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Saints Row Customisation Preview

Comical creativity cranked to eleven

For better or worse, the last major outings of Saints Row pushed the envelope into the absurd so hard that it became a meta parody of itself. For my money, the series hit its stride by doubling down on the slapstick over its clearly-inspired-by-GTA satire. Saints Row 2 was in a conversation with Grand Theft Auto 4, choosing to lampoon rather than lambast satirical gangster fantasies. Saints Row 3 succeeded this by exuding self-confidence in the humour and bombastic action of its predecessor. The graduation between 2 and 3 paralleled the transition of bling-era rap to progressive rap, with no greater encapsulation of this than the opening mission of SR3 featuring Kanye’s transcendent rap ballad Power. But how did Volition get the confidence to pull off this level of crazy with a straight face? Well, with a face that was as absurd as you could desire. Or not!

Welcome to the character creator, kicking off the Saints Row customisation showcase, and the introductory hook that has grabbed many a Saints Row fan. As with the titles preceding this soft reboot, expect many similar zany and wild options straight out of the gate. Detailing your gangster hero from the socks up, you can create anything from a titanium-skinned alien to a god whose flesh resembles a moving cosmos. Skin is no longer restricted by such arbitrary identifiers as colour, but also offers different forms of both artificial and organic textures – meaning creative abominations resembling The Thing are limited only by your creativity. Keeping with the best of modern trends, prosthetic body parts are also a welcome inclusion. On the topic of perfectly imperfect bodies, the body can be asymmetrically adjusted also. I fancy the idea of wearing a permanent Dwayne Johnson scowl as I roll around Santo Ileso. Staying true to the pioneering gender representation of the oldest Saints Row games is the ability to mix and match bodily features and gender markers without restriction.

You can create anything from a titanium-skinned alien to a god whose flesh resembles a moving cosmos

A surprise innovation for the series is the extended depth of vehicle customisation. Whereas previous games allowed for minor adjustments like horns and liveries, 2022’s Saints Row allows you to get under the hood with some ride customisation options that would make Gran Turismo blush. Show the squad who is boss with a lowered Cadillac that has the roof stripped, a monster engine jutting from the hood, ejector seats for those Bond moments, and comically elastic tyres that spring out laterally to knock out your pursuers. If you want that extra chaos, mount a wrecking ball on the towbar and take no prisoners. This is functionally more significant than some comedic gimmicks, with vehicles having preset off-road kits, performance upgrade kits and customisable nitrous to really get that gameplay edge.

Oh, and there are hoverboards straight out of Back To The Future 2.

Further minutiae customisation can be found in the weapons department. The stock standard weapon model of your ordinary RPG launcher or AK-47 is only limited by your ambition. Colour and adjust each component of your piece, down to the magazines and grips. Not feeling creative? Keep the ballistics but swap out the visual model entirely. Why would you bother with a stock standard rocket launcher when you can be shouldering your tool of destruction within a guitar case instead?

All these tweakable options are great for demonstrating your chaotic street flair, but what’s a gang without a home with a bit of heart? The Saints’ main HQ is found in a repurposed church and is a hub for establishing your gang’s flavour both within and without. Each floor of the HQ has its own options for tweaking how the gang makes its mark on the city, from dressing up the gang members to designing styles of vehicles with branding. If all this customisation is getting a bit daunting, feel free to select from some of Volition’s own presets or download community designs.

The Saints HQ provides a gamified toolkit for making your mark on the city via the ‘criminal empire table’ where you can expand your gang’s presence across 14 territories as an aggressive real estate magnate.

Can’t wait for a taste of this imaginative chaos on August 23? Great news, Volition has announced that the public will have access to a ‘boss creator’ tool prior to launch (date to be advised), which will allow players to dive into the character creator early. Creations can be uploaded to Saints Row servers to share with other players and download their designs in turn. Move over Elden Ring, the public ain’t ready for these sexy monstrosities. I intend to have my partner give this a crack and see how it stacks up for a Sims veteran.

It would be reductive to suggest that Saints Row has one of the most ambitious character creator tools of 2022. August 23 is going to unleash a veritable sandbox of player imagination that looks set to make for some hilarious and memorable experiences, and we can’t wait. Let us know what whack designs you have in mind for establishing your criminal empire.

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