Certain games were so influential that they almost single-handedly created entire genres. The most successful of them, like Grand Theft Auto, would almost immediately attract other developers to try and compete with them in the hot new space. Saints Row was just that, an attempt to take on GTA in the realistic, crime-focused, open-world space. The original was viewed as mostly fine but didn’t really do anything to set it apart as more than a slightly-worse version of GTA in most people’s eyes. It was good enough to spawn a sequel, and after that, things got a little weird.
Saints Row 3 and Saints Row IV pivoted the series from being a straight imitation of GTA and embraced the more ludicrous and comedic aspects of gaming. By the time the fourth game came around, your gangster character had become president, the world was invaded by aliens, and you were placed in a simulated world where you had superpowers. These last two games were by far the most well-received and popular of the series, but we have never heard from the Saints since.
Teased and revealed at Gamescom 2021, a rebooted Saints Row game was fully unveiled. With a series that has such a clear split in terms of tone, gameplay, and style, many were left wondering what direction this game would take. Here’s everything we know about the Saints Row reboot.
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In a rare yet always appreciated change of pace, the Saints Row reboot was given a specific release date at the same time it was officially announced. However, as is the way with things, the game was officially announced to be delayed until August 23. The official Saints Row Twitter account announced the news, stating that their “priority is to create the best Saints Row game yet, and, if we released on the original date, it wouldn’t be up to the standards we’ve set ourselves and that you’re expecting and deserve.” COVID-19 is also listed as one of the major contributing factors to the delay, as well as the large scope of the project.
This is a pretty substantial delay, however, it may do the game some good to not launch in such a packed month of big-budget games.
Coming so soon, we also saw all the platforms the Saints Row reboot will launch on. While it is getting a little late in the generation, this reboot will hit both current and last-generation consoles. The full list includes the PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.
The announcement trailer begins by showing off the new location where the Saints Row reboot will take place. The American southwestern city of Santo Ileso is shown off as being a mixture of wide-open desert plains, neon cities, and graffiti-laden neighborhoods. A few new characters coordinate a heist to rob a weapons deal of some kind from a rival gang. Things seem to be very grounded … until one character pulls on a motorcycle helmet with pink cat ears and lights that form a face across the face mask. He has no shirt on and revs up his motorcycle. While he distracts them with some witty dialogue, his partners hop in the car while they’re distracted and peel off.
A massive chase ensues, with death-defying stunts, heavy weapons, and gravity-defying jumps. The trailer wraps up with an explosive finish. Thankfully, more details about the story and character were explained outside this trailer. For example, the new setting will have nine distinct districts, each run by rival gangs, and will be the largest map the series has ever seen yet. You will play as your own character, again just going by the moniker of the Boss, and have three companions at the beginning — Eli, Neenah, and Kevin. Each one suits a different role depending on their personality. Eli is your techy nerd who runs the finances, Neenah, a former member of rival gang Los Panteros, is the driver and mechanic, and Kevin is the adrenaline junkie who was kicked out of the Idols.
If you were looking forward to seeing old faces again, such as Johnny Gat or Kenzie, well, you’ll be disappointed to learn that this reboot is completely divorced from that original Saints Row game in terms of returning characters. Aside from some Easter eggs, Volition has made it clear that this is a completely new game with no ties to the old franchise.
Your Boss character will be completely customizable, as they have been in previous games. The team has said this character creator is their biggest yet, with eight voice options, plus the ability to customize your weapons and vehicles in addition to your character and crew.
In terms of the rival gangs, the three groups the Saints will be up against are the Marshalls, Panteros, and Idols. The Marshalls are described as a well-funded, high-tech defense organization, while the Panteros are more brutish and physical, and the Idols are wildcard punk types dressed in neon colors and seeking fame.
Based on all of this, it seems like this reboot will land somewhere between what Saints Row 2 and Saints Row 3 was in terms of tone. It will be more grounded but still have that sense of humor and slightly cartoonish feats of destruction and mayhem to make it all more fun. At a hand’s-off preview, that assumption was further confirmed. Volition aims to make the narrative more grounded, as lead writer Jeremy Bernstein explained at the preview event, saying, “Absurdism for the sake of absurdism, that’s where everything feels fluffy, and it doesn’t feel like anything really means anything.” He continued, “We worked very hard to avoid that, so there’s a groundedness, even to the most absurd things that you do in the game.”
The so-called story-reveal trailer doesn’t actually reveal much about the game’s story, funnily enough. It mainly focuses on your main character, the boss, being whoever you want them to be. That obviously means full and very in-depth customization.
The trailer narrates over some set piece moments, such as escaping the cops, ziplining away from explosions, and other exciting moments pulled from a Michael Bay film without context. Rather than explain the plot, this is more of a tone-piece trailer, showing the game’s new balance of over-the-top yet still grounded action with plenty of wacky moments like locking someone in a porta potty, attaching it to a winch, and dragging it through the desert.
First, the basics. This will be another open-world, third-person shooter, which shouldn’t come as any real surprise. Gameplay is going to still have some of that arcade style, with XP and leveling up returning as mechanics to level up your character and unlock skills and perks. While they didn’t say what specifically, Volition has said that, aside from traditional firearms and melee weapons, fans can expect some more over-the-top weapons.
