2022’s reboot of the crime-fueled, tongue-in-cheek open world series "Saints Row" sees the franchise return after a seven-year break. As a reboot, the new title has the challenge of offering fans a new origin story of the Third Street Saints filled with original characters. The story missions of "Saints Row" have historically been over the top and filled with bombastic set pieces, tales of revenge, funny gags, and loads of action. This new "Saints Row," however, occupies a tonal space similar to "Saints Row 2" in that it tries to stay more grounded and deliver some emotional moments along the way. This balancing act has contributed to some polarizing reactions to the newest "Saints Row" entry.
The storyline of "Saints Row" is pretty unconventional; it moves rather quickly and many of its main missions don’t exactly feel like they tie together. So, if you want to know what you’re getting into the story ahead of time or maybe missed something between all of the explosions and jokes — and there are plenty — here is the game’s ending explained.
The friends we made along the way
Like all great stories, when it comes to the themes of "Saints Row," it’s really all about friendship. The bedrock of the game’s plot revolves around the player’s character, simply called the Boss, starting a new gang with their three roommates: Eli, Kev, and Neenah. At the start of the game, they are struggling to make rent each month and only have one another to rely on. And so, when the Saints are founded, they have to work together to figure out how to solve the subsequent challenges.
This leads to the majority of the story missions in the 20-30 hour caper focusing on the Boss helping one of their roommates out of one jam or another. The subject of these missions vary wildly, but they all are concerned with strengthening the bond between the two characters and learning further details about the backstories of the characters. Whether it’s helping Kev get his hands on a rare toy from a local fast-food chain or teaching Eli how to shoot, these missions all serve to flesh out their relationship while increasing the Saints’ influence over Santo Ileso. This growth is even reflected mechanically, since completing the missions will also sometimes upgrade the roommates’ combat abilities.
At the start of "Saints Row," Neenah is part of the Santo Ileso gang known as Los Panteros. She grew up with two mechanic parents and picked up everything there is to know about working on cars and other vehicles as she grew up. However, she also has an intense love for art. Her mechanical know-how put her in good standing with the Panteros, who prize their cars over everything else. However, when we first meet her, Neenah has started disagreeing with the gang because of the methods and attitude of its new leader, Sergio.
This pushes her to leave the Panteros and help found the Saints. At first, she is primarily concerned with getting revenge on her previous gang, especially after they destroy her prized car that she built herself over years. Eventually, she is able to move past her grudge with Los Panteros and instead focuses on making herself happy. Rather than only seeking vengeance, she starts to use the wealth and power that the gang has earned her to chase her dreams of being a major part of the art world. This allows her to live freely and without having to worry about making others proud or putting her interests aside.
Kev was raised as an orphan and felt passed around between countless foster families growing up. To try and fit in with these families, he started deriving his self-worth from making others happy by doing things like cooking them food or playing music as a DJ. This way of carrying himself extended into his adult life, right up until he joined another Santo Ileso gang known as the Idols. While he was in the Idols, he believed that they actually followed their neo-anarchist doctrines. Once he saw that they were actually just trying to make themselves rich at the expense of others, however, he left the gang and helped found the Saints.
Throughout the missions with Kev, the Boss’ bond with him really blossoms as they track down toys together and have telenovela marathons. This first glimpse at true friendship helps Kev realize that he doesn’t need to be anything but himself for his friends in the Saints to accept and love him. He finally realizes that they are his real family, and one that he doesn’t have to worry about sending him away or moving on without him anytime soon. This further allows him to embrace being his authentic self without worrying about how those closest to him perceive his every action.
Eli stands out from the other roommates in "Saints Row" because he isn’t familiar with the rough and tumble gang life at the start of the game. Instead, he is a young entrepreneur who recently graduated with degrees in business and an eye for marketing strategies. He only moved to Santo Ileso to try and capitalize on real estate opportunities that he saw there through the use of his personal savings and numerous loans. However, his biggest investment — the one that was supposed to establish him as a real estate mogul — ran into trouble, leading to him struggling to pay off his student loan debt.
