One of the key features of the Saints Row series, inconsistent though it may be, is a heavy emphasis on customization. Your character can be pretty much anything you want, dress however you want, talk like Nolan North, speak like a zombie, whatever. At the time, we all understood the rules of game development that you could never go too crazy and that the needs of consistency kept the desires of customization at bay sometimes.
With the new Saints Row, the series’ first official reboot but second spiritual one, those rules are being thrown out the window. After watching a hands-off preview for the game, the main thing I can say about the title is that they really understand how important character creation and personalization is to some players and have gone whole hog with it.
And oh how I wish that were a figure of speech. You’ll find customization of every body part — EVERY body part — is available to you, not unlike CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 but with even more degrees of customizability. You can even customize your Boss down to eyebrow color. In previous titles, if you wanted to change any of this, you would have to go to a plastic surgeon or some other kind of service, but in Saints Row, all changes to the Boss are just made on the phone’s menu.
You can even save multiple Boss designs, including clothes, in your phone to simply switch to as you see fit. You can start a mission as a schoolgirl with an uzi and end it as Crocodile Dundee with a rocket launcher. There’s barely a blip of interruption in the gameplay for doing so.
Speaking of weapons, those are customizable too, at least visually. You can find and earn weapon skins throughout the game, but you can also just paint your gun purple if you’re going for a specific visual style. No one ever said a sniper rifle can’t be a fashion accessory. Additionally, weapon skins can overhaul the entire visual style of your armaments, like turning dual-pistols into finger guns that affirm people in your executive corporate culture with deadly accuracy.
Car customization is also back, which can do everything from colors for your favorite vehicles to features like a rocket-propelled ejector seat. I asked if you could put the ejector seat on the passenger side to live out the dreams of everyone who watched 2 Fast 2 Furious, but this question was not answered. I can hope.
The final bit of customization is that even your NPC cohorts and rank-and-file soldiers in the Saints can be customized. Feel like your preferred Boss design is a little too close to another character? Do what any boss would do and make them change!
In the open world itself, it is not yet clear what — if anything — Saints Row is doing to differentiate itself from other open world titles out there, including and especially those that were themselves influenced by earlier Saints Row games. There are a few interesting things here and there, like shooting walkie-talkies out of police hands to keep your notoriety levels from going up. By and large, though, this seems to be the Saints Row you remember with a dash of in-depth customization to keep your engaged.
In the first mission shown, however, the Saints knock off a payday loan place by reasoning that it’s always morally correct to do so. That’s the kind of Saints Row I can get behind.