How to build an empire with the criminal enterprises of Saints Row

As the New Saints are beginning their core empire, it will be vital for them to extend their reach to various parts of the city, not only because of the influence, but also because of the money that goes with it. Setting up side activities, or as Volition calls them Criminal Ventures, around town will be a key activity in the Saints Row reboot, rewarding players with all sorts of customization and items. These companies allow the new saints to build various businesses in and around Santo Ileso. However, while they seem somewhat legitimate to the untrained eye, these so-called side hustles are central fronts of their illicit activities.

Criminal Ventures come in various styles and types of businesses, each with a unique type of mission to complete. You’ll initially access Criminal Ventures in Saints HQ, a huge church that the gang has taken over and started to make their own. A planning table inside contains a city map with different parcels marked for purchase around Santo Ileso. Here, you will decide which Criminal Venture to build and where.

Our time with the game only had two companies available to build, with a mission to execute in each. The first thing I tried was Chalupacabra, a food truck facade for the convenient drug trade in the city, very much in the vein of Los Pollos Hermanos de Breaking bad. His introductory job sent me across town to steal a food truck from a now rival business to take to the newly built retail store and make it our flagship lunch / drug dispensary.

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row of saints

Bright Future is the other Criminal Venture, an eco-friendly recycling company that sends The Boss in search of trucks hauling vats of volatile toxic waste for large corporations to dispose of. Driving these payloads is dangerous, with the barrels splashing and sometimes exploding at the rear. To be successful, you need to get them to your goal quickly and intact because losing their first two containers will usually lead to more being lost.

Speaking with some developers involved in the business side missions, they revealed that there would be a total of 15 Criminal Ventures to place around Santo Ileso in the base game, and more after launch. “Some of them are inspired by past Saints Row games like Insurance Fraud,” said Ray Hazlip, Saints Row project manager, confirming that the ridiculous self-destruct minigame will return.

Lead producer Roje Smith said he’s still “playing in traffic,” which sounds as fun as ever in the context of Saints Row. And without going into too much detail, they told us about a military surplus company that involves weapons testing and another that will require the use of the new wingsuit.

Each Criminal Venture will earn unique rewards for the Saints, like the previously mentioned experimental artillery you’ll try out, new clothes for The Boss, or even a sitcom-inspired hoverboard. Some of the more “wacky” items, vehicles, or weapons in the game will come from completing these illicit campaigns, as well as gaining extensive experience to level up and keep your cash flow in good shape throughout the game.

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Ultimately, where you place your Criminal Ventures around town is a small part of building the world that you, the player, will bring to Saints Row. You have complete control over which business goes into which open lot, allowing for a convenient location for the kinds of missions the Venture can assign you, or if you just think it’s fun to place a toxic waste dump in the middle of the fancy part of city, you can do that too. In a way, it’s a way to customize the city to look how you would like it with a layout that will likely be different from your friends.

Saints Row seems to have a meaty set of side quests with the inclusion of Criminal Ventures, bringing some fan-favorite activities back into the fold and starting some new traditions in the process. As we get closer to the launch of Saints Row on February 25, we are likely to find out even more about the shady deals. Until then, visit our Saints Row hub by clicking the banner below to learn more about the game and read our cover story available now for digital version. Game informer subscribers.