Things I Want to See in Metroid Prime 4
Metroid is a venerable old series, with a mostly fantastic back catalogue of games that has been around since 1986. To date, there have been 14 games released on the Metroid name. Despite this fact, Nintendo have always treated Metroid as something of a background property. It ranks just above Star Fox in how much attention they give it, apparently deaf to the vocal demands for more from the fanbase.
The last game we got in the series was Metroid: Samus Returns, a remake of a Gameboy game. It was entirely competent, but nothing special; some argue that it actually did a disservice to the series. Before that, there was Metroid Prime: Federation Force… we don’t talk about Federation Force. Before that there was Metroid: Other M, probably the most divisive Metroid game to date. It’s something of a black sheep, but is mostly considered to be a bad game for a number of reasons that we won’t get into here.
Next up for the franchise, we have Metroid Prime 4, the first game in the Prime series since 2007’s Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. We’re all hoping that Metroid Prime 4 brings a return to form for the series which has been stagnant for the past twelve years. With all that being said, here are four things I want to see in Metroid Prime 4.
#4 – Optional gyro enhanced controls
Ever since Metroid Prime first came out, the aiming mechanics were fine, but a little bit limited.
You didn’t exactly have true free aiming and you were required to lock onto targets to help you aim better while strafing and jumping about the place. And again, that’s fine. But now that we’re using Joy-con controllers with some built in gyro capabilities, I would love to see something more akin to true free aiming.
Think of how it works in Breath of the Wild for example. You can aim with the thumbstick and it’s perfectly adequate, but it’s slow and janky. Joy-cons just aren’t built for precision movement. With the addition of enhanced gyro controls, you can aim faster and more precisely than you could ever hope to with just a thumbstick. This is the sort of thing that would enhance Metroid’s first-person aiming mechanics, especially when coupled with the ability to target lock. This feature, however, should be optional, like it is in Breath of the Wild. There are a lot of folks who don’t like gyro-assisted aiming, and it shouldn’t be forced down their throats.
#3 – Open exploration
The Prime series has relied on some fantastically well designed levels and areas to guide the player through the game, but this often requires the player to backtrack through the same area multiple times with a new upgrade just so they can open a new door. This isn’t inherently bad, but it is rote.
Times have changed, and more open exploration is expected in 3D game worlds nowadays. Linear games were once the norm because of hardware restrictions or an old-guard design mentality, but it’s surely time for Metroid to evolve. Backtracking is part of the Metroid formula, but it’s just one part of it. So while some backtracking is to be expected, the game would be all the more interesting if you had areas of significance to explore, where you can creatively fight enemies and uncover hidden secrets. Speaking of hidden secrets…
#2 – More scanning and world building
In the Prime series, Samus has access access to the full suite of visor capabilities afforded to her by the chozo-made Power Armor that she wears. One particular visor acts as a scanner, allowing the player to pull up all manner of information on the local area, items of interest and more.
For example, in Metroid Prime you happen across a room filled with dead Space Pirates while exploring a Space Station in the opening stages of the game. Most of the Space Pirates are dead, but a few still survive to take spiteful shots at Samus. Once you’ve cleared the room, and flip on your scanner, you’re able to see how each of the Pirates died. Crushed chest cavities, plasma burns, internal bleeding etc.
In doing this, you can piece together what happened and discover what went down in this room. When you’re plane-side, you can scan a tremendous amount of flora and fauna, artifacts and points of intrigue. All of these scanned items are logged and add a little bit more lore to your expanding repository of information. This form of optional passive world building is fantastic and it really lets you get into the boots of Samus and dive deeper into the experience.
#1 – Enemy Variety
The Metroid series has never been lacing in enemies, but what it does lack is a diverse array of enemies. Most foes can be broken down into a few groups.
- Passive: They don’t attack Samus but they hurt her if she comes into contact with them.
- Aggressive Close: These enemies relying on charging at Samus to deliver a melee attack.
- Aggressive Ranged: These enemies fly around and shoot at Samus from afar.
That’s not terribly interesting, and it does make combat situations feel a bit repetitive and samey once you’ve been playing for a few hours. What the series needs is an injection of variety. An example that comes to mind is the Darknut from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. These heavily armored knights engage the player in melee and rain attacks down on them, but as you start to fight back, they lose armor and get lighter on their feet, increasing their evasive capabilities and increasing the speed of their attacks. Eventually, they discard their weapon (by throwing it at you) and swap to something lighter like a rapier.
This is the sort of thing Metroid would benefit from, clever, multi-faceted enemies who can attack in a number of ways to suit the ever changing situation. I don’t want to fight charging generic alien #153156 for the thousandth time, that’s for sure.
That’s four things I want to see in Metroid Prime 4. I could go on, and on, and on about other things I would like to see in the series as it moves forward, but that would be bordering on torture.
What would you like to see in the series? Do you dislike some of my suggestions? Shout out in the comments!