DmC creator’s Hellblade is ‘a game with a big world of long draw distances’

Updated on 03-15-2016 by Gabe Carey: ARM has backpedaled on its original statement that Hellblade is an open-world game, instead opting to declare it “a game with a big world of long draw distances.”

In a conference call with ARM subsidiary Geomerics last week, it was revealed that the company is working on bringing its Enlighten “real-time global illumination technology” over to open-world games. The goal is to make lighting look more realistic in a 25km² interactive world without putting strain on the GPU.

Without belittling the efforts of the engineers meticulously dedicated to creating some dazzling in-game assets, an even more enticing story emerged from our talks.

Apparently, the open-world iteration of Enlighten is the result of a collaboration between Geomerics and Ninja Theory, esteemed developer behind games like PS3 launch title Heavenly Sword and the 2013 reboot DmC: Devil May Cry. 

At last year’s Gamescom, however, the company revealed that its next project would be called Hellblade, described as an “independent AAA” title, and moreover a unique exploration of mental illness.

Of course, with the developer focused on an open-world technology while its next game is still in early development, there was an immediate connection to be drawn. Everything we’ve seen of Hellblade up to this point has appeared fairly linear, so then what would Ninja Theory have to gain from this partnership?

As it turns out, my suspicions were correct, and Geomeric’s Chris Porthouse confirmed to me that, in fact, Hellblade is now an open-world title in addition to its action RPG classification.

When asked if Ninja Theory was working on an open-world game, Doran responded, “Yes, they are. I don’t think it’s any secret that they’ve been working on Hellblade.”

“They’re a local Cambridge company, he elaborated. “We know them really, very well. They’ve got some beautiful assets. The thing we’ve done is take those assets and relight those assets with Enlighten.”

While Hellblade is slated to arrive at an undisclosed date later in the year, it’s not clear when we’ll begin to see Enlighten tech implemented in large open worlds. Nevertheless, Ninja Theory has evidently contrived a PC and PS4 demonstration for GDC, elusively titled Seastack Bay.

“Reproducing the beauty of natural lighting is central to the look and feel of Hellblade,” a Ninja Theory rep boasted in a press release. “In a world as rich as ours it is a challenge to achieve realistic dynamic lighting effects at our target frame rate, but this is something Enlighten will allow us to do, adding great value to the overall Hellblade experience.”

When Enlighten’s open-world variation does begin to surface, it will be available to developers as either a standalone SDK or as a pre-integrated feature in Unreal Engine as well as Unity 5.

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