It’s been years since the Metroid series had an update, and we finally have one unveiled in E3 2021 with Metroid Dread. This newest update looks astonishingly polished and already has fans excited about its upcoming release. The trailer itself is action-packed and tense, adding so much excitement to the classic 2D platformer. What can you expect from Metroid Dread when it launches later this year? Here’s everything we know so far.
What Is Metroid Dread?
Metroid Dread is the newest entry to Nintendo’s Metroid series that’s set to release later this year. Like the classic Metroid, it remains an action-packed platformer, but this time it has all the bells and whistles of modern-day games. The art style itself is 3D but is laid out as a 2D platformer, much like other modern platformers we play today.
This new Metroid Switch game doesn’t veer off from the franchise’s established elements. It still features Samus Aran running around the environment while fighting opponents and solving environmental puzzles. However, this time, she faces a large, horrifying robot that chases her throughout the area. Hence, Metroid Dread is not only a regular platformer but also adds stealth, action, and a chase to the mix.
Apart from this, Metroid Dread plays very much like previous Metroid games. It’s still a side-scroller that mixes action and exploration in one. There’s action — and lots of it — against aliens and robots that you might have missed since the last game. Moreover, Metroid Dread also features a labyrinthian map chocked full of secrets, which is just the way fans like it.
At first glance, Metroid Dread looks so similar to Metroid: Samus Returns that you might mistake it for the game you played on the 3DS. However, the game isn’t exactly connected to the 3DS game but instead is a sequel to the much older Metroid Fusion. It plunges you into the story that happens right after the events of the 2002 Game Boy Advance title.
Why Did Development Take This Long?
Nintendo announced in E3 that Metroid Dread will come out pretty soon. In fact, we only have a few months left until then so the waiting period isn’t too long. However, the wait time was fairly long because they formed the idea 15 years prior. People even already knew that it would be called Dread for the past 15 years. So, why has it taken so long to produce?
The answer lies with the game’s producer, Yoshio Sakamoto. According to him, he already had an idea for what Metroid Dread would be like 15 years ago. He imagined Samus Aran being chased by some kind of powerful enemy. This is exactly what we see in the trailer Nintendo unveiled in E3.
However, Nintendo’s upcoming hardware, the Nintendo DS, wasn’t powerful enough to execute the idea. Despite being a hit among console fans, the Nintendo DS wouldn’t be able to do justice to Metroid Dread in Sakamoto’s imagination.
As a result, Metroid Dread wasn’t a game that Nintendo could continue during the years that followed. Even from the start, production was staggered and stopped multiple times because of technological limitations. Eventually, they put it on indefinite hold until the time was right.
It’s unsurprising, then, that fans didn’t expect Nintendo to put out anything related to Metroid any time soon. Hence, you can imagine how surprised people were when Nintendo did unveil the trailer in E3 2021. Now, we finally get to experience the fifth Metroid game in the series after years of waiting.
It’s been years since the Nintendo Switch has been with us. So why is Metroid Dread releasing just this year? According to Sakamoto, there were two primary reasons why now was the right time.
Firstly, Nintendo finally has powerful enough hardware to support the game. Of course, the Switch still isn’t on the same level as other consoles like the PS5. However, it’s certainly powerful enough to support the likes of Metroid Dread.
Secondly, Sakamoto said that they finally found a good partner. Back in 2017, Nintendo released Metroid: Samus Returns on the 3DS. It was a remake of Metroid II that fans previously loved on the Game Boy. At the time, the team Nintendo partnered with was a Spanish studio called MercurySteam. They eventually became the same team that Nintendo sought out for Metroid Dread, and it was the right call.
According to Sakamoto, meeting them made him feel like they could help him realize his vision. He tapped them to work on the project, and it paid off more than handsomely. In Metroid Dread, we see something similar to Samus Returns: a 2D side-scroller that uses 3D assets. However, the character’s movement is smoother and more fluid compared to previous titles. Moreover, Samus needed to be able to do complex maneuvers quickly as well as free-aiming during counterattacks. MercurySteam executed these ideas perfectly.
Watching the game come to life like this, Sakamoto says that it looks even better than what he initially imagined. The wait was long but well worth it because of the flawless execution. Now, all fans need to do is wait for a little before Metroid Dread finally releases later this year.
What We Know So Far About Metroid Dread
Like we previously mentioned, Metroid Dread is the direct sequel to Metroid Fusion. However, many things have changed since then, and Samus’s abilities have definitely changed. What can you expect from this new game? Here’s what we can glean based on the trailer and the gameplay demo.
From the trailer, we can see that Samus has a few interesting abilities that help her navigate the game world. For example, the trailer immediately shows how Samus can travel through small spaces and pathways. This helps every time you see a passage that might normally be too small to pass through when she’s standing upright.
On the other hand, Samus also seems to have a cloaking ability called the Phantom Cloak. The Metroid Dread trailer puts Samus in a chase, running away from the dreaded white robot. However, running away isn’t always the most practical solution to getting the robot off her tail. That’s why she can also use the Phantom Cloak to help evade the robot from detecting her presence.
