Everything We Learned About the Saints Row Reboot Behind Closed Doors

It’s been rumored, and it’s been teased, but it’s finally official! There’s a new Saints Row game coming next year! While the gamescom trailer revealed quite a lot, we here at MP1st have been given a special opportunity to get some behind-the-scenes look at the newly announced Saints Row reboot — a full hour in fact. So without further ado, here is everything we learned about the Saints Row reboot.

I have taken the liberty at breaking this up into sections for easier reading. In addition to all the details listed, I have also included our impression of the gameplay we saw during our closed door session. Hope you all enjoy this read, and hopefully we’ll have more Saints Row news for you real soon.

Saints Row Reboot Screenshots

Saints Row Reboot Release Date

The Saints Row Reboot will be releasing on February 25, 2022 for the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, and PC via Epic Game Store exclusive.

Saints Row Reboot General Description

Welcome to Santo Ileso, a vibrant fictional city in the heart of the American Southwest. In a world rife with crime, where lawless factions fight for power, a group of young friends embark on their own criminal venture, as they rise to the top in their bid to become Self Made.

As the future Boss, with Neenah, Kevin, and Eli by your side, you’ll form The Saints – and take on Los Panteros, The Idols, and Marshall as you build your empire across the streets of Santo Ileso and battle for control of the city. Ultimately Saints Row is the story of a start-up company, it’s just that the business The Saints are in happens to be crime.

Experience the biggest and best Saints Row playground ever created; the unique sprawling world of Santo Ileso is the backdrop for a wild, larger than life sandbox of thrilling side hustles, criminal ventures and blockbuster missions, as you shoot, drive, and wingsuit your way to the top.

Express yourself and unleash your inner Saint, with the most advanced suite of customization tools yet seen in an open-world game – make your character, your car and your crew your own.

Dive into epic gunfights and highspeed chases, and witness outrageous only-in-Saints-Row moments in an original story that charts the Saints’ remarkable rise to power. Enjoy the freedom of playing the entire campaign with a friend through seamless untethered co-op play, where you can both push the limits of your gang and create your own gameplay moments together.

Key Features

  • Witness the Birth of The Saints – Play through an action blockbuster original story full of criminality, extraordinary scenes and signature surprises laced with humor.
  • Discover the Weird, Wild, West – Dive in to Santo Ileso, the biggest and best Saints Row playground ever, spread across nine unique districts surrounded by the vast, majestic beauty of the Southwest Desert.
  • Build Your Criminal Empire – Take over the city block by block, wage war against enemy factions and tighten your grip on the streets with ingenious criminal ventures.
  • Fire Guns. LOTS of Guns – Shoot revolvers from the hip, fire and forget with a rocket launcher, or obliterate up close using melee heavyweights, complete with brutal takedowns. A vast variety of familiar and exotic weapons, all customizable, and all deadly fun.
  • Take to the Streets and the Skies – Blast through urban and desert environments in any one of the cars, bikes, planes, helicopters, VTOLs, hoverbikes, hoverboards, go-karts or equip your wingsuit to swoop around.
  • Unprecedented Customization – Create the Boss of your dreams, with the most extensive character customization suite ever seen in the series, then complete the look with incredible options for weapons and vehicles.
  • Seamless Co-Op – Experience everything on offer with a friend at any time, via fully untethered drop-in / drop out co-op, skipping the need to take either of you out of the outlandish action. Play nice together, or play all new pranks on your team mate. After all, who’s the Boss now.

What We Learned About the Saints Row Reboot Behind Closed Doors

General Gameplay

  • Gunplay is said to be more precise but with an arcade feel. It’s still Saints Row, but they spent a lot of time refining the combat to make it feel really good.
  • If you’re familiar with previous versions of Saints Row, it’s going to be easy to pick up and progress in the game.
  • They have added more options and choices when players are in fights.
  • There will be XP and leveling to unlock skills, along with perks though it isn’t based on what Volition has done with previous games. There is a new twist in how they are handling it. Said to have a lot of depth.
  • Fast travel confirmed.
  • Wingsuits are confirmed. It will integrate into combat, upgrades, and much more.
  • Vehicles go the same way and can upgrade any vehicles for off-road driving. They used a garbage truck as an example saying the one upgraded with off-roading will drive much better than the one not.
  • Cruise control will not be returning in the Saints Row reboot. The devs state that the car is used more as a weapon and didn’t feel the need to have cruise control because of the change.
  • The team is bringing back a few classic game modes such as Insurance Fraud. It’s not the only one with more being announced later.
  • There are tons of new modes also.
  • They mentioned a weapon (not by name) that they didn’t include, but said to expect a good amount of crazy ones in the reboot.
  • Character customization is by far Volition most extensive to date.
  • Like previous Saints Row, you can play the entire game in co-op with a friend.
  • The trailer may have come off with a more serious tone, but the devs say that the world is still filled with wackiness. They spoke about Gat Out of Hell and how insanely crazy it was and noting that they couldn’t go farther (as in top it) with it and that they had to pull it back and go back to their roots.
  • Shooting and driving should feel familiar to fans.
  • You will be able to call in reinforcement as you grow your empire.

