Saints Row (2022) hands-off preview: The gang gets rebooted

It's not so much getting the band back together as it is forming a new band with the same name. We got a sneak peek at the Saints Row reboot!


It’s been a long time since we first met those ragtag gang of rapscallions known as the Saints as they came marching into our lives as nothing more than a bunch of street-level thugs. Since that time, though, they’ve conquered the streets of Stilwater, and Steelport, became celebrities, and had their leader become President of the United States. And after that, they went on to have adventures in outer space and even took on the armies of Hell. It begs the question, “Where do you go when you’ve basically conquered the world and beyond?” While Alexander may have wept, the Saints are fortunate enough to have the option of pushing the reboot button, or at the least the devs at Deep Silver Volition can hit the button for them.

That’s right, we’re getting a new Saints Row game. And when I say new, I mean brand-spanking new. Saints Row isn’t just getting a new installment, it’s getting an entire reboot chock full of new characters, gangs, weapons, and territories to take over. I got a chance to take a hands-off sneak peek at just some of the things awaiting fans in this whole new world.

The gang goes west

One thing that always helps with a fresh start is treading a new path, finding a new place to call home and carving out your own little niche in the world. For Saints Row’s reboot, players will be setting down roots in the Southwestern-inspired city of Santo Ileso. This new city appeared to be smack dab in the middle of a desert chock full of sand, cacti, and rock formations, it’s hard to say if it takes inspiration from Vegas, Reno, or Arizona specifically, but it feels like they’re taking a little from a bunch of iconic southwestern regions.

All the areas that players will be able to explore feature their own unique styles as well as a rival gang that players will have to take down. That’s right, players will once again trounce upon their rivals in an effort to take control of Santo Ileso bit by bit. There’s the gritty badlands of Rancho Providencia, the neon glow and seedy back alleys of the El Dorado district, and the fancy-pants gated community affluence of Monte Vista. Players will work their way through each area as they face off against rival gangs for territorial control. It’s the largest and most ambitious playground the Saints Row series has built so far.

Once players have control of an area, they’ll be able to select from various business fronts that they can set up and customize their turf with. Players can do things like hide their carjacking rings behind auto shop fronts, or maybe open up a weapons ring. Players will be free to see where various criminal ventures lead them as they build their empire.

Along with the new backdrop, players will throw down against three new gangs: The wild badasses that are Los Panteros of Rancho Providencia, the fame-obsessed Idols in the El Dorado district, and the Haliburton-like private military mega corporation known as Marshall Defense Industries. Each gang has its own trait and strategies they employ in combat, for example Los Panteros are pretty buff and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, with blood, from beating you down while Marshall reps are more likely to use OP firepower and high-tech gadgetry to take you on.

The new gang on the block

As mentioned earlier, this is a complete reboot of the Saints Row franchise. That means we’re going to be following a whole new crew as they write their own origin story for a new generation. Players will still be able to make their own characters to match their style with what is being promised to be another detailed customization system.

Joining players on their journey will be their ragtag crew made up of three NPC characters. First up there’s the nerdy and business-minded Eli, who has come to Santo Ileso to seek his fortune. Of course, things don’t always go as planned and Eli now finds himself looking for that payday in the city’s seedy underbelly.

The other two NPCs have history with the Idols and Los Panteros. DJ and people pleaser Kevin will start off running with the Idols, but somewhere down the line in the game’s story, he’s going to realize who his real friends are. Neenah knows her way around a car and is just as comfortable in the driver’s seat as she is under the hood. She was hoping to work at a museum due to her passion for art, but instead ended up working as a mechanic for Los Panteros. The underlying theme behind each character’s backstory seems to be that their dreams have been crushed and they want to take them back. It’s the kind of thing many young adults find themselves facing in a world that is rapidly becoming more and more complex, which seems to speak to the concept of modernizing Saints Row’s narrative.

The gang does some things they’ve done before

For as much as the Saints Row reboot seems to be changing things up, there still appears to be plenty of what made folks fall in love with the franchise still intact. This game is still full of over-the-top insane antics and actions. Players are still going to be getting into shootouts and brawls while wielding things like mini-guns and rocket launchers. You’re still going to be pulling off insane stunts with vehicles as you drive off ramps, rooftops, and loop de loops. And of course there’s still some very cinematic beat down finishers.

Players will also get their hands on a wingsuit to try out some gliding. I’m pretty sure I saw a few glimpses of the classic Insurance Fraud mission where you rag doll your character and try to cause the biggest accident you can. Co-Op play will also be making a return with Cross-gen play built in. There’s no word however if there’s going to be crossplay compatibility as well, but this was just the game’s reveal.

The gang launches in 2022

What I saw of the new Saints Row was most likely just a fun-size Snickers bite of what we can expect from the Saints Row reboot. I mean, this is merely a reveal, nothing more than a first showing. But what I did see has me salivating at the mouth for more. I’ve been a loyal Saints Row fan for a long time and my body is ready for more antics. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to miss Shaundi, Pierce, Kinzie, and of course fan favorite Johnny Gat. But, I’m willing to let go and grow, much like the Saints Row series seems to be too. And like I said, this was just our first sneak peek at the Saints new origin story and world. Surprisingly, we also got a release date along with everything else. Old and new fans alike can expect to throw down in the Saints Row reboot February 25, 2022 on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC via Epic Games Store.

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Blake has been writing and making videos about pop-culture and games for over 10 years now. Although he'd probably prefer you thought of him as a musician and listened to his band, If you see him on the street, buy him a taco or something. Follow him on twitter @ProfRobot

From The Chatty
  • reply
    August 25, 2021 1:00 PM

    Blake Morse posted a new article, Saints Row (2022) hands-off preview: The gang gets rebooted

    • reply
      August 25, 2021 1:23 PM

      Looks like they're aiming for the balance that was good between hard core and wacky that SR3 achieved, dialing back where SR4 when.

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        August 25, 2021 1:42 PM

        Comparing SR4 to Moonraker is very very apt.

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      August 25, 2021 1:29 PM

      Want want want want want want

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      August 25, 2021 1:36 PM

      I very much hope they can pull it off!

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      August 25, 2021 1:42 PM

      People on YouTube are mad that they “massacred” the series. It looks fine to me. Seems to capture the spirit of the first one. What am I missing?

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        August 25, 2021 1:49 PM

        IV was mostly well accepted I guess if not ultimately a better superhero power fantasy game than a Saint's Row game. After that they did Gat Out of Hell (DLC) which was … not good (full disclosure: I never played it).

        IV ended with some awesome potential. Volition shifted and released the apparently abysmal Agents of Mayhem which featured some of the Saint's Row crew. I think that earned them a lot of anger.

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          August 25, 2021 1:55 PM

          I didn’t care for 4. I liked the more grounded ones before it. You didn’t even need to drive in 4!

          Maybe they never played 1

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            August 25, 2021 2:02 PM

            Yeah. I liked some of the stuff they did with 4 but ultimately the fact that you end up ridiculously over powered and the whole thing is a simulation (so the world doesn't really matter) was really dumb and ultimately made me never want to go back to it. Ever.

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          August 28, 2021 5:56 AM

          I loved the hell out of 4.

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        August 25, 2021 2:03 PM

        Ignore "people on YouTube". The ones that aren't reactionary idiots are deliberately hatemongering to generate clicks.

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