Virtual Steelport has a large mothership hovering over Downtown. At 530m above water level is a visible barrier, preventing access to the mothership.
Notable differences include:
- The Syndicate Tower has been replaced by a large Zin tower, which connects to the Zin mothership hovering over the city.
- Three Cribs that the Saints owned (Shaundi's Loft, Saints HQ and Zimos' Pad) have been destroyed, and chunks of rubble are floating upwards in each location.
- Many buildings in Loren Square have been changed, including the Steelport Towers, and the Deckers and Luchadores towers. In the case of the Deckers and Luchadores towers, they have been replaced by hotspots.
- The Steelport Arena and Angel's Gym are gone and are replaced with Hotspots.
- Rondini's Boat Dock is simply absent.
- The PR Center is mostly replaced by a Tower, but the rest of the block is replaced with generic buildings.
- Powder, Safeword, Steelport News and Abandoned office building have been replaced by generic buildings.
- 3 Count Casino is as it was under the Luchadores control, except the Killbane statue is replaced by a Zinyak statue.
- Burns Hill Reactors is mostly as it was under the control of the Deckers, with the exception of the central cooling tower, which is ruined in a similar state as the three destroyed Cribs
- Every Planet Saints has been replaced by a Planet Zin, with a redesigned interior. However Saints Flow vending machines and mascots remain unchanged.
- The interior of Image As Designed has been redone, and the sign changed to "Imagined as Edges".
- All ships are completely absent, although there are still docks and cranes around the city.
- Most bridges have been replaced by semi-covered Zin bridges featuring scanners at each end.
- The statue on Magarac Island is replaced with a statue of Zinyak.
- The water is colored red with squares in it.
- All police stations are replaced with generic buildings.
Notable buildings which are undamaged include:
- All Stores are in the same locations.
- Wesley Cutter Intl airport is unchanged.
- Smiling Jack's is unchanged.
- Broken Shillelagh is unchanged.
- Kinzie's Warehouse is intact, multiple rooms have been trashed and much of her belongings are still present. While Kinzie initially states that it is not safe, the Saints use this as a safehouse to plan against the Zin.
- The Sierra Point Guard Armory building is intact, although it now features a sliding door.
At the start of the game it is permanently night time, making the city seem dystopic. After being taken over, the lights in individual City Takeover territories change to blue instead of red, when a Hood is taken over, the over-all lighting changes while inside that hood, and after taking over 50% of any District, the sky above the Simulation while in that District changes from red to blue.
The sky in the Simulation changes 6 times throughout the game, gradually become lighter. Unlike Saints Row: The Third where time of day changes after the save is loaded, the sky only changes during and after certain missions.
- "Default" - during and after "The Fundamentals"
- "Vengeance" - after "The Real World"
- "Rage" - after "Matt's Back"
- "Reunited" - after "Welcome Back"
- "Empowered" - after "Hello Teacup"
- "Free" - during and after "Grand Finale Part Two"
After "Grand Finale Part Four" is completed, Simulation Override Menu is available in The Ship computer.
There are total 12 types of the sky available to choose:
- A promotion image of the Enter the Dominatrix DLC features Virtual Steelport with the Deckers, Luchadores and Morningstar towers visible on the background.
- License plates have "Zin Port" written on them.
- The term "Simulation 31" is only used when Zinyak is speaking to his Wardens. It is normally referred to as "the Simulation" or "the simulation" in dialogue, and "virtual Steelport" several times in on-screen text. Kinzie refers to it as "Fake Steelport" during one of her Side Quests.
- A peaceful, 1950s version of Steelport named Pleasanton appears in the mission "A Pleasant Day", before Playa is moved to a new, darker version. It is later revisited during "Hello Teacup".
- Pleasanton is named internally as "pville", referencing the film Pleasantville.
- The waves in the virtual water move outwards in a circle originating from directly beneath the centre of the mothership. The square pattern on the water moves north east.