Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 is still relatively in development, as Ninja Theory confirmed in a new teaser reel highlighting the game's intensive production.
"What we're doing right now is building a good chunky slice of the game before we then move into full production to build out the rest," explains studio founder Tameem Antoniades. "Hellblade was very special to us and we didn't want to do a straight sequel. We wanted to do something extra special and so we're making our lives as difficult as possible in that pursuit."
In the name of geographical authenticity, for example, Ninja Theory has sent its art and audio teams to Iceland to combine on-site photography and photogrammetry with satellite data in order to create an accurate ninth century Iceland in-game. Likewise, to give combat an improved sense of weight and power, Melina Juergens, the actor behind Senua herself, has been training for two years, and the studio's animators have also received combat training.
All of this work is highlighted in the two-minute video which Antoniades acknowledged "is not a trailer" but rather "a montage of the kind of work" that has gone into the game. It's a heady flash of cuts between models, animation rigging, art references, studio setups, and the many other bones of production, all set to eerie narration.
"Will you follow me on this journey?" a woman, presumably Senua, asks in the teaser. "By sea. By land. And dreams. Through the valleys of despair, over the mountains of rage, into the depths of fear in my mind. You might see me as weak, but I will show you what lies beyond my eyes."
The narration shifts as more, and more masculine, voices join in. "With our swords, we will forge new stories," it continues. "To strike the gods that haunt us. We will embrace our suffering, soothe our scars and grief, and break their siege on our minds. They may see them as gods, but we... we will show them what lies behind our eyes."
When Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 was officially revealed during E3 2019, it was also the first new Unreal Engine 5 game confirmed for Xbox Series X. It'll be interesting to see how the sequel continues its journey into mental health after Ninja Theory was praised for its depiction of psychosis and in 2019 announced it was working on a new project to explore mental health. Judging from this new teaser, if anything, the studio is leaning even further into the psychological, but exactly how remains to be seen.
Hellblade 2 was notably absent from the main Xbox E3 2021 showcase, but we did get a ton of other announcements – here's what you missed.