"Metroid" fans are used to being patient. "Metroid Dread" on Switch is the first mainline release in the franchise since 2017’s "Samus Returns" and the first original Samus story in over a decade. Moreover, "Dread" serves as a direct sequel to 2002’s Game Boy Advance classic "Metroid Fusion." Players have waited for years to see the conclusion of Bounty Hunter Samus Aran’s narrative. So, after all this hype, how is it?
A lot of "Metroid" devotees will be happy to learn that "Dread" digs into the deep lore around Samus and her connection to the Chozo race. It puts a wrap on Samus’ arc, but mostly acts as a follow up to previously explored ideas. In "Metroid Fusion," Samus eliminates all living Metroids and the deadly shapeshifting X parasite is allowed to roam free. Samus is injected with Metroid DNA (the only predator of the X) and sent to track down and subdue the X on planet SR388. They are seemingly all destroyed in that game, but of course this is far from the truth.
While "Dread" contains cutscenes, it is a "Metroid" game and the storytelling can be minimal at best and straight up confusing at worst. Here is all the information you need to understand the ending of "Metroid Dread."
How Samus’ past ties into Metroid Dread
Hardcore fans may find the commitment of "Dread" to the deep lore of the "Metroid" timeline an absolute delight. But many players could be confused about what exactly Samus is. She’s not, in fact, just a human in a suit.
A great deal of pertinent "Dread" story information can be found in the "Metroid" manga. Originally published in the Japanese Magazine Z, the manga was released from 2003 to 2004 and coincided with the release of "Metroid: Zero Mission", a remake of the original game that also took Samus back to her roots. It tells the origin of Samus as a child raised on the colony planet K-2L. After a near death experience where Ridley almost destroys the planet, Samus is brought back to Zebes by a tribe of friendly Chozo.
The Chozo inject Samus with Metroid DNA and equip her with her now iconic power suit so she can survive on their planet. She was raised and trained by the Chozo, explaining her abilities and why the statues scattered about the worlds she explores in the game give her power-ups.
Samus completes her transformation
The X from "Metroid Fusion" eventually appear in "Dread" and they play a significant part in the story and Raven Beak’s ultimate plan. However, another critical detail from the Game Boy Advance title takes center stage. "Fusion" began with Samus getting an infusion of Metroid DNA into her body, allowing her to combat and absorb the X. By the end of "Dread," this thread reaches its logical conclusion.
Near the close of the game, Samus feels an uncontrollable power surge through her hand as she destroys the final EMMI. ADAM, Samus’s AI guide, eventually informs Samus that she has become completely Metroid. He also explains that the Chozo DNA Samus received to save her life as a child on Zebes was a mixture of both Thoha and Mawkin. This gives further context to a major exposition dump from Quiet Robe earlier in the narrative and is what makes Samus such a powerful being in the "Metroid" universe.
Raven Beak reveals his connection to Samus
Before their rematch — the final boss battle of the game — Raven Beak reveals his true nature to Samus. He tells her that the Mawkin DNA given to her on Zebes in childhood was from him. It is "Empire Strikes Back" up in here when Raven Beak gives his grand "Samus, I am your father" speech during the final confrontation.
During a mid-fight cutscene, the Chozo villain lays out his grand plan: build an entire army of Samuses by cloning her DNA. Her combination of strong Chozo genes along with the growing Metroid side of her have come together to make Samus the most powerful Metroid ever to exist. Raven Beak aims to achieve galactic dominance with an army made of these ultra-strong Metroids.
When the X finally consumes him, it becomes the ultimate battle between the strongest Metroid and the strongest X to ever live. This is the epic conclusion to the 2D "Metroid" saga.
Samus’ final suit represents her new identity
During her ultimate encounter with Raven Beak, Samus experiences a surge of energy and her suit goes through a final visual overhaul. This suit, which sports natural-looking spikes and glowing patches of green and red, is evocative of a Metroid. The spikes mimic the claws and the colors reflect the green and red of the typical Metroids Samus encounters in her adventures. It’s Samus becoming full Metroid. In a last-minute struggle for life she activates her ultimate hidden potential.
