Saints Row – Reboot it out of here!

Hearing about there being a reboot of the Saints row series, one that unfortunately started to go a little downhill with it’s wackiness, gave me a lot of hope for the series. Stepping back into the shoes of the Boss of the Third Street Saints, or maybe even just another member representing it, whichever, it sounds like it’s gonna be a blast.
One of the things I would hope to happen the most is having Troy Baker return as the boss but I suppose that would be a lot to ask, especially considering this is a reboot and will most likely bring in a new cast of characters or even just a new cast of voices.
Most of all I just want to see what new stories the Saints will tell as they embark on a new adventure.

Gamescom appeared.
The trailer dropped.
It looked crap.

I’m not the only one who thinks this either. Looking at the YouTube likes to dislikes on various channels that host the trailer you’ll see it’s usually 60/70 percent disliking and with very good reason.

I’m not just saying that because it’s a new location, has a new cast or hasn’t gone any seemingly fan favorites. I’m saying it because it doesn’t look or feel like the Saints and they’ve taken this approach to it that seems to not appeal to fans of Saints Row but more to fans of Twitter and Netflix teen drama’s.
So let’s go through the biggest problems I find about it.

1 – They want the series to be ‘Relateable’
Really? You have a series based on being the leader of a criminal empire with his own army, who goes on mass killing spree’s of people he doesn’t like, robs banks, army bases and enemy strongholds, invades virtual reality, stops alien invasions, becomes the president, takes part in murder reality shows and kills zombies on the order of Burt Reynolds and all of a sudden you want the players to feel a connection to the games?
Where the hell is the logic in that? Oh I see, don’t worry I get it now. It’s because it’s 2021 and you feel like you can’t sell anything to anybody unless it fits into the standards of a vocal minority who demand and bitch on twitter until they get what they want. You all need to fit into some box so they can check off the representation and diversity of it’s cast as well as it’s players.
The reason people play games like this is because they want to be someone they are not. For 99.9% of the players, we’re never going to become borderline terrorists, criminal kingpins or criminal businessmen. We play games to enjoy them, to be entertained. In some cases we can play to be educated, to engross ourselves in a specific time or theme or to take in the beautiful artistic creativity that these games show off.
Saints Row was about being a super criminal, not a millennial in debt who feels underrepresented by mainstream media and rebelling against an ‘oppressive Nazi’ government.

I can’t help but feel that the overall objective for this game isn’t going to be a regular criminal story where you’re looking to make it big or dominate for the sake of power, but more about taking revenge against a group that did something bad to you or the characters feeling like they’re some kind of vigilante movement against an oppressive force or organization (get ready for all the anti-police sentiments).

2 – Outdated jokes
They actually said in a statement that the humor won’t be as “edgy” because the games that came before it (Saints Row 1-4 & Gat out of Hell) were a “product of their time”. The jokes were sexist, homophobic, xenophobic and all other kinds of phobic. They were actually funny, they were outrageous, they pushed limits and made the characters more enjoyable because they didn’t care who they offended. So why suddenly cha- It’s 2021.
That’s right, it’s them caving into the notion that people need a safe space and all these kinds of people need somewhere they won’t be the butt of jokes or ridicule.
But if you wanna torture and murder enemies and innocents alike that’s fine as long as you don’t hurt their feelings.

It really rings hollow when they try this poor attempt at taking the high road and saying yeah, we’re better than making gay jokes, but have no problem with murder. Doesn’t quite fit the narrative you’re trying to create does it?
I know, it’s a game and it doesn’t reflect the real players actual intentions but still, the sentiment stands that if you’re glorifying violence as something fun and stylish (purely in a video game) then you can do the same with “offensive” jokes. It doesn’t mean the creators, writers or developers hold these things true to them, it’s what the characters are like and how they are. Some may be actually hating on specific people and ridicule them while others see it as nothing more than subjective humor. Personally I think nobody is above ridicule and everyone can and should be joked about. If you don’t like it then just don’t think about it, it’s nothing to get wound up about.
If you do like it then great, it’s a joke that landed with you.

Funnily enough, I do find it pretty rich that they say that their older games and their humor are a thing of the past, essentially saying they find their old work unsuitable and inappropriate in 2021, yet the 2014 Saints Row IV Re-Elected Edition was re-released on Switch in 2020 and 2011’s Saints Row The Third was remastered in 2021 with no changes made to any of the material that they deem unsuitable.
Looking past the unsuitable jokes for money huh? How very progressive of you.
Get ready for all the Netflix based cringe dialogue.

