If you had to describe Saints Row, “boring” would not be an adjective that is mentioned. Actually, “boring” would be the perfect antonym for Saints Row, which traditionally is wacky, loud and isn’t afraid to push boundaries. With the base game only a few months away from releasing, I knew that getting a sneak peek at the Saints Row Boss Factory would be a pretty wild ride.
Saints Row Boss Factory is where you create the character that you will embody during your time in the new Saints Row. This character has been dubbed your Boss, because the revamped Saints sees the series start afresh, which means its main narrative will focus on the origins of the notorious group of gang members. Therefore, like the franchise itself, you are building your Boss from scratch. The Saints character creators are legendary for including options and being able to alter certain body parts that are considered too taboo for other developers. Even though no narrative gameplay is available yet, I still felt that I was playing a Saints Row game due to the extent of the customisation choices and the slick, zany vibes of these options. Let’s break down some of the highlights of the Boss Factory and how the options available are so uniquely Saints Row.
Saints Row has always been very big on giving their player’s autonomy, and that is definitely evident in their Boss Factory. There are eight categories for you to mess around with to create your unique Boss, right down to the socks and other underwear they are fitted out in. The first thing to note is that if you do feel overwhelmed, which you just might due to the array of options, the game does provide you with eight pre-set options. James Taylor, the World Contextualisation Lead for Saints Row, notes a key tip is to “start with a Boss pre-set and go right to the head” and tackle the “eyes, nose and mouth first.”
The customisation of your character’s eyes are one of the most impressive elements of the Factory due to its “Advanced” option. This lets you change the complete look of your Boss’ eyeballs so that instead of having the standard brown, blue, green, you are given 17 contact lens style choices. For example, you can choose the “Triple Iris Eyes” which gives you three blue pupils, or the “Psychedelic Eyes” which looks like their eyes are wearing an LSD inspired tie from the 60s, or “Smiling Eyes” which gives them emoji smiling faces instead of irises. If you want to go with “standard” that’s cool as well, but why not give your Boss unnatural coloured pupils such as neon pink, blue or yellow. You can also have a play with the Saturation and Brightness of the eye, choosing how much your Boss’ eyes will sparkle or be dead-pan.
A number of elements include this Saturation and Brightness feature, including hair, eyebrows and most remarkably, teeth. You can give your Boss a selection of grins that range from Shark, Vampire, or Gapped and turn them any colour and manipulate the shade as you like. This may seem like a tiny thing, but when your Boss bares their pearly yellow or blues you’ll feel like they are prepared to bite into all types of juicy action.
The most innovative aspect of the Saints Row Boss Factory is that the concept of gender is completely missing. There are no “female” or “male” options, there are just options. This extends to facial/body hair, voice emotes, hair styles, clothing – literally everything is gender neutral. All types of bodies are made accessible, with the ability to play around with your Boss’ skin tint (super glossy if you like) skin types (all tones of neutral along with a number of ‘advanced’ colour options) veins and even body scars. The latter includes body rashes, bruises, stitches and cat/lion tamer scratches. Your boss can even have arm and leg prosthetics that come in metallic shells, no shell or polymer shells. The colour of these materials can also be changed to almost any you can think of.
“…the concept of gender is completely missing. There are no “female” or “male” options, there are just options.”
Of course this wouldn’t be a Saints Row character creator without their infamous nether regions customisation options. If you want a Boss with a massive chest and a massive groin size, that is very doable. You can play with your Boss’ nipple size but not their penis size; however you can use a “censor” image to put over the groin which is peppered with innuendo. You can choose from a shaggy haired man, a cactus, a zucchini, a clam and several other suggestive emojis.
This really does mean that your Boss is unique. So much so that the game encourages you to share your Boss with the Saints Row community. Within the Boss Factory you will find the “Share and Import Bosses” function. Here you will find other player’s Bosses which you can import and use as they are, or have a play and make your own version of another’s Boss. If your friend makes a Boss you want to access, they can look up your unique Share Code and vice versa. I’ve checked out some of the communities Boss’ and wow, they are good! I’ve seen a female Ronald McDonald, Dutch from Red Dead, Harry Du Bois from Disco Elysium and a number of other colourful characters that aren’t based on pop culture figures.
A completely new feature is the ability to make your Boss’ face asymmetrical. Having a play with this I noticed that eyes were the most noticeable difference when having a play with your Boss’ unbalanced facial structure. Scars and tattoos can be included, however attributes such as hair and skin colour cannot be changed. However, the changeable elements do have an impact on your Boss’ overall appearance enough for it to be a memorable feature.
Other features worth mentioning are the one-piece wardrobe options were you can dress in such outfits as maid, “restraint suit” (a gimp suit) and long johns. You can also customise your Boss’ underwear with a selection of bras, jocks and socks to choose from (or even a knee brace). Also, the “emote” function lets you choose two standard actions for your Boss, including the dab and flipping the bird. The scope of the Boss Factory means that this preview write-up could be double the size if I went into every last detail. It’s the kind of character creator that is so specific that one little change of the chin or the eyes will make your Boss into a completely different person with a completely different vibe. One thing I can say is that no matter what the vibe of the Boss is you create, it will be uniquely yours and also uniquely Saints Row.
Players who create a Boss and buy the game will receive two exclusive DJ Helmets once they begin the game. You can upload your Boss to share with others and to play once the full game releases on the same platforms on the 23rd of August 2022.
You can download the Boss Factory, free of charge today, via PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC via the Epic Store.