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Saints Row PC tech preview: Reboot shines on PC and hints at PS5 and Series X features

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Saints Row returns in the 2022 reboot as developer Volition updates the series with an improved in-house engine. In the August 23 episode, we’ll be able to see how all the consoles stack up, including PS5, Series X, and latest generation machines, but today it’s all about our hands-on experience with an early PC build running an RTX 3080 machine. Getting down to business, we wanted to know what the PC version looked like running in 4K resolution at maximum settings, and what clues we could find about which Series X and PS5 versions have yet to be revealed, including RT support. Let’s dig in and see what’s shown so far.

The materials, lighting, and physics in the latest Volition games is a huge quantum leap over previous Saints Row games. Gone are the flat, simplified skin and clothing shaders introduced in the latest 2013 release of Saints Row, now replaced with more realistically lit materials. In fact, no matter how you design your character – and there are endless possibilities here – there is always a respectable base level of model quality. Similarly, for the environment, the quality of the textures is crisp, using our RTX 3080’s 10 GB of VRAM is handy here. Overall, the level of detail in the world is already clearly more befitting of a project destined for a PS5 and Series X release. effect, adding streaks of light and adding a nice sense of depth to the scene. The physics of the objects are also immediately impressive, with TNT-dotted standard moments delivering huge returns as barrels burst and bridges collapse.


Tom explores the 2022 Saints Row reboot – what does the PC look like and what can we learn about the console versions?

After this more focused part of the preview, we were released into the open world – and here our RTX 3080 and Core i7 7700K system struggled to maintain a locked 4K 60fps on this build of the game. However, lowering the resolution to 83 percent on each axis reclaims 60fps lock without having to sacrifice things like ray-traced ambient shading (RTAO), shadow detail, or world draw distance.

Speaking of suggested settings, the Saints Row reload includes a huge array of options, and each setting updates on the fly, conveniently showing the game world on the right as presets change. For example, this lets us see that low, medium, and high RTAO settings look broadly the same, but switching between ultra and off shows stark differences – rich patches of shadow suddenly appear in the scenery, and objects fit more naturally into the scene. I’d love to see more RT support in the form of reflections or global illumination – and that might come in the final release, who knows – but RTAO is a nice touch and I hope it comes to PS5. and Series X as part of the RT quality mode. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see.

While sticking with the settings, I also looked at the shadows and SSR presets. Each one offers a wide range of scaling options, and unlike the RTAO setting, the difference between each quality step is more noticeable. Tuning shadows, for example, primarily affects the quality of sun and interior shadows, resulting in significant performance gains as complexity is reduced. Just by eyeballs, our RTX 3080 is almost pushed to ultra here, while maintaining 60fps while we keep the resolution bar at 83%. High is certainly acceptable, but anything below that is perhaps too much of a sacrifice. Another setting, scene detail, changes the quality of shadows and terrain, such as trees in the distance. Low, medium and high settings are offered, high settings are necessary to avoid visible pop-ups, especially when driving at high speed in a car.

While no real-time reflections are offered, screen-space reflections are used at four quality settings, from off to high – and again, it’s hard to compromise at high settings. This improves the fidelity of screen-space mirroring, making it a reasonable replacement for the more physically accurate version of RT. It’s also the perfect place for the PS5 and Series X versions to land, as you’ll notice a noticeable difference in water missions with medium or low SSR settings.

The rest of my three-hour session with Saints Row was devoted to so-called “side jobs,” where you can leave bad reviews at restaurants, avoid police harassment, deliver contraband, and fly in a wingsuit to sabotage rival companies. Each of these tangents had visual highpoints, and the time of day was visible through in-game lighting, particle effects, and physics. We filmed chase scenes through the canyons, emphasizing the density of the approaching grass, while the surround lights came to the fore as the dust kicked up from the cars ahead. It’s not always pretty, but there are certain occasional moments when Volition technology is combined with visually striking results.

Considering this is an early build, it’s perhaps unsurprising that there were a few technical issues in terms of stability. For example, I had a crash that deleted my save, which isn’t ideal for a time-limited preview event, but again, it’s not particularly surprising for what is likely to be a relatively old build of a complex and unpredictable open games. world game. We have yet to see where the final package will take us, but what I saw was more than enough to give me an idea of ​​the direction the Saints Row series is headed.

By the time the game releases in the later stages of August, we’ll be back with a full whitepaper on not only the final build for PC, but the situation on console as well. Given the scalability of settings we’re seeing here, I’m hoping there’s room for a 4K 30fps mode with RT enabled on the PS5 and Series X, as well as a 60fps mode without RT, and maybe a few other graphics settings. It will be interesting to see how this experience translates to the latest generation machines – will it be 1080p 30fps or something else? Ultimately, we’ll have to wait and see. For now, however, this year’s Saints Row reboot holds huge promise as an open-world sandbox game with impressive character customization, mission types, and core tech that should hopefully scale well across old and new consoles.


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