When will the Third Street Saints go marching in?
The Saints Row series is an open world action game that is often compared to Grand Theft Auto. GTA’s crazy cousin has been around for over a decade and the games have made us laugh as we fight a voodoo-themed gang, luchadores, aliens, spray poo on people, protect celebrities and take part in a police reality TV show.
It’s been six years since the last major Saints Row title and fans of the series like myself have been wondering, when is Saints Row coming back? Since Saints Row IV (the latest major release) developer Volition has worked on Agents of Mayhem, a game that was met with a mixed response by critics. I played AoM recently and I enjoyed it despite its flaws.
After Agents of Mayhem was released the studio went quiet. No one knows what the team is working on now, many hope that they are working on the next instalment of Saints Row. With Saints Row 1 and 2 being made backwards compatible a couple of months ago, I thought it would be a good idea to come up with a list of what I would like to see in Saints Row 5 (or whatever it gets called), so that’s exactly what I’ve done.
Here are five things I want to see in Saints Row 5.
5. Vastly improved graphics
I know some people aren’t bothered by graphics and to be quite honest, neither am I. However, I do think that Saints Row developer Volition can improve the graphical quality of their games. The Saints Row series has never had great graphics but it doesn’t take away from the fun that the game gives.
It has been five years since Saints Row IV was originally launched and it was released on last-generation consoles. We are now well into the eighth generation and the PS4 and Xbox One are more powerful than their predecessors and are capable, of producing high-quality graphics. Saints Row IV isn’t a bad-looking game but it could look better and the current hardware can deliver better graphics.
Now I know a graphical improvement is a given for the next Saints Row game, but I want them to knock it out of the park. Volition have a unique visual style that you can see in the Saints Row games and Agents of Mayhem and that extra level of polish, can help make the next instalment shine and stand out.
4. The level of customisation found in Saints Row 2
Customisation has always been a big part of the Saints Row games, as they allow you to create your own character, customise your avatar, and pimp your vehicles. The first game blew me away with its customisation, the only game that could equal it on that aspect was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Saints Row 1 has some small features which are pretty cool. You could equip three different sizes of necklaces and each one could have a medallion or a pendant attached. Cars could have several different colours of tinted glass, there were tonnes of different kinds of paint for your cars and its wheels.
Saints Row 2 took the customisation and ramped it up to eleven. Pretty much every item of clothing could be customised with whatever colour you want and a selection of logos. You could have several layers of clothing equipped and you could wear a multitude of outfits, you could run around as a hot dog. Cars could be customised to a crazy degree, you could change the profile of the tires, put spinners on wheels. Cars and bikes could be painted with an absurd amount of different kinds of paint, all to make your vehicle your own.
Whilst vehicle customisation was still pretty good in Saints Row 3, the clothing options were greatly reduced. There were fewer items to choose from and you couldn’t equip different layers of clothing. Even though you could make your playable character red or green-skinned in Saints Row 3, the clothing options were a big step back from Saints Row 2.
Saints Row 2 doesn’t just have one of the best character customisation mechanics in the franchise but gaming in general, it’s that good. A return to that degree of player choice in how their avatar and vehicles look will please longtime fans and new players.
3. Tone down the craziness
Saints Row 1 was a fairly serious game, it had its elements of stupidness such as the Chicken Ned and zombie homies but that’s as far as it went. Saints Row 2 embraced the absurdity whilst having a serious story, with some comical moments littered throughout. The sequel’s activities were completely outlandish and brilliant fun.
There were returning activities such as Escort and Snatch but the new ones were incredibly wacky. Septic Avenger had you spray shit (yes, actual faeces) on buildings and people. Fuzz had you assume the role of a cop for a reality TV show where you would break up fights between pirates and ninjas and chainsaw streakers, it was absolutely wild. Saints Row 2 had a good balance of seriousness and nonsense.
Saints Row 3 decided to embrace the craziness to an entirely new level and for the most part, it was good. However, madness was put into absolutely everything and a lot of the humour in the story felt forced. The decision to go all-out crazy resulted in a story that was nowhere near as good or memorable and a game that wasn’t as fun as its predecessor. More insanity doesn’t always mean more fun.
Saints Row 4 went even more nuts by making the player the President of the United States and including an alien invasion. Whilst the fourth entry went more absurd, the developer incorporated the silliness better and the humour felt more natural and to me, it was a lot more fun to play than Saints Row 3.
In Saints Row 5 (or whatever they decide to call it), I think developer Volition should rein the series back in and go back to the balance they had with Saints Row 2. The second game to me is still the best game in the series because they managed the silly and serious so well. A return to that would be most welcome.
2. New characters, new story
We’ve had four games with pretty much the same cast (five if you count Gat out of Hell) and I think it’s time that those characters finally have a sit-down and rest. The next game should have some fresh blood, introduce brand new characters for a brand new generation of Saints Row players.
New characters will also mean that the developers can create a story without worrying about the events of the previous game. References to the other Saints Row games would be cool and I think that is something that fans would appreciate. Grand Theft Auto V does this as there are references to GTA IV’s anti-hero Nico Bellic and Brucie Kibbutz within the game.
Now I know that longtime fans like myself are attached to certain characters, such as Johnny Gat but they could return as unlockable easter eggs or DLC. Bringing back characters like this will please fans of the series who love the old whilst bringing in new faces that players hopefully, will grow to love.
1. A bigger and more diverse map than Steelport.
Why am I picking on Steelport you say? I’m picking on Steelport because it is one of the most boring open worlds I’ve ever played in. It’s bland, uninteresting and it lacks character. When you play an open-world game, you want the world to pull you in so you can absorb the atmosphere and see all the detail.
Steelport is especially bland and boring when compared to Stilwater from Saints Row 2. Stilwater was a lot bigger and more diverse than Steelport. Stilwater had many districts and nearly every single one of them was unique in style and had interesting building/s for you to check out. Stilwater was brimming with character and life, each district had its own unique feel and they all fitted together to create an idealistic urban utopia.
Saints Row 5 should look back at Stilwater and what it did right (which was a lot) and incorporate those elements whilst bringing in some new ones, so it doesn’t feel as if they holding on to the past too much. The next city needs to be big, each district different, full of life and memorable. The world you play in, is just as big and important a character as the main characters in the story.
I hope the city we visit in the next Saints Row game is one I can explore for hours upon hours and I’m able to remember nearly every single location, so I don’t need the mini-map.
What would you like to see in the next Saints Row game? Let me know in the comments below or tell me on Twitter @ThatGreenDude95