It’s been a long time since, as the President, we rescued the galaxy from an intergalactic threat in Saints Row IV. If I had to describe the franchise in just a few words, I’d say it’s always been an exercise in escalation. Time and again it’d ratchet up the absurdity and take us to places that you wouldn’t expect from a series whose humble beginnings rested in a small-time, gang start-up.
In an effort to scale back the silliness, while giving the series a brand new start, Volition has taken Saints Row back to its roots in street-level crime. It’s obviously a reboot, which was teased by Geoff Keighley last week.
We were fortunate enough to have the game presented to us by the team at Volition, so here’s everything you need to know about the Saints Row reboot.
WHEN IS SAINTS ROW COMING OUT?
Saints Row is set to release February 25, 2022, for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.
IS IT A REBOOT?
Yes. Saints Row is a reboot and a new start for the series.
Furthermore, unlike other games in the series, you’re going to be a founding member of the Saints and will get to build the empire up from ground zero.
WHERE IN THE WORLD?
Saints Row takes place in the city of Santo Ileso, which Google tells me translates from Spanish to English as ‘saint unscathed’. A cool, but useless, fact for you.
Santo Ileso is largely modelled after the Southern Southwest of America and is one of the largest cities Volition has pieced together for a Saints Row title. It feels part Arizona, part Nevada, with all of the decorative splendour of New Mexico.
The map is divided up into nine districts, which are:
Marina Del Lago
They each have their own distinct feel, theme, and inhabitants. El Dorado, for example, has a real Las Vegas strip vibe to it with the neon overheads beckoning all kinds of ‘up to no good’. Monte Vista, on the other hand, has a Hollywood Hills aesthetic where if you throw a stone you’ll hit a backyard with a pool, it’s truly a play pad for the rich and powerful.
BACK TO THE ROOTS
As a reboot, Volition took the opportunity to reel things in a bit. Sure, the intergalactic struggle for humanity was all very fun and tongue in cheek, but it quickly abandoned what Saints Row was about.
Saints Row takes things back to the streets, bringing back a heavy focus on street-level crime and all of the grit that comes with that territory. It’s certainly a downgrade from the Oval Office, but we’re sure the game’s tone will benefit from the return to roots. That said, it’s still Saints Row.
YES, IT’S STILL SAINTS ROW
If there are any concerns that this more grounded, return to urban crime might mean that the on-brand, borderline insanity might get thrown out with the bathwater, put those fears to bed. Saints Row will see a return to all the crazy shit that’s part and parcel of the series.
Getting bounced about off cars like it’s Meet Joe Black is still a thing thanks to Insurance Fraud, plus wing-suiting also returns as you’re able to plummet from the lofty skyline of the Commercial District.
On a scale of Grand Theft Auto and saving the galaxy from aliens, this Saints Row looks like it lands comfortably in the middle-ground.
THERE ARE NO DILDO WEAPONS
You read that right. There’ll be no phallic power-ups this time around, we’re leaving that smut behind.
Saints Row is unhinged but not that unhinged. There are still countless crazy weapons for you to get your hands on in the game.
BUILD YOUR EMPIRE
The game focuses on four friends, most of which are turncoats from the city’s factions, who long to break out of their day-to-day rut, rise up, and build a criminal empire.
It sounds like it’s set to be an unashamed power fantasy for a bunch of people who’ve been told they can’t. And so the Saints will.
TOO LEGIT TO QUIT
The aim of Saints Row is to build up your criminal empire from the ground floor. Criminal Ventures are this game’s spin on crime operations that let the Saints place seemingly legit fronts throughout Santo Ileso.
As new areas fall under your control, more career pathways become available to you. Once the territory is freed up, vacant lots begin to pop up and it’s entirely up to you what’s built there and what kind of totally legit business you run out of it.
Each of these rackets brings new gameplay possibilities, and it’s left in your hands to decide what you’re wanting to get out of Saints Row. You might be content in zipping around in your fast food truck doubling as a drug mule, or perhaps you’ll deal in protection, auto theft, arms dealing.
There are countless ways to take the streets in the name of the Saints.
YOU’RE THE BOSS
It should go without saying that you are the head of this start-up gang known as the Saints.
And when I say you, I mean whatever ‘you’ you’re envisioning. The game’s tagline is ‘self-made’ for a reason. Saints Row has always had a robust, multilayered customisation system for character-building and nothing has changed here.
It’s worth mentioning that there’ll be no constraints, like voice options being locked out, when it comes to character customisation when it comes to gender/identity.
OH, WHEN THE SAINTS…
Building a criminal empire is tough work, it can’t be done alone. Your crew in Saints Row are certainly an eclectic bunch, though their motivations and stories seem a little more considered than in previous iterations.
Eli is the team’s planner and has a Masters in Business Administration. He arrived in Santo Ileso to make like one of those moguls on Shark Tank and invest his way to a fortune. Little did he know that he’d be investing his capital and time into a little street gang called the Saints.
Having spent her formative years in her parents’ garage developing an adoration for cars, it makes a lot of sense that Neenah is the team’s driver. She also has a love for art and history, but when she was turned down for a job at the city museum she took up a mechanic’s role for one of the city’s gangs.
Lastly, there’s Kevin. He doesn’t wear a shirt, and that’s okay, because your boy has washboard abs. He’s a disc-jockey by night, but he’s a people-pleaser always and, by building a family within the Saints, he learns there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for his friends.
WHO RULES THE STREETS?
In addition to your Saints, the streets of Santo Ileso have three factions all warring for a controlling share of the territory.
Los Panteros are the street-hardened natives and the original criminal enterprise of Santo Ileso. They lean toward the hammer approach, with their preference for melee and heavy weaponry leaving no room at all for subtlety.
“Wherever there’s money, there’s Marshall.” As a private, well-funded militia, Marshall Defense Industries are far more advanced than their rivals. With the latest, high-tech gear, they practically run the Commercial District.
Lastly, there are the Idols. These brash anarchists are motivated by fame and notoriety and consider themselves icons of the new world order. Their approach to war is to overwhelm, and their aesthetic is overstimulating, as they look as though they’re en route to a Daft Punk performance.
IT IS CROSS-GEN
Though looking like a true, reimagined take on Saints Row, Volition isn’t keen to gate it to ‘next-gen’ consoles.
Some might see this as bad news, as there’s the perception that developing with older tech in mind can hamstring the experience. But with an install base of over one hundred million, the idea of leaving out last-gen’s consoles probably never crossed Volition’s mind.
IS THERE AN ANSWER FOR GTA ONLINE?
At this stage, it doesn’t appear like Volition has an answer for the juggernaut that is GTA Online. But I’d also argue that they don’t care.
They’re quick to distance themselves from that brand and are more than happy to lean heavily into the crazy, sandbox experience that Saints Row does offer. Whether they’re holding off a big online reveal for a later date is unknown.
CO-OP MEETS PUNK’D
Although the team was hesitant to go into details on what co-op would mean for Saints Row, they did confirm that it exists in some form.
Four-player co-op seems logical to me, given the team composition, but we’ll have to wait and see. They did confirm that you’d be able to prank your crew, though we’re also no clearer to knowing what that means.