Hands-On With The Saints Row Reboot
It’s been ages since I have played a decent Saints Row game. Nine years ago, Saints Row 4 did not deliver the kind of experience I hoped it would. Since then, it’s been mostly quiet on the Saints Row front. Sure, we got Agents of Mayhem from developer Deep Silver Volition 5 years ago but that did not even come close to satisfying Saints fans’ appetites. Regardless, after nearly 10 years, Saints Row is back and this reboot is just what the franchise needed. I played the first four hours of Saints Row in Las Vegas less than a week ago and since then I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.
Granted, 4-hours may seem like a big chunk of gameplay. It is, but I barely scratched the surface. There is a ton to unlock and discover in this Saints Row reboot. I didn’t even touch some of the ridiculously amazing high-powered weaponry; covering every square inch of Santo Lleso is going to take some time and I haven’t even got to know the characters yet. Yet what I can tell you is Saints Row is back, and it feels great.
The insane over-the-top action is back in fine form, and the cheesy but humorous dialogue returns, but most of all it is just pure fun. This is the Saints Row experience I have been waiting for and I could not be any happier.
It is perfect? Absolutely not. Does it give us anything incredibly innovative? Well, not yet based on what I played so far. Does it feel familiar? Absolutely, but this isn’t a bad thing. This Saints Row reboot strikes a nice balance between what fans love about Saints Row and sufficiently meets those current generation expectations for open world experiences.
Here are 10 things I think you will absolutely love about the Saints Row reboot and reasons why it’s a day one purchase for me:
Freedom of Choice
There is no spoon-feeding at all in this new adventure. Equipped with a smartphone that keeps track of all your missions, contacts, skills, your style, map, currency, etc you are free to do whatever the hell you want, right from the get-go. I spent the first hour of my gameplay roaming around doing side hustles and exploring before I realized I should get cracking on the main missions. I loved how Saints Row allowed me to proceed at my own pace and do things on my own terms. There is no doubt, that it’s truly an open-world experience and one that doesn’t force you down a linear path.
No Narrative Connection to Previous Saints Row Games
Not that I didn’t enjoy the characters and storylines from previous Saints Row games, but after playing Saints Row 4, it felt like it was time for a change. This Saints Row reboot isn’t a sequel in any way. Sure, there are nostalgic structures in the open world. It still feels like a Saints Row game and as a fan of the franchise, I appreciated that. Yet the new characters, new storyline, and new setting are exactly what the series needed. It feels like a hybrid of Saints Row 2 and 3, which many would consider the high points for the franchise. You’ve got that cinematic action-oriented experience from Saints Row 2 colliding with that big city with lots of diversity in Saints Row 3. This is an entirely new Saints Row universe and I am here for it.
Fly Like an Eagle
Saints Row reboot has a fast travel system in the game, which is great. You can also get around in cars, trucks, bikes, etc. But nothing beats flying around the map with the wingsuit. Early on, I found the wingsuit took some getting used to. It wasn’t exactly easy to control for me, but once you get a command of the suit, it’s outstanding. You can cover a lot of real estate traveling this way and it’s just about the most enjoyable way to get from point A to point B.
Santo Lleso is The Perfect Setting
It’s massive, and the biggest Saints Row world to date. And starts with the letter ‘s’ in typical Saints Row fashion. We previously has Steelport, Stillwater and now we have Santo Lleso. A fun fact that was pointed out to me by the Creative Director, Brian Traficante. Previous Saints Row games had a very industrial Detroit and Pittsburgh-like setting. Santo Lleso takes inspiration from the amount of variety we got in Stillwater but pulls from parts of Las Vegas, Mexico, Sedona, and Joshua Tree National Park. Volition pulled all those inspirations together into an amusement park theme and it all seems to work brilliantly. This is a fun world to explore.
Currency and XP System
Whether you are a collector or completionist, Saints Row reboot will cater to your play style. There are a ton of ways to get XP and gain currency. There are also many ways to collect clothing and buy cars. If you want to just plow through the narrative, you can do that too. This game won’t punish you at all for playing the way you want. If you want more perks, you can complete more challenges. You get the point.
You Want Variety, You Got Variety
Granted, at its core Saints Row is an open-world shooter. You do a lot and I mean a LOT of shooting in the game. You’ll spend an incredible amount of time blasting enemies with the variety of weapons at your disposal. That being said, you will also cause complete chaos on the streets of Santo Lleso cruising around in a Monster Truck. You will also blast enemies with a deadly turret; you’ll tow a giant shipping container through the city; you’ll smash a construction site with a bulldozer, and leap from vehicle to vehicle in a thrilling high-speed chase sequence. Not to mention, there are elements of stealth and tons of things to collect. From one mission to the next, I didn’t know what to expect and I loved the sheer amount of variety I experienced in just the first four hours.
DLC and a Season’s Pass are On The Way
Creative Director Brian Traficante confirmed with me that this Saints Row experience will be getting DLC and a Season’s Pass of some sort. This post-launch support is fantastic. Brian says this Saints Row reboot is the first page of a new and long chapter. There are robust DLC plans that he could not tell us too much about. There are things the development team wants to include in the experience, so players should expect some pretty amazing things even after the game’s launch next month.
So Much To Do
The game will feature 25 main story missions, tons of collectibles, and weapons to unlock. There are tons of side hustles, several main districts to take over, building up your headquarters, and other objectives to complete. To me, it feels like it’ll be an experience I’ll easily clock 40 or 50 hours into. That is certainly the sweet spot for me. I am not interested in a 100+ hour marathon. 40 hours of a Saints experience seems right, but I could be understating this as there is a lot to do.
As many of you already know, this reboot will feature a deep level of customization. It all starts with the character creator, which is quite easily the deepest in any Saints Row game. The customization options rival some of the best open-world games in gaming. It’s that impressive. You name a body part, it can be customized. The customizable options have been well documented, so I won’t go on about it but needless to say, I was impressed and if you like that kind of thing, you should be happy.
Feels So Good
Gameplay is king, right? Granted, I found Saints Row didn’t exactly blow me away in the visuals department. Given the sheer size of the game, I am not surprised. Yet what it lacks in visuals, it makes up in gameplay. Combat feels smooth and fluid. Driving around feels natural as driving cars, bikes, and trucks all feel great. It makes for entertaining and enjoyable gameplay that anyone should be able to jump in without much trouble.
This Saints Row experience is full of character and personality. The world is fun to explore and it’s a journey I cannot wait to keep playing come August 23, 2022.