Four years have passed since the first announcement, and we still know very little about Metroid Prime 4, except that Nintendo completely restarted the development of the game back in January 2019. This major hurdle explains why fans have had to wait so long for any news about the title, but it doesn’t help alleviate how agonizing the wait has been. However, now that E3 2021 is just around the corner, there’s a chance we might finally be able to see more of Metroid Prime 4 during the show.
What do we know so far
Nintendo first announced Metroid Prime 4 at the E3 2017 Nintendo Direct. At the time, the company only revealed that the game was in development and that an entirely new team, not Retro Studios, was running the project. Although Nintendo never explicitly stated which studio was working on the game, reports suggested that it was the Bandai Namco team.
After the announcement, Nintendo remained silent on Metroid Prime 4 until January 2019, when it announced that the project was not up to its standards and that it was completely restarting development, this time under the direction of Retro Studios. Shinya Takahashi from Nintendo reported this decision:
“While this is very unfortunate, we must inform you that the current development progress has not reached the standards we are aiming for in the continuation of the Metroid Prime series. Nintendo is always committed to the highest quality of our games; and at the development stage, we challenge ourselves and face the question daily whether the game lives up to this quality. If we are not satisfied with the quality, we will not be able to deliver it to our customers with confidence, and the game will not meet the expectations of our fans.
“From this perspective, we have determined that the current state of development [Metroid Prime 4] very problematic, and we, as a development team, had to make a difficult decision. We decided to review the development structure itself and change it. In particular, we decided that the producer, Kensuke Tanabe, will work in partnership with Retro Studios, which developed the original Metroid Prime series in the US, and start development from the ground up. By collaborating and developing with Retro Studios, we believe that we can make this game something that will meet the expectations of our fans.
“It was not easy for us to make this decision. This change will essentially mean restarting development from the beginning, so the game’s completion will be delayed from our original internal plan. We firmly understand that this delay will be a disappointment to many fans who have been looking forward to the release of Metroid Prime 4. I would like to offer my deepest and most sincere apologies to everyone that the launch will be delayed. It’s going to be a long way until next time we can update you on development progress and development time will be significant. However, we will continue to develop the game so that when it is completed, it will stand shoulder to shoulder with previous Metroid Prime games.”
Since then, we haven’t heard anything concrete about Metroid Prime 4, except for casual hires at Retro. It remains unclear how far the game has come and what its story will be.
What’s Confirmed at E3 2021
All Nintendo has confirmed so far is that it will be streaming a Nintendo Direct on June 15, the last day of E3 2021. The company says that the presentation will focus “only on Nintendo Switch games, which will be released mainly in 2021.” Given that Metroid Prime 4 is apparently far from launch (the game’s release was still listed as “TBA” in Nintendo’s latest earnings report), if it’s ready, we’ll see it at E3.
What we hope to see at E3 2021
For now, we just want to get a little glimpse of Metroid Prime 4. Even though it was originally announced four years ago, all we’ve seen so far is a preview logo. Any gameplay footage is welcome. Previous Metroid Prime games are known for their gorgeous environments, and we’re very excited to see Prime 4’s setting, as well as any new gameplay nuances Retro can add to the Metroid Prime formula.
If Nintendo does showcase Metroid Prime 4 at E3 Direct, we hope the company will share more details about the game’s story as well. While the original trilogy ended fairly neatly with 2007’s Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, that game’s secret 100% ending left a notable loose end. Will Retro Studios go down the path of the sequel or go in a different direction with the upcoming sequel?
Finally, if Metroid Prime 4 does arrive at E3 2021, we’re hoping Nintendo will announce some kind of release window. It seems unlikely that the game will release this year, but it would be great to see even a hazy “2022” window at the end of the new trailer. Metroid Prime 4 is a massive release, and with some idea of when it will release, fans will finally feel like the long wait is worth it. It would also be nice if Nintendo announced a re-release of Metroid Prime Trilogy for Switch as a temporary measure. It would be a great way to re-experience the series before Prime 4, and it would make the anticipation of a new game much more bearable.