Story

  • Story revolves around four friends who form their own criminal empire.
  • The four friends are:
    • Eli – An MBA who came to Santa Ileso to make his fortune as an entrepreneur. He builds a business, though it’s a crime business.
    • Nina – She is the driver, she grew up in her parents garage but has a deep love for art and anthropology. Came to Santa Ileso to get a job at a museum, but ends up getting a job as a mechanic working under the Pantheros faction.
    • Kevin – He is a DJ and is described as a people pleaser who will do anything for his friends. Also a thrill seeker and grew up in foster care. He is searching for where he belongs and finds it with the Idol, another criminal faction.
    • The Boss – This is you, your own custom made character. You can play as any gender, be a variety of different sizes, skin tone, and body shapes, and even pick your own voice dub. You bring the other characters together to eventually form The Saints.
      • There are 8 different voices you can pick from.
  • This is not a sequel or prequel, this is a full reboot that does not tie into any of the other Saints Row titles.
  • There are some Easter Eggs for the sharp eyed, but it is a new story.
  • Volition wanted to start from scratch, and the devs wanted a clean slate, so they put past characters aside for something new.
  • Devs have been influenced by a number of things. The developers say they drew things from Baby Driver, John Wick, and Hobbs as big movie inspirations.
  • Series is going back to its roots.
  • Though the game does have a more serious tone, you can expect to see a good chunk of humor. This is not a grim dark Saints Row. Lots of fun to be had.
  • Volition said there wouldn’t be any alien invasion.
  • The soundtrack will have some original compositions as well as licensed music.

The Gangs 

  • Santa Ileso is under control of three gangs; The Pantheros, Marshal Defense Industries, and The Idols.
  • The Pantheros
    • Considered to be the muscles, the Pantheros are the original street hardened native of Santa Ileso. They hit hard with heavy weaponry and are motorheads.
  • Marshal Defense Industries
    • Private military conglomerates characterized by their advanced weaponry. They have high-end, leading edge technology. They own the commercial territory.
  • The Idols
    • Motivated by fame and notoriety and see themselves as icons in the new world order. They have numbers and control the upper part of Santa Ileso where they party.
  • The Saints
    • This is the gang that you and the other three characters are forming. You need to start from the ground and work your way up. This presents some unique gameplay opportunities that we will describe further below.

Location

  • Saints Row takes place in Santa Ileso.
  • In terms of gameplay, this world is huge in what it offers.
  • The devs say the map is definitely bigger than past Saints Row. They have expanded in all categories, in every direction of it.
  • Inspired by the American Southwest region. If you’ve seen movies and even been there you may recognize some things, though they aren’t exact.
  • It is one of the largest cities that Volition has built for a Saints Row game. Said to offer the most varied and diverse location than any other Saints Row game.
  • Modern Urban city sandbox scattered across 9 unique districts.
  • Each district has their own “feel” and themes with it’s own inhabitants with daily life.
  • In the video presentation we saw deserts, canyons, green golf fields, small towns, harbors, and more.
  • Rancho Providencia district was described to have a grittier, weather identity that reflects the Pantheros home turf.
  • El Dorado district is grime mixed with glitz. There were neon signs on buildings, almost like a Las Vegas feeling.
  • Monta Vista district houses the rich and powerful as gated homes with pools and parties were showcased.
  • Districts are built with traversal variety Financial districts for example had massive tall skyscrapers that offered verticality. You can jump and use the wingsuit off of them.
  • Rodeo Districts was described as city planning where there are spas and exclusive restaurants. They are said to be retreats for the rich and famous.
  • The world itself offers tons of opportunities for sandbox fun. They showed off-road driving, carjacking, construction demolition, and a helicopter picking up a car as fireworks went off behind it.
  • Built with exploration in mind and the most diverse sandbox Volition has created yet.
  • A “map” was shown off kind of. It wasn’t the in-game map, but one used during a cutscene. It seems that Santa Ileso is broken up into two parts that is divided by a massive body of water. I believe it connecting bridges, and an island in the middle.

Technology

  • The footage we saw was from an “alpha’ build, but visuals looked surprisingly good. Looked a bit like GTA 5 with all it’s colors and just general world polishing for the visuals.
  • “Only in Saints Row Types” types of moments will still exist. They showed what looked like Torment Fraud as the character flew around like a ragdoll and exploded vehicles that they landed on.
  • Saints Row is running on a new engine, this engine has not been announced yet.
  • No details were shared about the benefits of playing on next-gen hardware. They will share more on this later.
  • Volition loves all the past Saints Row games they’ve developed, and thought the tone of them made sense back then. However, with this more modern take that tone is not what they want to do today. It will still have humor and many of the series’ hallmark, but they wanted the game to resonate with the feeling of now rather than something they did a decade back. They feel happy with what they got.
  • There are load screens for fast travel, cutscenes, and certain missions.
  • Looks to be a day/night cycle as the footage shown featured many different times of day.
  • Wildlife – Not much as mentioned about this, though we did notice a flock of eagles at some port during the gameplay.

