A Millennial re-rendering of the 3rd Street Saints relocates to the American Southwest in Saints Row: Self Made, a top-down reboot of the Saints Row franchise that features more organized crime than gag weapons, though the callbacks are certainly there. Not a good look for a series beloved for its quirky self-referential humor, but the game is still in development and a year away from release. The reboot was previously only known as Saints Row and was widely assumed to be a remake of the original, which is no longer the case.
An announcement trailer for Saints Row: Self Made was unveiled during this year’s Gamescom. Deep Silver Volition took the stage opening night on Wednesday and described the reboot as a dialed-down version of Saints Row. It retains the wacky gunplay, nitro burst racing, and street visuals, but is grittier — more Baby Driver than Dead Rising. Check out the teaser below:
Saints Row: Self Made retells the story of the 3rd Street Saints set against the arid desert town of Santo Ileso, in the southwest United States. The player once again steps into the zany Converse shoes of the Boss, a customizable character serving as fresh blood. The Boss joins the Saints and slowly climbs their way to the top, but not before engaging other gangs with conflicting interest. There are three major areas to conquer in this brand-new sandbox world: Rancho Providencio, a small hillbilly expanse; El Dorado, a gambling oasis in the style of Las Vegas; and Monte Vista, the residential suburbs.
The teaser is about as straightforward as it comes — hardly the bombastic Saints Row reintroduction fans might be expecting. A group of organized small-timers eyes an orange muscle car gliding into view in Santo Ileso. The snazzy pair of wheels is owned by the Panteros gang; an imposing figure in tats parks in front of a bar, accompanied by his own men, and they clearly have considerable sway over the vicinity. Kevin, a young motorcyclist in an impressive self-expressing emoji helmet and headphones, waits at a taco truck for a call from Eli, a colleague; two female cohorts are stalking a white van containing illegal merchandise. Both teams are forced to converge on the Panteros when the dealer is shot down and distraction fails; what ensues is a high-octane shootout on wheels. Two rocket launchers stare each other down as explosions consume most of El Dorado. All three areas are present in the trailer.
In a world boasting graphic, unsentimental sandbox games like Grand Theft Auto and Mafia, Saints Row chooses to be weirdly over hyperrealistic — and it clicked. Developers injected both narrative and gameplay with characteristic fourth wall-bending comedy, stylistic differences reminiscent of Fortnite and Sunset Overdrive, and storylines that toe the line between peppy and over-the-top, resulting in a fully carved out legacy filled with United States presidents fighting aliens and notable popular culture parodies.
If Grand Theft Auto is reality encroaching on fantasy, Saints Row is fantasy made manifest. Characters are practically living in a dream sequence where anything goes, a far cry from more grounded open worlds where players get to experience simulated life and break every single rule, with dire consequences.
The reboot is meant to deliver a more balanced experience, upholding the same childish clownery that has come to define Saints Row over time, but with none of the story and setting specifics to make such dauntless strides believable. Either way, Self Made is bound to be a hit or miss. Who plays Saints Row expecting everything to make sense? Saints Row enjoys an enduring cultural legacy precisely because logic doesn’t matter.
Giving a Saints Row game some long-overdue realism just takes the fun out of the gameplay entirely, and will most certainly put off ardent supporters of the genre who are expecting a next-gen experience of the same tried and tested tropes. If it’s not goofy, it’s not Saints Row. Still, Deep Silver Volition has only praises to speak of when asked about the status of the project and reportedly has Baby Driver, John Wick, and Hobbs & Shaw as influences. These are all fantastic action films, but they are nowhere close to being Saints Row, whether in theme or energy.
Saints Row: Self Made comes out on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on February 25, 2022.