Saints Row has been on a bit of a hiatus for some time. Even though we got Gat Out of Hell in 2015 and Agents of Mayhem – which is set in the same universe – in 2017, it’s been eight years now since we last got a numbered Saints Row title. At Gamescom, Volition and Deep Silver finally unveiled what’s next for the series- a reboot, titled simply Saints Row, coming out early next year. Prior to the game’s announcement, we had the chance to a virtual reveal event for the media, which was followed by a group Q&A with the development team, and learned plenty about the game in the process. And here, we’re going to talk about the key details that you should know about it.
Saints Row games have gotten more and more over-the-top as time as gone on, and given the ridiculous scale of the story in Saints Row 4 and Gat Out of Hell, many have wondered where the series would even go from here. That’s something that’s clearly played on the minds of Volition as well, who have gone ahead with a full reboot for the series. The next game, called simply Saints Row, is a complete break. It is a wholly new, separate continuity that has no narrative ties to previous games whatsoever. Expect a more grounded story about a budding criminal empire in a modern contemporary setting. That said, even though Volition is billing Saints Row as a back-to-the-basics scenario, something they’ve been keen to emphasize is the fact that you can still obviously expect the game to have that unique brand of bombast and humour the series is known for- just a little less over-the-top.
Saints Row’s story will chart the rise of a newly formed gang- as Volition describes it, it’s the story of a start-up company, only the company is a budding criminal empire. Four main characters will take centerstage, one of whom will be the protagonist (a.k.a. the future Boss), with the other three each working for one of three major factions in the city. Ultimately, stick of being stifled and being told what to do, the four come together to start their own gang – The Saints – and begin their journey to taking over the entire city one block at a time.
And who are these four characters who’re going to serve as the main players in the story? There’s the protagonist, of course, or the Boss, who’s described by Volition as “a charismatic murder machine”. Players will once again have the ability to customize the Boss, their gender, their voice, and more. Instead of having a few options, each of a different voice actor like in previous games, Saints Row will offer a much wider pool of options when selecting the protagonist’s voice.
There’s also Eli, who serves as the brains of The Saints, so to speak. He’s the planner and devises the gang’s strategies. Oh, and he’s also an MBA. There’s Kevin, a DJ who grew up as an orphan in foster care. He describes himself as a “people pleaser” and a “thrill-seeker.” Finally, there’s Nina, the gang’s expert driver and mechanic. She went to school for anthropology and art history, but loves cars first and foremost.
Saints Row is also taking players to a completely new city, which means we’re returning neither to Stilwater nor to Steelport. It is a complete reboot, after all. Instead, Saints Row is set in Santo Ileso, a setting inspired by the American Southwest. The city, which is surrounded by a vast desert, is described by Volition as being rich in colour and iconic imagery, full of landmarks, unique locales, stunts, sandbox activities, and more. According to the developers, in fact, this is the largest and most varied city ever seen in a Saints Row game.
A lot of Santo Ileso’s variety will come from its unique districts, of which the city has nine. Each of these nine districts will have their own separate themes, atmosphere, and environments, like as a commercial district, or a district out on the outskirts with a desert environment, or a district full of neon lights and vibrant sights to see. Volition has said that the design of different districts could promote different kinds of traversal method. For example, while the commercial district will have plenty of verticality and encourage players to use their wingsuit (which is also new, by the way), the district out in the outskirts would have larger, more open spaces to drive a buggy arround.
Each district in the city is control by different factions. Saints Row will see The Saints going up against three main factions- Los Panteros, The Idols, and Marshall, each equally formidable and threatening, but each in very different ways. Los Ponteros, who have old ties to Santo Ileso, like to get up close and personal with melee attacks and heavy weapons. Marshall is a private military company based in the commercial district of the city, and specializes in high-end technology and weaponry. Finally, there’s The Idols, a group of anarchists that’s described as loud and brash and visually overwhelming, and are obsessed with fame and notoriety.
As you may have guessed, Saints Row’s structure will see you taking over the city bit by block, as you go to different districts of the city and remove the faction in power there and take over in their place. Expect plenty of explosive combat with various kinds of weapons, from pistols to rocket launchers to heavy melee tools that can deliver brutal takedowns. Meanwhile, as you take over different parts of the city, you’ll also be able to grow your criminal empire in different ways, such as by building new buildings, establishments, and businesses in newly opened up lots, including things such as protection rackets, arms dealerships, even fast food joins, and all sorts of fronts for criminal activities. Each of these will also impact the world and open up different new gameplay options.
Volition is, interestingly enough, touting Saints Row as having the most robust customization options ever seen in the series to date. As we’ve briefly mentioned before, the protagonist is going to be more customizable than ever, which, of course, also includes cosmetic options. Vehicles and your crew itself will also have plenty of customization options. For example, which people you recruit as members of The Saints and what businesses and fronts you choose to establish for your gang will determine how it grows.
Traversal options and methods for traveling through all of Santo Ileso are also looking promising. There will, of course, be plenty of different kinds of vehicles to hop into and explore the city, including cars, bikes, go-karts, hoverboards, hoverbikes, helicopters, planes, and VTOLs. In a group Q&A with the developers following the game’s virtual reveal event for the media, Volition also said that Saints Row will have the best driving vehicles in the series, which is certainly promising. Meanwhile, as we touched on earlier, Saints Row also adds wingsuiting as another important traversal method, and using that to get around Santo Ileso should be a lot of fun.
LAUNCH AND CO-OP
And when exactly is Saints Row launching? It’s not too far. It’ll release for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, and PC on February 25, 2022. Volition has also confirmed that Saints Row will feature two player co-op, so if you want to play the entire campaign with a friend, you can do that. Co-op will be seamless, fully untethered, and drop-in/drop-out, so clearly Volition is trying to keep it as flexible as possible.