Metroid Prime 4 — what we know so far

metroid prime
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Many people have been waiting for Metroid Prime 4, but aside from a brief trailer that simply announced the name of the game, there's been very little other information about this anticipated title. 

We have got a new Metroid game in the from of Metroid Dread, which shows that Nintendo hasn't forgotten about Samus Aran and her adventures. But Metroid 4 may still be some way out before it gets a reveal or any other information. 

Nevertheless, read on for what we think we know so far as well as some predictions we've cooked up. 

Metroid Prime 4 release date speculation 

metroid prime

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Metroid Prime 4 has seemingly been in development for a long time, but that's no indicator that it'll arrive anytime soon. Nintendo hasn't even hinted at a release year let alone anything resembling a release date.  

That's likely due to Metroid Prime 4’s long development cycle caused by a significant retooling. On January 25, 2019, the game’s producer, Shinya Takahashi, explained that the original studio developing Metroid Prime 4 (possibly Bandai Namco, but it’s anyone’s guess) didn’t deliver a satisfactory product, and that the game was restarting development from scratch under Retro Studios.

metroid prime

(Image credit: Nintendo)

This is good news for longtime fans, as Retro Studios developed the first three Metroid Prime games, all of which fell somewhere between “well-received” and “beloved.” But it’s also potentially bad news, since it means that a game with at least three years of development time had to jettison all progress and start again.

Where does that leave Metroid Prime 4’s release date? The series timeline up until this point doesn’t necessarily help that much. There’s no pattern to Metroid release times. Sometimes the series goes eight years without an entry; sometimes it gets two entries in a single year.

If Metroid Prime 4 had been in development since 2017 and Nintendo pulled the plug in early 2020, that may suggest that the company had a three-year development cycle in mind. Perhaps, then, we’ll see Metroid Prime 4 in 2023 — although 2024 is more likely. And by then, who knows if the Nintendo Switch will even be Nintendo’s go-to platform?

In short, Metroid Prime 4 is likely a long way out. 

Metroid Prime 4 trailer

We do actually have a short teaser trailer for Metroid Prime 4, although it’s basically just the “Metroid Prime 4” logo materializing out of space. You can watch it yourself if you’ve got 42 seconds to spare:

Since the trailer debuted in 2017, it’s technically referring to a different Metroid Prime 4 experience than the one we’ll eventually get. After all, the game is now in the hands of a totally different studio. On the other hand, simply stating that the game exists, and that it’s in development for the Nintendo Switch, should still be accurate.

metroid prime

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Metroid Prime 4 gameplay

metroid prime

(Image credit: Nintendo)

It’s difficult to say anything concrete about Metroid Prime 4’s gameplay, since we don’t have any screenshots or footage to work from. Even if we did, though, it would likely be material from the first studio’s build, and would therefore have no bearing on the Metroid Prime 4 that fans eventually get to play. Perhaps the original studio was trying something different, and Retro has something more traditional in mind; maybe the reverse is true. We may not know for years, although it’ll make an interesting postmortem someday.

At the very least, we can say that Metroid Prime 4 will probably have gameplay similar to the first three Metroid Prime games. That means it will be a first-person shooter with the same exploration and gear upgrade elements that you’d expect from any Metroid game. (The first-person perspective is a hallmark of the Metroid Prime subseries; if Retro wanted to make a side-scroller, then it wouldn’t include “Prime” in the title.) Whether Samus will explore one big planet, as in the first game, a planet with light and dark halves, as in the second game, or multiple smaller planets, as in the third game, is anyone’s guess.

Metroid Prime Trilogy Switch remaster

It’s also worth at least mentioning the Metroid Prime Trilogy Switch remaster here, since it’s been a subject of fevered anticipation for at least as long as the Switch has been around. Basically, fans really, really want the first three Metroid Prime games to be remastered and bundled as a Switch release. The Metroid Prime series originally came out on GameCube and Wii, and while you can buy a digital bundle on the Wii U, there’s no such option on Switch.

Every few months, there’s some kind of “confirmed leak” that the Metroid Prime Trilogy on Switch is about to get announced. Some retailer or other will accidentally list it, or Nintendo will make an oblique Metroid reference, or someone whose uncle totally works at Nintendo, you guys, will claim that it’ll be up for pre-order any day now.

The only trouble is, every rumor, no matter how reliable it sounded, has proven to be pure bunkum. As of right now, the Metroid Prime Trilogy Switch remaster isn’t a thing that exists. It would be nice to have, and it’s completely believable that Nintendo is working on it. But there’s no hard evidence, so hope at your own risk.

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.