Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 facial animation tech shown at State of Unreal 2023

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 performance capture State of Unreal 2023
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios (screenshot))

What you need to know

  • Ninja Theory, one of the teams under Xbox Game Studios, is currently working on Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2, a follow-up to the 2017 critical hit Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. 
  • At the 2023 State of Unreal showcase hosted by Epic Games, Ninja Theory shared a new look at the facial animation technology being used in the game with Unreal Engine 5.
  • Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 will be launching on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and Windows PC, as well as arriving day one in Xbox Game Pass.

We've got another quick look at one of the biggest upcoming Xbox Game Studios titles in development.

Xbox Game Studios developer Ninja Theory took part in the latest State of Unreal showcase with an updated look at the performance capture technology being used in Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2. This quick slice shows realtime facial animation being used on Melina Juergens, the performance actress who plays the lead, Senua. You can take a look at the results below (it's recommended you set the video to 4K).

While some studios at Xbox such as Turn 10 and Bethesda Game Studios prefer to use in-house technology, several teams are using Unreal Engine 5 for their next projects. The Coalition, known for their work on the Gears of War franchise, have shown off tech demos in the past, exploring what can be done with the latest version of Epic Games' technology.

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 was the first Xbox Game Studios title announced for the latest generation of consoles, being revealed alongside the Xbox Series X at the Game Awards 2019. The game doesn't have a release date, but whenever it arrives it'll be available on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and Windows PC. Like all Xbox first-party games, it'll launch day one into Xbox Game Pass.

Windows Central's take

Good lord, that's impressive stuff. Ninja Theory has been working on this game very quietly for the past couple of years, but every time it's shown, it's impressive. I cannot wait to play, I absolutely loved the first game and how meaningful its story and depiction of mental health was, and this one looks to be a massive leap forward.

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Subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and you'll get access to new first-party Xbox games like Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 and more. You'll also get Cloud gaming, EA Play, and other great benefits!

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Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.