The open world aspects of Saints Row 4 and the speed at which you unlock new stuff to do means that you’re always asking yourself “What should I do next?” The rate at which you gain new powers and abilities means that if you pick the wrong activities or bonuses early, you may find yourself working way too hard on a particular challenge that becomes trivial in the late game. In our “Early Game” guide, I’ll share the lessons we learned from the early game, and give you some direction on how to get over the initial hump and become the badass Saints Row 4 hero you need to be.
Saints Row 4 Early Game: From the Beginning
The early game is a series of linear plot missions that you can’t skip and are mostly on-rails. Just bear with them and eventually you’ll get to the open world part of the game. The decisions you make in this part of the game are completely inconsequential, so don’t stress out about any of it.
Once you’re in the open world section of the game, continue playing plot missions for a bit until you can:
- Exit the simulation at will
- Have the first three powers (jump, sprint, blast)
- Catch the “Golden CID” to reduce your notoriety level
- Play at least a few of the side games, including the “store hacking” game
You can do some exploring prior to this point, but having these things done means that your life is going to be a lot easier in the early game.
Saints Row 4 Early Game: Collecting Data Clusters and Power Upgrades
While you’re navigating the world in service of plot-related objectives, keep your eyes peeled for Data Clusters, which are scattered almost everywhere you look. Collecting these will allow you to upgrade your super powers, which is critical to your ability to get around and survive in fights.
Focus on a couple of key bits to upgrade:
- Take “wall running” and “gliding” early from the jump power tree
- Get all the “jump height” and “sprint speed” upgrades you can get
- Grab some of the area of effect and damage upgrades to the blast power if you can
Skip any “sprint duration” upgrades – we’ll be getting infinite sprint here in a bit and that makes spending those data clusters a waste.
The “blast” power replaces your grenades from previous Saints Row games. It’s fairly critical to have this power up to spec early, as it’s your first form of crowd control.
Saints Row 4 Early Game: Side Quests
Once you’ve advanced the main quest to unlock a few basic things, my suggestion would be to go talk to the Vice President outside the simulation and start his side quest line. He’s got some really awesome boosts for you, namely:
- The Dubstep Gun – it’s got infinite ammo (although it has a recharge delay) and it can make short work of even the toughest enemies
- Infinite Sprint – heck yeah we want infinite sprint! Nobody’s got time for stamina recharge delays.
- Double Store Hacking Time – some of the trickier levels might make you scratch your head, and having 2 minutes is a life saver.
He doesn’t have any particularly challenging quests, so get on this early and you’ll be a happy camper.
Completing some of the first ranks of the minigames also unlocks things like a UFO and a tank in your vehicle inventory. These can make some of the combat missions somewhat easier, since you can use these as bonus health and/or firepower.
Saints Row 4 Early Game: Making Cache
Cache is the game’s currency, and you’re going to need it for a lot of things. The best way to make cache fast is by having a lot of territory under Saints control. Every 15 minutes you play, you can pick the “cache” option on your phone and get a cache boost from all the things you’ve done in-game.
From the outset, you’re going to be relatively weak, though, and it takes cache to get stronger. So, you’re kind of stuck in a catch-22 where you could take over territory if you were stronger, but you can’t get stronger without having taken over territory. There are a couple of easy things you can do to make tons of cache, though.
Making Cache: Store Hacking
The first easy cache maker in Saints Row 4 is “Store Hacking.” Store hacking is a puzzle game where you have to connect a start and exit point by placing segments on a game board. It’s not too challenging in the early levels, but the more you clear, the trickier they get. Just run around to all the stores you can find – they’re marked in green on your map.
Some quick store hacking tips:
- You don’t always have to use all the pieces to win. Sometimes you will have a couple left over, and that’s OK.
- At the higher levels, though, you’re likely to need all the pieces. You will have to make weird curvy shapes to work around the fact that you don’t have enough horizontal or vertical pieces to make it across the board.
- Sometimes it’s easier to start from the end – there may be pieces that must go at the start or the end, and the puzzles are somewhat simpler if you eliminate these pieces first.
Making Cache: Virus Collection
The other easy cache maker in Saints Row 4 is “Virus Collection,” which is really just delivering vehicles to the chop shop from the previous Saints Row games. These are generally pretty easy to complete. Most of the time, the vehicle is surrounded by bad guys, but you can just hop in and take off, leaving them in your dust.
