Reviews - Updated on March 30, 2022

Koch Media and Volition in the first teaser of the new Saints Row thickly hinted that the series is waiting for a reboot. They didn’t lie: now neither the salvation of the universe from Saints Row IV, nor the pogroms in hell from Gat Out of Hell, nor even the more mundane gang warfare from the first three parts matter. Saints Row 2022 is a completely different story.

We were invited to a private screening and a conversation with the developers, where they talked about the new future of the franchise in more detail. Has Volition really thrown nine years of development into the dustbin? What will players be offered instead? Why does Saints Row still deserve to be called Saints Row? Let’s figure it out – I, as a big fan of the series, was no less interesting than you.

Gameplay excerpts from Saints Row. There were a few more at the press show.

new reality

  • Yes, the game is simply called Saints Row, without numbers in the title and subtitles.

  • The series returns to its roots. There are no more superpowers, and the plot again tells the story of “From rags to riches”: the four outcasts gather their own gang from scratch and begin to conquer the city.

  • The scene is Santo Ileso, reminiscent of the southwestern United States. There has never been such a landscape in the series, and the world has been expanded in all directions, the developers promise. For example, Saints Row 2022 has more natural spaces.

  • Santo Ileso is divided into nine regions. They vary in theme – say, there are neighborhoods of the rich with luxurious private houses and a district with a vibrant nightlife, full of neon signs. Each region also stands out for its inhabitants and everyday life.

  • Saints Row is still about things you wouldn’t do in real life.

  • The slogan of the game is Self Made, something like “I owe my success only to myself.”

  • According to Volition, this is the most ambitious and varied installment in the series.

Saints Row no longer Saints Row?

New Saints and new gangs

There are four central characters in the plot of the reboot:

  • Eli is in charge of plans. Educated in business administration, entrepreneur at heart, aspiring to make a fortune. He wants his team not to be a simple street gang, but to become a serious organization.

  • Nina drives cars. As a child, she didn’t get out of the garage, but at the same time she appreciates delicate matters and studied to be an art critic. Came to Santo Ileso to work at the museum, but they didn’t take her. Then she joined the Panteros gang, repairing cars for her, but in the end she wanted to work for herself.

  • Kevin is everyone’s favorite. A DJ who adores his friends and people in general. Looking for thrills. He joined the Saints because he feels that he belongs among them.

  • The boss is our character. Charismatic killing machine. Again, it can be the way you want – up to the dark-skinned plump of your dreams (who knows, he will understand).

Saints Row no longer Saints Row?

Here they are, from left to right: Kevin, Boss, Eli and Nina. Remember: an editor is provided for the appearance of the Boss. At the press show, they teased different versions of the Bosses – they differed from each other quite a lot.

There are three enemy groups this time:

  • Pantheros – push on the muscles and physical strength. Born in Santo Ileso and proud of the traditions of the city. They like to hit enemies in close combat with something like hammers.

  • Marshal Defense Industries is a private military conglomerate. Passion for commerce, so sat down in the financial districts of the city. It relies on advanced technical weapons: for example, the military “Marshal” immobilizes the enemy with the help of special gadgets.

  • Idols are party people and anarchists, eager to get all the glory in the world. They consider themselves icons of the new world order and control the upper parts of Santo Ileso. Idols are loud, violent and flashy, in battle they prefer to take by quantity.

The characters have personal stories of relationships with other gangs – like Nina, who worked for the Panthers. This provides a good basis for interesting plot points, but the developers have said almost nothing about such things.

Saints Row no longer Saints Row?

Panthers in action.

The main gameplay feature of the restart

…Or at least what sets Saints Row 2022 apart from its predecessors.

  • Now, when you capture a district, career opportunities open up in it. In free places, they allow to equip various types of criminal business – drug trafficking under the guise of fast food, car theft, arms sales, and so on.

  • Different businesses unlock different types of side quests, all with a special Saints Row flavor.

  • According to Volition, thanks to this method of constructing gameplay, there is especially a lot of entertainment in the game.

A couple more important game features, according to the authors:

  • When traveling, there is no longer such an urgent need for a firearm as before – the car itself becomes a weapon. And the driving experience is “the coolest in the history of the series, without a doubt,” said one of the developers.

