If you've read our Saints Row IV: Re-Elected/Gat out of Hell review, the chances are you're either in the process of, or have just finished downloading the game. That means you plan to go toe-to-toe with Satan, but first you're going to need to learn a few tricks and develop some of your combat skills. You can't pick a fight with the most evil force the universe has ever known (on his turf) unless you're a lean, mean, demon killing machine. That's where we come in.
One of the first game mechanics that you'll be introduced to is flight, and it's one that will allow you to gather up truck loads of Soul Clusters. These blue orbs are used to upgrade your abilities, and in the early parts of the game you'll want to spend a solid 10 to 15 minutes doing nothing but collecting them. Don't be cheap here, try to gather up well over 100, and make sure to pass through any that you see when you're on your way to complete one of the game's quests. Unless you're in imminent danger you should always make time for Clusters.
The reason these Soul Clusters are important is because they are the currency used to purchase upgrades to your passive and active abilities. On the passive side, this means developing your Flight and Super Sprint, two essential traits to moving around the map and staying alive. On the active side, this will help you develop things like your Blast, Summons, Stomp and Aura abilities, which fall into the more offensive categories. The more Soul Clusters you have the further you can develop your abilities. To see a list of them open up the Arcane section of your in-game menu.
Leveling up Johny Gat or Kinzie Kensington (they're interchangeable) will also have a major impact on your abilities and upgrades. In fact, you can have all the Soul Clusters you want, but if you haven't reached a high enough level you won't be able to develop your skills. A good trick is to wait until you reach a new level, then check to see what upgrades you've unlocked. This will give you an idea of how many Soul Clusters you'll need to purchase the ability upgrades that you desire. If you're wondering how to level up, that's done by accessing the Quest Log of your in-game menu, then completing the tasks that each of the non-playable characters have for you. This is also how you progress the story.
It might sound like we're being redundant here, but Upgrades are actually separate from your Arcane abilities and Quest Log, although they are tied loosely with leveling up. The major difference is that you purchase these upgrades using another type of currency called Wages, and this is earned primarily by completing Quests.
If you open up the Upgrades menu you'll see several options, but our favorite falls under the Bonuses category. It's here that you can do things like swap your wages for XP, or even those ever so valuable Soul Clusters. In fact, the second tier of Wages for Clusters gave us 80 Soul Clusters, good for eight upgrades to our passive and active abilities. This makes everything in Hell seem much easier.
It won't be until you complete you first batch of Quests that you're introduced to these makeshift anti-air devices, and they are a proper pain in the butt when you're trying to fly around Hell. In total the game tells us there are 26 of these, and you might be better off if you find and destroy them all as soon as you can. Luckily, we have a formula that works quite well.
Our first encounter was a bad one. We thought we'd be smart and defeat the enemies from afar, but it seemed as if they grew in numbers rather than lowered. It's then that we decided to go with a blitz attack, which has worked 100 percent of the time with almost no fuss.
When you spot a Spire, approach it and use your Stomp ability to clear out the enemies that guard it. The more you've upgraded your Stomp (we told you to gather up Soul Clusters) the easier this will be. from there you can approach the center and rip out the heart uncontested. You might get shot at a bit once it's over, but with the Spire down you can simply fly away.
Some of the game's enemies seem to be able to take a crazy amount of damage. Far more than we expected they would. It's for this reason that we started to really value movement during combat. The problem is that during battles you're often confined to a small area, something that can make flight a bit of a problem.
If flying a short distance away isn't an option, don't forget to use your Super Sprint, something that will make it extremely hard for your enemies to deal damage. It won't last forever, but once again if you've been snatching up those Soul Clusters you probably have it upgraded to the point where stamina isn't an issue any more.