Saints Row Building

  • As you take control of new areas in Santa Ileso you will be given opportunities to build on vacant lots.
  • You will be able to run a variety of different criminal businesses from these vacant lots.
  • These structures come with “players choice”. So when and where you build will have an impact on the world.
  • This opens new gameplay opportunities.
  • A fast food drug running ring, protection racket, auto theft, arms dealership, shady hospitals, and a totally legit laundry service were amongst some of the criminal businesses that players can build and open.
  • Districts do not restrict what you can build. The example given was building a toxic waste business in the financial district. NPCs probably won’t appreciate this.
  • As you build this empire you add more to the Saints crew.

Crossplay and Co-op

  • The studio was pretty tight-lipped on whether or not crossplay would be included in Saints Row between different platforms. However, they did confirm that players can play with one another within their console family. So Xbox One owners can play with Xbox Series, and PS4 with PS5 players.
  • Co-op (two players only) is entirely untethered, so players can freely explore independently from one another.
  • Game built with co-op in mind, every mission is playable in co-op.
  • There is a new co-op mechanic called “Pranking,” which they will discuss at a later date.

Our Impression:

Going back to the series’ roots, the Saints Row Reboot will take players through the journey of how the Saints were first formed, offering them a whole new set of tools to manage their crews, along with building their empire. The story will follow a group of four friends, three of them formally belonging to one of the major gangs that inhabit the games new setting, Santo Ileso.

You’ll take control of a fully customizable character who goes by the moniker of “The Boss.” Essentially, it’s your job to build the Saints from scratch, using whatever tools you have at your disposal. See how the Saints go from having nothing, to being one of Santo Illeso largest criminal empire.

If that sounds familiar, well it should as any long time Saints Row fan will recognize that the plot for the reboot threads on the original found in both Saints Row 1 and 2. The series is going back to it’s long forgotten roots, offering a more serious story that takes place in one wacky sandbox world. Personally, I am excited.

As a long time Saints Row fan, I’ll admit the series going a bit too far with all it’s crazy hijinks. While I do love what  Saints Row 3,4, and Gat Out of Hell had to offer, I just couldn’t help but wonder where that potential GTA competitor went as I was pummeling Satan in his own throne room.

Well, as it turns out it was all going back into the reboot.

Studio Volition sheds away the over-the-top wackiness from Saints Row 3 and 4, and opts for an experience closer to the original Saints Row. From the very first gameplay we saw, we knew this wasn’t going to be your typical craze filled open-world that the last two Saints Row brought.

There was a feeling of being more grounded from the gameplay we saw. The gunfights did have some crazy weapons, but for the most part everything looked to be defined by some actual rules. Meaning we weren’t going to see anything insanely crazy as the developers joked about the Alien invasion from the fourth game and how they weren’t going to appear.

However, despite giving a more serious tone, Volition assured us that there would still be some “only in Saints Row moments” as they ragdolled across the screen, showing a brief glimpse of the series long running game mode, Insurance Fraud. Other crazy moments included a construction vehicle rampaging through the streets, a helicopter hitching up a car from the road as fireworks went off, a tank and monster truck crushing sets of vehicles, a guy riding a motorcycle down the spine of a T-Rex statue, and then some of the open world explorations had many jump spots along with unique locations filled with wacky and fun structures.

The open-world offered by Saints Row was probably one of the biggest highlights of the presentation as it was superbly rich in variety. We saw canyons, large cities filled with skyscrapers, lush green golf courses, places of wealth, and places of poverty. There is a deep sense of culture to be found in Santo Illeso as the Volition showed off a number of unique landmarks scattered around the world.

Volition didn’t really dive deep into any of the side activities, but the world itself looked fun to explore

Also, I have to say, with this coming out next year in February I was pretty impressed by the alpha footage shown. It looked like a modern open-world, almost like the one you find in GTA 5. Living and breathing with its own personality.

Another highlight was the building aspect. When you progress, you will eventually be able to take control of districts and expand your empire by building criminal businesses. An example of one shown off was a biohazard waste management facility. We didn’t see a whole lot here, but it seems like whatever you build will open the game up to more gameplay opportunities. The district type won’t restrict what you can build either so if you wanted to put a toxic waste management in a rich neighborhood you can.

For the gameplay it was hard to judge because we were watching a video, but I will say it did look like the car physics have been changed. There’s less of a floaty look to it and the developers did say that there isn’t cruise control but they have worked on a new combat system for the vehicles. I don’t recall if this was shown off to us but like I stated it does look like the vehicles have a new set of physics with the new engine.

There’s some destruction that we saw on vehicles and some objects out in the open world, but its hard to say just how much of that there is.

Overall, I think fans will be excited for this one, although I’m unsure how they’ll take to the initial CGI trailer that they will see. I do think that Volition is making the right move here with starting fresh, as topping the recent outings sure would be hard task. As they said during our preview, where does Saints Row even go after the recent release? That answer is back where it all started.