the mind for Metroid Prime 4 and we also have a picture of what he might be planning.

Of all the hunters in Metroid Prime Hunters Sylux was probably the one who felt the closest to Samus in design. And that he's using Federation technology that kind of emulates Samus' Power Suit will probably be a key part of the story. Also, a common theme in the Metroid Prime Trilogy, at least for the 2nd and 3rd games, was Samus facing herself in the form of Dark Samus. And these could remain with Samus facing Sylux as her rival. The title of the game might even become "Metroid Prime 4: Rivals".

A Bridge to Metroid II / Samus Returns

Chronologically, Metroid Prime 4 will most likely be placed between Metroid Prime: Federation Force and Metroid II - Return of Samus. And it just so happened that the latter saw a remake last year on the Nintendo 3DS with Metroid: Samus Returns, where Nintendo might want to link the stories. So, actions in Metroid Prime 4 could lead to the events and circumstances of Metroid 2.

There's already some potential in the hidden ending of Metroid Prime: Federation Force and what happens there...

There's also another detail with Samus' Gunship. It has been different for all three games in the Metroid Prime Trilogy, where the Gunship in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is the one that she uses in Metroid II - Return of Samus and Super Metroid. You can still see her use her advanced Gunship from Metroid Prime 3: Corruption in Metroid Prime: Federation Force, however.

It's likely that Samus still uses her Gunship from Prime 3 in the beginning of Prime 4, but it gets destroyed somehow, maybe as it crashes on some planet. So, after the events of Prime 4 Samus will switch back to her old Gunship from Prime 2. It's a detail, but it's the attention to detail that is quite strong in the series.

A Different World and Experience from the Trilogy

Despite all following the same visuals and core gameplay, every game in the Metroid Prime Trilogy has been unique in its approach. For example each title has quite a different world layout, as depicted in my Worlds of Metroid article.

Metroid Prime essentially translated the Super Metroid experience into a 3D First Person Shooter game, where the game uses the maze-like world of Tallon IV. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes focuses on a Light and Dark World mechanic and uses a hub-like world setup on the planet of Aether. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption then introduced the Hyper Mode mechanic, but also did a lot more with Samus' Gunship, where you can travel between various worlds on different planets.

Now, Metroid Prime 4 should do something different as well. In the very least it needs a different world layout and a new gameplay mechanic as the focus. And in the Eurogamer interview Tanabe expressed the following:

Instead of broadening it to more planets I would have one and would focus on the timeline, and being able to change that. That's one interesting idea I have in mind... but I understand many people thought that [Echoes] was too difficult.

That doesn't sound too special at first, but there's some potential here. First of all, if it actually holds true that Samus' Gunship from Prime 3 will be destroyed somehow, it makes sense that the game is confined to a single planet again. It could be that Samus escapes using the Delano 7 at the end of the game...

Anyway, the time shift mechanic sounds awfully similar to what we had in the Lanayru Desert of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. And this could be interesting. So far Samus usually explored the ruins of destroyed civilizations, may it be that of the Chozo, the Luminoth or the Alimibic. With a time shift mechanic she might be able to explore such a civilization in its prime and see how the life on the planet used to be before everything fell to ruin.

With the success of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey and their open world designs, it's also quite likely that Metroid Prime 4 will follow an "open planet" approach, where you might be able to freely explore a small world in its entirety, instead of following a limited set of areas.


Metroid Prime 2: Echoes included a multiplayer mode, where four players would face each other as different colored variants of Samus. Metroid Prime 4 might add something similar with online support. Instead of only featuring Samus, there should at least be Sylux as a playable character and maybe also some other hunters. But if the game really focuses on the "Rivals" theme, it might become just a two player mode, where Samus fights Sylux.

It could also be that Metroid Prime 4 will lead to another game like Metroid Prime Hunters on the Nintendo Switch, which sets its focus on multiplayer

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