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Top 10 Things I Want to See in Metroid Prime 4 [top ten]
 
I am currently replaying Metroid Prime for the fourth time (I'm very close to the end) and it still stands as one of my all-time favorite games. Iím probably not going to replay Metroid Prime 2 and 3 right now, but theyíre also up there, although I feel like neither quite matched the brilliance of the original. So it got me thinking about the upcoming Metroid Prime 4 and what I would like to see out of it. Obviously a large amount of what I would like to see out of it is to just keep doing what worked in the original trilogy, which was a lot. But there are definitely places for improvement and expanding the franchise as well, and that is what this list is about.


Oh, and these are not in order of preference or anything, just kind of randomly listed.

Letís do it!
Posted: 02/05/20, 22:21:04  - Edited by 
 on: 02/05/20, 22:26:30
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Smoother Controls
The controls for the Metroid Prime games were certainly solid, and I really loved the Wii pointer aiming implementation in Metroid Prime 3, but I canít say the controls of the franchise are perfect. Some controls worked amazingly. I still have no idea how they made platforming work so fluidly in a 1st person game. But other controls were a bit iffy. For instance, itís a rare 1st person franchise with shooting that doesnít use dual analog controls, so there is no way to walk and aim at the same time, or even like, peek around a corner or anything (at least, before the pointer controls in Metroid Prime 3, but I suspect they wonít use pointer controls this time around.) Should Metroid Prime 4 have dual analog controls? Maybe? Iím not sure what the best solution is, I just want the aiming to be quicker and easier, and not require me to stop in place to aim, if possible.
 
Make a Single, Huge Interconnected World Again
The original Metroid Prime nailed the world design. Aside from the space frigate intro segment, which worked well to get players accustomed to the controls and general gameplay mechanics, the rest of the game played out on a single planet, where each of the areas had several connections to the others, and in the natural progression of the game you never quite knew where you would end up next. I would often leave an area only to arrive back in it in a completely different place, opening up a lot more of the map than I originally suspected existed in the process. For example, early in the game you find the wreckage of the intro section frigate in the Tallon Overworld area. But by the time I had the required upgrades needed to get into the crashed frigate, I was arriving at it from a completely different direction, using an elevator I found hiding behind a save station in the Chozo Ruins that brought me to a clifftop near the frigate. This is just one example among many. Heck, the Magmoor Caverns basically have connections to every other area.

Just look at this map!


This, for me, is the ideal Metroid experience. Unfortunately, the sequels fell further and further away from this ideal. Metroid Prime 2 had a single planet location with connections between the areas, but the connections were limited, and outside of connections to a hub section, usually not related to the way you progressed through the game itself, but existed more as an optional way to quickly travel back to previous locations to look for more missile and health upgrades. And Metroid Prime 3 almost completely moved away from the interconnectedness by taking place on many different planets, with the only way to travel between them being Samusí ship.

Sometimes franchises change for the better, and itís not bad to mix things up, but in this case I really feel like the first Metroid Prime had not just the best world of the three, but the one that was most true to the definitive Metroid experience II would love to see Metroid Prime 4 go back to this deep and interconnected way of exploring. Speaking of the map...
 
Fast Travel (of a Sort)
This is a tough one for me, because exploring the world is a huge part of the Metroid experience, and often while travelling back to a place I had already been is when I would stumble upon the correct way forward, or find various upgrades that I either didnít see my first time through or didnít have the right power-ups to obtain yet. I donít necessarily think Metroid should move away from this kind of progression and have fast travel spots all over the map per se. But I do find it a bit tedious when I want to get from one side of the map to the other and have to run all the way there. A few options to get around the huge map quicker couldnít hurt. Maybe some conveniently placed morph ball speed tunnels or something that can shoot you across the world at lightning speeds.
 
More Dynamic Design
Metroid Prime is an amazing game, but it does feel a little bit dated in some ways in 2020. We have seen the rise of procedurally generated gameplay over the last ten years or so, and even games that donít use it still try to make their moment to moment interactions feel more varied and dynamic. Meanwhile, most every room that you travel through in the Metroid Prime trilogy is fairly static. There will occasionally be triggered events that change things, but nine times out of ten when you travel through a room that you have already been to it has the same enemies spawning in the exact same locations as before. For a game that has a lot of backtracking, and a lot of rooms you will be going through four or five times or more, things can get a bit predictable over time.

