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Hellblade 2: everything we know about the Xbox Series X game

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2
(Image credit: Ninja Theory)

Announced back in 2019, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is developer Ninja Theory’s highly-anticipated sequel to its 2017 title Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. 

Exclusive to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PC, the game was revealed at the Game Awards in 2019 with a dark and mysterious trailer that didn’t really give much away. A couple of years later and we’re still eagerly waiting to hear more details about the game, including, crucially, its release date. 

It’s now been more than three years since we fought through the depths of Hel with Senua on her journey to rescue the soul of her dead lover from the goddess Hela, so we’re more than ready to jump into a sequel. 

While we’re hoping that 2021 will bring more news about what we can expect from Ninja Theory’s Xbox exclusive, it does seem that the game is still in the fairly early stages of its development. In the meantime, however, we’ve gathered everything we know so far about Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 below for your perusal.

[Update: It seems that Hellblade 2 is still relatively early on in its development. Read on to find out more.]

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2: cut to the chase

  • What is it? The sequel to 2017's Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
  • When can I play it? TBC
  • What can I play it on? Xbox Series X/S and PC confirmed

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 release date

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 trailer still Senua

(Image credit: Ninja Theory)

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 was surprisingly announced at the Game Awards 2019 with a heart-pumping reveal trailer. The announcement told us that Hellblade 2 is coming to Xbox Series X, as well as PC, but it didn’t actually reveal a release date.

Though it was one of the first-revealed Xbox Series X games, Hellblade 2 wasn’t referred to as a launch title, so we weren’t entirely surprised that it wasn’t released with the Xbox Series X/S in late 2020. However, now that we’re into 2021 we’re hoping to hear about some kind of release date soon. 

We’re tempering our expectations that Hellblade 2 will be a 2021 title, though, after the game didn’t appear on a January 2021 post on Xbox Wire revealing the games coming exclusively to Xbox in 2021. It seems far more likely that it will be released in 2022 at the earliest.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 trailers

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 was officially announced for Xbox Series X at the Game Awards 2019, with a peculiar and gritty reveal trailer. While the trailer didn't give much away in terms of story and gameplay, it did confirm that this sequel looks  much darker than its predecessor - which was already pretty dark.

Check it out below:

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 trailers

Still a while off

Ninja Theory has said in June 2021 that Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 is still very early in its development in a teaser reel.

In the reel (which doesn’t show any new gameplay footage) studio founder Tameem Antoniades explains, “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.” He adds, “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.” 

Behind-the-scenes videos on Ninja Theory’s social channels in addition to this video have provided an insight into how much work the team is putting in in the name of detail, particularly with regards to characters and setting. Overall, it seems safe to say that the game is still a good way off yet and could maybe even be a 2023 or beyond title. 

Looking behind the scenes

Ninja Theory has been giving some more behind-the-scenes looks at the development of Hellblade 2, this time taking a look at some of the practical effects that are being used. 

In a short video shared through the developer’s Twitter account, we can see members of the team setting clothing on fire with the caption “Sometimes to create, you must first destroy. Experimenting with textural effects on clothing.” In a follow-up tweet, the team revealed that they’ll be using high quality scans of the clothes to “reach an amazing level of detail” in the game.

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E3 2021 no show
E3 2021 came and went without an appearance from Hellblade 2. We haven’t seen much of the game since its announcement at the Game Awards in 2019 and as an Xbox exclusive, we would expect Microsoft to want to shout about it during its show. 

That said, it wasn't likely to begin with. Industry insider Jeff Grubb revealed during a live stream (via TheGamer) that he did not think Hellblade 2 was going to be at E3 this year due to Microsoft’s desire to focus on gameplay footage rather than CG trailers. It's disappointing we didn't see it there and now we'll just have to wait for the next big gaming event, GamesCom, to find out more.