In addition to easy, fast cache in Saints Row 4, these missions also unlock unique cars in your garage. Most of the time cars have very little use, but still, it’s not a bad thing to have some of the police and military vehicles available should you need them.
Making Cache: Fraud
Fraud makes another Saints Row appearance here, and it’s more fun than ever! The overall goal is to make a bunch of money by slamming into objects while ragdolling. The easy way to max out your score is:
- Start by heading to one of the marked zones.
- Get hit by as many cars as you can until you have maxed out the Adrenaline Meter.
- Head to somewhere where there are lots of cars going fast – the highway, for instance. Make sure there’s no overhead barriers (ie, don’t do this under the train tracks)
- Do a Super Jump and then hit the Ragdoll button
- Go flipping around the city, following the highway
- Hit as many cars as you can, and the faster the car is going, the better!
Your score depends on:
- Are you in Adrenaline Mode? If so, you get a massive score boost.
- Per hit, how fast were you going and how fast was the thing you hit going?
- How many different things did you hit in a single ragdoll session?
If you max these out by following the highway, using your Adrenaline + the Super Jump momentum, and hitting as many unique cars as you can, you can easily make hundreds of thousands of dollars per combo.
Beating one of these adds it to your Cache-per-hour, but you can also replay the mission over and over for easy Cache and XP.
Saints Row 4 Early Game: Spending Cache
Once you’ve got a steady stream of cache flowing in, you’re going to want to spend it. There are two major cache sinks in the game: weapons and upgrades.
Spending Cache: Weapons
My suggestion on weapons would be to find a few you really like and focus your spending on them early. I’d suggest picking at least one alien weapon that has infinite ammo and one standard weapon that has good damage and decent fire rate.
There are three ways to get new weapons:
- Some of the ‘basic’ guns can be bought at the gun shop (Friendly Fire)
- Most of the standard ‘alien’ weapons must be picked up off of dead aliens – once you’ve picked it up once, you “own” it and can switch to it at the Gateway or the gun shop
- The crazy weapons (Dubstep Gun, Bounce Rifle, etc) are from quests, both the main quests and side quests.
The moral of this story is – if you see a new weapon on the ground, pick it up!
My early-game weapon picks are:
- The Violator – Ah, the good ol’ tentacle bat. It’s reliable and heavy damage, but only any good at close range.
- The Heavy SMG – it’s got good firepower and is a veritable bullet hose at higher levels. Pick up the “Acid” upgrade to give you a solid heavy damage weapon with additional damage over time.
- The Alien Pistol – When you’re out of ammo and need to take a precision shot or 20, this is the weapon I turn to. Alien footsoldiers carry this.
- The Dubstep Gun – Infinite ammo, heavy damage, but it’s got a bit of a charge time that can leave you vulnerable. It’s a powerful weapon against practically any enemy, though. Grab Explosive Wubs to give it a splash damage effect.
If you’ve got the ‘MERICA from preordering and you can throw some upgrades at it, especially extra ammo, then you may wish to use that instead.
Spending Cache: Upgrades
As you level up, more and more upgrades will unlock. There are quite a few of these that are downright essential. Here are my picks:
- Additional Health, Health Pickup Bonuses, etc – Health is an issue in the early game, so it makes sense to start your Saints Row 4 upgrade path off with all the health benefits you can get.
- Damage reduction – Less damage taken is like free health. ‘Nuff said.
- Nitrous Everywhere – For virus collection missions, this can be critical. Any mission that makes you use a car can benefit.
- Bonus XP/Cache – These are good to prioritize early, so that you get the benefits on as many missions as you possibly can.
- Extra Ammo/Weapon Benefits – Pick your one or two weapon classes that you’re going to focus on using conventional weapons with, and then pick up the ammo boosts (and dual wield, if possible) for those categories.
Saints Row 4 Early Game: Co-Op Tips and Tricks
EBongo and I tend to co-op Saints Row games together, and Saints Row 4 is no exception. Sometimes, though, we find ourselves playing alone. Figuring out what to prioritize in co-op and what to tackle solo is always a tricky proposition. My suggestions are:
- Side quests and the main quest are good to co-op. Keeping your progress in step with each other during co-op sessions makes things easier when you’re playing solo.