The transformation equips Samus with an ultra-powerful Hyper Beam she uses to kill Raven Beak-X and make her escape from ZDR. This follows the "Super Metroid" tradition of giving the player this final blaster upgrade to take out the last boss (via Nintendo Unity). Like "Fusion," Samus’ final suit symbolizes her reaching her full potential and becoming the most powerful version of herself. In this way, "Dread" takes the best of both worlds to make something both new and nostalgic.
The real ADAM’s surprisingly small role in Dread
At the start of "Metroid Dread," ADAM — the digital consciousness of Samus’ former commanding officer Adam Malkovich — tells Samus he won’t be able to reach her on ZDR. Yet, throughout the game the player keeps getting navigational information from Network Stations on the map. So, what’s going on here?
In a surprise twist that is never addressed again, it is revealed that Raven Beak was posing as ADAM all along. This may be obvious to "Other M" and "Fusion" players, since the controversial character is known for how he calls Samus "lady," something the ADAM on ZDR never does. "Fusion" also pulls a similar evil AI twist in its story.
The player doesn’t get to see Samus talk to the real ADAM after the main events of "Dread." This leaves him strangely underutilized, especially considering the amount of effort that went into developing his character in "Fusion" and "Other M."
The consequences of Samus’ Metroid DNA
After defeating Raven Beak and completing the escape sequence (a 2D "Metroid" hallmark), Samus returns to her ship to finally leave ZDR. Decked out in her Metroid suit, Samus attempts to start her engines. The real ADAM warns her — in his last words in the game — that powering up the ship will drain all of its energy. This has to do with her Metroid DNA.
Metroids were created as predators to absorb and destroy the X. They are the top of the food chain, and will siphon energy from any and all nearby creatures if they can. That’s what makes them such tricky buggers to kill in the original "Metroid" and its SNES sequel. It is this nature that would prevent Samus from flying her ship.
What happens next is astounding. Resurrected from death by the X, Quiet Robe appears behind Samus and takes the energy from her. The Chozo, now free from the X, allows his spirit to be absorbed by Samus instead of the ship. Why exactly it works that way is unclear but nevertheless he touches Samus and she reverts to the Gravity Suit — still presumably with Metroid and Chozo DNA, but more powerful than before.
Is this the end of 2D Metroid or the beginning?
Will fans get another 2D "Metroid?" In a lot of ways "Dread" feels as far as the formula can go. Regarding the future of Samus Aran, Nintendo’s Yoshio Sakamoto claimed that "Dread" closes the book on the current story arc, though he promised this is not the end of the hallmark Nintendo franchise.
"What I can say upfront is that Samus’ adventure will continue," Sakamoto said in an E3 interview with Eurogamer. "How will it continue? Well, first things first, I believe that if and when you clear ‘Dread,’ you will have a clear idea. Beyond that, we will continue to work hard so we can meet expectations and keep surprising you guys with exciting gameplay experiences."
Given "Metroid Dread" concluded on a cliffhanger with Samus as the last living Metroid, you can bet you’ll see more from her.
Where will Metroid Prime 4 fit in the Samus story?
The next announced game in the "Metroid" franchise is another long-awaited sequel. Retro Studios (developer of the original "Metroid Prime") is working on the next entry in the 3D spin-off series that racked up as much critical acclaim as the 2D entries. When it was first announced at E3, "Metroid Prime 4" was being developed in-house at Nintendo. In 2019, Nintendo producer Shinya Takahashi revealed that the game had "not reached the standards we seek."
The project was rebooted as a collaboration between Retro and the game’s original producer at Nintendo, Kensuke Tanabe. No further updates have been given on the title, except for an acknowledgement during the announcement of "Dread." Information on the setting, story, and gameplay has yet to be detailed.
It’s still not clear when "Metroid Prime 4" will release, but we do know Samus will be back for another adventure at some point in the future.