Saints Row is set for a reboot, with the latest title set to drop in around six months.
The Saints Row franchise has a diverse and inconsistent history, with the first three games all being classics in their own right. Saints Row IV was a bit different, taking a direction that hardcore fans were not impressed with. As for Agents of Mayhem, don’t even go there. Developers Volition started with a great hand, but towards the end, they played it badly.
It’s been eight years since the last new release and, hopefully, that time has been spent analyzing what people loved about the series rather than layering up on what they didn’t. The humor, subtle but timed, set the game apart from Grand Theft Auto, its obvious inspiration. The over-the-top storylines were all well and good, but they blended nicely with serious themes around revenge and pride, which made the games compelling. Can the developers get that right this time out?
There are already issues with the Saints Row reboot that we’re a little troubled by; there is sparse game footage available, even with just six months until release, and the cast looks a bit young compared to the previous games. Maybe it is a case of us getting older rather than the protagonists getting more youthful. We shall have to wait and see.
What is it that will make players go all-in on the latest Saints Row game? Here are the elements that we think will make this a strong player around the open-world table.
Back to the Roots
Saints Row started as a crime caper, which saw you trying to take over a city in a ‘bad guys turned good’ style. Many labeled it as a GTA clone, but that certainly wasn’t fair. It did draw heavily from the gang themes in GTA San Andreas but added its own twist, which made it a huge success. The good news is Volition seem intent on stripping back the alien invasions, heaven and hell themes, and going back to those roots.
“Following a succession of over-the-top adventures that folded in alien invasions and superpowers, Volition is bringing its open-world crime series back to its roots,” one industry insider wrote. “It’s a reboot that reintroduces a more grounded contemporary fictional setting while still looking to hold onto the humour and possibilities that Saints Row has become beloved for.”
Games have improved substantially since Saints Row the Third dropped back in 2011. Depth is now king, with some titles delivering a story mode only as a distraction to the open world teeming with possibilities and excitement. They do this by dropping minigames and missions which fit the game’s profile but are not directly influenced or impacted by the main story.
We’re thinking about the Diamond Resort and Casino in Grand Theft Auto, in which many players whiled away the hours when it opened. All you needed to enjoy the resort was a little knowledge of poker hand rankings and some in-game currency. It’s a great way to build your character on the side, and hopefully, Saints Row will go down the same route. If they include poker, we only ask they go with Texas Hold’em and introduce a little bit of skill into proceedings.
Saints Row 2 was one of the first games to allow deep customization, not only of cars but of your character and gang. It made the whole experience more personal, and currently, that’s important. The footage we’ve seen of the game so far hints at some cemented characters around you, aka The Boss, but there’s no indication of how much you can tailor the gang and experience to your tastes. It would be great if you didn’t have to be a hip-hop street gang, but instead be able to go punk, alternative, emo or goth if you wanted. Those vehicles must be customizable, too; everyone wants to play games their way in 2021, and the Saints Row reboot must reflect that.
A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.