Maybe you’ve been playing Metroid Dread since it hit Nintendo Switch on October 8, but put it down out of frustration from being stuck in the dang game. Or is that just me? Good news: you’re not actually stuck. It’s just easy to not realize what blocks are destroyable while you’re exploring.
Across the internet are complaints of players getting stuck, or “softlocked,” and unable to make progress due to gameplay reasons. Perhaps you lack a designated power-up, or you went the wrong way. In Metroid Dread, you have these two possibilities and the added layer of shooting the environment to find your way around. So when you’re “softlocked,” it’s not a permanent block, it’s just the game’s way of letting you know you probably missed something and need to go back to check your surroundings.
This occurs in a variety of levels, from the starting area to Ghavoran and just about everywhere in between. This perceived softlock is annoying some players so much they’re restarting Metroid Dread because they assume there’s no way to progress further. There are even copious YouTube videos being uploaded, both of players getting softlocked and showing how to resolve the errant progress issue.
Metroid Dread tells you early on—in the first level, actually—that some destructible blocks are hidden, but that’s the whole problem. Sometimes, these blocks look identical to non-destructible blocks. This can lead to confusion, as there’s no way of knowing which blocks in any given level are destroyable because they all look the same. I mean, you can spend hours just running between different zones, thinking you’re stuck when all you really need to do is just shoot at the stupid floor.
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This is part of Metroid Dread’s design, what with it being a Metroidvania and all. Uncovering new routes is inherent to the genre. But as someone with severely impacted vision, it’s difficult for me to notice minute details and differences, including when I’m exploring in Metroid Dread. And let me tell you, it’s not fun when a video game reminds you of your disability.
Kotaku staffer Ari Notis had a similar experience, especially after hitting the Cataris area. After exiting the elevator most players head to the right, but to make actual progress, you’re supposed to shoot the wall to the left. Notis said the blocks aren’t telegraphed enough.
“You can’t look up a guide for this stuff because everyone goes through Metroid Dread at their own pace,” Notis said of his experience with the game. “How’d I figure it out? I don’t know, I just randomly shot at something and that opened something else and I was like, ‘Oh, my dumbass.’”
So what do you do? This is going to sound funny, but...just shoot at random shit. Shoot at the floor, the ceiling, the walls in front of and behind you, anything and everything. Eventually, you’ll destroy some block in some corner and progress again.
This softlock isn’t connected to a recent bug Nintendo found in Metroid Dread that blocks progress under certain conditions. The company said a fix is coming by the end of October to address the issue and published a quick guide on what to do if you encounter the bug. (Update the game.)