Agents of Mayhem is a mutated lovechild, conceived as a result of a threesome Saints Row had with Overwatch and Borderlands. It’s time for us to join the party that is Agents of Mayhem and see what we are getting ourselves into in the run up to its release on the 18th of August.
Is this a Saints Row Sequel?
If you’re a Saints Row nerd like I am, you may remember the canon ending of Gat out of Hell, in which earth was recreated and a new Saints Row universe was born – in a sense. Kinzie, Matt Miller, and Johnny Gat appeared to be cops and were about to interrogate a woman by the name of Brimstone. So far, a couple of things link back to that scene – DLC Gat is a cop, and Persephone Brimstone is the leader of M.A.Y.H.E.M with a shady past. No sign of Kinzie and Miller at this point. As it stands, Agents of Mayhem sits as more of a spiritual successor with affectionate nods to the Saints Row series and is not considered a direct sequel, nor is it another Saints Row game as we have come to know them – it’s kinda like its second cousin, twice removed, or a spin-off to a popular sitcom. A new beginning in an alternate Saints universe, with some familiar home comforts.
So, super evil organisation L.E.G.I.O.N (The League of Evil Gentleman Intent On Obliterating Nations), headed by the intimidatingly named ‘Dr. Babylon’, have achieved total world domination and since turned their attention to Seoul, South Korea. M.A.Y.H.E.M and its ragtag agents are the only ones standing between L.E.G.I.O.N and their plans for the world’s future…
The opening cutscene transported me back to the late 80’s early 90’s, with its Saturday morning cartoon style animation – except, had I been watching this as an eight year old, I might have learned more than I bargained for from a ‘show’ that has recently had its very own ‘leaked’ sex tape…Nice one, ‘Gregory Prickington’.
“Some things can’t be airbrushed away, like herpes” – Agent Hollywood.
Meet the Agents – Mayhem Time, Fun Time!
Before long the room was alive with the sound of KA-BOOM! Agents of Mayhem ensures you cause devastation from the word go in a multitude of ways, as demonstrated by the titular agents. In the opening mission you get to grips with your first three agents as you hunt down your target, Dr. Babylon. Starting off with agent Hollywood, (aka Rod stone, or Gregory Prickington in his ‘adult’ acting roles…Thanks for the money shot, Rod) he is your standard all rounder to introduce you to the combat mechanics of the game. To start off with, this consists of three main aspects: your weapon/primary attack, special ability, and mayhem ability. The Mayhem Ability is activated once you’ve filled up the mayhem meter and is a limited timed frenzy of, you’ve guessed it, mayhem. In Hollywood’s case his special ability is attention seeker, aka your friendly neighbourhood bouncing grenade, and his mayhem ability is Action Hero – meaning such flash, much bang as he dons his shades in preparation for explosions galore.
A big ass sailor called Hardtack and sky pirate Fortune come next in the line-up, and so you have your first team ready to take on Dr. Babylon. Of course, Dr. Babylon escapes and, hey, who’s he talking to…Morningstar?! (The Morningstar were a gang featured in Saints Row 3, Saints fans!) In Agents of Mayhem, Morningstar is the L.E.G.I.O.N overlord; appearing much like the Emperor in Star Wars. The Easter eggs don’t end here folks!
Once you have your team of three agents in the field you can instantaneously switch between them at your heart’s content and is a successful mechanic to use in a game that is single player driven, yet centred around a team dynamic. We have seen this utilised in the ever popular LEGO games, Grand Theft Auto V (admittedly a much slower transition period between character switching), and platformer Trine. If you are someone who likes to vary between playstyles at a moments notice, strategize, or are just plain indecisive – that’s me! – there is a devastatingly diverse roster at your fingertips.
There are twelve agents in total: Fortune, Hardtack, Hollywood, Kingpin, Yeti, Scheherazade, Rama, Oni, Braddock, Daisy, Red Card, and Joule (Not counting our DLC characters, Johnny Gat and Lazarus). You’ll find you favour certain characters quite quickly, I found Fortune, Rama, and Yeti – though I had him for a limited time – to be my favourites so far and all reflect very different class types:
- Rama the ranged hunter wields a B.O.W (Balanced Omnitactical Weapon). Her Mayhem Ability, Patient Zero, spreads a plague dealing in DoT (Damage over Time) and if you want to add insult to injury you can shoot the buggers with an explosive Death Trap arrow, which goes BOOM on impact.
