after my Hands off the Saints Row reboot previewThen, I sat down and talked more with Volition developers Kenzie Lindgren (Assistant UX Designer) and Damien Allen (Lead Designer). We’ve covered a wide range of topics, including a lot about what’s new for this entry, but we’re starting by discussing why Saints Row fans are coming back to the series, despite the entirely new cast and setting.
“It still looks like Saints Row – even if it’s not the same characters, even if it’s not from the same place, even if it’s not what it was before – it looks like Saints Row,” Lindgren said.
“I feel like every time I go into the game, whether it’s just customization (because customization is a big part of it), whether it’s traveling around town, whether it’s wing fit and doing errands, it feels like Saints Row. And I think it’s worth it. Checking in at least if you are an older player, but also for a new player to discover that feeling for the first time.”
This is something Allen repeated. “I really think the Saints Row series feel is alive and well,” he added.
“If you are a veteran, and if you have played one or all of the previous four games, there will be something to enjoy, [be that] Traverse mechanics, new stuff we’ve added or a world more vibrant and unique than anything we’ve seen in the past.”
But while the general tone of Saints Row may be the same, Volition believes this new reboot stands head and shoulders above other games (not just those in the Saints Row series) in its customization, which appears to be One of the most comprehensive examples of its kind. Everything can be changed, from clothes, cars, and weapons to scars and birthmarks on your character’s body.
“We definitely have a lot more customization than any other game on the market right now,” Lindgren stated. “But also, just the fact that in the game, we might give you the same tools, we might give you the same ways to cross and move around, and you might be completing the same missions and getting the same rewards. [as other Saints Row players, but] Players will not necessarily have the same experience.
“With the level of customization and the level of options and tools we give you, two different players in the game will play completely differently. And I think that’s something really cool about Saints Row in particular.”
But even with the massive amount of cosmetics included in the game itself, the Saints Row team decided to keep the protagonist’s pronouns gender-neutral, always referring to the boss as “they,” “they,” or “you” throughout. This is something the developers say is purely for technical reasons, and was not done to indicate that the boss is not binary.
“Trying to put it all together with eight different voices and have a lot of different options, and also to make it sound more natural…that alone is going to be a challenge, right now, it’s not something we’re looking for,” Allen said.
“That doesn’t mean it probably won’t happen in the future, but we’re not really sure at the moment,” Lindgren added.
This led us to last year’s initial Saints Row reveal, which was met with a lukewarm response, and subsequent game delays.
“I think there was always a part of me and maybe even some other people in the studio who always knew it was going to be a little difficult at first, because [old] Lindgren admitted that the Saints would not return… I think this would always be a controversial thing.”
“It’s a bit disappointing to see that [initial reactions] When you know what you’re made of and when we’re not quite ready to reveal it all. And this can be something that needs to be done often.
“I was the one who walked out and said, ‘Saints don’t come back,’ and that can be pretty heartbreaking. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. And honestly, the whole time I’ve been here…we’ve always been confident in that direction. I’ve always been Confident about this, and I personally liked what we made. So, yes, it can be frustrating, but I’m also very confident in it.”
“only you [have to] Take this approach like, “Okay, we know what we have and we’ll show you what we have. Just be patient, please,” Allen added. “Sometimes you just have to take it in your stride. And it wasn’t, in my view, like we had to spin or shift or something else [following the announcement’s reception]. It was, “This is the path we’ve been on all the time,” and we were pretty confident about that. And when people can see it in its entirety, I think they will hopefully agree with us.”
And it turns out that Volition’s goal is for Saints Row to be tested by as many people as possible, thanks to the game’s accessibility options.
“One of the things that we really tried to look at in terms of accessibility was making sure that at least every class of players had something on offer,” Lindgren revealed. “So there’s a section for visual accessibility. There’s a section for engine access. And there’s a section for camera movement [and] all of that.”
“I think there is at least something for everyone,” she said, before promising a more in-depth breakdown of the game’s accessibility options to come later on the line.
So, what does the future of Saints Row hold? Once the game is launched, it can be played as a full co-op experience if you wish, with cross-generational playability capabilities. However, don’t hold your breath as Saints Row becomes a multi-platform collaborative endeavor. When asked if this was ever possible, I was told “no” by Allen.
Meanwhile, Allen and Lindgren were both very careful not to give up too much when I asked about the Saints Row multiplayer option, instead choosing to focus on what we can expect in the game’s initial release, which is the aforementioned co-op mode. However, this was prefaced by phrases such as “at the moment”.
Finally, before my time with the Volition developers was over, I asked them how they would describe Saints Row in just a few short words. Well, that was easy. They promised it’ll be a “unique, energy-infused fantasy” and plenty of “fun” to delve into when it’s released.
Saints Row is set to release on August 23 across Xbox, PlayStation, and PC.