One of the best parts about becoming a criminal mastermind is crafting a look that says “scams are my day job, but my fashion sense is legit”. Saints Row leans into that fact, with an embarrassing number of options for your character, your cars, your guns, and your headquarters. At first glance, there are the usual OTT options that we’ve seen in games before, but also some heartening steps towards one of the most inclusive character customization systems ever created. As well as being gender-neutral when it comes to what goes on your skin and body, we got glimpses of options for prosthetic limbs and skin conditions like vitiligo. The game makes it pretty clear that every inch of your character – and we do mean every inch – is yours to make your own, so expect to spend hours with Saints Row before you even get to your first mission. Volition also promised that something would be coming to let you try out the customization options before the full game is released on August 23, so you can make sure you know exactly what you want ahead of time. Go out there and lived your dreams weird baby face Shrek man.
Here’s some of the madness you can expect from the three main areas of customization in Saints Row. The character, the cars, and the weapons.
Face and fashion
Saints Row is ready to blast a rocket into the face of conventional beauty and leave you free to make your character look as wild or as weird as you want. We’re all used to desperately fiddling with sliders in tiny increments to try and make our hero look more like Florence Pugh, and Saints Row really leans into that level of detail-oriented madness. For a start, all the face customization options can be applied asymmetrically. That could just mean only glitter on one side of your face, or it could mean a forehead that is seriously uneven, or eyes look like they belong on some sort of abyss-dwelling sea creature. We caught a glimpse of sliders for things like eye depth, nose tip-tilt, and septum width, but there are clearly plenty more on offer.
And the face shape is just the canvas. When it comes to the bag that holds all the organs in, the skin options are just as creative. You can choose age, scars, bruising, skins conditions like vitiligo, and complexion, sure, but you can also choose skin textures like brick or chrome, gloss level so you can look like an oiled-up bodybuilder, and then style it in every color of the rainbow. Tooth options include meth teeth, gold, and one called “Oops all molars.” I will buy the game just to see what that means.
The options extend from top to tail – although we didn’t see any actual tails… yet – with options for body shape, muscle and vein definition, tattoos, and prosthetic limbs. If your first thought is genitals, see a therapist. But fine, there does seem to be a Conan-style dong slider for your groin size. Thankfully there are customizable cute “modesty” options that make a change from just a pixelated Sims nudity style patch.
Not that you’ll be naked much, you’ll be too busy going through the hundreds of ensembles on offer. There are the usual shirts, pants, hats and shoes, then underwear, socks and gloves, and helmets so you can be Anubis, an alien, a bulldog, or a bunny. There was also what look like an anteater mask which will haunt my nightmares. Clothes and horror masks can be purchased, GTA style, at stores dotted across the game’s map. If that all sounds too much, there are eight presets to choose from so you can jump right in, and then change things up through the in-game Style app later on.
The fast and the fabulous
In a move that would make Dominic Toretto proud, the same over-the-top number of options apply to the vehicles you’ll be riding around in and on during your criminal capers. There are 80 different vehicles including cars, bikes, helicopters, jet skis, and hoverboards, and every inch of them can be customized. There are the upgrades that will make your commute if not easier, then at least more exciting. You can add a tow line to make “borrowing” vehicles a cinch, nitrous for fast getaways, and the off-road kit because, in case you’ve forgotten, Saints Row is set in Santo Ileso, a city surrounded by desert. As you progress through the game and different missions you could earn the right to access your vehicle’s Signature Ability. Think crab steering – me neither, but it means you can make tight precise maneuvers – or a giant wrecking ball you can drag behind you or ejector seats (handy with the game’s wingsuit), kneecappers to rip up enemy tires, and infinite boost so you can just keep on speeding.
Whether you’re adding a deadly ball and chain or just making sure your horn sounds like a clown car, it all happens at Jim Rob’s garage. Of course – if the fact you can have foil trousers and blue skin didn’t tip you off – there are also plenty of options to personalize the look of your vehicle too. Paint jobs, decal, the amount of dirt, lighting, spoilers, rims, and even total overhauls that make your ride look like a pirate galleon on wheels.
Of course, this game is set in America, so the same love and attention have been paid to your arsenal of guns. As you’re probably expecting by now, you can change the weapons materials, colors, add decals, and all that, but there are also more creative options for your boomsticks and melee options. There’s an option to cram your RPG into a guitar case, Desperado style or to make your assault rifle look like an umbrella. You might want to bash some heads in with a baseball bat or make the violence kid-friendly with a piñata stick that releases confetti with every strike. As developer Volition showed off its range of cardboard weapons, a potato cannon, and a giant mallet, it also warned that some of the special effects of these weapons might be a surprise.
If that all sounds overwhelming, it is, but you’ll be able to ease into the character customization as you race through missions. A lot will be available when you first start Saints Row but some of the weirder effects can only be unlocked as you progress through the game. Think Spider-Man’s suits only this time its pink bunny slippers and shoes made of entire cobras. You’ll also be able to access what you’ve unlocked for your body, cars, and guns at Saints HQ, an old church you’ve moved your criminal gang into. You can make some tweaks here as well to make sure it reflects your style, add sculptures that reflect your achievements, and decide what your accomplices will wear and drive too. I can see my army of hoverboarding, baby-faced Shrek people now.
The new and improved Saints Row will be released on August 23, and you can read more about how the developers are updating the series for 2022 in our recent interview.