Saints Row Reboot Aims to Balance Humor and Emotional Depth

We asked the Saints Row developers about how they're balancing humor and seriousness in the upcoming reboot.

Published: May 18, 2022 10:00 AM /


Saints Row

Saints Row is back! We here at TechRaptor had the privilege of watching a near hourlong Saints Row hands-off preview that featured breakdowns of missions, characters, mechanics, and more. We’re here to give you the inside scoop on what you can expect from the game going forward and what tone developer Deep Silver Volition wants to hit with Saints Row.

Saints Row Hands-off Preview: Character Customization

In terms of Saints Row's character creation, the game looks rather similar to previous iterations of the series, albeit more in-depth for the next generation of consoles. You can have multiple preset bosses that you can cycle through at will, which will allow you to keep your look fresh if simply changing your clothes isn’t enough for you.

To those who are interested in that sort of character customization, we also noticed that in the selection screen for your bosses there’s a community tab, suggesting that you’re able to download custom-created bosses from other players for use inside your games. If the creativity of the communities for game such as WWE 2K22 is anything to go by, this means we’ll be seeing an awful lot of Shrek bosses and Batman bosses.

For more on Saints Row character customization, check out our last hands-off preview.

Saints Row

Saints Row Hands-off Preview: Story & Tone

The footage we were shown also delved into the emotional element of your story, and displayed that a core element of this take on the Saints Row franchise is the relationship between you and your team. One of the missions shown off during the 45-minute presentation was a mission in which you’re tasked with saving one of your team members from a rival gang by fighting your way up a tower then parachuting off said tower with your associate, and we were promised that the story will reflect your relationship with your team.

Everything you would expect from Saints Row as a franchise is also here, with a ton of activities to do on the side, police chases galore and multiple different stores in which you can purchase outfits, weapons, and vehicles. Something noticeably absent from the presentation was the more outlandish weapons, with nothing that was shown off really approaching the wildness of the dildo-bat from Saints Row The Third, or the literal superpowers you were given in Saints Row IV. The game itself is clearly taking a much more grounded tone than those installments, so fans looking for that kind of cartoon wackiness should hold off until more details are confirmed.

Of course something that might be actively concerning fans of the series is the tone of the game. As fans of Saints Row may know, the series took a sharp left turn into something much closer to parody with Saints Row The Third, and much more with the alien-fueled Saints Row IV.

I asked the developers at Deep Silver Volition about how they were balancing this, and they stated that they’re looking for a confident middle ground. They don’t want to veer into the sheer amount of parody and humor that made later Saints Row titles difficult to get emotionally invested in, but they also don’t want to reach the emotional depths of Saints Row 2, a game in which you hold your team member as they die. They want to do something in-between this, something that allows for careful twisting and turning without making players too emotional. In short, they want to make the perfect game for people to play as a way to unwind and turn off their brains, which is something that I personally welcome with open arms.

Saints Row

That’s not to say that the game won’t be funny, though. From what we saw you’ll still be doing weird stuff with your crew throughout the world, with one key example towards the end of the presentation being a mission where you have to wreck the camp of a rival gang by driving through it, while using a portable bathroom as a wrecking ball. Oh yeah, and the portable bathroom has one of the rival gang members still inside of it.

Saints Row Will Have Co-op

An interesting thing that the developers discussed during the hands-off preview was the presence of drop-in drop-out co-op in Saints Row. You can join another players game at any point and do missions with them and mess around together in the open world, creating an endless amount of fun and possibilities for it. We saw a helicopter that was controlled by another player pick up a car that another player was driving and throw it towards their destination, and that only really scrapes the iceberg of what’ll be possible in the final release of the game.

I’m much more interested in seeing what the open-world co-operative play is like, since it’s pretty clear that the mission-based gameplay will be much the same as previous games. Will there be activities tailored exclusively to co-operative play, or will already existing activities be changed and adapted for multiple players? Which of these is the case remains to be seen right now.

Saints Row is shaping up to be an interesting addition to the selection of games released this year. While the last couple of games in the series weren’t massively well received, this reboot of the series wants to remind you of why you loved Saints Row all those years ago, and it wants to show you what is possible in the new generation of consoles when it comes to this series. One can only hope it feels as good as it looks, and that developer Deep Silver Volition has made this game one that you won’t be forgetting soon.

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Ryan Easby
| Staff Writer

Ryan is a Staff Writer at TechRaptor, a gamer that has been in the industry for a year now. In his spare time he writes for other… More about Ryan