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10 Metroid Dread tips to help you survive Planet ZDR

metroid dread
(Image credit: Nintendo)

After 19 long years, Metroid Dread has arrived. Intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran’s story has been on hold for a while, but Metroid Dread finally delivers the next chapter in the celebrated sci-fi saga. If you complete Metroid Dread, you’ll learn much more about Samus’ backstory, as well the deadly Metroids, the shapeshifting X Parasites and the mysterious Chozo. Granted, that might be a pretty big “if,” as the game doesn’t pull any punches.

Like most other Metroid titles, Metroid Dread is an extremely difficult game. It’s not obtuse or punishing, but you will need to use your wits to figure out where to go, and your reflexes to tackle the game’s tough bosses. Luckily, Samus has plenty of resources at her disposal as she explores the deadly Planet ZDR. Tom’s Guide has compiled 10 indispensable tips to help you explore the new world and see Samus safely back to her ship.

Take your time 

Metroid Dread screen shot

(Image credit: Nintendo)

If you’ve never played a Metroid game before, you might be surprised by just how fragile Samus feels. She can’t take that many hits in the beginning of the game. Even after you upgrade your health, you tend to encounter new enemies that hit even harder, so survivability is almost always a concern. As such, plowing straight ahead is a good way to get yourself killed. Instead, take out enemies from a distance whenever possible, or avoid them entirely; the only reason to kill them is if you need more health or missile ammo. 

Hunt for upgrades… 

Metroid Dread screen shot

(Image credit: Nintendo)

If you stick to the game’s main path and never branch out, you’ll arrive at the boss fights feeling pretty underpowered. Like other Metroid games, Metroid Dread encourages you to go off the beaten path and hunt for upgrades to your health and ammo capacity. The game hides these upgrades behind walls, in hard-to-reach areas, or inside seemingly inaccessible rooms. If you can, take a minute or two to see if there’s a way to reach that tempting missile or health tank. There may not be, in which case you’ll have to come back later. 

… but don’t obsess over them 

Metroid Dread screen shot

(Image credit: Nintendo)

As a Metroidvania, Metroid Dread loves tempting you with items and doorways that you simply can’t access on your first trip through an area. Some upgrades are absolutely impossible to reach the first time you find them; others are simply much more trouble than they’re worth. If you’re comfortable simply plowing ahead, the most efficient way to gather all the upgrades is simply to wait until right before the final boss, when you’ll have access to all of Samus’ equipment, and the ability to teleport around much of the map. Just be warned that you may be a little underpowered for the bosses, though. 

Follow where the game leads 

Metroid Dread screen shot

(Image credit: Nintendo)

At first, Metroid Dread may feel a little aimless. The game rarely tells you where to go, and even when it does, it never tells you exactly how to get there. However, if you pay close attention, Metroid Dread will almost always lead you toward your next objective. Generally speaking, after you find a new ability, one of the nearby screens (perhaps after a tram or a teleporter to a new area) will have some kind of obstacle that requires you to use it. Use your ability and follow the new path. That’s almost always where you’ll uncover the next story objective. 

Don’t stress over E.M.M.I. sections 

Metroid Dread screen shot

(Image credit: Nintendo)

In Metroid Dread, Samus squares off against a new type of foe: a corrupted science robot called an E.M.M.I. Seven times throughout the game, Samus must evade and then confront the E.M.M.I.s, who can (and usually will) kill her in a single hit. While you can technically escape from an E.M.M.I. once it grabs you, the timing is exacting, and you won’t be able to do it often. However, if you fail an E.M.M.I. section, you’ll restart from right outside the door — not your last save point. You may have to retry these sections quite a few times before you succeed, so just be patient. 

Learn boss patterns 

Metroid Dread screen shot

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Metroid Dread is often challenging, but it’s not until the boss fights that the game becomes downright sadistic. Bosses dish out a ton of damage, have limited windows of vulnerability and often require you to pull off intense platforming challenges while you’re trying to damage them. The good news, however, is that each boss has a semi-predictable pattern, and that every single attack has a sensible way to dodge it. The trick is to learn how to dodge each attack, even if it means letting the boss savage you a few times in the process. Many bosses also drop health if you hit them the right way, so be on the lookout. 

Revisit old areas 

Metroid Dread screen shot

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Progressing through Metroid Dread isn’t as simple as going from one area to the next. Every area has a variety of obstacles that Samus will need her entire arsenal to overcome. As such, when you leave an area, you can expect to come back again, and again, and again. If you hit a brick wall (metaphorical or otherwise) while exploring a new area, it’s possible that the tool you need is hidden away in a level you’ve already explored. Simply revisit a different area and see if there’s anything you overlooked. At worst, you’ll at least pick up a few upgrades, making the next boss fight a little more manageable. 

Master the parry 

Metroid Dread screen shot

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Metroid Dread comes courtesy of Spanish developer MercurySteam, which also developed Metroid: Samus Returns on the 3DS. In general, fans and critics liked the game, but one element didn’t sit well with everyone: the parry mechanic. In Metroid Dread, as in Samus Returns, Samus can repel enemies with a powerful melee attack by hitting the X button at just the right moment. Getting the right timing can be a little fiddly, but it’s worth learning each enemy’s parry patterns. When you defeat an enemy with the parry, they drop a ton of health and ammo — and you can’t beat some bosses without parrying them. 

Blow everything up 

Metroid Dread screen shot

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Missiles and bombs in Metroid Dread are easy come, easy go. There’s no need to hoard them. Enemies drop plenty of ammo, and you’ll almost always get a chance to restock just before boss fights. As such, fire missiles at any surface that looks suspicious — you’ll often blast away hidden blocks, or at least reveal what tool you’ll need to do so. Later in the game, you’ll acquire Power Bombs, which are even more effective at revealing structural weak points. Be sure to use missiles liberally during boss fights as well. Charging up your beam cannon takes a long time, and bosses will often drop ammo as you fight. 

Consult the map 

Metroid Dread screen shot

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Whether you’re trying to find the next mission objective or the next optional upgrade, the best thing you can do is pause the game and check your map. This isn’t necessarily the most action-packed part of Metroid Dread. If you’re looking for items or doorways that you missed, your only option is to zoom in and slowly scroll through each area, trying to determine if there’s a lot of empty space that exploration could fill in. But it’s also a relatively foolproof process. If an area looks unexplored, there’s probably something worthwhile there. And you may find some other useful stuff along the way. 

Marshall Honorof

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.