Metroid Prime 3 came out in 2007. Itís been over about thirteen years since the last mainline Metroid Prime game, and it will probably be closer to fifteen years or more by the time Metroid Prime 4 releases. There are a lot of games that can act as blueprints now for making your game areas more varied and dynamic when traversed multiple times. I donít think the Metroid Prime games should go full-on procedurally generated or anything like that, but not having everything feel so static in the areas I continually traverse would be a big step up.
 
More Isolation and Horror
This is maybe just a personal taste (ok my whole list is made up of personal tastes, but this really is) but I love the isolation and horror elements of the Metroid series, and this is an area where I think the origins of Metroid should be studied hard when designing Metroid Prime 4. The first few Metroid games were all about exploring an isolated environment alone, in settings that often contained subtle or outright horror elements. One of the early areas in Super Metroid particularly plays up the creepiness factor, slowly building tension in a seemingly abandoned set of rooms before an explosion of aliens finally pop out and attack.

Metroid Prime did a fairly good job at the isolation, though it doesnít have a whole lot of horror elements. Metroid Prime 2, on the other hand, has one of the scariest intro sections in any Metroid game, where you explore the aftermath of an ill-fated marine expedition and find countless corpses strewn around, which eventually arise as possessed zombies and attack you. I legit canít play that section alone at night! Thatís good stuff there. But by Metroid Prime 3 the sense of isolation was more or less minimized, and it contained fairly regular meetings with a large cast of characters. There was still a bit of horror (especially as your previous compatriots fell to the corruption one by one), but not really at the level of some of the previous games.


I want to see more isolation and more outright scary sequences. This is a game series inspired by the Alien franchise, after all!
 
Smarter Enemies (at Least the Space Pirates)
Another thing that is obvious when playing Metroid Prime in 2020 is that the enemy AI isnít all that advanced. For many of the enemies, it probably shouldnít be. A lot of the creatures you run into in the various ecosystems are not supposed to be particularly evolved, and itís fine if theyíre following relatively simple patterns. But the Space Pirates are highly intelligent creatures who do things like research technology and build spaceships and such, they should have better wiser tactics than wildly hopping around or running straight at Samus! Iím not expecting anything at the level of FPS that are built around combat, but Iíd love to see the enemy AI advance a bit so some of the battles could feel more alive.
 
The Next Great Suit Power
I feel like a large part of the Metroid Prime trilogy approach to suit powers involved taking established 2D Metroid powers and re-inventing them in 3D. A bunch of this took place in the original Metroid Prime: missiles and super missiles, the (limited) space jump, the grappling hook, the the morph ball, the spider ball, power bombs, etc. made an appearance. Metroid Prime 2 got the screw attack working and Metroid Prime 3 added wall jumping. At this point, most of the main suit mechanics from the 2D games have made an appearance. And sure, we have gotten some new stuff as well, especially in the various visor upgrades. But I want to see the next great suit power. A power that years from now will stand at the level of the morph ball, the grappling hook and the screw attack. What would this be?

I donít know! Thatís up to the game designers to figure out! I think that it would involve motion in some form though. A lot of the best suit upgrades have to do with how Samus moves around her environment, and I have to believe that there is still some untapped potential there.
 
Bring Back Kraid
One thing that I think I knew but forgot is that Kraid was originally planned to be in the original Metroid Prime, and a model was even created for the game.


Kraid obviously never made it into the final version of Metroid Prime, nor any of its sequels, nor any other 3D Metroid game. The only 3D Kraid I know of is in the Super Smash Bros. games.

But can you imagine? How cool would this have been?!

"I wish I remembered more. I just remember he was huge, that there were a bunch of jumping pieces, and that there was no way we were going to make it work in the time we had."

- Jack Mathews (formerly of Retro Studios)


Is it finally time to make that huge and epic platforming-centric Kraid boss battle? I think it is! Donít get me wrong, I donít want Metroid Prime 4 to just be a cheap nostalgia dump. The game doesnít need to be set on Zebes and rehash Super Metroid or anything. It should be mostly new stuff. But we did get Ridley in Metroid Prime, so I think that it is finally time for Kraid to get his turn.

