At Gamescom 2021, Deep Silver Volition surprised everybody by being first out of the gate at Opening Night Live. After nearly a decade, the team was ready to announce the next mainline Saints Row game, just called Saints Row. However, unlike previous entries that continued to ramp up the absurdity and continue the story of the 3rd Street Saints, this reboot features a new story and characters. While the decision might be controversial, it doesn't represent an entirely new vision for the series but rather a slightly different direction.
While we got plenty of information about the reboot from Gamescom, we still don't know a lot yet. For now, though, here's everything we know about the Saints Row reboot.
Return to the series
Welcome to Santo Ileso
Volition is returning to the iconic Saints Row series, but is taking a step back from the outlandish gameplay of previous entries. The Saints Row reboot is a more grounded take on the power fantasy of building up your criminal empire, but there's still a lot in store.
Saints Row: Release date and preorder information
The new Saints Row is set to release on Feb. 25, 2022 on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, and PC through the Epic Games Store. Currently, the game is available to preorder through Saints Row's official website and third-party platform storefronts. There are three versions of the game available, with varying degrees of bonuses for preordering.
Preordering the Standard Edition, which costs $60, comes with the base game and the Idols Anarchy Pack. It features three items that help you blend in with the neon-centric Idols gang: the Idols DJ Helmet, the Twinkle Bat, and the Sandstorm Scrambler.
The second option is the Gold Edition, which costs $90, and features a lot of extras. You get the base game and the Idols Anarchy Pack, but also access to the Expansion Pass, the Los Panteros American Muscle Bundle Pack (with the Los Panteros Custom 'Fury' Motorcycle and the 'El Lanzador' Heavy Weapon Skin), and the Saints Criminal Customs pack. The Criminal Custom pack has two bonus items: the Saints Custom Convertible and the Saints Custom Stab Jacket.
Finally, there's the $100 Platinum Edition, which features everything from the Gold Edition, but also a copy of Saints Row The Third Remastered. This is a remaster of the third game for next-gen consoles.
There's no word yet on whether it'll join some of the best games on Xbox Game Pass, but we'll keep you updated if we hear more.
What is Saints Row?
Saints Row is a long-running video game series that tasks you as a member of a gang called the 3rd Street Saints with building up a criminal empire in an open-world environment. While the plots, the design, and the scope may differ, the general idea is the same.
Though the series initially started as a Grand Theft Auto clone developed by Volition (now called Deep Silver Volition) with most of the missions involving driving and shooting, the third and fourth games differentiated themselves with cartoonish, over-the-top design and gameplay. The first two games involve standard gang stories, with the second having you bring the Saints back together after they disbanded. The third involves the Saints contending with a criminal conglomerate called the Syndicate, and the fourth traps them inside a simulation run by aliens and gives them superpowers. You can then work up to being the President of the United States. As you can see, the series has gone through a lot since its debut in 2006.
The last mainline game was Saints Row 4 in 2013, with the expansion Gat out of Hell released in 2015. The studio also worked on Agents of Mayhem, which was released in 2017. It takes place in the Saints Row universe but is unconnected to the story of the four main games.
Is the new Saints Row a reboot?
After going to hell, where can you go from there? According to Chief Creative Officer Jim Boone, the team almost had to start over.
"We went to hell. There truly isn't anywhere to go past that," he said during a media event. "While we love the mechanics we came up with — all the superpowers and everything — there just isn't a lot of runway to figure out where you're going to go past that. That's why it was a pretty easy decision for us to go back to our roots."
"While we love the mechanics we came up with... there just isn't a lot of runway to figure out where you're going to go past that.
While the four main games had an interconnected story, the new game, just titled Saints Row, features an all-new story and characters (sorry Johnny Gat fans), along with a new sandbox to play in. It also features a new direction for the team at Volition, which had previously been trying to up itself with every game. Now it has to pare back in interesting ways.
For one, gone are the superpowers and the supernatural elements (as far as we know). In Saints Row, you're back to just building up your criminal empire. We'll go into more detail about what that entails below, but what you need to know is that you can't rely on the more bombastic elements of the Saints Row franchise. You have to use your skill to take on enemy gangs, buy up property, and literally build up an empire along the way.
