Hellblade 2 is set to bring Senua back for a sequel that's already shaping up to be one of the most highly anticipated upcoming Xbox Series games. First announced back in 2019, we're still awaiting a confirmed release date, but as of right now, Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 is currently expected to arrive sometime this year as one of the new games for 2023 to watch out for.
Everything we've seen so far of the new action-adventure certainly looks impressive, with trailers showing off the visual fidelity and detailed environments. With Hellblade 2 being developed on Unreal Engine 5, it's clear to see how developer Ninja Theory is striving to use new technologies such as photogrammetry techniques and new full face and body motion capture tools. While we wait for more news, read on to find everything we know so far about Hellblade 2.
Hellblade 2 release date
Xbox Game Studios is yet to confirm a Hellblade 2 release date. It's been a while since the release of the 2017 original, and with Hellblade 2 made official back in 2019, all signs from the studio point to this sequel being a far more expanded and detailed experience – particularly with respect to the tough issues portrayed throughout the first game.
We might be waiting a little while for Ninja Theory to give us a Hellblade 2 release date. Back in June 2021, the studio gave us a development update for Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 where it explained the game had yet to enter "full production". Still, a lot can change in a year, so here's hoping we will be reunited with Senua soon enough.
Hellblade 2 platforms
In a Hellblade 2 gameplay trailer released in 2021, Ninja Theory confirmed that the game will launch on Xbox Series X, PC, and Xbox Cloud Gaming, meaning there is potential for Xbox One owners to be able to play Hellblade 2 via the Cloud Gaming service. As with all Xbox Game Studios releases, this also means that Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 will be available on Xbox Game Pass on day one.
Will Hellblade 2 be on PS5?
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice was originally released on PC and PlayStation 4 in 2017, with Xbox One and Nintendo Switch versions arriving later down the line. So it's reasonable to ask: will Hellblade 2 be on PS5? Sadly, for you PlayStation owners out there, the answer is no. Back at E3 2018, Microsoft announced a series of four studio acquisitions – Playground Games, Undead Labs, Compulsion Games, and crucially, Ninja Theory. As a result, this means Hellblade 2 will be exclusive to Xbox Series X and PC
Latest Hellblade 2 news
While it's been a long time since we last received any substantial Hellblade 2 news, that hasn't stopped Ninja Theory from sending some more teasers out into the world. The latest came as part of Epic Games' State of Unreal presentation as part of GDC 2023, where Ninja Theory used a new tech demo to showcase how it is "pushing the boundaries of realtime facial animation" with Unreal Engine 5 and the new Metahuman Animator. It's impressive, and you can watch it for yourself above.
Hellblade 2 concept art
Ninja Theory aren't shy about sharing occasional glimpses at the development process, giving us insights into the production, and with our anticipation for Hellblade 2 at a pretty high level, these morsels are very welcome. In January 2022, the official Ninja Theory twitter account shared a piece of Hellblade 2 concept art, giving us another look at a potential location for the game. We see Senua standing on a cliff, overlooking a small settlement looking worse for wear. Smoldering fires sat next to crashing waves, a thin volcanic stream carving through the ground with beached boats littering the village. This looks like a rough place to be, and is that a massive knife next to Senua?
Hellblade 2 trailer
Ninja Theory delivered an extended six minute Hellblade 2 trailer at The Game Awards 2021. The footage shared is evocative and powerful, showing Senua leading a group attempting, and by all indications, failing to trap a giant. Equally breathtaking and horrifying, we see the plan to set fire and spear the hell out of the huge figure unravel, as it crawls towards Senua, pounding and chewing her group as it goes. We have the return of some familiar elements from Hellblade, most notably the whispered voices swirling around the inside of Senua's head, along with the sound of battle and fire, the audio is intensely effective.
Hellblade 2 gameplay
Senua's Sacrifice: Hellblade was a third-person action-adventure game – it was tightly designed, with Ninja Theory focusing on just a handful of mechanics that were executed well. From what we have seen of it so far, the Hellblade 2 gameplay is set to offer more of the same. While Ninja Theory was once known for creating fast-paced action games – like Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and DmC: Devil May Cry – Senua's Sacrifice was more subdued, with a greater focus on considered storytelling and inner-turmoil.
That could be set to change. In an interview with Vandal, combat designer Juan Fernández explained that Ninja Theory was 'raising the bar" with respect to Hellblade 2 combat. He noted that development of the first game was completed by fewer than 20 people, and that Ninja Theory has drastically scaled up its production efforts for the sequel – as a result, we should expect the Hellblade 2 combat to have more depth, and for enemies to be more varied.
Hellblade 2 story
Ninja Theory is yet to reveal all that much about the Hellblade 2 story. So far, the studio has focused on the technology behind Senua's Saga and the breathtaking locations it has been able to create – think back to that 2019 reveal, and it was all huge landscapes, swamps filled with skulls and bones, volcanic eruptions, sacrifices, and mass hysteria. That all said, story will no doubt be key to Hellblade 2.
Because for all the praise on Senua's Sacrifice: Hellblade, a huge portion of that was for the narrative, and the powerful message that Senua's struggle and journey delivered. In the original we follow a solitary Senua, armed with the skull of her lover Dillon, desperate to reclaim his soul from Helheim and the goddess Hela. Through the course of the game we are shown flashes of back story, the relationships with Senua's parents, her psychological struggles, as well as her village being destroyed by Norse raiders. At the climax we see Senua accepting her condition, embracing who she is; we don't know where she is off to for Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2, but we're eager to journey with her once again.
Hellblade 2 Unreal Engine 5
Very excitingly for Xbox Series X owners is the fact that Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 is one of the first games for the consoles being built in Unreal Engine 5. It's another indicator that Ninja Theory aren't holding anything back for this sequel, and are going all out to create an adventure worthy of the new generation. Clearing up any doubts about its ambition, Ninja Theory founder Tameem Antoniades said that Hellblade 2 will make its 2017 predecessor "look like an indie game".
That's a bold claim, but everything we have seen of Hellblade 2 in Unreal Engine 5 has been impressive. The landscapes look deeply detailed, the lighting and audio design is phenomenal, and the work Ninja Theory is doing with Senua's updated character model, as it strides closer to photorealism, is worth paying attention to.
Hellblade 2 development
Ninja theory has been transparent about the Hellblade 2 development cycle, which it is working on alongside the experimental Project Mara. From providing updates throughout its production to giving fans a behind-the-scenes look at its development – it's why we understand if it takes Ninja Theory a little bit of time to deliver this one.
In the developer update shared in June 2021, Ninja Theory mentioned that it was "building real costumes and scanning them in''. And then, later in September 2021, the studio shared a tweet detailing its photogrammetry efforts – showing those costumes being set aflame! Attention to detail like this, scanning in burnt and damaged costumes indicate that this is all going to look very authentic.
Senua herself, actor Melina Juergens has given us even more detail, in a video of behind-the-scenes footage showing the grueling and intense combat training she's been undergoing. In the original, the combat was relatively simple, so this is an encouraging sign that we're getting an expanded and elaborate combat system. Hellblade 2 has been confirmed to be set in the stunning landscape of Iceland, and to create the required clouds to accompany those dramatic landscapes, Ninja Theory gave us a glimpse of the cloud forming technology they're using to provide that foreboding atmosphere.
For more from Microsoft Gaming, here's a detailed breakdown of what every Xbox Game Studios team is working on.