The Things That Got Cut From Saints Row: The Third

The third Saint’s row game was a tonne of fun, crammed with all sorts of over the top features and missions, but what of all the things that didn’t make it into the game? Lead designer Scott Phillips in his GDC post-mortem shared some of the elements of the game that got cut, including 6 months work on a game where you played an undercover cop, infiltrating the Third Street Saints, which got entirely canned.

Scott said:

For the first 6 months or so Saints Row: The Third went in a very different direction. You were an undercover cop infiltrating the Saints. We wanted choice to be a much bigger part of the game. At the end of a mission you might find a big pile of cocaine, and would have to decided whether to turn it over to the FBI, or give it to the Saints

It was interesting, but it wasn’t a Saints Row game. So we completely reset after 6 months.

Also cut was a feature called freegunning, a portmanteau of the things it sounds like a portmanteau of. We saw a tech demo video showing your character leaping over cars and wall-running on buildings, and all the time shooting. It looked pretty slick, something along the lines of Prototype, Assassin’s Creed & The Sands of Time. Sadly this was cut because of performance issues, they couldn’t get it to work properly in an open world populated with lots of characters.

On the flipside, one feature that ended up being bigger than expected was the dildo bat.

Initially it was just one bulletpoint on one mission. Games have done that before, and we wanted to go much bigger.

The team loved it. It really felt awesome.

This was just a nice moment for the team to really gel, and feel like ‘Yes, we know what Saints Row is now’.

I’m impressed that they could all take it.

In retrospect Scott said that the game could have been better if they’d cut more stuff too, like some of the weaker missions, but they were necessary because the story already fit around them.

After having done rather well for the troubled medium tier publisher THQ, would anyone be particularly surprised if Volition were currently working on another follow up? Maybe freegunning could make a return sometime in the future.


  1. Fierce says:

    Wow, freegunning sounds pretty fun. Imagine being able to do that inside the S&M mansion mission as a side-effect of the drugs! Just a hilarious Matrix Hallway Scene of our very own…in the nude.

    I definitely hope we haven’t heard the last of it.

  2. Oozo says:

    I really like the detail mentioned on Gamasutra: That to get the team in the right spirit and show them what a Saints Row-game is all about, they put together a video with snippets of Bad Boys II, Hot Fuzz and Mötley Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart”.

    Sounds like the perfect design document to me.

  3. ANeM says:

    I can’t even begin to imagine what the game would be like if they cut out the “weaker” missions. It was already very short compared to SR1 and SR2, I’m not sure what would even be left if they removed all the mandatory activity missions.

  4. Apples says:

    If they cut the weaker missions what would be left? That one Deckers mission? You can already tell they must have cut out a bunch of missions, leaving those weird ‘drive across town for a cutscene’ remnants. I’m surprised that it sounds like they cut out huge mechanical bits of the game, but they don’t mention any missing characterisation or storyline, as if how it ended up was how it was always intended to be. Surely not.

  5. MajorManiac says:

    The thing I really miss from the 2nd game is the Fuzz missions. They were my favourite part of the game.

    I’d love to see an entire campaign based around a Saints Row member infiltrating the police. If it was that way round, you could then include all the crazy action.

  6. wodin says:

    I mentioned yesterday on another topic that Open World games end up sacrificing other areas. Sometimes just maybe Open World isn’t the best way to go.

    • JackShandy says:

      You can’t seriously say saints row 3 would be better without the open world.

      • Zyrocz says:

        I think he’s just saying that Saint’s Row 3 might have been a game more suitable for him if they made it different, but I’m not quite sure.

        • JackShandy says:

          I guess I can believe that, if you hate open world games, you’d prefer it if Saints Row 3 wasn’t one of those? But Volition have spent three games getting better at open worlds. If you want something else, you really shouldn’t be going to them.

          • Caleb367 says:

            You know, reminds me of that old Morrowind bull I’ve read everywhere when it got out. People actually complaining it was “confusing” and not knowing where to go, so it must be crap. Sort of like people who can’t jump complaining about basketball.
            Spoiler alert: world doesn’t revolve around you.

            Besides, anyone else here thinking a re-release of Saints Row 2 on The Third engine would be awesome?

          • Apples says:

            “spent three games getting better at open worlds” Have they? SR3’s consisted of a lot of skyscrapers and generally unidentifiable districts, with little motivation to walk around since almost everything could be done from your crib, and none of the interesting details that SR2 had. Certainly SR2 had a great open world but it doesn’t exactly look like they’ve gotten better since then.

            Honestly I think I might have passed up an open Steelport if it meant more proper mission content and better writing. And I do like open world games, just not ones with a rubbish open world.

          • SamC says:

            I’d say Volition is fair to middling at the open world bit.

            In Saints Row 2, I never felt like I was in a real city. There wasn’t nearly the same sense of place as in GTA IV. And I can understand sacrificing realism for fun, but it was very rarely the physical environment that was making things interesting. It was like being let free in a killbox deathmatch level. The huge amount of side missions and odd jobs was fun, but despite the world, not because of it.

            Slightly different in Red Faction: Guerrilla, the world felt more believable, but the bits without destructible buildings were dreadfully boring, and deadly for a guerrilla fighter (no cover, no accessible vehicles). The huge deserts around the Mohole and the remote desert base killed that game for me, I never finished it.

  7. daf says:

    Loved playing the game with a friend in coop but I was always left wishing it was a bit more expansive like a GTA in terms of activities you could do ingame, I remember spending hours betting on the horses mini-game in San Andreas, something i missed in saints row as I passed by all those slot machines in the casinos or that pool table in a certain bar.

    Also having checked out a pirated version of Saints Row 3 and seeing that 90% of the DLC was shipped with the game from day one (even the vampire dlc they released recently), it gives that bad taste of cutting off parts of the game to monetize. The crazy guns they sell as DLC aren’t necessary to have fun with the game ofc, but they do leave out a big part of the craziness that Saints Row is known for.

    Finally there’s also my pet piv of perks having a kind of check box yet not being able to be turned off, it’s quite easy to ruin the game if you max them out as you’ll become immune to damage, infinite ammo, no reload time, etc which sounds fun but kills any kind of challenge of the game.

    I still recommend it as the best if not even the only coop game of the open world variety, just as long as you’re aware of the above.

  8. hemmingjay says:

    What a waste! I hope they finish and provide that Undercover content as paid DLC. Much better than yet another silly weapon pack or skin.

  9. Bassem says:

    one feature that ended up being bigger than expected was the dildo bat
    The team loved it. It really felt awesome.

    Well, good for them I guess!

    I’m still playing through SR3, it’s on hold now as I’m sidetracked by my new Skyrim char and now, ME3.
    I haven’t even completed DX:HR yet. Or Borderlands GOTY. So many unfinished games…