- Collecting Data Clusters (and other collectibles like the statue destruction) is a good thing to do in co-op, since there are just so many of them to grab, and they count for both of you whenever either of you grab them. Just to be clear, though, if you’re playing with someone that has grabbed a data cluster you haven’t, it will still show up for you. They just won’t get credit when you pick it up. (Thanks, Xariann!)
- Store Hacking is a good solo activity, since it requires that you stand in one place with no alien notoriety for a good minute or two. The chances of this happening in co-op when your partner is doing something else is relatively slim.
- Virus Collection (chop shop) activities are also good solo activities. You can’t both be on the same virus collection mission at the same time, which is a bummer.
When playing side quests together, make sure that both of you are checking your quest menu and selecting the same sidequests. The game doesn’t seem to keep the progress sync’ed between the two of you very well. If you select the side quest chain, you should get credit if your partner has been working on it, even if you didn’t have it selected previously.
Saints Row 4 Early Game: Challenges
You can view your challenges at any time by going into the menu, then going to Quests, and pick Challenges. Completing Challenges unlocks bonuses, and some of these aren’t that tricky from the outset.
- Distance Super Sprinted – Just run around the city! It helps to have the Infinite Sprint upgrade I mentioned earlier.
- Super Jump Air Time – With a few ranks in your Jump power, you should get this in no time.
- Vehicles Super Kicked – No need to go up against the police or aliens, any old vehicle works fine here.
- Time Spent With Homies – Just call Kinzie into the simulation whenever you’re messing around. You could even leave the game running if you’re not planning on playing.
Once you’ve followed the rest of this guide, you should be powerful enough to hold your own at reasonably high notoriety. If you cause a bit of a ruckus, the police will show up, and once you’ve gotten a bit past that, aliens will spawn.
- Alien High Notoriety Time – As you’re farming the other challenges, it’s likely this one will unlock as well.
- Aliens Super Kicked – Just melee while close to an alien to send it flying!
- Superpowered Beatdowns – Sprint towards an enemy, but stop sprinting a bit before you reach them. Mash the melee button, and you’ll do an insta-kill takedown. The only catch is you have to do this to alien soldiers.
- Aliens Taunted – to taunt, you’ll have to hold down left on the D-Pad on Xbox 360 or PS3 versions of the game. By default, it is bound to X on the PC version. Just get close to an alien, aim at him, and then hit taunt.
- Tentacle Bat kills – Whip out your tentacle bat and go to town. On Normal difficulty, this is a one-hit kill.
- Freeze Shatters – use the Ice element on your Blast power to freeze a group of aliens, then take them down however you wish.
If you’ll notice, all three of these can be combo’ed together to great effect – run up to a group of aliens, taunt them, then use freeze blast, and then tentacle bat them to pieces.
- Alien Weapon kills – each of the unique alien weapons has a kill counter associated with it. You can start with the Dubstep Gun, for instance. You’ll eventually end up with the Abduction Gun, the Bounce Rifle, the Disintegrator, and the Inflato-Ray. Upgrading them before attempting the related challenges is recommended.
- Destroy CIDs – Once you’ve killed the first “golden” one of these, they’ll show up on your minimap whenever you have notoriety. Just chase them down (sprint upgrades help here) and smash them to bits. Shooting them or meleeing them does nothing. You’ll need to hit a button in order to catch them – on the Xbox 360, it’s Y, PS3 is Triangle, and the PC version it is E (I believe). The non-gold variants also spawn from portals during high notoriety past a certain point in the plot.
- Alien Vehicle Destruction – As you ramp up your notoriety level, alien aircraft will start to spawn. Use your Blast power to take them down quickly.
- Wardens Killed – As long as you’ve completed the main quest line enough to meet the first Warden, you can spawn these guys when you please. Once you’ve maxed out your notoriety, a Warden will spawn and attack you. You’ll have to use a combo of your powers and your conventional weapons in order to take them down. I suggest using Blast plus an upgraded fast-firing weapon like the SMG or the Bounce Rifle. If you’re getting in close, use the Freeze element for Blast, since it doesn’t hurt you if you’re in the radius.
When Wardens are low on life, you’ll have to pass a quick-time button mashing event. The button mashing tends to get harder the longer you take, so I suggest giving up on the quick-time if you can’t kill it in the first couple of buttons. It will just heal a small amount of life and you can try again.
Remember that if Wardens are a bit too tough for you, you can go grab the Golden CID when your notoriety is near maxed in order to avoid a fight with them.