Saints Row 5 is in development, and there are a few things that we want to see in the sequel. Developer Volition is best known for their work on the Saints Row and Red Faction franchises, and after suffering from the critical and commercial failure of 2017's loose spinoff, Agents of Mayhem, the studio is finally officially returning to the world of Saints Row.
Publisher THQ Nordic announced via a financial report that a new Saints Row game is in development at Volition. The Illinois-based game studio has been in charge of the series since the very beginning, and was purchased by THQ, along with the IP for Saints Row, back in the early 2000s; it shuffled around a bit before recently returning under THQ Nordic. While the sequel remains mysterious, hopes are high the long-awaited Saints Row revival will bring lapsed fans back into the fray while introducing the series to a whole new generation of players.
Saints Row means a lot of things to many different people. Some prefer the cartoon super hero antics of Saints Row IV, while others enjoy the more grounded gunplay and deeper storytelling of Saints Row 2. While fans eagerly await further news of Saints Row 5, as well as the in-development Saints Row movie, here are some things the developers should consider.
Next Gen Graphics
Though nothing has been officially announced, it's reasonably safe to assume Saints Row 5 will come out on next-gen consoles, like Xbox's Project Scarlett and the inevitable PlayStation 5, though a cross-gen release certainly isn't out of the question. Regardless, gamers have come to expect cutting-edge visuals when new consoles come out, and hopes are high a new Saints Row will fulfill those hopes. When Saints Row IV was ported to the PlayStation 4/Xbox One from its original PS3/360 versions, many were disappointed Volition didn't do anything to touch up the visuals, save for an unlocked frame-rate which seldom reached 60 FPS, at least until the PS4 Pro's Boost Mode significantly improved performance.
Then when Agents of Mayhem came out in 2017, one of the many complaints reviewers had with the game was its outdated visuals, which were only marginally better than Saints Row IV, safe for some impressive explosions and particle effects. Hopefully, this (presumably) next-gen game will run on a brand-new engine, and Volition will truly impress audiences with the visuals on display.
Since Saints Row 2, one of the hallmarks of Saints Row has been the ability to play the entire game with a friend, via two-player cooperative multiplayer. Collecting the more than 1200 Clusters in Saints Row IV becomes slightly less tedious with a friend's help, and an extra set of guns are always welcome in a frantic firefight. For some reason, 2017's Agents of Mayhem did not include multiplayer, despite cribbing from the "hero shooter" genre in many ways. It was a missed opportunity for the game, and Volition should learn from their mistake and bring back co-op for their future projects. At this point, multiplayer is a key component of Saints Row, and future titles in the series simply need to include this feature.
Over the years, the gameplay of Saints Row evolved from a fast, arcade-style Grand Theft Auto clone to a superhero simulator. Fans of Saints Row IV may never wish to return to the old days of driving instead of super-speed, and shooting instead of laser blaster super powers, but we think the series needs to return to its roots with Saints Row 5. To many people, the series gameplay peaked with Saints Row 2, which combined tight shooting, fast driving, and a wide variety of side activities. We would like to see Saints Row 5 return to this style of gameplay, setting the action in an over-the-top world which stops just short of being an outright cartoon. We want a return to the gunplay and car chases of the original few games. It should still be insane and high-octane, but not beyond the realm of what one might expect to see in an average Vin Diesel movie.
Saints Row 5 should certainly feature more grounded gameplay - compared to the likes of Saints Row 4 and the stand-alone expansion, Gat out of Hell - but it shouldn't abandon the quirky sensibilities that made the series stand out from the endless parade of urban open world games. Saints Row has always been defined by its sense of humor. In fact, a big part of what made 2008's Saints Row 2 so memorable was its story and characters, which toed the fine line between parody and seriousness to tremendous effect. One moment, the story is telling a sweeping tale of revenge, and the next, the player is spraying unfortunate pedestrians with the nasty contents of a septic tanker. Saints Row 5 should embody that mantra of "ridiculous-yet-relatable" to maximize both its comedic and dramatic potential.
Some of the best Saints Row content ever made came in the form of post-launch DLC. From the Ultor expansions of Saints Row 2 (complete with a ton of Red Faction Easter eggs) to the legendary Enter the Dominatrix add-on for Saints Row IV, the series has frequently delivered memorable downloadable content that offers a different tone than the base game, while still offering more of the same outrageous fun that players have come to love. It's too early to speculate on what the DLC for Saints Row 5 may be, but Volition's track record indicates it will be unexpected and well-implemented.
Saints Row IV first came out back in 2013, just before microtransactions began to fully invade every big-budget release. It still contained an irritating amount of in-game purchases in the form of clothing and weapon options, though. Fortunately, the PS4/Xbox One re-release bundled everything in, save for the seemingly random Plague of Frogs Pack, which cost $2. Hopefully, Saints Row 5 isn't cynically monetized the way too many games are nowadays.
In 2019, gamers have grown tired of microtransactions and predatory costs which prey on players' compulsions, even though they already paid $60 or more just to own said game. There's no excuse or justification for microtransactions in a game which isn't already free-to-play; if publishers want to nickel and dime customers, then they should stick to free-to-play experiences.