towards the most beautiful next gen game of the moment? Returns are dythir

towards the most beautiful next gen game of the moment

Microsoft and Xbox are often singled out for the lack of exclusives, particularly on the Xbox Series X, and rightly so. But there is a big big game arriving on May 21, it’s Hellblade 2. In a little less than 2 months, we will finally be able to discover this sequel which has been teased since 2019. And yes, it’s already been 5 years that we discovered the very first video. But things seem to be accelerating and a week ago, an event was organized in Cambridge, at the Ninja Theory premises to be able to take the game in hand. A 45 min hands-on session to see what the game looks like, what improvements there are in the gameplay and in particular the combat system, very few media in the world were invited on site, but a lot of information was nevertheless provided. emerged. I have gathered and condensed all the new and useful information to know whether or not Hellblade 2 will indeed be the technical and visual slap in the face that we have been promised for 5 years. And cherry on the cake, there are new gameplay images!

It hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice and we’ve been talking about it for a while in our editorial columns and videos, but this generation of consoles, whether from PlayStation or Xbox, is quite disappointing, or disappointing if you prefer in good French. Truly next gen games, with impeccable technology, offering 4K and 60fps, something that was promised with the PS5 and the Xbox Series, we have the impression that it was a bluff until now. There are several reasons for this: the pandemic to begin with which generated a supply problem in components and also lengthened the transition period between the previous generation and the next gen. And obviously, when we develop games for the generation before and the new, we cannot use all the resources of the new machines. Another reason: we can also question certain working methods in certain studios, which lengthen development times and also eat into the production budget, but above all it is only true next gen tools, such as Unreal Engine 5. , took a while to take shape on home consoles. Well, precisely, if there is one aspect in which Hellblade 2 will not betray the player, it is on the visual level. All the media and journalists who were invited to Ninja Theory are unanimous: Hellablde 2 is a graphic slap and it is obviously on this point that nothing has been degraded since the promises in 2019. The game promises to be photorealistic to a point where the points of detail in the game were located at the eye veins in the eyes of the character Senua. The English studio seeks perfection at all costs and it seems to be getting closer, according to the feedback from guests on site.

This is partly due to Unreal Engine 5 of course, but also to the talents of Ninja Theory, the way they knew how to use the tools. The game promises next-gen rendering, with ultra-thorough character modeling, extreme details, motion-captured animations on everything, and the integration of even more realistic facial expressions. For every movement, every action, Senua reacts accordingly. Senua grimaces while stabbing an enemy with her sword in Hellblade 2, tenses up while dodging attacks. It already exists in other games of course, but the rendering is pushed to its extreme in Hellblde 2 and it is this emotional side which also makes the next gen game in its carnal envelope. Except that this extreme level of detail comes at a price, that of the frame rate, and unfortunately, Hellblade 2 will not run at 60 frames per second, despite the fact that it is above all a corridor game. Ninja Theory confirmed to the media on site that the framerate will be locked at 30fps, in order to prioritize stability and above all not lose visual quality either. Enough to further fuel the controversy around the performance of current consoles…

Another very important detail that came out of the Hellblade 2 previews is that Tameem Antoniades is no longer part of Ninja Theory. He visibly tiptoed out of the studio, without any public mention or explanation. An Xbox manager present at the event confirmed this to journalists who were there. So we learn it today, knowing that he is one of the co-founders of Ninja Theory, the creative director of all the games so far and especially the one who was at the origin of the 2013 Dante with the DmC reboot Devil May Cry and its emo look which caused so much discussion at the time. Tameem Antoniades was replaced by three people: Dan Attwell, the environmental art director, Mark Slater the visual effects director and David Garcia, the audio director. We don’t really know what happened for a man as important as him to leave the ship a few months before the game’s release, and especially that no one is talking about it, but in any case, it It’s quite a brutal announcement… We’ll leave you to your speculations.

Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga

But let’s return to Hellblade 2 and this hands-on which allowed us to know more about the history of the game, which takes place after the events of the first episode. If you haven’t watched the first episode of 2017, I suggest you give it a try, at least to understand what happens at the end. I remind you that we play Senua, a young Pictish warrior from the 10th century, whose particularity is to be suffering from mental disorders and therefore to hear voices. And what’s interesting about this series is that at that time, being suffering from psychosis was not considered an illness, but rather a curse. Result, Senua is a woman who was rejected, humiliated and above all isolated and it is on this point that the game developed its gameplay, with a particularly developed and intense sound design, where each sound allowed you to know where the enemies were coming from. could happen. The sound was as important as the visual in the first Hellblade. The first Hellblade was a metaphor for the character’s struggle with his psychoses, and developers Ninja Theory worked closely with mental health specialists and people living with the illness.

Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga

In this sequel, Senua still suffers from these psychoses, but she has managed to accept them and manages to better control them somewhere. This is also the reason why the developers wanted to evolve the game and the gameplay. From now on, Senua will no longer be alone in her epic journey. She mourned the loss of her beloved at the end of the first opus and this time, Senua goes to Iceland in search of the Nordic slavers who are decimating her community in the north of the British Isles. If Senua will no longer be completely alone, the choice of Iceland remains a sort of analogy to solitude, the country being one of the most isolated in the world, with its desolate and magnificent scenery at the same time. Ninja Thoery describes Hellblade 2 as a love letter to Iceland and the teams traveled there to fully model Iceland’s topography. The game’s settings were created from scans captured by drones, satellite imagery, but also photogrammetric procedural generation. The idea is to restore the atmosphere and authenticity of the place. There is an extreme geological contrast in Iceland’s landscape, while the psychology of the Icelandic landscape closely matches that of Senua. We also remember that Hideo Kojima also chose Iceland to recreate the solitude of Sam Porter, the hero of Death Stranding.

Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga

This means that the settings in Hellblade 2 will be more open, more varied and less dark than the first. At least on the surface, because this sequel will keep this theme mature, violent and dark at the same time. Sometimes the other evolutions of Hellblade 2, there is the gameplay and the combat system. While the first episode was generally appreciated, some players found the combat too limited and this is something that Ninja Theory took into account. It is not so much that the possibilities will be more numerous, but it is in the staging and the veracity of the movements which will give another amplitude to the combat. As we can see in the new gameplay images that have been shared, it remains very directive and fixed on the same reading axis, but let’s say that new external elements will bring more dynamism to the events. There is, however, a very visceral and brutal side to the fights, and this is due to the way Ninja Thoery worked. Unlike other games, the fights were not animated, but they were all motion-captured, 100%. This means that all the movements in the fights were made by actors and their human movements were all transposed into the game. The developers wanted to achieve a unique result, a sort of one-on-one confrontation, in both slow and brutal. Each blow struck or avoided must be felt, so that the feeling of raw violence in which Senua is immersed emerges. The developers at Ninja Theory seek to create an emotional connection between Senua and the player and this is only possible if the things he sees on screen are real and authentic. The camera is also deliberately tight on Senua’s character, precisely because the developers want to limit the player’s vision, so that he does not really know where the danger is coming from. A bit in fact like The Callisto Protocol in real life, which opted for the same visceral rendering, which many players did not understand, even though it was already an avant-garde proposition.

This is what we could get out of these 45 min hands-on previews on Hellblade 2. We also learned that the studio has increased in size since its beginnings. We went from 20 developers on the first Hellblade to 80 people. It’s more, but it remains low for the production of a game of this magnitude and if there are so few people, it is a real desire of Ninja Theory, which wants to keep its human scale in its way of to work. They want to keep the artisanal side, while continuing to make AAA. This is to their credit, but on the other hand, it obviously requires more time. See you on May 21 for the final verdict.

Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga