The big question for the huge, bombastic Saints Row 4 was where the team went from there. Deep Silver Volition had created a franchise where you build your own criminal empire, but it evolved into gaining superpowers, becoming President of the United States, and, in a DLC, taking a trip to hell. There aren’t many places to go from there, and the studio knew it.
“As much as we love the mechanics, we’ve created all the superpowers and everything, there just isn’t a lot of leads as to where you’re going to go beyond that,” said Jim Boone, Creative Director. at Volition. So where do you go from there? You are going back to your roots.
During Gamescom 2021 live opening night, the team revealed the upcoming game Saints Row, aptly titled Saints Row, which will be a reboot of the franchise and is targeting a release date of February 25, 2022. You are back to building a criminal empire in a fictional city, with the customization and open-world sandbox that comes with it. It will still be absurd in a lot of ways, but don’t expect what you’ve seen in the last two games.
What has changed on restart?
In pre-alpha gameplay shown to press ahead of the announcement, a group of four young adults build a criminal empire in the fictional city of Santo Ileso, in the American Southwest. They’re bogged down by things like student loans and dead-end jobs (in gangs, of course), and have decided to fend for themselves. Along the way, they do things like open a shady medical clinic, fight with a gang called the Idols who just like to party in EDM helmets and do stunts on a motorbike off the dirt roads near the statues of dinosaurs in which executive producer Rob Loftus calls the Weird West. Fan favorites like insurance fraud will make a comeback, although others like cruise control won’t.
Like in other Saints Row games, you can customize your character, called the Boss. The main model used is a Latina woman with a short haircut, but you can go crazy. You can even choose your voice regardless of your external gender. You’ll then team up with three characters – Eli the Planner, Nina the Driver, and Kevin the DJ – to build an empire of your choice. Examples given include opening a toxic waste dump, smuggling drugs in food trucks and car theft.
To do this, you must gain territory in the nine districts of the city. Purchasing various bundles will open up new career opportunities, new missions, and new stories for you, allowing you to customize the way you want to play. You’re starting over from scratch, a big change from previous games, so exploration is encouraged.
“I am continually amazed at the amount of gameplay. It’s huge.”
The sandbox element is an important part of the reboot. While there is a storyline to transport you, the game continues the open world structure of the franchise. The developers of Volition claim it’s the biggest yet – so big they don’t really know how big it is. At the very least, it’s Saints Row’s biggest game to date.
“In terms of gameplay, I’ve never done a side-by-side comparison, but I’m continually amazed at the amount of gameplay. It’s huge,” said design director James Hague.
To help you explore and build, the team has confirmed that two-player co-op will be available. The whole campaign can be played out in what is called “unattached” co-op. You can come in and give up and even play pranks on each other (although we know more about what that means at a later date). And whatever console you have, whether you’re using next-gen hardware like the Xbox Series X | S or still on a previous-gen Xbox One, you can play with each other.
The game was also built on a brand new engine, although the team did not detail its impact on the game beyond visual improvements and new settings. They also haven’t said what next-gen features the game will have, although they will expand that down the line. This isn’t the first Saints Row game to hit next-gen platforms (that honor goes to Saints Row: The Third Remastered), but we could probably at least expect 60 FPS depending on what. this game offered.
Will he always keep the Saints Row tone?
It’s been almost a decade since we last had a main game at Saints Row. Saints Row 4 was released in 2013, while the last DLC was released in 2015. While a new game was previously hinted at in THQ Nordic’s financial reports, we now know it’s a reboot to part of the series. While the first four games represented the studio steadily rising in terms of absurdity and exaggerated gameplay, the Saints Row reboot is the opposite. Unlike a lot of video game sequels that offer gamers more than they’ve seen before, or action shooter games that reach for the stars in terms of violence and explosions, Volition is reminiscent of that.
The team promises, however, that the game will always have that Saints Row flair. It will always be an overblown power fantasy about building a criminal empire and will always have the game’s sense of humor. It has just been updated for a 2021/2022 world.
“We talk a lot about the previous Saints Row games, and we’re very proud of them – we love these games – but we also recognize that they were games of an era,” Boone said. “They made sense back then and we could do things that made us feel good back then, but that tone isn’t even something we don’t even want to do today.”