No two players will ever look the same in Volition’s upcoming reboot of Saints Row.
The game’s direction comes with a fresh start. Gone are the zany aliens driving Saints Row IV further from its roots. Themes including celebrity gangsters are also out the window. Developers have also called it quits on a storyline which has spiralled out of reality since Saints Row was first introduced in 2006. The reboot takes Volition, its staff and players into a new setting. This doesn’t come without a few pieces of memorabilia from previous entries. Third person shooting, a sprawling open world and gang progression are familiar gameplay elements keeping this reboot glued.
Customization is one such picture frame saved in the fire. CGMagazine was given a hands-off preview of Saints Row, focusing on that mechanic alone. Surprisingly, the feature is what pushes the story forward as players build their own gang from nothing. According to Volition, much of its tone and gameplay were inspired by Saints Row: The Third. The 2011 release managed to strike a right balance for comedy that could still add drama. Players still become The Boss, an ambitious gang leader looking to build an empire in their own image. One completed mission and menu slider at a time.
Saints Row unapologetically brings back the same extensive menus for customising, even if players will lose hours to perfecting their characters. The guilty pleasure of tweaking every aspect is still there. It’s a refined formula Volition has had 16 years to work on. The attention to features include options for hair, brows, cosmetics, skin and blemishes.
At face value, Volition’s “asymmetrical” direction gives Saints Row players almost everything they can imagine for their character. This comes down to bone structure, age and positioning of the eyes and nose. Of course, the reboot still gives players the freedom to adjust body shape, definition and height. Customizing each now comes with an extra layer of accessibility. Prosthetics can also be added from the start. While gender identities can also be interchanged with a few button pushes.
Eight undisclosed voice actors add new nodes for The Boss. Similar to games before, its main character will carry dialogue-driven cutscenes. Much of the game’s tone is delivered by players as they meet Saints Row’s wacky library of characters. Here, players have options for accent and tone from a handful of actors. It’s still unknown if cameo actors, including Nolan North will be a separate voice option. As Volition describes, players can pick a voice and emotes “guaranteed to provoke a reaction from the crowd. Maybe not always the one you’re looking for, but hey, f**k them.”
Players are set into the world after being shaped through customization. Fitting every open world game, it takes a vehicle to explore all that Saints Row has. The garage makes a return in Volition’s reboot. Any “Jim Rob’s” scattered across the map can be driven in for a top-down makeover. Of course, players can use their hard-earned cash to soup up any ride. Fans might salivate at customizing familiar rides like “The Compton” which joins 80+ others up for grabs. Saints Row still retains presets to save players time. While a few prescribed options can instantly change vehicle paint, profiles and even lighting. Deeper modifications with engines, wheels and nitrous also boost stats.
“Saints Row throws just about every imaginable part players can add to their cars.”
Players can use these to unlock a car’s full potential while summoning it anytime. Bulletproof shells can affect combat as players duck behind their cars for cover. While battering rams paired with an aggressive truck can quickly turn gang wars around. Saints Row throws just about every imaginable part players can add to their cars. Exhausts, grills, hood ornaments and roofs are the essentials making a comeback. Rims, spoilers, wheel covers and underglows come with deeper layers.
Saints Row’s mechanics aren’t strangers to paint types and underglow colours which make vehicles as zany as they can be. It’s worth noting the reboot still opens customization beyond cars. While tanks, planes, VTOLs, boats and helicopters can be tailored. Volition has also confirmed that players will gain a few exclusive upgrades along story missions. While those modified vehicles can be used for free roaming.
The preview showcased customization across a variety of spots in its open world. Players in Saints Row will still get to keep transforming long after its opening. Of course, characters can access new clothing, accessories and change their body at will. It’s a long departure from visiting the Image as Designed location. But at the time of writing, it’s still unconfirmed if customization can instantly be accessed through Saints Row’s mobile phone.
Saints Row is still very much a weird game when it takes advantage of older mechanics. This time around, the reboot organises an arsenal of guns through weapon types. Players can relegate, delegate and pick the best looking weapons to carry into battle. Guns can also extensively be customized. Materials, colours, patterns and other surface options give players the expected cosmetics. Weapons can also get visual mods. Its preview showcased the RPG, which can be changed into everyday objects for giggles.
As for combat, the new reboot noticeably takes cues from movies. Down to its fighting styles for gun-fu, martial arts animation and a few iconic Hollywood props. Think: annihilating gangs with a Desperado’s guitar case bazooka. Spraying lead with Kingsman’s umbrella gun. Or repurposing foam finger gloves into deadly automatics. Even exploding piñatas make an appearance in the weapon wheel as throwables. A Back to the Future inspired hoverboard lets players glide at top speeds. Cars can come with 007-style ejector seats to let players wingsuit across the sky. Saints Row’s weirder “crab-steering” lets vehicles sidestep to dodge traffic. A Fast Five inspired wrecking ball gives vehicles a weapon for enemies brave enough to rear-end players.
Weapons, wardrobe and vehicles can all be accessed at “The Church.” It’s the first crib players continue to develop along the campaign. While the base can also be customized with a variety of layouts. This comes with experience, which enables players to spruce up their HQ more elegantly. In true Saints Row fashion, crews can also be customized according to dress code and their vehicles.
Saints Row is currently in development by Volition and releases on August 23, 2022 for PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One.