One of the big surprises that completely came from out of left-field was Nintendo's announcement of Metroid Prime 4 for the Nintendo Switch. All we received during the Nintendo Direct was a splash screen and absolutely nothing else. So why did Nintendo announce Metroid Prime 4 so early? Turns out, it was because Nintendo felt that gamers really wanted to know about upcoming Switch content and because Metroid is an important property for the company.
Reggie Fils-Aime explained the company's position in an interview he had with Polygon:
We wanted to make it clear that Metroid is an important franchise for us. As we think about how to satisfy the needs to the Metroid fans, we needed to make sure they understood there was a great console experience coming, in addition to Metroid: Samus Returns coming on Nintendo 3DS.
A lot of people figured that Nintendo announced Metroid Prime 4 so early as a lead-in for the 3DS exclusive, Metroid: Samus Returns. In a way, they weren't wrong.
Fils-Aime explained that it was because of the expectations people had for the Nintendo Switch that Nintendo wanted to show in good faith that there was a Metroid game in the works for the company's new hybrid console and handheld game system.
During the Nintendo Direct the only thing gamers were shown of Metroid Prime 4 was just the title screen. There was no gameplay, no discussions about the game whatsoever from the development team, and no talk about which branch of Nintendo would actually be developing it. Polygon is reporting that series producer Kensuke Tanabe is back on board and willing to work on the title.
There's absolutely no information whatsoever on how far into development Nintendo actually is on the game. Directly after announcing the game the company quickly moved on to announce Metroid: Samus Returns for the Nintendo 3DS.
During the Treehouse Live event that took place throughout the three days of E3, Nintendo demonstrated live gameplay footage of Metroid: Samus Returns, but avoided mentioning any details regarding Metroid Prime 4. According to Fils-Aime, it was important to showcase actual gameplay footage of Samus Returns so that gamers had an idea of what to expect from the 3DS title.
The game is actually a remake of Metroid 2 from the Gameboy from way back in the day. The developers at MercurySteam updated the core mechanics, added a new 360 degree rotation for the aiming, and also took a few notes from Team Ninja's Metroid Other M when it came to some of the mechanics introduced in the side-scrolling segments of the Wii title.
So, when can we expect details on Metroid Prime 4? No one knows. Most people felt that the title screen popping up during the Nintendo Direct was Nintendo's way of trying to rectify a lack of games that came out to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Metroid and to compensate for the poorly received Metroid Prime: Federation Force, where gamers complained about the fact that it didn't star Samus and felt like a cheap cash-in title.