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Saints Row’s reboot is more realistic as Volition couldn’t top conquering the galaxy

Why Volition took Saints Row back to the crime empire origins of the franchise

The lineup of main characters in Saints Row stand against a wall.

Saints Row is back with a modern, realistic reboot that is a dramatic shift away from what Volition did with the last entry in the series. Released all the way back in 2013, Saints Row 4 was a bombastic, bonkers entry in the series that had you sitting in the White House as the President, exploring a simulation of the town of Steelport, and taking on an alien invasion. By the end of the game you end up as the ruler of the galaxy, which if we’re being honest is pretty hard to top.

It comes as no surprise then that in 2022, Saints Row is going back to its roots. Set in the present day, this reboot is completely separate from previous games in the series, toning down the absurdities but, according to the developers, still keeping the mayhem and humour that the Saints Row is known for.

Set in the American South-West, in fictional Santo Ileso, you play as one of a team of four friends who are sick and tired of being told what to do, playing by society’s rules and decide to break out on their own and start a criminal empire. Saints Row is a reboot through and through: it is no longer set in the urban Steelport, all of the characters from the previous saga are gone, and the series has shifted to a more modern, slick look. Oh, and we haven’t seen a giant purple dildo used as a melee weapon yet.

However, Volition is keen to highlight that it isn’t abandoning the traits fans love about the series. Described as the “Weird West”, Santo Ileso will still have a lot of the jokes and over-the-top antics that you have been able to do in the past, such as the return of the beloved Insurance Fraud activity. But going back to the origins of the Saints was a necessary decision for Volition, partly because of how over-the-top the last entries in the series were.

In a preview presentation, Jim Boone, Volition’s chief creative officer, tells The Loadout that it was “a pretty easy decision” for the team to make this reboot a realistic one.

“When we were talking about scenes before [the previous Saints Row saga] we would talk about how you are coming from the crack house, to the penthouse, to the White House as our journey through [the games]”. Boone goes on to say that once you are the ruler of the galaxy in Saints Row 4, and after gaining control of Hell in Gat Out Of Hell, “there really isn’t a whole lot of runway to figure out where you would go past that.”

A fight can be seen breaking out on the streets of Los Panteros.

Jeremy Bernstein, lead narrative designer on missions, adds to that by highlighting that “it’s hard not to be a more grounded game than Saints Row 4”.

Design director James Hague then also gives his thoughts on Saints Row 4 and Gat Out Of Hell, comparing them to the James Bond film Moonraker, which he described as “James Bond in the middle of Star Wars”.

“It [Moonraker] is so extreme,” Hague says. “It’s so over the top, and it’s put so far outside the bounds of reality. It’s pushed so far outside anything that’s even plausible. Where can you possibly go from there? You can’t go farther, you’ve got to pull it back. You’ve got to come back down to your roots and ask, what are we about at the core?”

However, everyone on the development team is quick to point out that this “isn’t a grim, dark Saints Row”. Although, Boone does highlight that the tone will be of a game from 2022, not 2013, saying that the tone of Saints Row 3 and 4 especially are “not something we feel like we even want to do today. We have a different kind of story that we want to tell, that still has a lot of the same hallmarks.”

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So far Saints Row looks to be a fresh take on the series that brings it out of 2013 and into the present day. It offers an opportunity for Volition to start fresh and create a new Saints Row that focuses on what the series was originally built on: a crime empire.

Saints Row is set to hit PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC on February 25, 2022. You can find more information about the reboot here, including the Saints Row reboot release date.