Metroid Prime 4: What We Want At E3 2021

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It’s been four years since it was first announced, and we still know very little about Metroid Prime 4, except that Nintendo completely restarted the game’s development back in January 2019. This significant hurdle explains why fans have had to wait so long for any news about the title, but it doesn’t help ease how excruciating that wait has been. With E3 2021 just around the corner now, however, there’s a chance we could finally see more of Metroid Prime 4 during the show–and if we do, here’s what we hope we’ll learn about it.

What We Know So Far

Nintendo first announced Metroid Prime 4 during its E3 2017 Nintendo Direct. At the time, all the company revealed was that the game was in development and that a brand-new team was helming the project rather than Retro Studios. While Nintendo never outright revealed which studio was working on the game, reports indicated that it was a Bandai Namco team.

Following the reveal, Nintendo remained silent about Metroid Prime 4 until January 2019, when it announced that the project hadn’t been living up to its standards and that it was completely restarting its development, this time with Retro Studios at the helm. Nintendo’s Shinya Takahashi delivered this message about the decision:

“Although this is very regrettable, we must let you know that the current development progress has not reached the standards we seek in a sequel to the Metroid Prime series. Nintendo always strives for the highest quality in our games; and in our development phase, we challenge ourselves and confront whether the game is living up to that quality on a daily basis. If we’re not satisfied with the quality, we aren’t able to deliver it to our customers with confidence, and the game will not live up to our fans’ expectations.

“From this perspective, we have determined that the current development status of [Metroid Prime 4] is very challenged, and we had to make a difficult decision as a development team. We have decided to re-examine the development structure itself and change it. Specifically, we have decided to have the producer, Kensuke Tanabe, work in trust and collaboration with the studio that developed the original Metroid Prime series, Retro Studios in the United States, and restart development from the beginning. By collaborating and developing with Retro Studios, we believe we can make this game something that will meet our fans’ expectations.

“We did not make this decision lightly. This change will essentially mean restarting development from the beginning, so the completion of the game will be delayed from our initial internal plan. We strongly recognize that this delay will come as a disappointment to the many fans who have been looking forward to the launch of Metroid Prime 4. I’d like to extend my deepest, heartfelt apologies to everyone that the launch will be delayed. It will be a long road until the next time we will be able to update you on the development progress, and development time will be extensive. However, we will continue developing the game so that when it is completed, it will stand shoulder to shoulder with the past Metroid Prime titles.”

Since then, we’ve heard nothing concrete about Metroid Prime 4 outside of occasional hirings at Retro. It remains unclear how far along the game is or even what it’s story will be.

What’s Confirmed For E3 2021

All Nintendo has confirmed thus far is that it’s airing a new Nintendo Direct broadcast on June 15, the final day of E3 2021 proper. The company says the presentation will focus “exclusively on Nintendo Switch games mostly releasing in 2021.” Considering that Metroid Prime 4 is still presumably a ways off from launch (the game’s release was still listed as “TBA” in Nintendo’s most recent earnings report), it’s up in the air if we’ll see it at E3.

What We Hope To See At E3 2021

At this point, we just want some kind of glimpse at Metroid Prime 4. Despite originally being announced four years ago now, all we’ve seen of the game thus far is a tentative logo. Any kind of gameplay footage would be a welcome sight. Previous Metroid Prime games are renowned for their gorgeous environments, and we’re eager to see Prime 4’s setting as well as any new gameplay wrinkles that Retro might be adding to the Metroid Prime formula.

If Nintendo does showcase Metroid Prime 4 during its E3 Direct, we hope the company also shares more details on the game’s story. While the original trilogy was wrapped up fairly neatly with 2007’s Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, the secret 100% ending to that game left a conspicuous loose end. After Samus departs from the planet Elysia, a ship resembling the one piloted by Sylux, one of the rival bounty hunters in Metroid Prime Hunters, could be seen tailing Samus’s ship. Will this ending play into Metroid Prime 4? Or will Retro Studios go in a different direction for the upcoming sequel?

Finally, if Metroid Prime 4 does make an appearance at E3 2021, we hope Nintendo announces some kind of release window. It seems unlikely that the game will ship this year, but it would be exciting to see even a vague “2022” window at the end of a new trailer. Metroid Prime 4 is a marquee release, and having some idea of when it will launch will make the long wait fans have endured finally feel worth it. It would also be nice if Nintendo announced a Metroid Prime Trilogy re-release for Switch as a stopgap. That would be a great way to re-experience the series before Prime 4, and it would make the wait for the new game much more bearable.

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