There’s also a brand new tool that Smaus can use called the Spider Magnet. With it, she can climb specific surfaces — be it walls or ceilings — to move around and escape. This ability may not have been prominently shown in the trailer, but it’s shown off more extensively through Nintendo’s gameplay demo with producer Yoshio Sakamoto.
In terms of fighting abilities, it seems that Metroid Dread is also reintroducing melee attacks. This helps Samus counterattack against opponents that come too close. Moreover, she can freely aim anywhere and use a power gauge for other applicable abilities.
Exploration & Environment
As with most 2D platformers, both the exploration and environment matter a great deal. By now, you already know what Samus does to navigate the area. However, the environment itself is also worth noting because it’s incredibly large and confusing.
The place Samus explores is an underground labyrinthian complex while her ship’s on the surface of the planet. As you explore, you encounter and go through the same things you’d expect from a Metroid game. Explore the place, blast through obstacles, unlock secret areas, and return to places you’ve already been through. There are also power-ups and other upgrades that you’ll find later in the game to circumvent dead ends.
Like other games in the franchise, Metroid Dread also features lots of environmental puzzle-solving. You’ll have to use your brain if you want to progress through the game at all. Navigating the complex environment is one thing, but sometimes you have to create paths just to move forward.
After the events of Metroid Fusion, Samus finds herself exploring this labyrinth-like underground complex. As she escapes from the terrifying robots, she’ll encounter environmental obstacles that she needs to overcome. That’s what we have so far.
However, at one point in the game, Samus will eventually encounter terrifying Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifiers or EMMI. These robots are bent on stalking and hunting her, using sight and sound to their advantage.
It’s at that point where you truly feel the dread in Metroid Dread. The aesthetics and audio both change to something with a darker mood. Both of these elements beautifully capture the dread that your character must be feeling in that moment. To add an element of horror to the game, every sound the EMMI makes is clear and tension-filling.
The only way to escape the EMMI is by using Samus’ abilities. Her cloaking mechanism seems to do the trick, as it hides her presence and slows her movement. However, it’s not something the player can abuse because it eats up her Aeion. Once even that’s run dry, it’ll start to deplete her health.
Perhaps the only true way to deal with the situation is by quickly performing your tasks and escaping the area. There are also multiple checkpoints the developer has littered all across the labyrinth to help you get back. If the player is stuck, the AI named Adam can offer some tips to aid your progression.
Art & Rendering
Like you see in the trailer, everything in the game is rendered in 2.5D. The assets and environment are all made with 3D but presented in a semi-2D layout. This helps the player feel immersed in the environment because of the depth it allows. Moreover, the rendering is top-notch and fluid which makes you feel like it’s well worth the price.
On another note, the gameplay seems to also have numerous 3D sequence breaks at certain points. Despite being a platformer, you’re pulled in time and again into Samus’ world from a 3D viewpoint. This showcases the art and rendering beautifully as it feels almost like witnessing scenes from a movie. It’s certainly telling of the love and effort put into the game and makes it feel infinitely more immersive.
Taking Advantage Of The New Switch OLED
Nintendo recently announced the new Nintendo Switch OLED model. While it’s nothing like the Switch Pro people were hoping for, it’s still a new update to Nintendo’s beloved console. However, it can be hard to justify buying the new console with earlier versions still running well. Hence, it would take quite a bit of convincing for Nintendo to sell its new console to fans.
Thankfully, Nintendo already thought ahead. They intentionally made Metroid Dread’s launch coincide with the new Switch release to help bring in sales. Nintendo even claimed that the new Switch will enhance Metroid Dread’s gameplay experience through the OLED screen and improved audio. Hence, handheld or tabletop play will make the game feel more immersive.
If fans want to enjoy the new game in all its glory, the Switch OLED might be the solution. However, it’s not as convincing if you mainly play the Switch while it’s docked and connected to a TV. Nonetheless, Metroid Dread is the first Metroid game in years. It might encourage long-time fans of the series to pick up a new console just for the game.
Price & Release Date
After years of waiting, it would have annoyed fans if Nintendo unveiled the trailer only to release the game a year later. Thankfully, Nintendo revealed Metroid dread just a couple of months before the game’s official release.
If you watched the trailer, then you’d know that Metroid Dread is set to release on October 8, 2021. That’s still a few months away from now but it’s also close enough that you can almost taste it. The game will be on sale for $59.99.
Conclusion: The Latest Metroid Game
Metroid Dread is the newest addition to the Metroid franchise that fans didn’t even know they were waiting for. It was initially conceptualized 15 years prior by Yoshio Sakamoto, Nintendo parked the game for years due to their consoles not being powerful enough to fully flesh it out. It wasn’t until in E3 2021 that Nintendo unveiled Metroid Dread as reality and no longer a forgotten dream. Now, Sakamoto’s dreams are realized (maybe even surpassed) through Metroid Dread’s release. It’ll be on sale on October 8, 2021 — the same date as the Switch OLED’s release — for $59.99.