In an E3 where Microsoft showed off a car and Sony tried to make Final Fantasy XV fishing a highlight of its presentation, it's a fair assumption that Nintendo came in and saved the day with a slew of upcoming big-name titles. Super Mario Odyssey looks to be a worthy successor to Super Mario 64; the critically and commercially acclaimed The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will soon get its major DLC content; and Mario is getting an X-COM ripoff (ummm) with the Rabbids from the Rayman series (what?!) that actually looks good (it's true!).
Even in the midst of all these epic announcements, there are two that stole the show: Metroid Prime 4 and Metroid: Samus Returns. With the series laying dormant for far too long and its more recent entries being heavily controversial spinoffs, everyone was excited to hear that we're getting real, bona fide #Metroid games once again.
On the more disappointing side of things, all we learned of Metroid Prime 4 is that it exists. No real teaser trailer, no concept art, and certainly no gameplay was shown — but at least we know it's being made, right?
Well, we might be able to garner a bit more information if we turn back the clock. Spoiler alert: That's a pun that's possibly relevant to the gameplay.
A Journey Through Time: An Intriguing New Gameplay Concept
Kensuke Tanabe, producer for the Metroid Prime series, sat down for an interview with Eurogamer in 2015. At that time, he dropped several hints as to what would be in the next Metroid title. Of course, he didn't confirm what was being made, or that it was a continuation of the Prime series, but the hints were so heavy that, in retrospect, it's baffling how there wasn't more buzz back then:
"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."
Promise No. 1 fulfilled: It's on the #Switch.
"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."
While his estimate at the time was a period of three years, it appears that more time will be needed, if the lack of footage at #E32017 is anything to go by. However, the real meat of the interview is in the specific gameplay and story elements Tanabe was considering at the time:
"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."
And there you have Prime 4's possible gimmick: time travel. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes gave us a similar sort of dimensional travel with its light and dark worlds, but a more apt comparison might be The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, where Link traveled between the past and present via warp points.
Note that Tanabe also mentions that the multiple planets from Prime 3 would not return.
The Hunters And The Federation: Where The Story Is Headed
"The stories of Dark Samus and Phazon are done now."
The Metroid Prime: Trilogy centered around Dark Samus, a manifestation of a Metroid corrupted by Phazon energy and the titular Metroid Prime. It sounds like those plotlines are done — which would make sense, as they were wrapped up nicely in the third game. However, Tanabe does note that he would like to "focus on other elements [of the Metroid Prime story]," which likely means we would see the return of series mainstays like Metroids, Space Pirates and log-based storytelling.
As for the cliffhanger at the end of #Metroid Prime 3, where Samus is tailed by a mysterious ship, Tanabe also offered his view on that subject:
"So 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."
Sylux debuted in the #Nintendo DS game Metroid Prime: Hunters. He has not shown up in any of the numbered titles.
"We've done a story based on the Hunters, and this time around we're doing a story on the Galactic Federation. I would like to cross the two over in the future. And of course see a little more of Samus."
Here we can see Tanabe reference Federation Force, which was poorly received, but the hint toward the future direction of the series is intriguing, signifying that we may see a focus on both the Hunters and the Galactic Federation.
A Taste Of What's To Come
While all of this information is from a time when Prime 4 was very obviously in early conceptual stages, and is thus subject to change, it's certainly food for thought — and certainly gives us more to sate our curiosity than what Nintendo's teaser gave us.
Metroid Prime 4 is being released for the Nintendo Switch. It currently has no release date.