The new Saints Row game has just been announced, and as you may already know, it's a complete reboot. Different characters, a different setting — the lot. But despite this rebirth, the gameplay that we've seen suggests that this is still Saints Row, in all of its goofy glory. Now, we're not talking Saints Row IV here — it's not that absurd. Instead, the footage we saw reminded us of Saints Row: The Third; reasonably grounded, but with a cartoonish edge. Like Saturday morning Grand Theft Auto.
To be clear, we were recently treated to a full presentation for the new Saints Row, which included chunks of gameplay footage. We didn't get to go hands-on, but key staff from developer Volition were happy to explain the project and answer questions.
The first thing that stood out to us is the setting. The whole game takes place in a fictional city in the US Southwest, called Santo Ileso. It's essentially a diverse cityscape surrounded by desert, and there's already a nice contrast between buildings coated in neon lights and the dusty, orange outback. Volition tells us that this is the biggest map that it's ever made.
Santo Ileso is yours to conquer. You play as your own custom character — still known as the 'Boss' — and your goal is to build a criminal empire. You're joined on this crusade by the three other characters from the reveal trailer as you take on the city's established gangs. So far, so very Saints Row.
And the actual gameplay loop is pretty much what you'd expect. Bit by bit, the new-look Saints will seize control of Santo Ileso through story missions, side activities, and general open world chaos. You run, you gun, you drive at extreme speeds. It's immediately clear that Saints Row isn't trying to reinvent the sandbox wheel, but the hope is that the game's progression systems are enough to keep you hooked. An engaging story certainly wouldn't hurt, either.
Speaking of which, Volition assures us that Saints Row's sense of humour remains intact. We only saw snippets of cutscenes, but it was obvious that the game isn't taking itself super seriously.
Things get even stupider when it comes to the aforementioned side activities. Again, we didn't get to see much of them, but we caught glimpses of returning favourites like the insurance fraud minigame from Saints Row: The Third, where the Boss ragdolls against speeding vehicles in order to rack up cash.
So does the new Saints Row have any narrative connections to the old games? Well, Volition didn't say "no" outright, but the studio was very eager to reiterate that this is a reboot — its own thing. That said, we wouldn't be at all surprised to see some Easter eggs and references dotted about the map.
Moving on, co-op was confirmed. You'll still be able to team up with another player online, and tackle everything that the game has to offer as a terrible twosome. There was no confirmation of cross-play, however, although we believe that PS5 users will be able to get together with PS4 users.
And yes, Saints Row is a cross-gen game, with Volition pointing out that the PS5 version will offer the usual improvements: better performance and faster load times.
The main takeaway here is that Saints Row is still Saints Row — this point was hammered home when the new Boss threw a grenade with the same over-the-top animation from the old games. Based on what we've seen so far, we don't think this reboot will blow anyone's mind, but it's still shaping up to be another solid sandbox, dripping with dumb Saints Row fun.
Are you looking forward to the new Saints Row? Start building your own criminal empire in the comments section below.