Cloud forming technology
The Ninja Theory Twitter account has tweeted out a look at how the team is using “flow maps” to both make clouds form and dissolve naturally in Hellblade 2. It’s a very small look at how development on the game is progressing but it shows the attention to detail Ninja Theory is applying to the next Hellblade game.

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Behind the scenes look
Updates on Hellblade 2 have been pretty thin on the ground recently so a behind-the-scenes update from the game’s star Melina Juergens was no doubt welcome for fans.

The video diary places a real focus on how Juergens prepared for the role of Senua this time around, with a glimpse at some pretty intense combat training. This does hint at a focus on realistic, authentic combat within the game itself. 

Juergens embarked on a regime of fitness training as well as taking weapons training with C.C. Smiff, the swordmaster and stunt choreographer for the recent Star Wars trilogy and Game of Thrones.  The game’s animators also took combat courses so that they could provide realistic movements for the game’s enemies during motion capture sessions.

Juergens also revealed that she suffers from the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia, explaining it “basically means my joints and bones and things like that are always in pain and I have a lot of fatigue. And also when I’m training I need quite a lot of time to recover after every session.”

You can watch the video diary for yourself below and Juergens has said that more will be coming in another episode in the future. 

No more content for Bleeding Edge
Ninja Theory has said that it'll be adding no more content to Bleeding Edge as it's putting its focus on developing Hellblade 2, Project Mara, and The Insight Project.

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Melina Juergens tweets
Melina Juergens, the lead actress who plays Senua in the Hellblade series, has posted a tweet making reference to Hellblade 2. 

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The tweet includes a picture of Juergens painted with Senua’s rune-like patterns and scars and is captioned with the phrase “For every battle won, a greater battle takes its place”, alongside Senua’s Saga-related tags. It’s unclear whether the tweet is an indication that Juergens is on set working on the game or whether she’s just showing fans some in-character makeup. 

Not on the list
Hellblade 2 still doesn’t have an official release date or release window but 2021 is looking less likely after a recent post on Xbox Wire. Published in January 2021, the post lists the games that are coming exclusively to Xbox in 2021. 

Given Hellblade 2 is an Xbox exclusive and it doesn’t appear on this list, it does make it seem unlikely that the game is coming anytime soon. That said, the list is fairly limited and we imagine Xbox still has some unannounced dates up its sleeve. We’ll just have to be patient until something official is announced. 

Running on Unreal Engine 5
Microsoft has confirmed that Hellblade 2 will use Unreal Engine 5 in an official Xbox Wire post. 

According to Xbox, "The team will be building the game on Unreal 5 and leveraging the power of Xbox Series X to bring the Hellblade franchise to levels never before seen." They added that the footage of the game shown during The Game Awards in 2019 "was captured in-engine and reflects the power of Xbox Series X available to developers to deliver new universes, experiences and games in ways you have never imagined."

Icelandic inspiration
Hellblade 2 made an unexpected appearance during the Xbox Games Showcase on July 23, where it was revealed that the game would be taking place in Iceland. In developer Ninja Theory's 'Dreadnought' developer diary series, the team spoke of how it has been location scouting across the country much as you would for a Hollywood film, including taking audio recordings for an special immersive, accurate representation of the landscape. Check out the video below for more.

What about the story?
We don't actually know anything about Hellblade 2's story yet but, from the trailer, it seems to be much darker than its predecessor. The trailer shows pagan rituals, breathtaking landscapes, limbs hanging from archways and a few battle sequences. There's also some hints towards Vikings - which would make sense given the time period. But this is speculation and we remain largely in the dark.

Vic Hood

Vic is TechRadar's Gaming Editor. An award-winning games journalist, Vic brings experience from IGN, Eurogamer and more to the TechRadar table. You may have even heard her on the radio or speaking on a panel. Not only is Vic passionate about games, but she's also an avid mental health advocate who has appeared on both panels and podcasts to discuss mental health awareness. Make sure to follow her on Twitter for more.