The Metroid timeline for many years has remained largely unchanged. Admittedly this has been due to a lack of new games in the series, but that isn’t the point, as even the last new game in the franchise — Metroid Prime: Federation Force — didn’t mess with the timeline in any tangible way. However, during their E3 2021 Direct, Nintendo revealed not only a new Metroid game but the fifth numbered title itself: Metroid Dread. This is the next part of the story after 2002’s Metroid Fusion, inciting theories and concerns from the long-starved fanbase.
Since this broadcast, I’ve watched the trailer countless times, speculated over the details both minor and major, and came up with my own theories and thoughts on the narrative journey of Samus Aran. But the main question I’ve pondered over is based on something that Yoshio Sakamoto said about Metroid Dread: What does the end of the Metroid story arc mean for the series and for the protagonist? For this, I need to go back to the beginning.
Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Metroid series.
The Metroid Timeline Until Now
Samus Aran’s tale, and the tale of the Metroids as a creature by extension, began with a mission to the Planet Zebes. This saw the bounty hunter take on the Space Pirates and their leader, Mother Brain, over their use of the Metroid species. They sought to use their power of absorbing the life force of other creatures to dominate all who opposed them; the Galactic Federation wasn't particularly happy about this, so it sent in Samus. Her actions then promptly destroyed the entire planet, so that should have been the end of the Metroids, but …
Metroids returned as a threat during the Metroid Prime series where they continued to be used as makeshift weapons by the Space Pirates throughout these five adventures. In these instances, the Metroids had been experimented on to give them new qualities and abilities, as a means to make them more formidable threats. However, they are still no match for Samus, and all of these were wiped out too.
After destroying the planet Phaze at the end of Corruption, the Galactic Federation finally decides that Metroids are a threat and send Samus to their home planet SR388 to basically exterminate all of them. In this task she is ruthlessly efficient, exterminating all of them — including their queen — but one. This remaining one was newly hatched and followed Samus like a child, leading to her handing it over to the Space Science Academy for research. With the last Metroid in captivity, the galaxy was at peace.
Then Ridley, commander of the Space Pirates, attacked the academy and took the last Metroid to a recreated Planet Zebes. Here, Samus uncovered a plot by Mother Brain and the Space Pirates to clone the last Metroid and hone the species into bio-weapons. She succeeded against this new threat, eradicating all of the Space Pirates and the planet once more, after the last Metroid alive fell to Mother Brain when it recognized and saved Samus from the monster’s assault.
Other M happened next, but let’s just slide on past it.
Our final stop on the tour takes us back to SR388, where Samus was attacked by parasitic organisms called the X. She is taken to the Biologic Space Laboratories (BSL), but the outlook is bleak on her recovery until the proposal that she is treated with a vaccine created from the DNA of the Metroid child Samus rescued, as Metroids were the only predator of the X. This works but, owing to her suit being infected, she is surgically removed from it, fundamentally altering her appearance.
You might be wondering how the researchers just happened to have Metroid DNA on hand, although this is quickly pushed aside when there’s a distress signal at BSL. After a quick sojourn through the station and an encounter with an X parasite clone of herself, Samus stumbles across (surprise surprise) a secret lab where the Galactic Federation have been cloning Metroids for … entirely peaceful reasons, it promises. One self-destruct mechanism later, Samus escapes while maintaining her penchant for destroying locations.
Metroid Dread's Place in the Timeline
This brings us up to Metroid Dread, and Samus Aran’s mission on the Planet ZDR. From what we saw of the game, Samus is still wearing a more organic and form-fitting suit, similar to the Fusion Suit from Metroid Fusion. There are slight differences in design from this suit, granted, but is still closer to that than the Chozo Power Suit. We still aren’t aware as to how Samus will invariably lose all of her powers she gained up to the end of her time in BSL, or why she is now on ZDR, but this much we do know.
What also undoubtedly remains is Samus’ new genetic makeup, which leads me onto the most interesting element added with Metroid Dread; the mechanical constructs that stalk Samus throughout the game, the E.M.M.I. robots. Now, this is purely speculation, but I don’t believe that they are simply security on this planet as previously stated by Nintendo. My guess is that they are actively hunting Samus owing to her part-Metroid DNA, which is what they are programmed to do, and that one of the “M”s in the acronym stands for Metroid.
So, when Sakamoto stated that Metroid Dread will be the end of the Metroid arc, I think that this means the Metroid DNA will be removed from Samus somehow over the course of this story. As the bounty hunter is essentially the last Metroid remaining in existence, unless the Galactic Federation have been naughty again, the only realistic way that the story of the Metroids can truly end is with that option. Or the death of Samus, of course, but I don’t think Nintendo would be brave enough to try such a gambit.
There is another possibility though, if we take the since debunked reference to “Project Dread” in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption as canon. This project, created by the Space Pirates, sought to use the power harvested by Metroids to power weapons. The project had failed according to a second lore scan in the same room, but if the Space Pirates had continued this research and succeeded, the E.M.M.I. could be the end result of these experiments. If this is the case, the end of the Metroid arc would be the destruction of these constructs and ending even the after-effects of Metroid power for good.
The Future of the Metroid Timeline
So, what would be the future for the Metroid series after the end of the Metroids themselves? It has been confirmed by Nintendo in interviews, such as this one in IGN, that Metroid Dread will not be the end of Samus’ story, so we know this isn’t the end of the series. However, without the main antagonist and namesake of the series, how can the story continue onwards without monstrous vampiric creatures? If you would allow another moment of speculation here, I think the clue was in the trailer for Metroid Dread itself.
Although only for a moment, we saw what looked like an alive Chozo, a mysterious race that have had multiple appearances throughout the series although never alive. This race raised Samus when she was orphaned and seemingly disappeared some time after Samus left to pursue her desire to become a bounty hunter. With this being the first Chozo we have ever seen alive and in person, there’s the possibility for the continuation of Samus’ journey revolving around finding the remaining Chozo wherever they might be.
The only problem with this as an arc is how long it could justifiably last, unless Metroid goes the way of Doctor Who and entirely forgets entire possible story arcs for no good reason. We know that the Chozo are no longer on several planets, either because they long since vanished (Tallon IV) or because the planet no longer exists (Zebes), but the universe is practically infinite. They could be anywhere. All Samus really needs to do is keep blowing places up and it wouldn’t take long to find where the remaining Chozo are living.
One of the interesting things about this as a potential arc is that Samus has greatly changed since she last saw the Chozo, with very few of the powers they bestowed upon her remaining. Also, she has become a destructive force equal to the Death Star in that time, and has wiped out all of the Metroids, a species created by the Chozo. So, we could even possibly see a rejection of Samus by her peaceful former allies for her violent missions. This could then result in her needing to prove herself to be accepted again, which could be an incredible continuation of Samus' tale.
All of this and pretty much everything aside from the agreed timeline is speculation, of course, but it will be interesting to see how the journey of Samus continues after Metroid Dread. What do you think? How will the game end the Metroid arc of the story, and how will Samus’ tale develop afterwards? Let us know in the comments below, and see you next mission!