Saints Row the Third left the gang at the height of their power, but what can we expect from the recently announced fourth entry into the series? I sat down with lead designer Scott Phillips to find out a little more about Saints Row IV.
One of the biggest things we saw in the trailer was the inclusion of super powers in the game. You can even combo your powers, like we saw with the Ice Blast and then the Slam. Is diversity a key part of the game?
“Yeah, you can kind of mix and match both your guns (all your regular guns) and your super powers. You’ve got your right trigger to fire guns and you’ve got your right bumper on the Xbox to throw powers. It’s very quick to switch between the two and you can switch between one of four powers just by clicking the D-pad.”
“So it’s very easy to you know, throw a freeze blast, jump up, TK something, shoot it, throw it, so there’s a lot of mix and match, a very active combat.”
Are players still going to find the wacky weapons an integral part of gameplay?
“Absolutely! With the weapons, I mean even just the two we showed today, were the Inflato-Ray which pumps people up until they pop and then theres the Dubstep Gun which forces, everyone starts dancing, cars starts bouncing, music is going off, car windows are shattering, people that die are having the dubstep fastforward, slowmo, reverse sort of effect applied to them. Our weapons are really focused on fun and making it a good time to play with them.”
It looks absolutely insane! Is there anything else you can tell us, any quick hints for other weapons to expect?
[laughing] “There are lots of explosive weapons, lots of various things, similar to the stuff you may have seen in other games. But we take it to eleven. We take it beyond what everybody else does and then even with our super powers, some of those have even crazier effects than stuff like the dubstep gun. They’re a lot of fun to play with.”
You’ve got a new Alien race in Saints Row IV, the Zin. That’s obviously a lot different from the gangs and law enforcement we’ve come to expect from the series.
I’ve always loved that Saints Row is over the top. It’s crazy and now we’re the President of the United States – the natural evolution of events! So have we been given presidential control of anything? Are we going any new places?
“Well there’s definitely some gameplay at the beginning of the game to set up you becoming the president, and then there’s a little bit of gameplay when you are the president to really sell this is what the player as the president would be like and would do.”
“But then it’s primarily focused on the super powers once the Zin show up. It becomes a battle of you versus them. So yeah, we do payoff being the president and it’s definitely a level of absurdity that is, for us, it’s the logical step up from where you were in Saints Row the Third.”
So no kissing babies? no presidential drives then?
[chuckling] “No, you are not president like every other president; you do things your own way. You make your own modifications to the White House, which you’ll see very early on in the game and are sort of right in line with what the Saints would do.”
Customisation looks to have gotten even deeper. You’ve always been really big on characters, cars and cribs. Saints Row IV has put a rocket launcher in a guitar case. How does it change things?
“The biggest thing we brought with the weapon customisation is the ability to roleplay both your character and your weapon. It’s just silly over the top stuff you can do with your weapons.”
“The main thing we brought with the fourth, Saints Row IV, is the amount of assets. A massive increase in the amount of clothes you can wear, the amount of cars, the amount of stuff you can customise is much much greater than it’s been in the past.”
Saint’s Row 3 had a fabulous star studded cast. Have you got anyone lined up for Saints Row IV?
“There’s definitely some celebrities, I don’t think we’re talking about them yet. But like one instance would be the sad death of Michael Heart Duncan meant that we had to recast that role. So we got somebody new for that that we think people are gonna recognise and really have a lot of fun having him in the game.”
On the same lines, will Robin Downes be returning in Saints Row IV? Because we love him!
“Who was that? Oh was he the cockney actor? We’re definitely going to have a British voice! We’re actually like this week, locking down our final voices. We’ll definitely have a voice, I can’t say who it will exactly be, cause all that stuff is figured out in terms of who can show up and all that sort of stuff.”
Enter the Dominatrix was announced as an add-on for Saints Row 3, but how will that play into Saints Row IV?
“Saints Row IV and Saints Row 3: Enter The Dominatrix started at roughly the same time in development. Six to eight months later when we started looking at the Dominatrix and what we had with that, we were really liking some of the elements in it. We thought they were gonna be great, but the problem was with the date that we had for Enter the Dominatrix, we weren’t gonna make it what we wanted it to be.”
“So what we decided to do was pull those out – pull those elements out of the Dominatrix and put them into Saints Row IV and sort of blow them out even further and expand the game even more, in order to do those things justice. I think it was the best choice for making Saints Row IV the best game it could be.”
Saints Row is part of a highly competitive genre. how do you think Saint’s Row IV will hold up against the “big dog” as it were, GTA V?
“GTA is an enormous franchise. They can announce nothing and people will talk about it for days. They’re gonna come out huge in September, no doubt. They’re gonna affect the entire market, but for us we feel like Saints Row, since Saints Row 2, has just been ‘we are not GTA’. We are not very similar to them.”
“So yes, we’re open world just like they are, we’re modern day, but beyond that I think our games couldn’t be farther apart. Our game is solely focused on fun and enjoyment and having a good time and that’s where we feel we want to continue pushing the game.”
With that in mind are you looking at any multiplayer modes or even the massively craved four player co-op?
“I would love to, but that sort of stuff is really really tough. I think Saints Row IV will have the same two player drop in/drop out through the campaign that Saints Row 2 and Saints Row the Third had. With the superpowers, that brings a new element to it, that’s a lot of fun.”
“We’ve brought in some competitive modes within the co-op, so you can fight against your co-op player with your superpowers. So that’s a really nice mode to have fun with your co-op player. Maybe in the future, but right now our focus is on two player co-op.”
Lastly is there chance we’ll see Gat make a comeback?
“Ya never know. I would never say never for Johnny Gat… he’s a tough guy.” (The return of Johnny Gat was confirmed in mid-July.)
Saints Row IV is scheduled for release on on August 20, 2013 for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. You can find a little more of what to expect in our Saints Row IV preview.