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10 Things We Want In Saints Row V

by Joe Juba on Jan 22, 2015 at 12:15 PM

This week’s release of Gat Out of Hell sees the series’ long-running story concluded, leaving the future of the Saints Row saga wide open. Despite the fact that the 3rd Street Saints are the sole remnants of humanity, the notorious gang’s adventures aren’t necessarily over. Developer Volition has done an excellent job carving out a unique identity for Saints Row; the franchise has evolved considerably over time, and more changes are undoubtedly in store. These are the things we want to see added, expanded, and left untouched when (and if) the next installment hits.

10. New Crew
Characters like Johnny Gat, Shaundi, and the boss have had a good run, but it’s time for a fresh start. Many of the Saints’ crew has been around since the first and second games, which leads to an ever-expanding cast – and leaves the writers obligated to think of ways to include everyone. Granted, the destruction of Earth thinned the ranks, but that spaceship full of Saints is still hauling around a fair bit of narrative baggage. The leadership of the gang has to pass to someone new eventually; we want the next entry to focus on this new wave of Saints. Of course, we still want the ability to customize our character with funny voices and a ton of cosmetic options.

9. A Setting With More Personality
If you’re going to spend dozens of hours exploring an open world, it needs to be more than roads and tall buildings. None of the three settings in the series – Stilwater, Steelport, and Hell – have had much atmosphere. Saints Row has some cool characters and moments, but the cities seem to serve mainly as background decoration. Look at series like Grand Theft Auto and Assassin’s Creed to see how a location can come alive and be interesting – even without explosions and groin punches. Considering the end of Saints Row IV, time travel is definitely an option for the Saints, so there is no limit to the possibilities of cities to explore.

8. Omit or Limit Super Powers
Saints Row IV and Gat Out of Hell took the series to even more bizarre heights by integrating super powers like super-speed, elemental blasts, and flight. It was a fun idea, but ultimately ended moving Saints Row away from what it does best. Instead of differentiating the series, it made it feel too much like other offerings – like Crackdown and Infamous. In Saints Row: The Third, the series found a niche intersection of humor, driving, gunplay, and setpiece moments. Saints Row V needs to find that defining balance again – and it isn’t hidden away in an orb on the top of a rooftop. If super powers do play a role, they shouldn’t be the go-to tools in your arsenal.

7. More Unconventional Weapons
The weapons themed after the seven deadly sins in Gat Out of Hell are brilliant. From an easy chair with Gatling guns to the Ark of the Covenant, players have clever and entertaining ways to fight their enemies. Other Saints Row titles have also had some standout weapons that are both effective and entertaining, but there’s no reason that only a handful of weapons should showcase this level of creativity. Series like Ratchet & Clack built a reputation on an array of unpredictable weapons, and Saints Row could easily do the same thing. Most gamers have wielded so many pistols and assault rifles that the thrill is fading; give them something they would never see coming.

6. Go Back To Vehicles
Mobility powers in recent entries have negated the need for vehicles, which were once used as clever rewards. Unlocking a hoverbike or pixelated tank was satisfying, and it gave players new ways to travel through the city in style. As with the weapons, Volition’s willingness to say “Sure, why not?” and throw something crazy and unbalanced into the equation won Saints Row a lot of fans. It is also something that other games in the genre don’t do much; you don’t see John Marston riding a hover-horse. This is a unique part of the Saints Row experience that Saints Row V should try to recapture.

5. Keep Crazy Costumes
In addition to creating their characters, players also love outfitting them with cool clothes. Sometimes that means a dapper turtleneck and khakis, and other times it means transforming into a toilet that bounces around. This spread of options from realistic to ridiculous is great, letting players experiment with different looks and craft the Saints’ boss as they see fit. This is something that previous games in the series have done exceptionally well (excluding Gat Out of Hell), and we want to see that trend continue in future installments.

4. Add Destructibility
Saints Row is Volition’s most popular recent work, but the developer is also behind the Red Faction series. We’d love to see some of that expertise make its way into Saints Row – especially Red Faction Guerrilla’s structural destruction system. Chaos already abounds when the Saints are involved, but imagine how crazy the action would get if the world started falling apart with each errant missile and grenade. You could find ways to use the fragile environment to your advantage, or just revel in the widespread destruction.

3. Improve Enemy A.I.
You shoot bad guys because you have to, but facing down a legion of rival gang members has never been particularly tense in Saints Row. Your enemies aren’t too sharp, failing to offer much resistance as you disable their bases and blow up their cars. We aren’t asking for intense, life-or-death gunfights around every corner, but Volition could raise the enemy IQ a few points. More intelligent enemies are more satisfying to defeat, and surviving their assaults feels like more of an accomplishment. Killing someone who doesn’t try to avoid getting shot isn’t much work.

2. Music
The soundtrack has been one of the unexpected highlights of the Saints Row series. With nostalgic classics that capture the vibe of ‘80s action movies, Volition knows how to augment action with music that is both appropriate and hilarious. We want more of this in Saints Row V – but maybe the songs that are a part of the big scenes shouldn’t be available on the radio the whole game. It kinda kills the effect when you’ve heard “The Touch” dozens of times prior to its shining moment.

1. Don’t Grow Up
Saints Row catches some flak for its humor. It has lots of jokes about sex, crotches, and farts. It may be sophomoric, but the dialogue, crass activities, and irreverent tone should stay exactly the same. We have plenty of games that are trying to elevate the medium with sophisticated themes; that’s great, but not every game needs to explore issues or have a message. Sometimes games can just be fun, silly, and stupid. Saints Row V should pursue that with no regrets.