1. A Substantial Story Mode
I feel one of the strongest suits Pikmin 2 had over Pikmin and Pikmin 3 was the lengthy story mode. Sure, if you just focus on beating it then the story won’t last long, but if you actually go for every treasure then you’re going to get a fair deal of content. On the contrary, even if you’re going for all the ship parts or fruit in the other games, there’s a good chance your playtime hours won’t even cross into the double digits.
Now, granted, the reason Pikmin 2 had this length was due to the caves, which reused assets and often felt like padding. While I don’t want to see Pikmin 4 become nearly as reliant on padding as Pikmin 2, surely there must be a balance to be struck; I really don’t think the uber-short story modes are acceptable, even with the addition of mission mode.
2. More Creative Environments
When playing through any Pikmin game, you’re liable to find remnants of human civilization strewn about the overworld, constantly reminding you that you’re on Earth and that you’re about the size of a coin. Given this situation there is a TON of creative potential for the developers to come up with some fun environments to explore. And, unfortunately, they rarely live up to that potential.
We don’t need to run through a checklist of “snow level”, “forest level”, “water level”, “autumn forest level” or whatever else. I want to see something more akin to the level design in some of Pikmin 3’s side content. Instead of wandering through generic outside environments, why not have the crew stumble upon a human home and rummage through that as an area? Or heck, why not take a cue from the Pikmin short films and explore a construction yard? There are so many neat levels they could have us explore, but so far they’ve only exercised that creativity in side content rather than the bulk of the game. Give us some creative environments to explore in the story mode!
The fact that Pikmin 3 didn’t have online was an absolute travesty. While mission mode is completely playable via single player, Bingo Battle is completely useless if you don’t have someone else to play it with, and that can be all sorts of problematic with a game like Pikmin. Not a lot of people play it, and there’s no way you’ll be able to pull a novice in and have them be able to strategize on a level competitive with you. I was able to play with my brother(who also played Pikmin) on a handful of occasions, but nothing more, and I imagine most people with the game wouldn’t even play that much of it. And it’s a shame because Bingo Battle is actually incredibly fun; probably the only time bingo has ever been fun. With the Switch’s alleged increased focus on online multiplayer, there really is no excuse if Pikmin 4 doesn’t have online.
4. Focus on Captain Olimar
I’ve always had a soft spot for Olimar. He was just a normal guy(he’s the intergalactic equivalent of a truck driver) on vacation from toiling away for his company when he got hit by a meteor and crash-landed on a foreign planet. Desperate to get back to his loving family, he adapted and amassed an army of Pikmin to collect his ship parts, bonding with them and teaching them to survive on their own along the way. He’s awesome. Then in Pikmin 2 we got to see some more personality from him through the Piklopedia. Though the straight man of the game’s cast, he displayed traces of megalomania and extreme snark, which could lead to some hilarious logs. Then in Pikmin 3 he was reduced to being the end-game object that had to be found. The game didn’t do much of anything with his character. That’s not to say the game shouldn’t feature the Koppaites and other Hocotatians, of course; I just want to see Olimar thrust back into the main character role and given his time to shine as the series’ main protagonist again.
5. Bring Back The Piklopedia
The Piklopedia(and treasure hoard) was a fantastic addition to Pikmin 2. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that for many fans it was the best thing about the game. The amount of worldbuilding that was offered via detailed scientific descriptions of the enemies you encounter in the game was appreciable, and it also allowed for Olimar’s personality to shine through; reading his numerous humorous anecdotes and musings never got old. And there was SO MUCH OF IT. Pikmin 3 tried to do something similar with Brittany’s writings on each type of fruit, but it’s completely inferior in terms of both quantity and quality. There’s certainly fan demand for the Piklopedia to return, and I hope they capitulate to that demand in Pikmin 4.