Saints Row: How to Unlock and Play Co-Op

You can’t build a criminal empire all on your own. You need friends. Saints Row understands this, which is why the game lets players invite their friends to join the fun via co-op.

Saints Row
Photo: Deep Silver

The Saints Row games have primarily been single-player experiences. After all, the franchise started during the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 era, when developers hadn’t quite gotten the hang of drop-in/drop-out co-op much less open-world online multiplayer. Now that the Saints Row reboot is giving the series a fresh start, players can join their comrades whenever they want.

Right out of the gate, gamers can team up with their friends online in Saints Row. They don’t have to complete any special missions, enter secret codes, or purchase in-game boons to play co-op. The ability to wreak havoc on Santa Ileso is unlocked right out of the gate, but actually accessing that feature strangely isn’t as straightforward as some players might like. Here’s how you do it.

Saints Row: How to Play Co-Op Multiplayer

Since co-op is unlocked from the very beginning, you would think that you can access it from the main menu simply by selecting the “Co-op Campaign” option. However, things aren’t quite that easy.

Before you can actually start teaming up with someone, you need to decide who will be the co-op host. So far as that goes, the game gives you four options: Host Game, Join Friend, Host New Game, and Matchmaking.

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The Host Game option lets you team with an ally using one of your normal campaign saves. Once you’ve selected that mode, simply choose the save file you want to use, and Saints Row will load you into it, ready for some co-op action. From there, you can just play as normal and wait for a friend or random stranger to join your game, or you can pick and choose who can join your crew.

While playing a co-op campaign, go to the pause menu and select the “Co-op” option, which brings up three more choices: Join Friend, Invite Friend, and Co-op Settings. “Invite Friend” will bring up all of your friends who are currently online and playing the game. Simply select the person you want to play with, and the game will send them an invitation. If they accept, a popup will ask you if you want your friend to join your game (even though you just sent them an invitation stating you want them to). Confirm the notification, and your friend is now a part of your in-game world.

If you don’t want to host a game and would rather join someone else’s world, you can use the “Join Friend” option either from the main menu or while in a co-op campaign. The process basically works the same as inviting a friend but functions in reverse since you are asking a friend permission to team up. If you’d prefer to team up with a random gamer, the “Matchmaking” option is right up your alley. That setting works a lot like “Join Friend” except instead of selecting from a list of friends, it pulls a random player’s name out of a hat and tries to pair them with you. You don’t have to send them an invite since the game automatically does that for you, but the randomly chosen player still has to let you in

While those are all of the main multiplayer modes available in Saints Row, you can still tweak your experience by selecting “Co-op Settings” from either the options menu or the co-op menu. You can change a session’s privacy settings to let anyone join via matchmaking (Open to All), only let friends join (Friends Only), or only let players you invite in (Invite Only). You can also turn on friendly fire and tweak its damage output, determine whether visiting guests can customize your HQ, and even activate the ability to prank your ally.

Of course, the multiplayer mode has several limitations. For starters, if you don’t have an active Xbox Live Gold or PlayStation Plus subscription, you can’t participate in multiplayer no matter what. Also, crossplay isn’t implemented as of writing, so if you are playing on Xbox Series X and want to invite someone on PlayStation 5, you’re currently out of luck. And as a final warning, even if you turn on the option to prank allies, you can’t do so unless they also activate that option. It would hardly be fair if you could turn your friend into a walking vending machine but they couldn’t return the favor.

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