Wardens are an alien race in Saints Row IV.
The Wardens are large, monstrous armored bipedal aliens that possess various glowing patterns and spikes all over their bodies (with some spikes even making up what appears to be their teeth.) An interesting thing to note about the glowing patterns and spikes is that certain Wardens have different colors to the patterns and spikes on their bodies depending on what type of superpower that they grant The Protagonist when they are absorbed. The following are all of the known colors that appear on the various patterns and spikes that line the Warden's bodies in the game:
The Wardens make various appearances all throughout the storyline. One notable instance in which they appear is every time The Protagonist's Notoriety is at level six (the highest level in the game). They are also easily one of the tallest enemies in the game as well; being taller than both The Protagonist and even many of the other Zin troops.
Wardens are among the most powerful enemies in the game and going up against one unprepared can be extremely hazardous and can have an unpredictable outcome. Wardens have the ability to quickly overpower and incapacitate both The Protagonist as well as any other nearby simulation programs if they are not careful. Physically, Wardens are immensely strong, and are able to almost effortlessly knock The Protagonist back with one hit and cause them to be launched and land a short distance away like the Brute from Saints Row: The Third, although there are no quick time events to dodge the attack as the melee hit is much faster than a Brute's melee hit.
Also, like many other different enemies in the game, Wardens also have access to Super Powers (courtesy of Zinyak.) The most common powers that Wardens typically wield in battle are:
In addition to their Super Powers, they are also armed with wrist-mounted laser rifles which they can utilize to great effect in attacking The Protagonist from a distance; allowing them to cover a very large area in a very short period of time. The way a Warden's laser rifle functions is rather similar to how the Lasergun Arms that Murderbots wield are used (the only difference being that the Wardens seem to be able to control where their lasers actually fire.)
Even though they were apparently intended to not have this ability at first, after The Protagonist defeats the very first Warden (who in turn grants the player the Blast superpower), Zinyak added the addition of energy shields to their code, which completely covers their bodies and are always active; making them invulnerable to all non Super Power-Based attacks. However the shields do have one weakness that allows The Protagonist to take them down. The shields can be temporarily disabled when hit with any of the four Super Powers that The Protagonist acquires throughout the game. With the shields disabled, The Protagonist is free to attack the Warden with any weapon or attack of their choosing until the shield reactivates.
Once a Warden has received a sufficient amount of damage, they become incapacitated until The Protagonist flies inside them and performs a special kill move. Should The Protagonist fail to execute the kill move successfully, or delay in performing it for a long enough amount of time, the Warden regains some of its health and resume combat.
Most weapons available in the game are capable of damaging the Warden (since they are not truly indestructible; the shield is capable of being disabled.) Weapons with high rates of fire and shotguns at close range can do lots of damage, as the Wardens surprising amount of speed and agility can make it an extreme challenge to consistently hit them, as they can sprint at a surprisingly fast and can Super Jump onto buildings. Super Powers can also be used to momentarily stun Wardens or increase the damage done by The Protagonist, and Buff can be used to constantly keep the Wardens shield from reactivating (leaving the Warden at The Protagonist's mercy.)
Warden Super Powers can also be countered by dodging the attacks or using Super Powers to catch the Warden's Blast or Telekinesis attacks. Also, by purchasing upgrades to increase resistance to explosions and unlocking the additional ability, Explosions - No Ragdoll, The Protagonist gains the ability to almost completely negate the Warden's Blast Super Power since The Protagonist can no longer be knocked over by explosions and their natural resistance to explosions has now been increased significantly (the Warden's Blast Super Power acts as an explosion-based attack, which is what allows this technique to work perfectly.)
Once the Warden has lost all of its health, it becomes stunned and a prompt appears on screen. By pressing the corresponding button/key, this results in The Protagonist flying into the Warden and merging with it. Upon merging, a quick-time event starts a bar that appears on the bottom of the screen that shows how close The Protagonist is to either officially killing the Warden or being forced back out of it. Buttons/keys appear on screen at this stage of the kill move, and they must be pressed rapidly in order to fill the bar that appears until it completely fills purple in order to destroy the Warden.
This must be completed as fast as possible, because the bar decreases progressively faster the longer the move is performed until it becomes far too difficult to complete and fails, resulting in the Warden forcing The Protagonist out if its body, recovering some of its health and reactivating it's shields, and resuming combat.
The Kill Move is the only ability that can be used to completely eliminate Wardens, as they cannot be killed by any other means of attack. As soon as a direct flight path to the incapacitated Warden becomes available, the key to initiate the kill move appears on screen and the only other action The Protagonist can do is move until they are out of the line of sight, the Warden recovers or the Kill Move is performed.
Super Homies can use their Super Powers to remove the Wardens' shields and can help to damage and incapacitate them. A full party of Super Homies is capable of quickly incapacitating a Warden without aid from The Protagonist, which can make dealing with Wardens a much simpler task. Even on Hardcore difficulty, a Super Homie can engage a Warden one on one, although this would take a long time and would be better if The Protagonist helped to eliminate the Warden sooner. Super Homies would also perform better with SMGs and Rifles as they can effectively Wardens at range.
- As a result of The Protagonist having such a high level of Notoriety in the simulation, the sky turns a deep orange and begin to rain down fire whenever a Warden appears in The Simulation, although the fire rain does not harm The Protagonist.
- All NPCs, both Zin and Civilians, disappear when a Warden appears due to Notoriety. In many cases, this can be an easier situation to deal with than the second-highest notoriety level.
- The way in which The Protagonist performs the quick-time event required to kill a Warden is similar to the way that Neo destroys Agent Smith at the end of the film The Matrix.
- The quick-time event required to defeat a Warden becomes more difficult the longer it goes on, until the bar decreases even when the player is tapping the correct control.
- The Buff power allows for bullets to shoot through the Warden's shield while active.
- If in a vehicle or aircraft, the Warden jumps high into the air and body slam the vehicle, destroying it instantly.
- As the Mech Suit is a Temporary Weapon weapon rather than a vehicle, it is still possible to fight a Warden using the Mech, although it is not possible to trigger the finishing move until exiting the Mech.
- The Warden may also perform this move if the player spends too much time in the air, by gliding around or sprinting up buildings.
- When fighting a Warden, entering a shop and opening the shop window may remove all Notoriety and cause the Warden to despawn. This may leave The Simulation empty, with no civilians or cars. If this happens, The Ship is also empty. Entering an activity or saving and reloading fixes this problem.
- If a Warden's shield hasn't been disabled after 1 minute, Kinzie reminds the player to use their Super Powers to take down the Warden' shields.
- Wardens are able to teleport if they are stuck or glitched inside of buildings or certain areas.
- Wardens are similar to the Brawler from Prototype 2, along with some other elements of the game, such as Stomp and Death From Above.
- Whenever a Warden spawns in The Simulation, a unique metal mix of the Zin theme plays as long as the Warden remains active.
- Even though they are given an official name, it is never explained anywhere exactly what race the Wardens actually are supposed to be. Although given the equipment that they use, it's possible that they are simply members of a more powerful race of Zin.
- When The Protagonist battles the very first Warden in the game to unlock the Blast Super Power, when The Protagonist questions what the Warden is, Kinzie simply replies with, "I don't know. It isn't reading like a normal Zin." Which hints that the Wardens might be members of another alien race that Zinyak had previously conquered (which would explain why they were imprisoned.)
- Using the "instantwarden" cheat allows the player to immediately spawn a Warden.
- If the Warden's intro get's interrupted, any Homies recruited do not attack the Warden and are useless for the entire duration of the fight.
- The view distance is decreased during a Warden fight.