The nine districts mentioned earlier will be taken over one by one as you get stronger and grow the Saints up. Turf wars, which were introduced in Saints Row 2, are also coming back. These events are where you take on rival gangs for control of an area of the map. Areas you take over can be used to set up new bases, and you can also purchase other properties for different purposes. A few examples mentioned were using food trucks as drug runners, arms dealerships, car shops, fighting academies, and even hospitals. A developer described this system as, “You’re building criminal ventures, and each criminal venture is unlocking its own custom gameplay with it. And that’s in addition to all the other stuff you can do out in the world.”
Mini-games and activities became a major part of the Saints Row series, and so far, we know of one fan-favorites is making a comeback: Insurance Fraud. More will be coming, but for now, this is the only one confirmed.
Traversal is very important in an open-world game, and there are a lot of options in Saints Row. Aside from hoofing it around on foot, you will have access to fully customizable cars, which can be modified to be off-road ready, plus bikes, planes, helicopters, go-karts, and even hoverbikes and hoverboards. Heck, you can even wingsuit off the top of buildings. But if you’re feeling pressed for time, fast travel is still an option as another way to zip across the map.
Unfortunately, newer looks at the game, especially the uninspired missions that litter the open world, leave us worried that the game will be too familiar and boring as a result. Unless they’re holding back the best parts, everything you can do here was something you could and did do in previous titles, let alone other open-world games. There’s plenty of over-the-top action to be had in the open world — such as ghost riding your car to shoot while moving and bouncing off enemies like Mario to flow across the map — that never goes quite as far as past entries but still seems exhilarating.
Customization, on the other hand, seems rather deep. Everything from characters and cars to weapons can be fully customized for new looks and abilities.
Just before release, we got a full-on gameplay trailer for Saints Row. We don’t see too much new here — we see some basic gunplay, and there are a ton of new hand-to-hand attacks and combos.
The trailer reintroduces the factions you will go up against that we already detailed: Los Panteros as smugglers, The Idols who are all about anarchy and not afraid to waste ammo, and Marshalls are highly equipped with advanced weapons and gear. A fourth “faction” introduced is a group of LARPers, though who knows what interactions with them will really be like.
We see the new Saint’s HQ, which starts off as a dilapidated building but can be transformed into a modern mansion. It will be where you stock all your guns, weapons, and gear and run your criminal business.
In a quick clip that looks almost like something out of a Watch Dogs game, we see the player picking missions and navigating a menu from their phone, which probably will act as your in-universe menu.
Co-op has always been included in Saints Row, and we are more than pleased to have it back in the reboot. The type of wild, sandbox worlds that the series is set in just make for the perfect playground for you and your friends to create dynamic fun. This time around, Saints Row will allow you and up to three friends to play cooperatively together in Santo Ileso, either messing around in the open world or playing through the entire campaign. Co-op will be completely unrestricted, allow for drop in/ drop out at any point, and is cross-generational. That means that PS4 and PS5 or Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S players can team up. No word on if there will be any cross-platform support.
Volition has committed to creating at least three pieces of DLC for the Saints Row reboot once the game launches. This information comes from details listed in the Expansion Pass. However, there are no further details about what type of DLC this will be aside from the fact that they’re called “episodes,” which we feel implies story DLC. Perhaps they each focus on one of your initial gang members, fleshing out their backstories. We’ll have to wait and see for sure.
With the release date set, pre-orders went live right as the game was announced for all platforms. You can get either a physical or digital pre-order in one of three editions: Standard, Criminal Customs, and the Notorious Edition. However, pre-ordering digitally has two separate versions above Standard, those being Gold and Platinum editions Here’s what each one includes:
Standard Editions: This version is the most basic. You get the game on the platform of your choice, plus a pre-order bonus called The Idols Anarchy Pack. The interesting part, though, is that both previous and next-gen versions are listed at $60, meaning it looks like this series isn’t following the new $70 standard for next-gen releases.
Criminal Customs Editions: This is the next tier up for physical editions, which is also listed as $60, which makes sense since it only has one additional pre-order bonus over the standard version. That extra bit of content is called the Saints Criminal Customs.
Notorious Edition: The most expensive physical version is the Notorious Edition, running $90. As you expect, you get everything in the other versions along with some bonus content called the Lost Panteros American Muscle Bundle, the expansion pass, and a steel book and physical items that look like some pictures, a poster, character cards, and postcards.
Gold Edition: Now looking at the digital editions, the Gold Edition has everything in the Standard Edition, the Los Panteros American Muscle Bundle, and the Expansion Pass. This one will cost the same as the Notorious Edition at $90.
Platinum Edition: Last up, the Platinum Edition comes with everything previously mentioned and tacks on one last thing: Saints Row The Third Remastered. Yup, the entire game. If you want to relive that game in its remastered glory, be prepared to drop $100 on this version.
No matter which platform or edition you want, pre-ordering is simple thanks to the tool on the official Saints Row website.
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