The Saints Row reboot did not make the splash that Volition and Deep Silver had hoped. It's a surprisingly conventional action-crime romp , but a little too toned down relative to the previous games: "Compared to spraying sewage on mansions to lower property values or driving a car while being mauled by a tiger who sits in the passenger seat, the reboot's activities seem down to earth," editor Jody Macgregor wrote in our 60% review.
Lars Wingefors, the CEO of Deep Silver parent Embracer Group, also acknowledged in September that he "had hoped for a greater reception of the game," although he added that the company remained committed to the long-term future of the series.
Because of that, "delivering new content has become less of a priority for now," Volition said in an update posted today, so that it can focus instead on improving the base game.
"We are supporting Saints Row for the long-term, and while we’d have preferred to be talking about roadmaps and expansions, right now we feel the focus must be on telling you how we’re going to improve the Saints Row experience for all players in 2022 and beyond," Volition said.
"Right now our development priority is delivering improvements over new features. In keeping with that, we’re going to ship our first major update in late November to pack in as many improvements and fixes as we can."
The first major update, planned for late November, will include more than 200 bug fixes and stability upgrades, with "a particular focus on challenges, overall stability and co-op." Volition apologized for the co-op fixes taking longer than expected, and said that along with bug fixes, it's also working to make it clearer to players "how and when co-op is possible."
Quality of life changes, including "reducing repetition in some activities, making challenges more rewarding, improving vehicle management, a revamp of rumble and haptic features, and more," will also be made in this update, although they will represent "just the tip of the iceberg," Volition said. "These are wins we feel we can get to you quickly while we work on even bigger and better improvements based on your feedback."
It's not unprecedented for games to bounce back from a bad launch—rare, perhaps, but as we've seen recently with No Man's Sky and Cyberpunk 2077, it can be done. The big question is, how much of Saints Row's trouble can be attributed to technical issues, and how much of it is simply because it's not a great game? I have no opinion on the matter—I haven't played the new Saints Row, or any of the others for that matter—but it's definitely relevant. We found that Saints Row ran quite well in our review, but the open world activities "are the worst they've ever been," and Santo Ileso, the fictional city in which Saints Row is set, is "so flat I forgot I even had a wingsuit when I wasn't doing the side hustles where you have to use it." Bugs are one thing, but an underwhelming design is awfully tough to patch out.
Despite the focus on improving the technical side of the game, Saints Row won't go entirely without new content in 2022. A Front to Back cosmetic pack, which will apparently include ugly clothing and a hideous car skin, will be released free for all players this week, and more free content packs (some of which will be exclusive to expansion pass owners, so not really "free" in the strictest sense of the word) will be released over the balance of the year.
"We plan on supporting Saints Row for the long-term," Volition said. "2023 will be a hugely exciting year for Saints Row owners with a raft of content, including all-new story content (included in the Expansion Pass, but will also be available to buy separately) and free new gameplay experiences and areas of the city to explore."