Almost nine years after the release of Saints Row 4 (we don’t talk about Gat out of Hell. Or Agents of Mayhem), the Saints are back. However, instead of a full-fledged sequel, the new Saints Row is a reboot with a new setting, cast and more grounded approach. There’s still plenty of mayhem and hijinks to embrace so let’s take a look at what you should know before it releases on August 23rd for Xbox One, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, PC, PS5 and Google Stadia.
The Boss is once again the star but their rise to the top is a little different this time. Instead of starting out as a gang leader (or the President in the midst of an alien attack), The Boss works at Marshall Defense Industries, trying to make ends meet. It’s not long before they team with the disgruntled members of other gangs and decide to strike out on their own, forming the Saints. The goal: Take out the competition, build a criminal empire and rule the underworld.
Three gangs rule the roost in the fictional city of Santa Ileso – Los Panteros (known for fitness and cars), The Idols (who are all about the nightlife) and Marshall Defense Industries (which uses high-tech weapons). Neenah, the Saints’ driver, hails from Los Panteros and has skills as a mechanic. Kevin, a former DJ from The Idols, is in charge of the Saints’ heists. Finally, there’s Eli, an entrepreneur who manages the finances and planning. Each has their own quirks but rest assured – they’re pretty much in line with the psychopathic oddities of previous games.
Set in the American southwest, Santa Ileso is a city broken up into nine districts, ranging from rural Rancho Providencio to the suburban Monte Vista. If you’re looking for a large urban sprawl with skyscrapers – where the wingsuit will be particularly entertaining – then Lakeshore is the place to be. There are various “discovery opportunities” and points of interest while the world as a whole has more verticality than previous entries.
Saints Row has always been known for its extensive character customization and the reboot thankfully stays true to that. Along with numerous different options for gender, skin tone, height, weight, clothing and much more, there’s also asymmetrical face customization and multiple different voice profiles (though sadly no Nolan North option). By using the free Boss Factory tool, players can create their own character right now and import them into the game at launch. By using share codes, they can share their creation with the world or head to the official website and pour over all of the different versions of The Boss from other players and the development team.
Of course, it doesn’t stop there. You can customize an absurd amount of things, from vehicles and weapons to the Saints HQ, crew member outfits and much more. Santa Ileso will also change based on the Saints’ influence, and that appearance can also be customized. It’s a pretty crazy amount of flexibility, ensuring no two players will have the exact same experience.
Speaking more on vehicles, Saints Row offers over 80 different rides including cars, bikes, boats, trucks, and so on. You can earn them as rewards, or steal and store them in your garage, and customize them to your heart’s content. Equip Nitrous, Towing Cables and Off-Road Kits depending on your purpose, or use all three together. Vehicles can also be upgraded to improve their maximum speed, performance, off-road capability and durability. If you complete a specific challenge for a vehicle, its signature ability becomes unlocked, which can include ejector seats, infinite boost, air control, and much more.
You don’t have to remain confined to the ground at all times though thanks to the new Wingsuit. Use it to wind through environments or simply land on a car and hijack it. You can even land on other NPCs to take them down in stylish fashion. Naturally, there are wingsuit challenges to complete which provide cash and other rewards.
Combat is still a mix of third-person shooting and melee combat, though the weapons are more realistic this time around. What’s new are Flow and Perks. As you complete actions in combat like killing enemies, causing destruction and whatnot, you’ll earn Flow Points. Once they’re built up, different abilities can be unleashed like attaching a grenade to an enemy and tossing them into a group for a massive kill-chain. Perks fall into three categories – Basic, Advanced and Ultimate – with up to five that can be equipped at a time, though the range of options – like more health – has yet to be detailed. Finally, there are takedowns which refill health, though they also have a meter that must be built up over time with kills. Certain abilities – like simply being able to throw a grenade – are also locked until you hit specific levels (as per IGN’s recent preview).
For the first time in the series, Saints Row allows for constructing your own “legitimate businesses” aka fronts for crimes in any part of the city. You could create a medical clinic and then cause injuries to yourself for some quick money. Create a disposal facility and use it to dump illegal chemicals or even put together a heist for some cash.
When you’re not setting up businesses or messing around in the sandbox, there are various side activities to complete. Some will be familiar to series fans like Mayhem for causing as much property damage as possible within the time limit or Insurance Fraud for hurting yourself as much as possible (along with property damage, obviously). Others include stealing cars for a chop shop, carrying away armored cars with a helicopter and giant magnet, and even a wave-defense activity.
Saints Row supports drop-in/drop-out co-op with each player maintaining their respective appearance as The Boss. Both players are also untethered, capable of being as far apart as possible in the world without issue (though entering a mission will warp the other person to you). Perhaps the best quality-of-life feature in co-op is progression applying to both players. Mission progress, collectibles, customization, and more will all carry over back to your own save. If you complete a later mission and then return to the campaign in single-player, you won’t have to play it again when it eventually comes up.
The recommended system requirements for Saints Row on PC have yet to be revealed but at least we know the minimum requirements. An Intel Core i3-3240 and AMD Ryzen 3 1200 are required along with 8 GB of RAM and either an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon RX 480 (with 4 GB of VRAM being necessary). This will be enough for running the game at 1080p resolution and 30 frames per second. Better clear some space though as 50 GB of space is required for installation.
Given the improvements to co-op, it’s a shame that cross-platform multiplayer isn’t a thing. Speaking to GamesRadar, a Deep Silver representative confirmed that co-op was only cross-gen. “Xbox One to Xbox Series X/S co-op is doable, and PS4 to PS5 is too – but not cross-console play.” It’s probably safe to assume no cross-play between consoles and PC but what about PC and Stadia? Deep Silver and Volition haven’t confirmed this so we’ll need to wait for more details.
In a roundtable interview back in May, MP1st spoke to associate UX designer Kenzie Lindgren who confirmed the reboot to have the “most accessibility” ever in the series. These include a “lot of difficulty options”, options for motion sickness, hearing disabilities, visual disabilities and “even some motor disabilities as well.” “We have full integration with Tobii software, and you will be able to, of course, change all the key bindings to your liking as well, and even the option to change ‘press and hold’ over to toggles for a lot of the gameplay elements if that’s something that you struggle with,” said Lindgren. Elements of the UI can also be customized, allowing one to turn off health bars for vehicles and enemies, scale elements up or down, hide the GPS and GPS arrows, and much more.
It wouldn’t be a triple-A title in this day and age without an Expansion Pass. Included in the Gold and Platinum Editions (standalone pricing yet to be confirmed), the Saints Row Expansion Pass promises three additional episodes post-launch. Each offers new missions and areas to explore, new enemies, new customization options, weapons and vehicles. There will also be new “diversions” which could be interpreted as new side-activities. So rest assured that the Saints’ new journey won’t end at launch.