MercurySteam’s Metroid Dread has given the long-lived Nintendo franchise a boost in the arm it needed so much in anticipation of Metroid Prime 4. The return of the popular 2D formula with the previously abandoned 2002 sequel Metroid Fusion turned out to be a great move, as Dread became the best-selling game in the Metroid franchise and received critical acclaim, winning The Game Awards 2021 in the category “Best Action/Adventure Game” (where it was nominated for “Game of the Year”).
However, not much has been done since the launch of Metroid Dread last October. Free updates such as the addition of Dread and Rookie Mode have boosted hopes for larger DLC plans, but nothing has been confirmed at the time of this writing. It would be a shame to leave the game alone, given that extensions for games as popular as Monster Hunter Rise maintain the interest that Metroid needs Retro Studios to keep Prime 4 a secret for longer. The DLC for Metroid Dread could make a big difference by experimenting with the formula of the series, possibly introducing a new playable character who is preparing future adventures for Samus Aran.
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When Metroid Dread Leaves History
Metroid Dread completes a narrative arc that took almost 40 years to create, weaving together a story in which Raven Beak, the leader of the fraudulent Mokin Chozo tribe, forces Samus to go through trials to awaken Metroid DNA, which cured her of infection with X-parasites before the Fusion events. He hopes to turn her into an instrument of conquest after Samus destroys all kinds of Metroids in Metroid 2: Return of Samus (or, more appropriately, in the 3DS remake of MercurySteam: Samus Returns).
Naturally, this plan backfires, as Samus turns his rage and awakened Metroid powers against the Crow’s Beak, which causes the Planet ZDR to explode as a last attempt to kill the bounty hunter in the classic Metroid manner. Samus manages to escape by breaking the main thread when the X-Parasite threat shatters into cosmic fragments. The door remains open for this legendary bounty hunter to see new corners of the galaxy, but one direction the next Metroid arch may explore is a reaction to her uncontrollable power. Introducing a new character representing the Galactic Federation or other organizations would be a reasonable way to achieve this.
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Understanding Metroid Main Characters with Dread DLC
It is worth paying attention to the elephant in the room that Nintendo has not achieved much success by abandoning Samus as the sole protagonist of Metroid. Metroid Prime: Federation Force is notorious for its poor reception when it was announced as a cooperative shooter featuring faceless Marines. Metroid: Other M and, to a lesser extent, Fusion are also commonly criticized for the fact that some of Samus’ agent capabilities focused on overseeing the Federation and people like Adam Malkovich.
At the same time, Samus successfully integrated with other characters in her universe. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption introduces fellow bounty hunters Rundas, Horus and Gandraida, none of whom survive after being desecrated by Phazon; leaving an indelible mark on the main character as the credits roll. If not for a government official, the Metroid Dread DLC could have played the role of another bounty hunter tasked with finding Samus’ hideout a few months after the end of the main game.
While it would be unusual for the Metroid series to introduce new characters into DLC, it’s not an unprecedented idea for the broader industry. MercurySteam can take an example from a game like Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, which has a post-game campaign with Riku in the lead role. Riku’s abilities are similar to Sora’s in Chain of Memories and are based on the same deck-building battle, and the new Metroid protagonist can similarly use beams or missiles other than Chozo’s power suit technology.
Adding this new perspective to the series can help connect the broader elements of the franchise as well. Perhaps this minor bounty hunter also plays a role in Metroid Prime 4, making the Dread DLC a sequel or prequel to advertise the next Retro Studios project. Games like Halo 5: Guardians and Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes are already experimenting with hunting down the fan-favorite protagonist, so MercurySteam can take notes to make his performance as reliable as possible.
Metroid Dread is already available on the Nintendo Switch.