Updated: May 24
Despite Nintendo airing two Direct presentations this year, they've been notably silent on one of their more secondary intellectual properties, Metroid, specifically the next installment in the elegant FPS sub-series of Metroid Prime with Metroid Prime 4.
Metroid Prime 4 received a mere 42-second trailer at E3 2017, noting it will release on the Nintendo Switch sometime in the future. The E3 2017 trailer gave fans the signature Metroid Prime theme and knowledge that Metroid Prime 4 development was underway.
Nintendo remained silent about Metroid Prime 4. Then in January of 2019, Nintendo issued an official update (presented in a very minimalist and honest manner from Shinya Takahashi), which turned into something of an apology to fans who had been waiting with bated breath to hear something, anything about the next Metroid game.
Sadly, fans ended up hearing the sad news that the game "has not reached the standards we seek in a sequel to the Metroid Prime series [and] [we] decided to reexamine the development structure itself and change it,” according to Takahashi.
Low and behold, Retro Studios, the superb guys and girls behind the original trilogy of Metroid Prime, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and Tropical Freeze titles, were officially announced as being entrusted with Metroid Prime 4 and restarted the development cycle from the beginning.
For now, Retro Studios and Nintendo are playing their cards very close to the chest. However, an Nintendo Life article announced that Retro Studios was getting a new 40,000 square foot office remodeling/makeover within its hometown of Austin, Texas. They aim to have this project completed by the summer of this year.
The article also details how Retro Studios has been cherry-picking talents from across many different studios like Rockstar, DICE, Crystal Dynamics, and 343 Industries, filling in its employment gaps with some serious talent from across the industry in some varied and perfect areas.
This new round of hiring veteran industry talent didn't cause old teammates to leave the development team. Supposedly half the team from Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is still employed at the studio. Further, this indicates the people working on the next iteration have previous experience with the former titles.
Even with those heavyweight names and the original staff on board, they still have positions for a Level 1 and 2 IT Engineer, a Concept Artist, an Environment Designer, and a System Designer listed on their site's careers page.
The job specs also demand experience, with the Environment Designer needing to have “7+ years [of] experience in game development [and] 5+ years [of] creating environments for a 3D action-adventure title."
Further, it's hard to gauge where exactly Retro Studios is in Metroid Prime 4's life. The Concept Artist position says one of the responsibilities for the role is to “Take ownership of concept work for various characters, environments, and props [and] design visually cohesive fictional worlds and characters”.
Putting an ad out for job roles that specify creating characters and environments from scratch in the concept phase makes me think the final product is still a ways off. Although it's pertinent to understand Retro Studios will be hiring for future projects and not solely for Metroid Prime 4. So this could, in theory, be unrelated to the progress of Samus’ next game.
Whether the news for the next game is on the horizon or not, the slightest detail will keep fans speculating. Rest assured, Nintendo, that Samus’ followers are out there.