Saints Row PC Tech Preview: Reboot shines on PC and hints at PS5 and Series X features

Saints Row is back, in a 2022 reboot that sees developer Volition update the series with an improved in-house engine. When it launches on August 23, we’ll get to see how all consoles compare, including the PS5, Series X, and last-gen machines, but today it’s all about our hands-on experience with an early PC version running on a RTX 3080 machine. . Going in, we wanted to know what the PC version looked like, running at 4K with max settings, and what clues we might find about the Series X and PS5 versions that haven’t been revealed yet, including RT support. Let’s dive in and see what shows up so far.

Right off the bat, the materials, lighting, and physics in the latest Volition are a huge leap in quality from previous Saints Row games. Gone are the flat, simplistic shaders for skin and clothing present in the last 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 benchmark for model quality. Likewise for the environment, texture quality is sharp, taking advantage of our RTX 3080’s 10GB VRAM here handily. In general, the level of world detail is already clearly more suitable for a project destined for a PS5 and Series X release. Getting into the action itself, the headlights of the cars are marked by a surprising volumetric effect, adding rays of light and adding a satisfying sense of depth to the scene. The item physics are also immediately impressive, with moments of TNT-strewn stages producing a huge payoff as barrels open and bridges collapse.

Tom investigates the 2022 Saints Row reboot: what does it look like on PC and what can we learn about the console versions?

After this more focused part of the preview, we jumped into the open world, and here, our RTX 3080 and Core i7 7700K system struggled to maintain a locked 4K at 60fps in this version of the game. However, lowering the resolution to 83 percent on each axis restores that 60fps lock without having to sacrifice ray traced ambient occlusion (RTAO), shadow detail, or world draw distance.

Speaking of the settings on offer, the Saints Row reboot includes a great set of options and each setting updates on the fly, conveniently displaying the game world on the right as presets change. For example, this allows us to see that low, medium, and high RTAO settings look broadly alike, but toggling between ultra and off shows stark differences: rich pockets of shadow suddenly appear on stage, with objects being placed differently. more natural in the scene. I would have loved to see more extensive RT support in the form of reflections or global illumination, and that may show up in the final release, who knows, but RTAO is a nice touch and I hope it shows up on PS5. and Series X as part of an RT quality mode. For now, though, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Continuing with the settings, I also took a similar look at the shadows and SSR presets. Each offers a lot of scalability, and unlike the RTAO setup, the difference between each quality step is more apparent. The shadows setting, for example, primarily affects the quality of the projection of the sun and inner shadows, greatly increasing performance as complexity is reduced. To the naked eye, our RTX 3080 here is almost pushed to ultra while maintaining 60fps, as long as we keep resolution scaling at 83 percent. High is certainly acceptable, but anything below that is perhaps too heavy a sacrifice. Another setting, scene detail, alters the quality of shadows and terrain such as trees in the distance. With low, medium and high settings on offer, the high feels essential to prevent visible pop-in, especially when moving in a vehicle at high speeds.

While no RT reflections are offered, screen space reflections are up for grabs at four quality settings, from low to high, and again, the high setting boosts are hard to compromise on. This increases the screen space mirror image accuracy to make it a reasonable substitute for a more physically accurate RT version. Ideally, this is where the PS5 and Series X versions will land as well, as you’ll visibly notice the difference 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 jobs,’ where you can leave bad reviews at restaurants, escape police chases to deliver contraband, and fly around in a wingsuit to sabotage people. rival companies. Each of these tangents had visual highlights, with the time of day evident from lighting, particle effects, and in-game physics. We’d get chase scenarios through canyons, highlighting the density of oncoming grass, while volumetric lights stand out as dust rises from cars ahead. It’s not uniformly pretty, but there are definite incidental moments where Volition’s technology comes together with visually stunning results.

Given that this is an early release, it is perhaps not surprising that there are some glitches in terms of stability. I suffered a crash that deleted my save, for example, which isn’t ideal for a time-limited preview event, but again, this isn’t particularly surprising for what is likely to be a relatively old build of a complex and unpredictable open. world game We’ll have to see where the final package puts us, but what I saw was more than enough to understand the direction the Saints Row series is taking.

By the time the game launches in the latter stages of August, we’ll be back with a full technical breakdown of not only the final PC version, but the situation on console as well. My hope is that given the scalability of the setup we’re looking at 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 perhaps a few other graphical tweaks. It will be fascinating to see how the experience translates to state-of-the-art machines as well: will it be 1080p 30fps or something different? Ultimately, we will have to wait and see. For now, though, this year’s Saints Row reboot holds great promise as a sandbox open-world title, with impressive options for character customization, quest types, and underlying tech that should hopefully scale well. to old and new consoles.

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