  • Volition thought a lot about the methods of movement. For example, the wingsuit has its own upgrades, missions, and areas of the city that are perfect for flying squirrel-style flights.

Saints Row no longer Saints Row?

Why is it still Saints Row?

  • As Volition promises, the reboot will retain the series’ trademark absurd humor. In my opinion, in the debut cinematic trailer, the jokes are very so-so, but in the gameplay, the idiocy in the spirit of The Third was visible: either the car made its way while the toilet dragged behind it on a cable, then the main character transported radioactive waste in the trunk, then the helicopter dragged wheelbarrow on a huge magnet dangerously close to the ground.

  • The developers noted several times: it is better not to wait for the return of old characters, the plot of the previous parts will be reminded only in Easter eggs. However, the reboot will feature some of the series’ iconic entertainment like an insurance scam where you purposefully throw yourself under the wheels.

  • All of Saints Row 2022 can be played in co-op for two. Interaction with a friend will expand with some pranks, which will be discussed later.

  • Crazy weapons will return (although the giant purple dildos will no longer be available).

  • Customizing your character is still an important element of the game. There will be more parameters and items than ever before.

  • There is again a pumping with perks and skills – not exactly the same as in the past Saints Row, but rather a hodgepodge of ideas.

Saints Row no longer Saints Row?

Interesting Facts

  • Saints Row 2022 is being built on a new engine that Volition has never used before. That is, if you thought that The Third Remastered was a run-in of technologies for a restart, then this is not so, the developers assure.
  • The three main inspirations among the films are John Wick for the moves in combat, Baby Driver for the driving model, and Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw as a benchmark for the degree of madness that should be happening on screen.

  • The soundtrack consists of a mixture of original compositions with licensed songs. The music will be discussed in more detail later, but at the beginning and end of the presentation, the main theme of Saints Row 2022 played with familiar notes – it looks like composer Malcolm Kirby Jr. has returned to the series again.

Saints Row no longer Saints Row?

  • The cars in the reboot do not have cruise control – Volition felt that it conflicted with the updated role of cars in the game.

  • Eight voice options are available for the main character – one more than in previous parts. However, the tone modifier from Saints Row IV is no longer available.

  • Lead Narrative Designer Jeremy Bernstein confirmed that the reboot was also due to a plot impasse in Saints Row IV: how can you raise the stakes if the Saints have already saved the universe and even got even with the devil? However, Volition emphasizes that she is proud of what she has been able to achieve in the past Saints Row, including the cool sensations from superpowers.

  • There is cross-play between generations of consoles and a version for nextgen – more on all this will be discussed another time.

Saints Row no longer Saints Row?

Personal impressions

I am writing this text before the official premiere happened, and therefore I still don’t know the reaction of the public. But the debut trailer did not evoke emotions in me: the dialogues are insipid, the action does not capture, there are no familiar faces in the frame, the atmosphere of reckless foppery seems to be absent. In short, not Power from The Third and not even the debut teaser of Saints Row IV.

The gameplay snippets shown weren’t inspiring either: the game looks like a typical Embracer Group release (Koch Media/Deep Silver, whichever you prefer) when the project is desperately trying to look more expensive than it really is. And then there is a complete restart, where there is not a single favorite character and even the amount of purple has been greatly reduced!

Saints Row no longer Saints Row?

Judging by the materials shown, in the restart, blue will become the key color, and purple will remain in the background.

On the other hand, when the disappointment subsided, the idea came that radical changes would benefit Saints Row: Volition got rid of the overweight four-and-a-half-part legacy and can now create an ideological heir, but without having to look back at the plot heaps of the past. That is, the studio’s hands were untied and creative freedom increased – this cannot be called a minus.

And a poor first impression can be just a badly crafted ad. Or the live game feels much better than in snippets of gameplay. Or I was wrong at all, and the audience will like the new Saints Row. In general, there are still chances for a positive outcome, so I stop digging the grave for the restart and take the position of waiting – let’s see what happens on the release.

Saints Row releases on February 25, 2022 for PC (Epic Games Store), PlayStation and Xbox.

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