Metroid turns 30 this year, and the news has been marked in the best way possible by not one but two new titles in the franchise. Metroid Prime 4 and Metroid: Samus Returns are certainly worth getting excited about, but former Metroid Prime designers Kynan Pearson and Mike Wikan have more ambitious ideas for where they want the series to head next.
Speaking to Switch Player in the magazine's latest issue, Wikan - who worked as a senior designer on the Metroid Prime Trilogy and is now employed as Practical Futurist and Creative Director at Booz Allen Hamilton - thinks that Zelda: Breath of the Wild has shown the way forward for the franchise:
I think there is an opportunity to create a more living 'world' for Samus to explore. By maturing the visual guideposts within the world to match and enhance the 'lock and key' systemic exploration that is at the heart of the Metroid Prime series of games, there would be an opportunity to enhance those elements that make the Metroid Prime games unique - the isolation, the wonder, and the fear. When I look at what the new Zelda game is doing on the Switch, it really seems clear to me that there is an opportunity to push the elements that are keystones in the franchise toward their logical gameplay constraints.
Imagine cyclopean bosses pursuing you under the skin of a verdant moon across kilometres of terrain, scatting buildings and native life in its wake until you finally lure it to a battlefield of your choosing - a ringed gas giant dominating the sky overhead.
Imagine an alien ship whose wreckage is scattered across hundreds of miles of terrain, your goal as the player being to pull the data cores from each section and reassemble the Gravitic Compression Cannon to face the final boss.
Imagine collecting the Wing Suit, allowing you to fly to near orbit and rendezvous with the orbital defence satellite - retargeting it on the surface below to breach the shields of a space pirate stronghold.
Not just creating isolated pockets suggesting a world, but creating a world and playing within it - and perhaps even bringing a friend.
Pearson, who was also a senior designer on the Metroid Prime series and now works at Playful Corp, has similar aspirations for a new Metroid:
I'd also love to see a completely new, fully 3D, third person re-imaginging of the Metroid franchise utilising the philosophies used to create The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It would be wonderful to have a fully realised planet featuring a vast surface and a deep subterranean world to explore. I'd love to play off on a concept of freely exploring a dangerous world that's filled with surprises and unique abilities, which players could tackle without guidance. To see them really play up elements of trying to survive in a world filled with undiscovered dangers, difficult enemies, bosses, and truly alien terrain. Metroid was always about gaining strange powers in a fully connected and dangerous world, so I hope they create a game that captures the heart of that concept. This type of game could present architecture and bosses at a grand scale that surpasses what players had experienced in the Metroid universe to date. I'd love to see Ridley realised as a massive space dragon that could engage players dynamically in different locations of the world. While it would feel open world, there would have to be a deeply crafted sense of discovering new parts of the world using the abilities the Chozo left behind.
The full interviews with both Pearson and Wikan are well worth reading, so make sure you pick up a copy of issue 4 of Switch Player here.