Metroid Dread: When in Samus’ Timeline Does the Game Take Place?

Metroid Dread is the latest chapter in Nintendo's classic sci-fi series, but when exactly is it set?

Metroid Dread
Photo: Nintendo

Metroid Dread, a game more than 15 years in the making, is finally releasing this year from Nintendo. Not only does the new entry in the series revive a project originally conceived for the DS but it picks up story threads left over from 2002’s Metroid Fusion for the Game Boy Advance. But, while Metroid Dread certainly feels like a 2D blast from the past, this new side-scroller is actually primed to explore Samus’ future, according to game designer Yoshio Sakamoto.

“Continuing the saga that began in 1986 with Metroid and continued through Metroid II, Super Metroid, and Metroid Fusion, this is the first new story and new episode for the series in 19 years,” Sakamoto said of Metroid Dread in a developer diary released after the Nintendo Direct. “The series has chronicles the uncanny relationship between Metroids [parasitic life-forms that can we weaponized] and the heroine Samus, but this game will mark and end to that story arc.”

Indeed, for those wondering when in Samus’ timeline this new game takes place, one only has to look to the “Metroid 5” Nintendo teased on the screen (likely to troll fans waiting for Metroid Prime 4 news) to see that it’s set after every other Metroid game in the series, including Fusion, which is technically “Metroid 4.” While it’s unclear how many years have passed between Fusion and Dread, we know that the Metroids have all been destroyed by this point but the more recently discovered X parasite remains a threat.

In fact, it’s the potential resurgence of the X parasite, which Samus seemingly destroyed in Fusion, that convinces the Galactic Federation to send a unit of EMMI (Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifiers) to the remote planet ZDR.

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“Soon after arriving on ZDR, the whole unit mysteriously vanished,” writes Samus in a fictional log entry that introduces the game’s story. “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…”

In the trailer for the game, we learn that the EMMI have gone rogue and are hunting Samus as she investigates the planet. Why have the EMMI turned evil? The X parasite could definitely be the culprit.

“A terrifyingly lethal parasite that takes over organic creatures, mimicking them afterward based on their genetic information,” the X parasite previously infected Samus in Fusion, and copied her DNA to create an evil version of Samus. Could the X have infected the EMMI, too?

“The word ‘Dread’ in the title is self-explanatory,” Sakamoto said of the game’s title. “It represents a relentless threat that pursues the seemingly invincible Samus Aran.”

But the EMMI are ultimately only a piece of the bigger mystery involving Samus’ “uncanny relationship” with dangerous parasites. Why is her life destined to be so intertwined with two of the most dangerous parasites in the galaxy? And why are they always making copies of her? Perhaps we’ll get an answer as Nintendo concludes this story arc 35 years in the making.

Metroid Dread hits Nintendo Switch on Oct. 8.

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