Ninja Theory pushes the boundaries of technology in Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II

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Ninja Theory pushes the boundaries of technology in Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II

Enjoy cinematic immersion, next-level combat, beautifully realized visuals, and encapsulating sound.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade II Key Art

Bangkok, Thailand, 27 May 2024 – Xbox and Ninja Theory are thrilled to announce the release of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, now available on Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, Steam, and with Xbox Game Pass for console, PC, and cloud. In this sequel to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, join Senua once again in a brutal battle for survival through the myth and tyranny of Viking Iceland, where Ninja Theory pushes the boundaries of technology to create a gaming experience of cinematic immersion, beautifully realized visuals, and encapsulating sound.

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II is a game from the heart, where Ninja Theory’s small team of around 80 developers have crafted an experience that aims to immerse you in Senua’s world and story. The game is set in real locations in Iceland, recreated through satellite data and photogrammetry. The characters are digital doubles of real people and their costumes first made as real clothing through historically authentic techniques and materials.

For a first look into the game, check out the launch trailer, featuring a recorded studio version of “Animal Soul” from Norwegian artist Aurora.

To celebrate the launch, we’re thrilled to present the four core elements of the gameNarrative, Combat, Audio, and Environment. Here is an exclusive look behind the curtain at Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II’s pursuit of true immersion.

How Ninja Theory Strives to Make Senua the Most Human Character in Gaming

At the end of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, we see Senua come to terms with the loss of her love, Dillion, and soak in the physical and emotional journey she’s undertaken. Her sequel begins with the sum of that evolution; she’s hardened by her experiences, familiar and accepting of her condition, and tasked with a wider, more selfless goal. This emergence of Senua’s personality and extraversion of herself as she meets new people is an extraordinary step in making her feel real.

Mental health consultant on the Hellblade series, Professor Paul Fletcher, notes the tonal shift between the two games: “The hallmark of [Senua’s Sacrifice] was it was totally enveloped by a darkness, and I think she’s emerging from that and finding a different meaning.”

Senua still hears voices in her head – the ever-present mental load of the Furies – but now has more control over them. Stage Director Lara Derham adds, “She can choose whether to respond to that or not. She has agency in a way she didn’t have in the first game, and that evolution really is key.”

If you need a catch-up on the story so far, Ninja Theory has put together a recap video (below) to refresh you on the events of Senua’s journey.

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How Performance Capture and Stunts Created Next-Level Combat

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Motion capture has been part of Ninja Theory’s heritage for a long time. Now, with greater access to state-of-the-art technology – including its very own performance capture studio nestled within the walls of its Cambridge HQ – Ninja Theory is once again primed to break its own barriers within Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II.

While the first Hellblade used performance capture for its cinematic moments, in the sequel almost every in-game movement is performed by real-world actors and scanned in, to ensure the most realistic, human experience possible. According to Studio Head Dom Matthews, capture for the combat sequences alone took almost 70 full days to complete.

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Combat in Hellblade II is intentional and crafted to reflect Senua’s struggle, with stunt performers enhancing its authenticity that is seldom offered by wholly calculated digital character rigging.

“We wanted to bring a sense of brutality and struggle to one-on-one combat,” says Benoit Macon, combat director on Hellblade II. “There is a sense of connection between the combat and the narrative.”

Headphones Required – Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II’s Binaural Audio Is Like Nothing You’ve Ever Heard

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If you’ve played Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, you will be more than familiar with its incredible audio design; most notably the memorable, incessant dialogue that goes on inside Senua’s mind throughout the course of the game. While the first game used audio techniques simply for Senua’s internal dialogue, the sequel makes sound trickery an integral part of the game.

Hellblade II utilizes binaural audio, a method of recording sound using two microphones to create a 3D soundscape as you would hear it with your own ears. As Senua walks through an abandoned village, you can hear the remnants of its fate echoing from the past. On the calmer, open coasts, you will hear the distant crashing of waves and ambient winds.

The Furies’ voices she hears throughout the game can still be overwhelming, but now they have a fluidity that can almost be comforting as you follow Senua. “Senua has the ability to feel [the Furies] in a different way, they now have deeper, meaningful conversations which didn’t happen in the first game” said David Garcia Diaz, Hellblade audio director. “We are not just recreating a sound, we are creating a character’s reality, and this is our way of interpretating these emotions.”, Garcia Diaz adds.

Hellblade II’s Incredible Landscapes

When it comes to the environments showcased in Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, breathtaking doesn’t quite cover it. The game showcases a sense of scale that adventures like this don’t often offer, and everything you see is rooted in a familiar realism. Hellblade II’s vistas often stretch to the horizon, giving you a sense of the sheer size of Senua’s journey ahead. The studio achieved this sense of place through location scouting and research, to bring an ethereal, yet believable recreation of medieval Iceland into Hellblade II.

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While the first game culminates in Helheim, Hellblade II takes us to Midgard, known in Norse Mythology as the realm of men. The team moved through a process of elimination between several locations before settling on Iceland, which brings unique and encapsulating landscapes – somehow familiar and otherworldly all at once.

According to Dan Attwell, Environmental Art Director on Hellblade 2, there are over 370 pieces of photogrammetry in the sequel, compared to just one in the first Hellblade. The team crafting Hellblade II‘s environments stays grounded in this element of naturalness by scanning existing, physical objects into the game.

For more information and additional behind-the-scenes content for Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, please see Xbox Wire, and for the latest information on Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II and Ninja Theory, stay tuned to @NinjaTheory on Twitter/X.

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Contact for the media:

Ramon Jiamkanokchai

TQPR (Thailand) Co., Ltd

+66 2260 5820 ext. 125

Pharatah Senapan

TQPR (Thailand) Co., Ltd

+66 2260 5820 ext. 121


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