And if we canít get Kraid, at least bring back Crocomire? #crocomirefan4life
 
No Late Game Fetch Quests
Some of my other opinions might be controversial, but I have a feeling no one will disagree with me on this one. I absolutely love the Metroid Prime trilogy, and have played through each game multiple times, and my least favorite part of each is always the late game fetch quest. Basically, for reasons that I canít quite understand, when you are nearing the end of any given game in the Metroid Prime trilogy, the final area is locked out until you go collect ten or twelve or so random knick-knacks hidden scattered across the entire world. This exists in all three of the main Metroid Prime games, so momentum would suggest that it will also exist in Metroid Prime 4 unless someone stops and says hey wait, maybe just because the first three games did something doesnít mean we have to do it in the fourth, right? Itís ok sometimes to admit that you made a mistake and make adjustments moving forward.

What is even the logic behind a fetch quest like this? From a developer perspective I can kind of see why you would want to get your players revisiting the map once they have all of the suit upgrades needed to pick up some of those power-ups that they couldnít get their first few times through any given area, but just leave it up to players to decide if they want to do this. Most of us will naturally check our maps, see some areas with unfinished business, and be capable of deciding on our own what to do about it.

Either that or they are just trying to pad the run-time of the games, but these games are long enough as it is, they donít really need any artificial padding. And this thought leads me into my final thought...
 
A Note System for the Map
One common Metroid experience for me, which Iím sure others can relate to, is when I run into a secret that I canít do anything about yet. It might be a small grate that I need bombs for, or a platform just out of reach, or whatever. The only thing that I can do is just hope that when I finally get the necessarily suit upgrade I will remember every little point on the map that it applies to. But I wonít remember! Yet, surely... Samus Aran would? Sheís a bounty hunter, that is a job that requires keeping track of various things, she must have some system for doing so! Also, she has a high tech suit with all kinds of software built right into it. Surely she would have some sort of note-taking software installed, right? Itís common software on pretty much any OS.

Iím not sure what the best way to handle this would be. For common things, it could theoretically be as simple as if you scan something that needs an upgrade you donít have yet, it appears on your map. For instance, in Metroid Prime ďBendeziumĒ was a material that could only be destroyed with power bombs, so any time you scan an object made of ďBendeziumĒ it could appear on your map, maybe with some indicator of whether you have ever destroyed it or not (many destroyed objects tend to come back in Metroid Prime games, though speaking of fixes, maybe they shouldnít?)

But this way of handling things also has a pitfall, which is that it turns otherwise interesting and complex environmental secrets into merely checking off boxes. Also, not every secret is something that you can just scan and instantly know what you need. Often a secret involves looking at the screen, knowing something looks fishy and might be a secret, but not being able to figure out yet what exactly it is. So it might help to let users create their own notes as well. In handheld mode this would be super easy, you could quickly add notes with the touch screen. Itíd be a bit tougher in docked mode, but still feasible. And better than nothing!
 
Iím going to throw in a bonus eleventh pick here because I couldnít get my list down to just ten. And also because I donít really know how to title this one, so here goes. You know those cute little green creatures (the Dachora and Etecoons) in Super Metroid that help teach you things, and that part during the final timed escape where if you take a little detour you can rescue them? More of that kind of thing please.


So there are my ideas. What do you think? Agree, disagree? Have any ideas of your own? Tell me your thoughts below!

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Posted: 02/05/20, 22:21:04  - Edited by 
 on: 02/05/20, 22:26:30
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Nice list, well done!

10. Interestingly enough, the controls never bothered me, even back on the GameCube. I felt like the games were designed around the ways that the controls functioned, so I never really ran into problems. This is also why I think the Wii versions of 1 and 2 are easier, since they weren't intended to have the free-aim. In any case, so long as MP4 offers gyro aiming, it should control just fine for me.

9. Yup, this is one reason why I still like the first Prime better. I don't think it's just because it came first (though that is a factor), I do think it really does have the best world design.

8. Agree, so long as it isn't overdone. Being able to wrap between the save stations would be good enough.

7. I do agree about making things more dynamic, but I'm always weary of anything procedurally-generated since it often ends up so generic. There's probably a happy medium they could achieve here though.

