Revealed as part of the E3 2021 Nintendo Direct presentation, Metroid Dread is the first brand new entry in the classic 2D Metroid series for nearly 20 years. This upcoming Switch game promises to tie a bow on the story of Samus and the Metroids which began 35 years ago with Metroid on the NES.
In this guide we present everything we know about Metroid Dread, from story points the game will touch on and information from the developers themselves down to the very basics of who, what, where, when and why, including when it's coming out on Switch (8th October) and who that Metroid chap in the cool armour is.
Metroid Dread release date - When is Metroid Dread launching on Switch?
Metroid Dread is releasing on 8th October 2021. Not too long to wait!
The game, a Special Edition package and the amiibo are all available to pre-order now.
Metroid Dread guide - Everything we know about Metroid Dread
Below we cover everything we know about Metroid Dread, from the very basics to the nitty-gritty lore info we've gleaned from videos and other sources.
So, what is Metroid Dread?
Metroid Dread is the upcoming fifth entry in the Metroid series. It stars Samus Aran as a bounty hunter who encounters mysterious beings known as Metroids, an alien species most commonly depicted as floating jellyfish-type creatures that have various forms and functions throughout the games.
As with the previous entries in the series, Metroid Dread is a side-on 2D platformer with a focus on exploring and acquiring abilities which then enable you to reach new areas and reveal of large network of interconnecting regions on a map.
The game lent its name to the Metroidvania genre, a group of games which (to a greater or lesser degree) tie the unlocking of new areas on a non-linear 2D map to new equipment and abilities found through exploration and enemy encounters. Over the past decade or so many smaller indie studios have created some excellent games that follow this basic template, so for players who grew up on these games, it's exciting to see Nintendo return to the series.
Who is Metroid?
Er, you mean "What is a Metroid?".
As detailed above, a Metroid is a parasitic alien creature most often depicted throughout the series as floating, transparent jellyfish-like beasties.
If you're talking about the person in the cool-looking armour, that's Samus Aran. After shedding her armour and revealing herself as female at the end of the original Metroid on NES, she's the most proficient bounty hunter in the galaxy and primary thorn in the side of series antagonists, the Space Pirates.
How many Metroid games are there?
15 including this one (at the time of writing), but in terms of this particular branch of the Metroid series — the 2D games — Dread is the fifth.
In fact, the reveal trailer opened with the words 'Metroid 5' which follows in the tradition of Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion which featured title cards referring to themselves as Metroid 3 and 4 respectively, even though their official titles omitted the numerals.
There are other Metroid games, too, including spin-offs such as Metroid Prime Pinball and Metroid Prime: Federation Force, although the most notable non-2D games are the first-person series which began with Metroid Prime followed by Metroid Prime 2: Echoes on GameCube, and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption on Wii.
What's Metroid Dread's background story?
While the main plot points are understandably under wraps, Dread is being billed as a 'conclusion' to the narrative that's evolved over the previous four 2D games exploring the peculiar link between Samus and the titular Metroids. The video above features our lovely video team dissecting every part of the Dread reveal trailer, so check that out if you want to analyse every detail and indulge in some lore speculation.
There are certain thing we know for sure, though. For example, Planet ZDR is the location for Metroid Dread. Samus is being hunted by large robots known as E.M.M.I. which were sent to ZDR by the Galactic Federation "to capture and extract DNA from unknown creatures".
As you can see from the trailers, the EMMI — of which there are apparently just seven — take an interest in Samus and will hunt her if she ventures into their patrol areas. The EMMI appear to come in different shapes and sizes and are able to kill Samus in one hit if they catch her, although Samus will be able to evade their attack with a very well-timed counter.
Nintendo UK has revealed more lore tidbits from the upcoming game on its website. This includes some beats from Metroid Dread's prologue, which covers Samus' encounter with the X parasite in Metroid Fusion (the GBA game and previous entry in the series). Below we've reproduced the prologue images along with Samus' 'quotes' from Nintendo UK's site:
The X is a terrifyingly lethal parasite that takes over organic creatures, mimicking them afterward based on their genetic information.
It once infected me too. But my life was saved, thanks to a vaccine created from the X's natural enemy: Metroids. Not only that, it made me into the only being capable of fighting this creature that threatens the galaxy.
After a deadly battle with the SA-X, a copy of me at my full capabilities, I finally succeeded in wiping out the X, along with the planet SR388.
One day, the Galactic Federation received video footage from an unknown source indicating that the X still lived. The Federation dispatched a special unit consisting of seven E.M.M.I. robots to the remote planet ZDR, believed to be the source of the transmission.
