Given how impressive Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was, it seemed inevitable that there would be a sequel. The game, despite being made independently by Ninja Theory, blew even the highest-budget games on the market out of the water in graphical fidelity and storytelling. Microsoft must have realized this potential as well and outright purchased the studio to not only provide a bigger budget to the team for the eventual sequel but also secure it as a console exclusive for its then-unreleased Xbox Series X and S systems.
Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II was one of the earliest games shown off for the Xbox Series X and S and was even initially thought to be one of the system’s launch titles. That didn’t come to pass, but the team has taken that extra time to craft this sequel into what looks to be even more impressive than the original. Between the first Game Awards event where the game was announced and the latest demo shown in the 2021 show, we have a very solid understanding of the important details surrounding this sequel. Don’t let the voices in your head fool you because we have all the information you need to know about Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II.
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It’s been years now since Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II was first shown off at the 2019 Game Awards, with the latest appearance being the same event at the end of 2021. The game, although never giving a firm release date, does look like it’s been pushed back a few times already. Based on how far along the latest footage we saw was, it is possible this could be a title arriving in the fall or winter of 2022, or perhaps slip into early 2023. We expect to see and learn more in early to mid-2022 but for now, we can only speculate.
We know that Ninja Theory was purchased by Microsoft after the first Hellblade was released, which was, funnily enough, a timed PlayStation exclusive, so the sequel will now come exclusively to Xbox consoles, specifically the newest Xbox Series X and S, and PC.
It wasn’t until the 2021 Game Awards that we got our first good, extended look at Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, while the first trailer we got was more of a tone piece. In that initial reveal, we simply saw landscapes as Senua let out a guttural and off-putting chant and made distorted facial expressions as the imagery became more and more disturbing.
The newest gameplay reveal gives a much more cohesive look at what the game will actually be. After a bit of narration declaring war on the Gods, we come to Senua leading a band of warriors into a cave. As she gives orders to the others we hear the familiar whispering voices in Senua’s head pulling her in different directions and asking questions. She jogs in with the group, flaming torches and spears in hand, though Senua herself appears unarmed.
In the mist something massive lurks and groans. She pushes on, voices warning that “death is coming”, and inspects skeletal remains littering the cave. The giant crawls, appearing weak or tired, ahead. She tells her men to hold back until the giant rests against the stone wall. She takes a flaming spear from one man as another throws a container of black liquid, presumably oil, onto the giant. When the spear hits, it erupts into flame.
The giant groans as more spears fly, falling to the floor and kicking up a wall of dust. Senua, now alone, calls for her allies but is answered by one running from the dust engulfed in flames. A second appears but is splattered by the giant’s hand. Still ablaze, she calls the giant’s attention to herself. It begins to reach for her, and Senua retreats, more men behind her readying and tossing spears.
They pelt and attack the giant all the way back out of the cave and onto the beach, but still it pursues Senua who realizes that it is she that the giant is after. Eventually making it back behind a barricade, Senua screams to attack, but the giant swipes the defenses away. The giant reaches out and appears to ask for Senua’s help, who then utters “I know you.”
Ninja Theory has been fairly tight-lipped about what the overall story of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II will be, only that it aims to expand on the first and continue to incorporate and shed light on mental health issues. They did confirm in the Xbox Games Showcase in 2021 that the game would take place in 9th century Iceland and bring players across many miles of immaculate landscapes, however, which falls in line with the first focusing heavily on Celtic culture and Senua’s home being Orkney in Scotland.
The first Hellblade game had essentially two modes of gameplay: Exploration and puzzle-solving, and combat. Neither element was especially deep or challenging, especially the combat, due to the small budget and team, however, the game still shone thanks to incredibly impressive visuals, audio design in depicting Senua’s psychosis, and treatment of issues relating to mental health. Based on what we’ve seen, it looks like all of those positive notes from the first game will be back, and better than ever, plus a more in-depth combat system.
For one, assuming the trailer did show actual gameplay, then this will be the first time Senua has fought alongside other warriors. The trailer shows her coordinating with what looks like over a dozen other people to try and take down the giant, giving orders, coordinating attacks, and even acquiring weapons from them. To what level this will actually be realized in the full game or if this was more of a set-piece moment, remains to be seen. Still, it does at least suggest that larger-scale combat is possible, as well as more weapon options for Senua to take advantage of.
Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II technically hasn’t denied that it will be a purely single-player experience, but it is all but assured that it will be. The first game was built to be a story-driven, single-player game, and the sequel hasn’t shown any signs of attempting to buck that trend. Considering the focus on mental health, especially with the heavy emphasis on audio, it wouldn’t make sense for there to be any form of multiplayer modes, either co-op or competitive.
To do the subject matter justice, and to make sure the focus is on getting the core experience right, we feel that Ninja Theory understands that Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga is, well, Senua’s saga. It is about Senua and her own issues, overcoming them, and not being “gamey” like it would if there were another player involved.
This is an interesting one, but at the moment purely speculative. The first Hellblade wasn’t given any DLC, but that was when Ninja Theory was still on its own and didn’t have the backing of Microsoft. With a bigger budget, there might be room to expand on the game with some extra content after the game launches, which we here wouldn’t mind as a concept. It all depends on how and where it fits in and with the story the base game tells. Since we know basically nothing on that front at the moment, it could go either way as to whether DLC would make sense for this game or not.
Ninja Theory has been especially cagey with giving a release date for Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II. Even years after it was announced, we don’t even know what year they expect us to get our hands on it, so pre-orders are probably the last thing on the team’s minds. However, for anyone who doesn’t need or want a physical copy, you can essentially pre-order Hellblade 2: Senua’s Saga by simply becoming a Game Pass subscriber. As with all Xbox first-party games, this game will be available for download via that subscription service the day it releases, whenever that may be.
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