Saints Row Boss Factory Has the Bells But Not All the Whistles
There's been a lot of pomp and circumstance surrounding the character creation tools in the upcoming Saints Row reboot. It's pegged as the deepest, "most powerful" customization suite in the series, though the feeling is that developer Volition really wants to say "ever."
An April deep-dive revealed the depth of customization options that will be offered for characters, weapons, and vehicles – and it seems like there really are at least hundreds of options for each. To drum up more hype for the reboot and help fans get a headstart on perfecting their Boss ahead of its August launch, Volition has released Boss Factory for PC, PlayStation, and Xbox platforms.
Boss Factory is a free, standalone "game" that gives you access to the character customization suit that will be in Saints Row; there's no gun or vehicle customization here (whomp, whomp). Characters can be saved and imported into Saints Row when it launches, though Bosses will need to be created on the same platform to carry over (you can't make a character on PC and transfer it to PS5, for example).
You'll be able to search for and vote on Bosses shared by other players, and in August, you can download curated bosses from other players from any platform. It's a somewhat odd wrinkle not being able to transfer your Boss to any platform but curate others from any platform, but there ya' go.
Those who "save and share" their Bosses from Boss Factory will also get two pieces of exclusive in-game DJ headgear. Anyone who registers for a Saints Row profile can expect to receive the Marshall Defense Technologies Rocket Launcher (though that's not exclusively tied to playing Boss Factory – registration can be done here).
Ahead of Boss Factory's release, I was able to hop in and toy around with the customization suite. On a superficial level, it's mostly just an ordinary character creation tool. There are standard options for facial features, skin color, body type, clothing, and accessories. The number of preset choices is broad across the board — there are more than 100 for various head presets alone — and as expected, there are sliders for brow depth, ear height, jaw width, nostril size, etc.
When you start digging into Boss Factory, the possibilities become apparent, even if progression-related options are still locked in this version of the suite. There's a lot of cool stuff here, including vampire teeth, zombie bite scars, and smiley-face eyeballs. There's an expansive catalog of hairstyles and beards to choose from, you can make almost any body type you'd want, and the modesty options are funny if terrifying for what they could allow folks to create.
Still, some options are admittedly underwhelming; the metal skin types, in particular, are cool but mostly indistinguishable from each other. Tattoos are another disappointment. There are options for full sleeves and upper and lower portions of your Boss' chest, back, arm, and leg. Still, there's no way to combine multiple designs in a single area, they can't be rotated or moved around, and the number of choices doesn't provide nearly enough variety.
One of Volition's most prominent points of emphasis with the new Saints Row character creation tool is the ability to make asymmetrical faces, but it's kind of just … ok? While presets, such as eye shape and color, cover both hemispheres, individual sliders for the forehead, brow, ears, and eyes can be tweaked across the face or on just one side.
Oddly, it seems those for noses, chins, cheeks, mouths, and jaws can't be. What's more, there doesn't seem to be an option for applying makeup or glitz to just one side of the face. It's undoubtedly one of the most unique options in the entire feature suite and will lead to some very interesting designs — and I'm sure many a Frankenstein's monster, too — but I can't help but feel a bit let down by it.
Note: I've asked Volition for clarification regarding asymmetrical faces and will update this article as necessary.
The bright spots highlight the diversity Volition's further infused into Saints Row. Prosthetics have their own menu and feature a variety of options; there are 18 to choose from for right, left, or both arms, and there are 21 to choose from for right, left, or both legs. Their designs can't be changed, unfortunately, but colors and materials can (note: every piece of clothing and accessory has "cutting edge" materials that add further customization options, but those are locked in Boss Factory).
Another nice touch is the ability to add body hair of any color to the default skin types (the option oddly disappears for the advanced skin types, even though three of them are just red, blue, and green), as well as other skin details like vitiligo.
Overall, Boss Factory is a neat tease to what we can expect in Saints Row when it launches for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Series X|S on August 23, 2022. Volition says this is mostly the finished character creation suite and includes basically everything we'll see in the final product. If that's the case, this isn't the Don Corleone God-tool it's been propped up to be. Though I sound kind of down on the whole thing, it's also got a lot of cool bells and whistles that are fun to play with.
[Note: Volition provided the copy of Boss Factory used for this article.]