3 – Looks like Fortnite
Something many people have pointed out from the initial CGI trailer was that it closely resembles a certain other game that uses bright and vibrant colors with a somewhat cartoonish art style. And that game unfortunately turns out to be Fortnite. The cancerous battle royale game that swept the video game industry like a plague, caused the Epic Game Store to become a trash hostage taker and try cash in on as many franchises as it possibly could.

I mean, they’re not wrong. It doesn’t look that nice with these new characters trying to look all edgy and cool, like what adults think kids find cool. It’s the Suicide Squad Joker all over again…
The CGI trailer isn’t the actual game but we did see some gameplay and while it does look pretty Saints Row in gameplay I don’t really like the look of it anymore. It looks too much like it’s trying to be appealing to teen ravers and scene kids. Maybe I’m looking too much into it and it’s just a new city so new feeling but I can’t help but feel this is taking inspiration from Fortnite. It’s fine to have an artistic vision for a game and some games look great when they don’t all try be photo realistic. But this just looks like it’s not even Saints Row anymore.
It honestly seems like it could be a single player Fornite campaign.
Wonder how many “crazy” and “hilarious” cosmetics they’re gonna put in.

4 – No character looks enjoyable
It’s as simple as that really. It was explained that this game isn’t like the others where you have a couple characters helping you at the beginning but gain more as the story progresses until you had a sizable inner circle running the Saints. In this one, however, you are basically stuck with your created protagonist and the three friends you have all through the story, most likely trying to make you have an emotional connection to the characters. One of the best things about the previous was the feeling of having your gang get built up. Recruiting Shaundi from a den of hippy junkies, saving Oleg and helping him take revenge on Morning Star, overpowering Matt and then recruiting him and even rescuing Zimos from a sex dungeon. That’s what made you feel like you were rising and building an army.

That feeling is probably going to be missing from this one as you’re stuck with the same three faces amid a sea of characterless, expendable NPC’s.
Now this wouldn’t be as bad because another notable game has used this same story method before and it worked fairly well. Final Fantasy XV had you and your three friends and building the connection as the story went on. It worked with them because they were likeable, they looked cool and it was fun to get to know them.
These guys all look bland as hell. Just a few generic, uninspired, unoriginal millennials who dress in ‘trendy’ clothes and have that ‘we’re so cool and badass’ attitude. It’s all so very, very cringe.
To start with you got your Kinzie lookalike (arguably the worst character in the whole series) who has nothing noteworthy about their appearance at all and is completely easily forgettable. But I suppose when she starts barking orders at you you’ll remember how much they annoy you. Then you have the edgy party punk type guy with a Fornite-like motorcycle helmet that’s got a do or die attitude. Oh and he has a tattoo of a waffle on his shoulder. It was so funny I almost shat myself, he’s so edgy. Finally you have the entrepreneur genius that has an extremely punchable face and sense of style. Really, I can’t stand bow ties along with his whole high brow style.
I hope you can customize them because, Jesus, I wanna get rid of them.

The Third Street Saints had style, they had flair, they had charisma, they had an aura of intimidation and strength.
Nobody is going to be scared of a couple Google employee’s.

5 – The Story

There hasn’t been much revealed about the story so far but we can safely assume it’s the gang trying to survive and dominate in an open world full of other gangs vying for the same goals. But what we do know from a short developer interview is that it’s essentially a group of friends, as mentioned, who are running a startup company that mainly deals in crime.
In itself that story doesn’t sound too bad. Criminal empires need to start somewhere and it’s been done well before. However, that comes crashing down when you put in the missing word.
It’s about a group of ‘millennials’ running a startup company.

Cos everybody loves millennials and all they do these days. Seriously? They think that people want to see whiny young adults trying to be cool but failing and being cringing with shitty dialogue. What the past few years has taught us about millennials is that they are mostly self taught on ideology from other millennials on the internet. They complain all the time about things they don’t like online. (Don’t worry, the irony isn’t lost on me. The difference is I don’t aggressively enforce my opinions everywhere, I calmly keep it here and welcome discussion, not taking the fight to you.) Millennials think that they need to fight against something because they’ve been told that they need to when they don’t. This list could go on for a while but I think most of the audience would be in agreement when they would rather see the criminal empires built by the strong, the smart and the charismatic rather than the edgy, angsty and obnoxious.

As I said earlier it’s early to give a complete overview of what the entire game will bring. I hope that will be enjoyable and exciting and be worthy of living up to the name of Saints Row. But I think those hopes are being dashed with every new interview coming out saying that the devs are firmly going with this, saying people who are calling it not Saints Row are wrong and giving the same advice of Battlefield V devs – don’t like it, don’t buy it. Worked out well for them huh?
To make matters worse it’s also Epic Exclusive on PC which can be a deal breaker for a lot of people, myself included.

What do you think of the new direction of the series?

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