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Saints Row beginner’s guide: 10 tips and tricks

Saints Row tasks you with building a sprawling criminal empire from the ruins of a long-forgotten church. Doing that isn’t easy, as you’ll need to contend not just with the cops but rival factions that are vying for the same territory. That’s not to say Saints Row is difficult — but with dozens of moving pieces, there’s a good chance you’ll feel a bit overwhelmed a few hours into the adventure.

If you need some help becoming a criminal mastermind, here are some beginner tips and tricks for Saints Row.

Further reading

Follow the main story

The Boss shooting at police in Saints Row.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It can be tempting to strike out on your own and explore Santo Ileso as soon as possible, but that’s probably not in your best interest. The first several hours of the main story unlock dozens of important features — making it critical you knock these out as soon as possible. Everything from key locations to gameplay features are tied to specific missions, so be sure to check your phone frequently and tackle anything your crew needs.

Stash a few good cars

There’s nothing worse than starting a mission without a good car. Half the fun of Saints Row is driving around like a maniac, so try to invest in something flashy as soon as possible. Of course, that doesn’t mean you’ll need to spend money — head toward some of the tallest buildings in Santo Ileso, and you’ll see plenty of nice cars driving around that are ripe for the taking. Once you’ve commandeered a shiny vehicle, just bring it back to your garage and it’ll be ready for subsequent missions.

Select your perks

A player navigating the Perks menu in Saints Row.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Perks are passive skills that grant you a variety of in-game advantages. For example, one of the first Perks you’ll unlock lets you run incredibly fast when your health starts to dwindle, giving you a chance to make a daring escape. You’ll gain more Perks as you complete various Challenges and gain additional Perk Slots by spending money. It’s easy for Perks to become overshadowed by Skills (as they tend to offer cooler in-game benefits), but don’t forget to dive into the Perk menu and see what’s up for grabs.

Use your unlockable Skills

Speaking of Skills, make sure you’re using these liberally during combat. Up to four can be assigned to your character at once, offering everything from the chance to stuff a grenade down your opponent’s pants to throwing proximity mines in front of you. These Skills consume Flow when used, although the resource is quickly accrued by dealing damage and eliminating enemies. Skills are much more powerful than most of your entry-level weapons, so be sure to use them to take out large groups of enemies or get out of a jam.

Ventures only make money while in-game

After chugging along through the main story, you’ll eventually unlock a useful feature called Ventures. This allows you to establish sources of passive income after large upfront investments. However, take note that Ventures only accrue cash while the game is running. This means it makes sense to leave your game running while you go AFK — and if you don’t mind leaving your console or PC on overnight, you’ll wake up to a bundle of cash. Keep in mind that there’s a cap to how much Venture cash you can hold before it needs to be transferred to your bank, although this limit will continue to grow as you play the game.

Find your favorite guns (and upgrade them)

A player customizing their gun in Saints Row.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

After hitting certain milestones (like reaching level five or completing a set of Challenges), head over to Friendly Fire, and you’ll be able to upgrade your weapons. This offers improved damage, increased clip size, reload speed, and range — turning you into a deadly force on the battlefield. Upgrades aren’t cheap, however, so be sure to figure out which guns you’ve been the most successful with and upgrade those first.

Complete Challenges to level quickly

Challenges offer you a variety of rewards in Saints Row, including new Perks and considerable experience points. A detailed menu for all available Challenges can be found on your smartphone in the Missions menu. Be sure to check these out frequently, as completing them is an easy way to level up and grow your list of available Perks.

Fast travel to save time

A player taking a picture with their camera in Saints Row.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

While it’s fun to rampage your way across Santo Ileso in a tricked-out supercar, sometimes you just want to get on with your next mission. Fast Travel points are scattered across the map to aid with this process, but you’ll need to unlock them first. This is done by heading to one of the many golden Fast Travel icons on your map, then taking a picture of the designated landmark with your phone. Once that’s taken care of, you’ll be able to use the landmark as a Fast Travel location.

Don’t blow your cash

Saints Row gives you millions of ways to spend your cash. And as tempting as it can be to pick up some flashy new gear at the start of the game, it’s in your best interest to hold onto your green for as long as you can. It’s not uncommon for later upgrades and unlocks to cost well over a million bucks — and you’ll be thankful you have a nest egg started when those price tags flash across your screen.

Don’t waste your Takedown

Beyond offering an instant kill, Takedowns replenish your health. The lethal move is also tied to a cooldown timer, meaning you can’t spam the attack like you can some other Skills. So instead of starting out a battle by wasting your Takedown, try keeping it in your back pocket until your health starts to dwindle. This way you’ll be able to restore a good chunk of health and get yourself back in the game.

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a writer covering consumer electronics, technology, and gaming. His work has been published on various websites…
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