"[We wanted to] go back to our origins and get back to that more contemporary crime angle that we love and that Saints Row is known for," Boone continued.
Volition didn't completely forget its roots. A lot of elements from previous games are present here. We'll learn more about everything that has come over, but for now, we know of two important inclusions. For one, insurance fraud will be present. This is a fan-favorite activity from the series that has you doing as much damage to yourself as possible, earning you money. The second is character customization. In previous games, character customization became a huge endeavor with a wide variety of options, and that'll be returning in the Saints Row reboot.
Boone also noted that there will be nods to the previous games in the reboot, but didn't expand on what those might be.
What is Saints Row's story, and who are the characters?
Volition calls the new Saints Row a "contemporary" story, aligned with many of the struggles that millennials and Gen Z are dealing with right now… at least, tangentially. You play the Boss (as in previous games), and you and your three friends band together to build a criminal empire from the ground up. In the first trailer for the game, you call it your "startup." The Volition developers said that all four characters come from "dead-end jobs" (three come from each of the rival gangs in the city) and have things like debt they want to get away from. Saints Row is described as a "power fantasy" for those who want to be their own boss.
The reboot takes place in the fictional city of Santo Ileso, which from trailers, looks like a combination of Las Vegas, Reno, and other parts of Southern California. It features nine playable districts that each have their own distinct feel. For example, one looks like the Vegas Strip, but others look more suburban while even more look like mostly desert.
As we mentioned, the player character is the Boss, but three other characters will be a part of your main crew. First, there's Eli, a young guy with an MBA who came to Santo Ileso to start a business. He's the planner of the group. Then, there's Nina, the driver, who grew up working in a car garage and became a mechanic. Finally, there's Kevin, who's a DJ. Each of these characters has a back story that ties them with the city, which includes maybe having a history with one of the three gangs.
You'll be tasked with going up against each of them. The first is the Los Panteros, who are locals of Santo Ileso and rely on muscle and physical power. The second is Marshall Defense Industries, a private military conglomerate. Finally, there are the Idols, a group of people who just want to be famous.
What is Saints Row gameplay like?
Volition hasn't shown off a ton of gameplay yet, but we can expect third-person shooting like in previous games, along with the requisite vehicle driving. We doubt it'll differ too much from the core gameplay people are used to, but there will probably be less bombastic physics or crazy guns to play around with (although Volition did hint that they won't be completely removed from the game).
The biggest update in the reboot is arguably (and literally) the new map, which Volition developers purport is the biggest in the series to date. It's so big that they can't exactly measure its size.
"In terms of gameplay, I've never done a side-by-side comparison, but I'm continually amazed by how much gameplay there is. It's huge," said Design Director James Hague.
Within this giant sandbox, you'll have the opportunity to build up your criminal empire with a degree of freedom. According to the developers, you gain control of property in Santo Ileso, and each one unlocks criminal options. The early footage showed how you could use a food truck to smuggle drugs, a medical clinic to invest in sketchy practices, or a garage to deal in stolen vehicles. The developers also mentioned opening a toxic waste dump in the middle of a financial district. You can build your empire however you please, and going down certain paths will unlock new play options.
All of this can be done solo or in untethered two-player co-op so you and a partner can play together or go your separate ways. Developers said that the game has a storyline that you can play alone, but there's an open world that you can explore with a partner.
Will Saints Row have character creation?
Character creation has been a huge part of Saints Row, especially in the later entries where they included out-of-the-box customization options. While the full details of the reboot's character creator haven't been revealed, Volition promises that there will still be a robust character creator despite the more grounded tone. During the media event, we saw a version of the Boss as a Latina woman, but there were other examples, including a metal man. You will also have the freedom to pair a female voice with a male-presenting body and vice versa.
Is there Saints Row DLC planned?
Volition hasn't revealed its post-launch plans just yet, but store listings mention an Expansion Pass. The Microsoft Store listing says, "The Saints Row Expansion Pass gives access to three expansion episodes opening up new areas of Santo Ileso to explore, including new missions, enemies, and more." It's unclear if this means that we'll see new areas beyond the promised nine areas of the city, or if they'll be new to the game.
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