6. I'm indifferent towards this. It isn't something I'd ask for, but including it wouldn't bother me.

5. Agree, but I think this one is almost a given now that technology has progressed.

4. @nate38 pretty much said what I would say here. I'm not sure what else new they could do since there's already so much, but I do think there's more potential with existing abilities.

3. I've been saying this one since the first game!

2. Honestly, I never minded these. I think part of that is because I would already be making trips around the world when I had all the upgrades anyway, exploring for stuff I missed, so I could just collect the keys as I do this and it was no hassle. I also felt like this was handled the best in the first game, since many of them could be collected before the end of the game when they become needed. I think they put these in the games to give something to do with a fully-powered character, so I'm fine with them existing and they didn't bring down any of the games for me.

1.Metroid Prime meets Etrian Odyssey? I could go for that!
Posted: 02/07/20, 20:56:20
I actually think for my tastes warping between save stations would be almost too much. I do like that it forces you to backtrack and revisit areas, and when you have new power-ups that's when you stumble upon neat stuff. I just don't like when I have to travel like ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE MAP and there is no quick way to do it.
Posted: 02/07/20, 21:31:36
@Zero

It's possible that an even smarter map design could counteract this. I don't think Fusion was particularly great with its map design, but its "central hub" system (where every sector was accessible from the main area) did make traversal go fairly quickly. Both Super (Lower Norfair) and Prime 1 (parts of Phendrana and Phazon Mines) have areas where you're at the edge of the world and really far away from everything. More elevators could fix it?
Posted: 02/08/20, 05:51:33  - Edited by 
 on: 02/08/20, 05:51:53
@Shadowlink I think there are some brilliant moments in Other M. It's kind of like the Mario 3D World of Metroid. It marries the 2D gameplay into a 3D world that mostly makes sense. The game kind of falls apart in large, open rooms, and there are obviously questionable control issues and stuff...but there was something there worth iterating on. I actually liked it better than Samus Returns.

@TriforceBun I think at least Super Metroid had the benefit of a faster moving Samus. And by the later points of the game, she was a bit more mobile. Getting stuck in Maridia is a huge pain in the ass, but I don't think it felt as punishing as getting stuck in the Phazon Mines. Maybe just having a more mobile Samus is the key.
Posted: 02/16/20, 05:57:52  - Edited by 
 on: 02/16/20, 06:07:06
1. Kenji Yamamoto and that Metroid sound.
Posted: 02/16/20, 21:01:28  - Edited by 
 on: 02/16/20, 21:01:55
TriforceBun said:
@Zero

It's possible that an even smarter map design could counteract this. I don't think Fusion was particularly great with its map design, but its "central hub" system (where every sector was accessible from the main area) did make traversal go fairly quickly. Both Super (Lower Norfair) and Prime 1 (parts of Phendrana and Phazon Mines) have areas where you're at the edge of the world and really far away from everything. More elevators could fix it?

I was just thinking, the other way to do it would be to make that section of the game pretty linear. There's the part in Fusion that works really well, where you're kind of left on your own, but there's really only one way to go. Maybe they just need to make sure that there's no way for you to get lost or stuck, but still feel super claustrophobic. And then later, you're left to explore it at your leisure.
Posted: 02/16/20, 21:18:16
PogueSquadron said:
@Shadowlink I think there are some brilliant moments in Other M. It's kind of like the Mario 3D World of Metroid. It marries the 2D gameplay into a 3D world that mostly makes sense. The game kind of falls apart in large, open rooms, and there are obviously questionable control issues and stuff...but there was something there worth iterating on. I actually liked it better than Samus Returns.

@TriforceBun I think at least Super Metroid had the benefit of a faster moving Samus. And by the later points of the game, she was a bit more mobile. Getting stuck in Maridia is a huge pain in the ass, but I don't think it felt as punishing as getting stuck in the Phazon Mines. Maybe just having a more mobile Samus is the key.
I agree with you on both counts here. For all of Other M's flaws, it felt fresh in ways that Samus Returns just didn't for me. It's like Mario 3D World versus New Super Mario Bros.

