As the release date of 23 August slowly creeps up, it becomes increasingly exciting that the Saint Row reboot will soon be unleashed upon the masses. Having not seen something new in the franchise since 2015’s Gat out of Hell expansion, fans have been patiently waiting. Having spent some hands-on time with 2022’s Saint Row, rest assured that the franchise roots are back and more alive than ever thanks to Deep Silver Volition.
That means waving goodbye to aliens and presidents, as the reboot essentially does just that, removing the Saints from the equation entirely. As has been shared previously, it takes everything going wrong for a bunch of criminal friends before the solution of forming their own criminal enterprise is arrived at; the Saints are thus born.
Of course, any progress will involve plenty of action, mayhem, and buckets full of crazy antics, just like what you would expect from the series, but more grounded in a sense compared to the lengths past Saints Row games have gone to before.
You are still a one-man wrecking crew when facing the various gangs that call Santo Illeso home, utilising your vehicular muscle and a wide variety of firearms to do the talking. Criminal empires are built on blood after all, and it is definitely still fun to engage in all of that in a more measured way rather than worrying about escaping hell or alien invasions in the new Saints Row.
If that’s not enough, the new Criminal Ventures feature adds another layer of open-world activities and rewards. Steal the hottest cars around for Jimrobs Garage, play in traffic and engage in Insurance Fraud, get rid of toxic waste for profit, and destroy your food truck rivals amongst other things to get the Saints on top. Everything contributes to meaningful progression both for the gang, as well as the boss.
As the boss, skills and perks become invaluable as you level up, making combat even more awesome and giving you passive boosts in all kinds of areas. The Pineapple Express is always a good move to clear out crowds, and being harder to kill is a great passive quality to have in most fights. Naturally, you are going to have to tweak your approach for different missions, but the choice is entirely up to you in Saints Row.
Another way to get a healthy dose of XP and rewards are side hustles, repeatable activities that are great for short bursts of enjoyment. Whether you are shitposting to bring down the opposition or riding shotgun as a human turret, it serves the function of not just keeping players engaged, but also levelling up the ridiculousness if that’s what you are seeking.
The option to enjoy everything in-game with a co-op partner is there as well, and although that might invite some jankiness based on your connection and such, but the madness that ensues will more than make up for it.
It remains to be seen just how much longevity the gang-building stuff will have, while the story already has the potential to keep us occupied for hours on end. The gameplay is still Saints Row through and through, and more in line with the budding roots at the dawn of the series, and for an old-school fans, that’s all we need to get us pumped.