Saints Row is back, in a 2022 reboot that sees developer Volition updating the series with an improved in-house engine. When it releases on August 23, we’ll be able to see how all the consoles stack up, including the PS5, Series X and latest-gen machines – but today it’s about our hands-on experience with a first PC version running on an RTX 3080. Going in, we wanted to know what the PC version looked like, running at 4K with maximum settings, and what clues we could find about the Series X and PS5 versions that have yet to be revealed, including the RT support. Let’s dig in and see what’s featured so far.
Right away, the materials, lighting, and physics of Volition’s latest games are a huge leap in quality over previous Saints Row games. Gone are the flat, simplistic shaders for skin and clothing found in the latest Saints Row release from 2013, now replaced by more realistically lit materials. In fact, no matter how you create your character – and there are limitless possibilities here – there is always a respectable baseline for model quality. Likewise for the environment, texture quality is crisp, drawing comfortably from our RTX 3080’s 10GB VRAM. PS5 and Series X. Stepping into the action itself, car headlights are punctuated by a striking volumetric effect, adding streaks of light and adding a satisfying sense of depth to the scene. The item physics also impress right away, with TNT-strewn gameplay moments yielding a huge payoff as barrels open and bridges crumble.
After this more focused part of the preview, we were dropped into the open world – and here our RTX 3080 and Core i7 7700K system struggled to maintain a locked 4K 60fps in this version of the game. Lowering the 83% resolution on each axis restores that 60fps lock without having to sacrifice ray-traced ambient occlusion (RTAO), shadow detail, or world draw distance.
Speaking about the settings on offer, the Saints Row reboot offers a huge suite of options and each setting updates on the fly, conveniently showing the game world on the right as the presets change. For example, this lets us see that RTAO’s low, medium, and high settings look similar overall, but toggling between ultra and off shows stark differences – rich pockets of shadow appear across the landscape, with objects lie more suddenly in the scene. I would have liked to see more extensive RT support in the form of reflections or global illumination – and it may appear in the final version, who knows – but RTAO is a nice touch and hopefully it will appear on PS5 and the Series X under an RT quality mode. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Keeping the settings, I also took a similar look at the shadows and SSR presets. Each offers great scalability and the RTAO parameter, unlike the difference between each quality step, is more readily apparent. The shadow setting, for example, primarily affects the quality of the sun’s projection and interior shadows, which dramatically improves performance as complexity is reduced. At first glance, our RTX 3080 here is pretty much pushed to ultra while maintaining 60fps, as long as we keep the resolution scale at 83%. High is certainly acceptable, but anything below this might be too much of a sacrifice. Another tuning parameter, Scene Detail, changes the quality of shadows and terrain such as trees in the distance. With low, medium and high settings offered, the high level seems essential to avoid noticeable pop-ins, especially when moving in a vehicle at high speed
While RT reflections aren’t offered, screen space reflections are in play across four quality settings, from off to high – and again, boosts from the high setting are hard to compromise. This increases the accuracy of the screen space mirror image to make it a reasonable substitute for a more physically accurate RT version. This is also ideally where the PS5 and Series X versions will also land, as you will notice the difference visibly in water-based missions, with medium or low SSR settings.
The rest of my three-hour session with Saints Row focused on so-called “side hustles,” where you can leave bad restaurant reviews, evade police pursuit for delivering contraband, and fly in a wingsuit. to sabotage rival businesses. Each of these tangents had visual highlights, with the time of day evident from the game’s lighting, particle effects, and physics. We were getting set-pieces through the canyons, highlighting the density of the oncoming grass, while volumetric lights came to the fore as dust rose from the cars in front of us. It’s not uniformly pretty, but there are definite accidental moments where Volition’s technology combines with visually stunning results.
Considering this is an early release, it’s perhaps unsurprising that there were a few technical stability issues. I suffered a crash that deleted my save, for example, which isn’t ideal for a time-limited preview event – but again, not particularly surprising for what’s likely to happen. be a relatively old version of a complex and unpredictable open world game. We’ll have to see where the final package takes us, but what I saw was more than enough to understand where the Saints Row series is headed.
By the time the game releases in the latter stages of August, we’ll be back with a full technical breakdown of not only the final PC release, but the console situation as well. I’m hoping that given the scalability of the settings we’re seeing here, there’s room for a 4K 30fps mode with RT enabled on PS5 and Series X, as well as a 60fps mode without RT and maybe a few other graphic adjustments. It’ll be fascinating to see how the experience translates to the latest-gen machines too – will it be 1080p 30fps, or something different? Ultimately, we’ll have to wait and see. For now though, this year’s Saints Row reboot is showing great promise as a sandbox open world title, with impressive options for character customization, mission types, and the underlying tech that should , hopefully adapt well to old and new consoles.
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