- Fortune, with whom agility and stun are key, is suitably Rogue-ish to suit her piratical nature. Her Mayhem Ability, Stunning Glory, releases her drone Glory for an AoE (Area of Effect) stun, allowing you to bound around and take out your enemies with your pistols or Cannonball special ability.
- Yeti, who is…Hmm, he sounds just like Oleg, and is stereotypically Russian…Hey, hold the phone! Is that…It actually is Oleg! Oleg has become Mr. Freeze? He looks…cool? Sorry. Anyway, this frozen behemoth acts as a Tank dealing in AoE and close combat. With the Icethrower, a flamethrower of ice, Yeti chills his enemies to the bone and when it ‘overcools’ becomes a deadly melee weapon, creating devastation in conjunction with his Mayhem Ability: Prisoner of Ice.
These are just some of the possibilities at hand, each agent has a set of abilities alongside your Mayhem, Weapon, and Special primaries. There are passive effects relating to traversal and combat boosts, alongside two specialisations. As an example, Fortune begins with the Master Programmer specialisation, which means she possesses the ability to hack tougher access points. Our agents can also traverse the city in different ways, while they all possess the ability to triple jump, some can dash forward in mid air, others can become invisible or ‘can scale walls like some kind of arachnid person!’
Volition’s Fiddly Bits
In your base, the ARK (Adaptive Roaming Kommand centre), you are introduced to Gremlin, of Gremlin Tech, and Claymore – your big, hairy Scottish Q who runs the armoury. Claymore deals in character upgrades (which can also be done at any time from the hub menu) and Gremlin provides one-use tech crafted from salvaged materials that you store in your inventory. As you advance in the game you eventually unlock L.E.G.I.O.N Tech by completing missions and L.E.G.I.O.N activities. The first piece of Gremlin Tech I was able to create came in a batch of 3, I initially thought it would be some sort of scattershot and had to double take when I realised that I had unleashed a boulder encased in an energy field down the street. Sorry Jim, you’ll be alright! Probably…
While in the ARK I also stumbled across the ‘Wreck Room’ which we didn’t get time to try out, but sets itself up as an X-Men style danger room, in which your characters use VR to undertake a series of trials or challenges to hone their skills. Before going back into the field you can have a look at the Agency Level, similar to the city takeover exhibited in the Saints Row series, which tells you the strength of M.A.Y.H.E.M’s presence in Seoul and the objectives you need to follow to increase it:
- Recruit agents
- Activate warp points
- Level up agents
- Agent operations
- Purchase core upgrades – there are collectible Crystal Shards akin to the function of data clusters from Saints Row IV. Once you have enough there are three core upgrades per character which significantly enhance their stats and abilities. One of the first Core Upgrades I acquired was ‘Full Sail’ for Fortune, which means her pistols are overcharged for the duration of Mayhem to explosive effect.
- Acquire vehicles
Is Agents of Mayhem worth your time?
Following from Saints Row, these games never set out to be revolutionary masterpieces. The controls are easy to pick up, are not overly sophisticated and allow the big throbbing heart of the franchise to take centre stage: its crass spirit, farcical nature, and pure bonkers chaos. While the witticisms during the time we had with the game weren’t quite as tight as my dear old Brit’s from the previous games, it would be a challenge not to crack a smile – particularly if you are a fan of the Saints row series and notice the smattering of easter eggs during your time in Agents of Mayhem. There’s a hugely diverse set of characters, bringing a lot of fresh ideas to the table, and while character customisation and dildo bats will be sorely missed, we look forward to getting our hands on Agents of Mayhem and seeing what the full package has to offer; as an unattached single lady, following her divorce from the Row.
Catch the Volition team on Thursdays at 22:00 pm GMT which provide some serious insight to the playable agents in-game and provide some late night laughs!
The Agents of Mayhem release date has been confirmed as August 15 in North America and August 18 in Europe on PS4, Xbox One and Windows PC.