So, when Eli’s friends came to him with the idea of establishing their own gang, he quickly suggested making it more than just a gang, but a criminal empire that spans multiple industries and "legitimate" businesses.
This new plan leads to Eli joining the Saints as its de facto administrator, responsible for budgeting, scheduling meetings, and mapping out any long-term strategies. Through this, Eli comes to realize that he really does have the chops to make it in a cutthroat business environment. He is further emboldened when he sees how many of his plans and strategies come to fruition, making him feel vindicated and more confident in his abilities by the end of the game.
The Boss’ Story
There is not as much information about the Boss‘ backstory as the game’s other characters, which allows players to fill in some of the gaps as they wish. Of course, the Boss is meant to be a player surrogate, complete with a customizable appearance and multiple voice actors to choose from in order to make the character feel unique to the player. However, there are a few elements of the character’s backstory that the game does establish, and some elements of their personality remain consistent across all playthroughs.
The biggest part known about the Boss’ backstory is that they just recently got out of college at the start of the game. It’s unknown what degree they were seeking or if they even graduated, but they do have plenty of student loans that need to be paid off.
To do so, they found themselves seeking odd jobs from the criminal underworld to try and make ends meet in Santo Illeso. Eventually they got sick of risking their life to make other people more money than they would ever see, which motivated them to try and be their own boss. Towards the end of the game’s story, it also becomes clear that while the Boss is pretty cocky, they do have some deep-seated anxiety about disappointing those closest to them. The Boss’ insecurities are peeled back in a dream sequence in which they bleed to death, showing that they feel as though they let down their roommates.
After this, the Boss makes a vow to be better and never disappoint their friends again.
The End of Los Panteros
For the Saints to succeed, the other factions of Santo Ileso need to fail. At the start of "Saints Row," Los Panteros is one of the biggest gangs in Santo Ileso, controlling the drug trade and arms trafficking in the area. By the end of the game, however, they are severely weakened, without leadership, and struggling to stay together. The gang gets to this point almost entirely through the actions of the Saints.
Much of the damage is done during the missions in which the Boss goes is paired up with Neenah. During these missions, the duo sabotage Panteros’ car factory, hinder the gang’s heist plans, and repeatedly disrupt its operations. The real blow occurs is when the gang’s leader Sergio is killed by a fellow criminal, the Nahuali. This happens while the Saints and Los Panteros are fighting over robbing a federal reserve train that is protected by Marshall Defense Industries.
While Sergio is distracted by threatening the Boss and Neenah, Nahuali takes the opportunity to strike, deeply wounding the Panteros and leaving them without clear leadership. And speaking of the Nahuali…
A friendship tested
The mission that serves as the story’s climax puts the relationships between the Boss and their roommates to the test. It all comes to a head because of another criminal known as the Nahuali. In the first mission of the game, The Boss arrests them while they’re working for Marshall Defense Industries, a private military corporation. Later in the story, after the Saints bust Nahuali out of jail for help with a heist, and eventually try to recruit him to their new gang. Nahuali definitely seems interested, until his true decision is revealed when he plunges a knife into the Boss’ gut.
He does all of this because he is jealous of the Boss’ relationship with their friends — and Nahuali believes that killing them will allow him to take their place. So, he kidnaps Neenah, Kev, and Eli to take them to a sound stage recreation of their apartment, where he forces them to act out scenes of their friendship. The Boss isn’t that easy to kill though, and their regrets and fears of being a bad friend motivates the protagonist to fight like hell to rescue everyone. They manage to do just that, killing Nahuali in the process and finally enjoying drinks with their friends on top of a skyscraper during a beautiful sunset.
