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Saints Row IV Preview: Dirty Dubstep Tricks

Saints Row 4 - Freeze Saint’s Row IV will be fast-paced, mind blowing, and bizarre even by the already weird standards of the Saint’s Row series, based on what I saw last week. It has some of the craziest weapons I’ve ever seen in any game, an alien invasion, giant mech suits and super powers, all wrapped up in a Matrix-inspired virtual world.

I was able to chat to Saint’s Row IV’s Design Director Scott Phillips about the game, get answers for some of your burning questions and am now ready to blow your collective minds with some of the most amazing sights I’ve ever seen in a video game.

Story

Saint’s Row IV’s story basics are at this point public knowledge. You’re the President, aliens invade, you enter their collective consciousness and you use superpowers to try and save the world. What we didn’t hear much about was the game’s Vorcha esque enemy, the Zin. Turns out, they might seem familiar to Star Trek fans.

“If you watch Star Trek or The Next Generation, the Zin are very similar to the Borg who go around the universe, go to different cultures and absorb them.” Expanding on their role in the game, Phillips added “They come to earth looking to turn everyone that’s there into a Zin, indoctrinating everyone to fight for them. They’re abducting people and turning them against who they were, who they came from and and integrating them into their army.”

Superpowers

As you can imagine, adding superpowers to Saint’s Row has a pretty dramatic impact on pacing, both when travelling around and when in combat. One of the abilities shown off was an incredibly powerful “super jump” that essentially lets you leap onto skyscrapers from ground level, travel vast distances at speed by throwing yourself and just gliding around the city through the air, and basically allows you to zoom around the whole city with speed and precision.

You’ve also got the ability to drop from that into essentially a ground pound to get the drop on your enemies and earn the upper hand at the start of a fight. You’ll also have the ability to freeze enemies and shatter them with a punch and use TK (a form of Telekenisis) to throw around even huge enemies like ragdolls.

While those examples are reasonably standard superpowers, Phillips made sure to stress that a good number of the game’s powers are the kind of thing you wouldn’t expect as part of your permanent arsenal.

Saints Row 4 - Jump“We’ve got a lot of new superpowers, Telekenisis and Freeze are some of our best but there’s also several which I think people are going to be pretty surprised by. A lot of what we took, we built a lot of crazy weapons and then said ‘well that’s cool as a weapon but let’s make it a superpower that you can have all the time’.

So we ended up with a lot of very out-there superpowers that I don’t think a lot of other games would really ever consider as superpowers. For the most part the stuff we do with superpowers is stuff that’s not been seen before and is not standard for super power games.”

Weapons

Hearing that many of their cool weapon ideas are being made into super powers might make you worry that weapons aren’t going to be as exciting in Saint’s Row IV as in previous entries. Don’t worry, the weapons I saw were truly unusual in the best possible way. You may have noticed briefly in last week’s trailer a shot of a man’s head about to explode, eyes popping out of his head. That’s the Inflataray (Inflate – a – ray), which as you might have guessed, causes people’s heads to slowly expand to comically large sizes before exploding.

If that’s not your thing, why not try the greatest weapon I’ve ever seen in a game, the Dubstep Gun. When you fire this futuristic ray gun you’ll be treated to a healthy dose of Dirty Wub Wub sounds, arcing streams of neon light, and the sight of anyone not being hit by the beat breaking into dance. It’s hugely satisfying to watch people completely lose themselves to the beat, before finding themselves being blown away in time with that same music. It’s a simple idea, but there’s something about seeing it in action that just works.

While for many it was the highlight of the demo, its inclusion in the game only happened thanks to a chain of free-form word association.

“That [weapon] I believe came out of an email discussion,” said Phillips. “I fired a message out to the team saying ‘Alright, we’ve got some cool weapons but I don’t think we’ve got one that people are going to be talking about. What is that weapon going to be that people will be talking about?’ It was a big email thread and throughout it there were some good ideas but then at some point someone put those two words together and it just instantly clicked for us.”

According to Phillips, the idea took off incredibly quickly. “We were like ‘this is going to be awesome, let’s just do it’. We didn’t have to question what the functionality of it was going to be, we just said “it’s a Dubstep Gun” and everyone bought into the idea immediately.”

Looking back to Saint’s Row The Third, the weapon that had people talking most was easily the Dildo Bat. From the controversy surrounding the life-size replicas sent to press outlets, to the outcry of disgust on social media, it was either the coolest weapon in the game or something that should never have been programmed and existed only for shock factor. While it isn’t returning to Saint’s Row IV, it sounds us like something equally divisive is ready to jump in and take its place.

“We have something similar to the Dildo Bat,” Phillips told me. “I can’t really talk about what it is yet but we’ve got something that we think people will be equally horrified or happy with. I think it will be a weapon that people will definitely be talking about.”

Saints Row 4 - Scenic_sc

While these weapons are already pretty unique, maybe they’re not quite unique enough for you. If so, you’ll be pleased to know that almost all of the game’s weapons will be customisable. While some will be cosmetic changes, like disguising your rocket launcher as a guitar case, other weapons will apparently be customisable in other ways. I’m calling it now, I think we’ll be getting alternate music genres to destroy alien invaders.

Phillips explained. “The Dubstep Gun is one that will be customisable, in a way. We don’t want to say exactly how yet because it’s not finished and in-game yet but it will be customisable and it’s really only a couple that aren’t. The vast majority will be customisable.”

Enter the Dominatrix and possible post release DLC

If we go back to April 1st last year, one of the many April Fool’s Day jokes making the rounds on gaming sites was the announcement of a piece of Saint’s Row The Third DLC titled Enter the Dominatrix. Catching everyone by surprise, the real April Fools joke was that the DLC was not an April Fools Day joke, it was really in development.

Saint’s Row IV is due to bring over the most interesting and complete features of the “work in progress DLC” and leaves out the features being worked on that weren’t ready. Interestingly however, the parts of Enter the Dominatrix that didn’t make the cut will likely end up coming to Saint’s Row IV as part of a piece of post-release DLC.

“I’d say [Enter the Dominatrix] makes up about a quarter of what Saint’s Row IV is. It was sort of a pick and choose situation once the decision became ‘let’s take what we really liked about Enter the Dominatrix that we don’t have time to finish properly and let’s put it into Saint’s Row IV and make it all work properly’. There are some pieces we didn’t carry forward and our hope is to, in the future after Saint’s Row IV releases, put that out as a Director’s Cut DLC of Saint’s Row IV: Enter the Dominatrix.”

What do you think? Are you excited for Saint’s Row IV? If you could have a weapon that embodied a musical style, what would it be? Would you have rather Entered the Dominatrix sooner or are you glad the DLC was held back for a larger release? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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