PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series
Publisher Deep Silver
Format PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series Origin US
Release February 25
Let’s face it: a reboot was the only realistic option for Volition’s open-world series. At the end of the fourth game, your protagonist had expanded their criminal empire into space, effectively becoming ruler of the universe. And if that wasn’t quite far enough, expansion Gat Out Of Hell culminated in you defeating Satan, before giving you the option to either ascend to Heaven or become king of the underworld. “To me, the comparison is the James Bond film Moonraker,” principal writer Jeremy Bernstein explains. “It’s so extreme – it’s so far outside anything that’s even plausible – that it’s like, ‘Where can we possibly go from there?’ And you can’t. You’ve got to pull it back.”
Hence the lack of a number in the title. This isn’t, however, a reimagining of the first game, but an entirely new story – one that is nevertheless identifiably Saints Row, with that same mix of extreme violence and warmth, criminality and kindness. It’s “a chance to go back to our origins” according to chief creative officer Jim Boone – “that more contemporary crime angle that we love and that Saints Row is known for” – as we watch a monster truck ride over and flatten a succession of parked cars. It’s an oddly heartening moment: for once, we’re not looking at a self-consciously gritty reboot. While, as Bernstein puts it, “it’s hard not to be more grounded than Saints Row
IV,” it’s also not a game that’s going to take itself too seriously. The return of the popular Insurance Fraud activity – in which you hurl yourself into traffic, racking up claims as your avatar ragdolls between vehicles – is surely testament to that.
The game’s creative director, Brian Traficante, claims its setting of Santo Ileso is “one of the most diverse locations that we’ve offered to our players”. The pre-alpha version we see would seem to bear that out. It’s more topographically varied, for starters, from desert environments and dirt tracks to skyscrapers in Ileso’s financial district: the ideal launch point when you’ve got a wingsuit equipped. “It’s our amalgam of lots of different influences from the southwest,” art director Frank Marquart says, and that’s apparent from both the dusty towns and the glistening metropolises, the gated communities and the neon-glazed Vegas analogue. And there’s just enough of that familiar Volition flavour to set it apart: a trio of smoke stacks made out to look like giant beer bottles, for example.
What it isn’t, then, is simply a hi-def Steelport. Though Volition stops short of explicitly confirming the absence of characters from previous games, it’s fair to say the old gang has been left behind. And