The end of the Idols
The Idols are an anarchist gang who claim to be fighting to free the people of Santo Illeso from the ills of late-stage capitalism. To this end, they are led by six individuals who call themselves The Collective. To stand as a symbol for the gang, they stripped their individual identities, instead opting to only be differentiated from one another by the designs on their LED-equipped motorcycle helmets. The Boss faces off against the Idols at multiple times throughout "Saints Row," eventually weakening the gang’s grip on their followers and restricting their ability to even organize robberies.
The Boss ultimately kills all six members of The Collective, which is the final part of the gang’s destruction. Two of the members are killed during side activities that see the Saints pushing in on Idols’ territory, but the other four are killed during story missions.
The final two are taken out by the Boss and Kev in a fight on the luxury yacht that acts as the gang’s headquarters. Not only does this give Kev closure on his decision to turn his back on the gang, but it also exposes the Collective’s hypocrisy once and for all, cutting off the head of the snake that is the Idols gang.
The fate of Marshall Defense Industries
When players first gain control over the Boss, it is during their first mission for Marshall Defense Industries. The Boss catches the eye of Marshall CEO Atticus Finch, which gets in turn gets them placed in charge of a contract at the Santo Ileso Museum. However, the job goes sideways, and the Boss is ultimately fired from the company, igniting a desire for vengeance in them. This quest culminates in the Boss teaming up with a member of Marshall’s board of directors, Myra Starr.
Myra and the Boss formulate a mutually beneficial plan to get Atticus fired so that Myra can take over the company. To accomplish this, the Boss steals a Marshall tank and causes general chaos to make the company’s stock plummet, ultimately triggering a vote of no confidence from the board. The Boss is even there when Atticus is fired, giving the player the option to either let Atticus get fired and go on his way — or shoot him with a pistol. Either way, Myra Starr is placed in control of Marshall Industries and her deal with the Saints ends once she does. How Marshall Defense Industries performs under her leadership — or even if she remains on friendly terms with the Boss and the Saints after this point — remains to be seen.
The Saints’ criminal empire
Throughout a playthrough of "Saints Row," players can open up 14 businesses throughout Santo Ileso that act as both regular storefronts and covers for illicit criminal activities. This strategy allows the Saints to take control of the region’s drug market, arms smuggling, and various other aspects as well. The more legal fronts of the businesses also allow the Saints to leave a massive footprint on Santo Ileso itself. By the end of "Saints Row," the Saints have risen to be a true criminal empire, complete with multiple revenue streams and near-total control over the city.
Like previous "Saints Row" games the map of the reboot is divided into different districts that can be controlled by the Saints once the player completes the range of side activities spread throughout it. Once all of the districts and the main story missions players will be able to take on one final mission to solidify the meteoric rise of the Saints. To do so, the player constructs a massive purple and gold skyscraper in downtown Santo Ileso that acts as their new headquarters for whatever activities they still have to wrap up. Building the tower takes an incredible amount of cash, but it stands as a worthy symbol of everything the main characters have fought for.
Where does Saints Row go from here?
With "Saints Row" already having a season pass that promises three expansion packs with new locations and missions, it’s only natural for fans to wonder what lies in the game’s future. Since the base game places such an emphasis on the relationships of the Boss and their friends, it would make sense for the expansions to follow suite. This seems even more likely when you consider there are three roommates — one for each DLC.
If the season pass follows this route, the DLC could tie up loose ends and see the characters achieve what they’ve always wanted. Kev could continue trying to make it a television chef, Eli can work off his bad investments, or the Boss could help Neenah replace her lost car. These paths would not only fit in with the game’s established themes, but would also give fans the chance to spend more time with their favorite roommate.
It also seems likely that one or more of the packs could include more of Marshall Defense Industries. After all, it’s the only main faction from the base game that still has a considerable amount of power and resources after the story’s conclusion. It would be interesting to see how differently Marshall is handled under Myra’s leadership, and the base game’s story does hint that the conflict between them and the Saints has yet to be resolved. Only time will tell what kind of mischief the Saints will get into next.