This Xbox exclusive had its devs travel 2,500km for photorealistic gameplay

Hellblade 2, Senua looking on in pain
(Image credit: Xbox game studios)

Ninja Theory, the devs behind the third-person action-adventure game Senua’s Story: Hellblade 2, are back with another Dev Diary filled with exciting information on how they travelled over seas and across skies to bring fans photo-realistic gameplay and better world-building. 

Ninja Theory realized pretty early on that the Xbox exclusive Hellblade 2 would be set in Iceland. After all, the story centers around Icelandic native Senua and her quest to retrieve her lover's soul from the clutches of the goddess Hela. That was all well and good when the team first started their journey developing ideas for this sequel, but eventually, some distance-related problems arose. 

“When we decided that the locations would be based on real places in Iceland, we decided we needed to get some pretty good reference for that”, Ninja Theory’s environment art director Dan Attwell said in a Dev Diary. “But you can only get so far by just getting on the internet and googling images”. 

After getting elevation data for the entire island of Iceland and using a service called Drone Deploy which let the team map out 3D models of more specific locations, the team knew there was one final step they needed to take to ensure Hellblade 2 would be as realistic as it needs to be. It was time to travel to Iceland. 

Field trip 

Hellblade 2, Senua looking at a massive troll

(Image credit: Xbox game studios)

“We realized that we needed to go bigger”, Attwell said. “So we added 21 locations [to the trip], which was 2,500km worth of travel over 11 days”. That’s certainly no small feat. 

The Ninja Theory team were able to visit ancient man-made structures and see what life would have been like for someone living in 10th Century Iceland. “We don’t want to make what we think it looks like”, Attwell said. “We want to be as faithful as possible to what the real thing would have looked like”. 

In the end, all the planning and travelling were worth it. Thanks to this excursion to some of the northernmost points of Iceland, the devs could understand what it would truly be like for Senua. In turn, this will hopefully allow for Hellblade 2 to be photo realistic in graphics for the Xbox Series X|S and location and in the stories it seeks to tell.  

Elie Gould
Features Writer

Elie is a Features Writer for TechRadar Gaming, here to write about anything new or slightly weird. Before writing for TRG, Elie studied for a Masters at Cardiff University JOMEC in International Journalism and Documentaries – spending their free time filming short docs or editing the gaming section for their student publications. 

Elie’s first step into gaming was through Pokémon but they've taken the natural next step in the horror genre. Any and every game that would keep you up at night is on their list to play - despite the fact that one of Elie’s biggest fears is being chased.