Soon after arriving at ZDR, the whole unit mysteriously vanished.
Does the X truly still exist? And just what is happening on ZDR? It's up to me, the only one immune to the X parasite, to go find out…
Nintendo has also stated that the Chozo civilisation will feature in the game once again:
On planet ZDR, where the Metroid Dread game takes place, there are various implications to be discovered surrounding Chozo civilization, which might connect with the game’s story in some way.
What's new in Metroid Dread?
In terms of Samus' abilities, various things. We looked at some of them in our coverage of a preview event we attended, but here's the round up of Samus' new moves and abilities in Metroid Dread:
- Slide — Samus can now slide and is able to slip through small gaps without having to stop and turn into a ball
- Melee Counter and Dash Melee — new attacks Samus can use to deal with enemies while on the move
- Free aim — rather than being restricted to precision aiming only when stationary (as in Metroid: Samus Returns), Samus can now aim in any direction while moving
- Spider Magnet — when you see a blue magnetic strip along the surface of walls and ceilings, Samus will be able to grip on those and move along them while still being able to shoot and counter attack
- Phantom Cloak — A new Aeion Ability, the Phantom Cloak turns Samus invisible until her Aeion and Energy reserves are depleted
- Markers — In a development post that went into the history of various elements of the Metroid franchise, Nintendo stated that you'll be able to add up to six waypoint markers
- A 'powered-up' map — The improved map shows details like terrain type as well as whether you've visited the area or not. You can also toggle between the minimap and an expanded view by hitting the left D-button
What does E.M.M.I. stand for?
Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifiers. Yep.
What are E.M.M.I.?
Nintendo UK published the second part of its Metroid Dread 'report' featuring details from the developers with a bunch of details on these robots tracking and terminating poor Samus — we recommend reading the details of that report for the full lowdown. However, we'll summarise the basics below:
- The Galactic Federation sent a bunch of E.M.M.I. to planet ZDR to search for the X parasite, but communication was lost
- The reason they are attacking Samus is unknown at this time
- E.M.M.I. operate in one of three modes: Patrol Mode (blue — roaming a defined E.M.M.I. Zone), Search Mode (yellow — investigating a sound detected), Pursuit Mode (red — actively chasing a target)
- While strong, E.M.M.I. are not invincible. By powering up at a Central Unit, Samus can upgrade her Arm Cannon to an Omega Cannon, which the E.M.M.I. are vulnerable to
- There are several different types of E.M.M.I. — we've seen two so far, but Nintendo highlights the seven in the Metroid Dread key art, so there may be seven varieties
Hang on, wasn't there a 'Metroid Dread' in development years ago?
Yes there was, and that project has evolved into this one. Our lovely video producer Jon Cartwright has put together a history on the project in video form — check it out above if you're intrigued to find out how this 15-year-old project finally came to fruition.
Do I need to have played previous Metroid games to understand Metroid Dread?
To understand and enjoy the game? No.
Series producer Yoshio Sakamoto told us that the game will include a prologue scene (as detailed above and much like the one included at the beginning of Super Metroid) that will bring new players up to speed with the basic plot points. He was at pains to point out that new players needn't have played a previous Metroid game to enjoy Dread.
However, this series is a truly brilliant one, and we highly recommend playing at least one of the previous entries to get you in the mood. Don't know where to start? We've covered all the previous games in our guide on how to prepare for Metroid Dread, so check that out if you're curious.
What do the Metroid Dread amiibo do?
Launching alongside the game is a pair of Metroid Dread amiibo figures — one of Samus herself and another of an EMMI.
The new Samus figure can be scanned for a one-time energy tank upgrade to increase your health by 100, after which you can continue to scan it in once a day to receive health.
The EMMI figure grants you a Missile+ tank on its first scan, increasing Samus' missile capacity by 10. From then on, you can scan it once per day to replenish your missiles.
Neither are essential to play, but they look mighty cool so you might want to pick them up, too.
Yes, yes, this is all very nice, but what about Metroid Prime 4?
Sorry, no more word on Retro Studios' first-person Metroid Prime sequel just yet. Nintendo and primary developer Retro Studios (who made the previous Prime games) are still "working hard" on the game.
For more info, check out our guide to everything we know about Metroid Prime 4. Spoilers: it ain't all that much.
y can't metroid crawl
Oh you meme-y monkey, you. Metroids don't have legs, silly — just those pointy tentacle thingys.
Let us know below if you've got any questions about the upcoming game and we'll endeavour to answer anything we haven't addressed above already. We'll update this guide as new details come to light pre-release.