And one of the things holding Metroid Prime back for me is how tedious backtracking and enemy encounters can be even late in the game, whereas in Super and its ilk you can pretty much freight train your way to wherever you wanna go.
Posted: 02/17/20, 01:59:17
One thing's for sure, at least to me, but I think they're on an uphill battle with dual analog. One of the reasons the original game controls so we'll is because you can platform and look at the same time. Yeah, you could do that with pointer controls, but it felt clumsier to me. Or at least, far less comfortable. I liked Prime 3's controls but the pointer driven games do a number on the wrists.
Posted: 02/18/20, 03:04:12
I want tons and tons of upgrades.

Honestly something like Doom 2016/Tomb Raider reboot would be pretty good for Metroid.

Would be cool if you could upgrade almost every little part of Samus' suit which would on turn improve her abilities.
Posted: 02/19/20, 22:03:20
I feel like that's a dangerous game though. I think generally, Metroid works well because the upgrades you do get are very meaningful, minus pickups like missiles and whatnot.

I will say this though: Aside from the story and presentation and all that, Other: M's biggest sin was its adherence to old powerups. Even though you got to play Metroid in a whole new way, it was like...a lot of deja vu. Morph ball and missiles and power bomb, etc. Even with the reverence they gave to the Power Bomb, it all just felt way too familiar. I don't really want to be collecting the same powerups over and over in the next game.

It'll also be interesting to see what they do with the story. Metroid Prime (the being) eventually gave rise to Dark Samus, and the Phazon stuff hit a pretty big crescendo. I feel like they can't just like, bring back the Phazon stuff. And then at that point, why are we even calling it Metroid Prime, if the game has nothing to do with the former titular being?

Hehe. Titular.
Posted: 02/25/20, 02:44:20
Great write-up, Zero!

Prime 1 is my second-favorite game ever, and while Prime 4 isn't my "most anticipated" game at the moment only because we know nothing about it, it's the game I'd most want to have in my hands right now. It's heartbreaking that we're going to go ~15 years between Prime games, and it's even worse because there aren't a ton of 3D Metroid-like/Metroidvania games, let alone first-person ones. The Prime series has been largely unique in video games and its absence has left a huge void. I've been itching to replay the trilogy for a while as well (I haven't played/replayed any of them since they were new) but I know as soon as I do that, Nintendo will announce the HD remasters the next day. That's just my luck. So I'm still waiting for that inevitable release...

#9 is critical for me. It's one of the main reasons the first game remains my favorite of the three despite some things that the sequels did better. Speaking of games that came out since Prime 3, I feel the same way about the Dark Souls series as well. That first Dark Souls, the first and only thing I could compare its world design to is Metroid Prime. Like the Prime series, the sequels got more linear and less interconnected. I really want to see them go back to a more open-ended, interconnected map design.

I'm on board with #6 as well. Alien is my favorite movie in that series and one of my favorite sci-fi/horror movies ever. Alien Isolation is brilliant. My favorite Dead Space is the first one, for the same reason. I don't know if Metroid needs to be as scary as those, but I'd love to see it focus on the same sense of isolation and match up with them in terms of atmosphere.

For #2, I agree that I'd like to see this go away as an end-game gate. But I wonder if they should take inspiration from my personal GOTY from last year, Outer Wilds. That was very much a space exploration detective game (complete with scanning writing for lore), where you filled out a big flow chart with clues you picked up over the course of the game. Maybe this is something Retro could implement more naturally over the course of the game; and perhaps it doesn't even need to be an end-game gate at all, but some sort of "side-detective work" Samus could investigate throughout the game. But yeah, the way they've done it previously has felt forced and momentum-breaking.

And #1, a big "YES!" from me! Hollow Knight, Breath of the Wild, Link's Awakening remake...one of my favorite features of those games was being able to place markers on the map to remind me where potential secrets were located. This came up for me recently when playing Minish Cap, where one of the last secrets I was missing was because I thought I'd been to a certain spot already and checked it out. Which was true, but I didn't go back there a second time. And I'm like, "Man, I wish this had the Link's Awakening map stamps!" As much as I've enjoyed breaking out a notebook over the years, this is a quicker, more efficient way of tracking things.
Posted: 03/08/20, 18:00:44
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