Only the longest, most dedicated Metroid fans will remember the old announcement of Metroid Dread that came 15 years ago. With no word on the game in over a decade, Nintendo surprised everyone at E3 2021 when it re-revealed the game once again in their Treehouse Live showcase. Originally planned as a classic 2D entry in the series for the DS, this completely new version of Metroid Dread is finally coming to fruition.
Unlike Metroid Prime 4, which we saw and heard almost nothing about, Metroid Dread was announced with plenty of juicy details to dig into. Metroid has had a strange and troubled development history in the past, but with MercurySteam, developers of Metroid: Samus Returns for the 3DS in 2017, fans have a lot of faith in Metroid Dread living up to the high expectations the series has garnered over the years. This is going to be a major entry in the series, so read up on everything we know about Metroid Dread before Samus makes her return.
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As a rare treat, especially for a Metroid game, Nintendo hit us with a double whammy in revealing Metroid Dread and giving us a release date all at once. Well, unless you count the original reveal, in which case it took 15 years for a release date, but this is an entirely different game. Perhaps as a response to the long-delayed, and restarted, Metroid Prime 4, Metroid Dread was given a mercifully close release date of October 8, 2021. Considering the more horrific tones of the game, an October launch seems quite appropriate.
You never have to wonder what platforms a Nintendo property will be on. Even though Metroid Dread isn’t being developed internally at Nintendo, they are absolutely going to keep it exclusive to their Nintendo Switch platform. Just like any Mario, Zelda, or Pokémon game, your only choice to get these games is on Nintendo hardware.
Metroid Dread, also called Metroid 5, got a full trailer of story and gameplay to dissect ahead of launch later this year. The most exciting thing we learned from the trailer, at least for those of us who care about the story of the Metroid series, is that this game will be set after the events of Metroid Fusion. That game, which came out in 2002 for the GBA, was the latest game in the Metroid timeline. That means fans have been waiting an excruciating 19 years for the next installment in Samus’ adventures. Thankfully, Metroid Dread will finally tie up the story threads left open from that game as Yoshio Sakamoto, longtime Metroid director and producer on Metroid Dread, has stated, “The series has chronicled the uncanny relationship between these Metroids and the heroine Samus, but this game will mark an end to that story arc.”
For those who missed it, or just haven’t played it in nearly two decades, the plot of Metroid Fusion focused on Samus exploring a space station infected with a mysterious X parasite, which has also infected Samus and had to be cured with Metroid cells. This gives her the ability to absorb the X parasite, but her suit was also infected and placed on the station for observation. The parasite on her suit ends up forming as a clone of her, takes over her original armor, and learns all her abilities, becoming the “SA-X” that hunts you down throughout the game.
Metroid Dread features Samus in another new suit that appears to be a mix of her Fusion and classic designs. The trailer begins with her getting ambushed by a robotic enemy called the EMMI, which she fires on with blasts and missiles with no effect. As she’s forced to run, this new enemy seems to take on the role of the SA-X as a somewhat unstoppable force hunting you down throughout the game. After some gameplay, we see what looks like a fail state where Samus is caught, but the camera cuts to the title before she is finished off.
Sakamoto, who was the original creator of Metroid Dread 15 years ago, spoke about what the game’s title means. “It represents a relentless threat that pursues the seemingly invincible Samus Aran … Each robot roams within a specific zone, and when they sense the sounds Samus makes, they close in. And once it captures Samus on its visual sensor, it starts chasing after Samus at high speed.” Aside from simply running away, there will be ways you can avoid the EMMI’s detection altogether. “If you can avoid making a sound, the EMMI won’t notice you … You can also hide behind objects to avoid being visually recognized. And with her new main defensive move, Samus can use the optical camouflage known as the Phantom Cloak to render herself invisible to the EMMI.”
The last real bit of story information we got was that the computer A.I. from Fusion, Adam, will make a return in Metroid Dread.
If you played the 3DS remake Metroid: Samus Returns, then Metroid Dread will feel like a natural sequel to that game in many ways. Both of these titles are developed by MercurySteam, which has proven itself as a fantastic developer for classic 2D Metroid-style games. The trailer, while brief, did show off how this Metroid game will be similar, yet different, to past entries.
First and foremost, this is a classic 2D Metroid game. That means you’ll be running, jumping, and shooting your way through a sprawling map that uncovers as you explore. You will be finding and picking up different powerups and weapons that allow you to progress through previously blocked-off or inaccessible areas. One example we saw during the Nintendo Treehouse was the classic charge beam. The Metroidvania genre has seen a huge boom in popularity in the last decade or so, and Metroid Dread looks to be yet another take on the formula it itself helped pioneer.
In terms of new features, we already mentioned the Phantom Cloak, which is the first time Samus has had a stealth-oriented upgrade to her suit. In a game with nearly invincible pursuer-type enemies, the addition of a stealth option is not only appropriate, but also a fun alternative tactic that we’ve never seen in a Metroid game before.
Aside from running and hiding, another way to deal with the otherwise indestructible EMMI robots is to utilize central units that are found around the map. By interacting with them, you can transform the normal arm cannon into an omega cannon, which gives you a single shot capable of destroying an EMMI before reverting to the normal shot. This will make for some tense moments in deciding when and where to use these limited shots since we suspect that there won’t be enough to deal with every EMMI on the map.
One move that was introduced in Samus Returns was the counter-melee attack, which we see come back in Metroid Dread. This move can interrupt enemies, deal damage, and reveal weak points on enemies and bosses. The move is expanded upon in Metroid Dread with the melee dash attack, allowing it to be used purely offensively. We also saw a cool slide move that makes getting under small gaps faster than turning into the morph ball.
Probably the most exciting small addition that has yet to be in a 2D Metroid game is free aim. Now, thanks to the standard dual analog controls of the Switch, players can move and aim independently in a smooth 360-degree range instead of being stuck to cardinal directions or having to stop to aim precisely.
Nope. Metroid Dread will be all single player. There have been multiplayer Metroids in the past, but the mainline 2D games have always stuck to being single-player adventures, and that’s just how the fans like it.
It isn’t impossible, but we find it very unlikely that there will ever be any DLC for Metroid Dread. Nintendo can be quite odd when it comes to post-launch content with some titles, but Metroid doesn’t seem like a good fit. The map will be fully designed and paced, and there’s never much in the way of side quests or optional content, aside from getting all the power-ups, so there’s no real reason for DLC to exist.
Pre-orders have gone up for Metroid Dread, with two different versions to pick from. We have the standard and special editions.
The standard edition is your typical $60 pre-order that gets you the game and nothing extra.
The special edition, which is already selling out, costs $90. For that price, you get the game, a steelbook case, art book, and five art cards themed around the five 2D Metroid games.
While it’s not technically part of any pre-order bundle, you can also pick up a cool new pair of amiibo figures. The two-pack comes with Samus in her new armor and an EMMI. What functionality these two will have with the game itself has yet to be revealed. Either way, they will look great in anyone’s collection.
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