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Its powerful first trailer, shown during The Game Awards in December 2019, was shown literally 120 seconds after the Xbox Series X itself was first revealed, and as such, was the first game to sport a trailer with the name of the console at the end of it. Ever since Xbox Series X has been a known name, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 has been a known name alongside it.
Its value to Xbox, then, cannot be understated. The first game was praised for its visual detail, its incredible use of sound and, most importantly, its impressive writing and character development. As a game that dealt with mental health, and psychosis specifically, developer Ninja Theory put in its due diligence to make sure it presented Senua’s condition as authentically and respectfully as possible, and the result was a truly unique game that, fittingly, lingered in the mind long after the credits rolled.
It’s easy to forget, though, that Hellblade was originally a PlayStation 4 console exclusive, and remained that way for eight months. As Xbox fans watched on at this brave, groundbreaking new IP picking up multiple awards for performance, audio design and writing, Hellblade was a valuable asset to PlayStation because it allowed fans to point to an exclusive that wasn’t just a sequel or a remaster.
Now that Ninja Theory is part of Xbox Game Studios, that valuable asset now belongs to Microsoft, and now that the shoe is on the other foot, it’s imperative that its exclusivity becomes as important to Xbox as its predecessor was to PlayStation. Xbox’s plan is for those same PS4 fans who boasted about Hellblade’s exclusivity to now be the ones watching on as its sequel becomes the game picking up multiple awards.
Nothing is a given in this world, however, and we now sit here four years after that initial trailer, with only a handful of subsequent trailers and one video showing purported gameplay since then. The only other thing we have to go on at this stage is a release year – 2024.
In an industry that’s been plagued with delays over the past few years, though, just how certain is it that this deliberately vague window will be met? The 2024 release was first confirmed back in June 2023, and six months down the line, it hasn’t been narrowed down any, suggesting that if the game does make it out in time for 2024, it will likely be nearer the end of it.
It’s a frustrating wait for fans, and will be similarly frustrating for Microsoft itself. But it’s a wait that will be necessary because if 2023 has proved anything, it’s that the company can’t afford to be impatient with any more high-profile releases, or it’ll start to get an unwelcome reputation.
So far, the signs are positive, even though in reality, so much remains unknown. We still have no real idea what the plot for Hellblade 2 is going to involve, or how the gameplay will look beyond the small section we’ve been shown already.
“In an industry that’s been plagued with delays over the past few years, though, just how certain is it that this deliberately vague window will be met?”
One thing we do at least know is that the audio design will once again be incredible. Watch the June 2023 trailer while wearing headphones and it’s clear that the voices Senua hears will be as intrusive as ever, meaning you can probably set aside the 2024 audio design awards already. Assuming it does end up being 2024, of course.
And therein lies the biggest question mark so far. Of all the 2024 Preview articles we’ve been posting, Hellblade 2 is one that feels like it could get a 2025 Preview article too this time next year. As we say, given recent disappointments, this wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if the resulting game is fantastic.
That said, we’re now three years into the Xbox Series X/S lifespan, and fans are eagerly awaiting another bombshell as universally loved as Forza Horizon 5. Patience is a virtue, but there may eventually come a point for Microsoft where continually asking its user base to be patient starts to come across as a vice.