Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 vs. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice – 11 Differences You Should Know

Microsoft’s marketing (or utter lack of the same) may not indicate it, but Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is one of this month’s, and the year’s, biggest releases. Announced in December 2019 alongside the Xbox Series X, it’s the long-awaited follow-up to the critically acclaimed Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

With more beautiful visuals, brutal combat and a potentially more haunting story, Hellblade 2 could very well be a potential Game of the Year candidate when it launches on May 21st for Xbox Series X/S and PC. However, what else sets it apart from the first game? Here are 11 key differences you should know.

Helheim vs. Iceland

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Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice takes place in Helheim, with Senua venturing to revive her deceased lover, Dillion. However, it flits between different times and places, exploring her past and what led her to this predicament. By comparison, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is on a more epic scale. Taking place in Viking Iceland, it sees Senua on a mission to save “those who have fallen victim to the horrors of tyranny.” Based on the events of the first game, it’s indicated that she, with various allied warriors, is taking the battle to the Norsemen to ultimately seek revenge.


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For its time, Hellblade 1 was praised for its graphical fidelity and presentation values. Few games, even full-priced $60 releases, could achieve that level of detail. Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 goes even further beyond – it’s developed on Unreal Engine 5, and its weather effects, environmental textures, lighting, shadows and particle effects are simply stunning to behold. Even the facial animations are light years ahead courtesy of Epic’s MetaHuman technology.

Fully Motion Captured Combat

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Compared to the first game, combat in Hellblade 2 is fully motion-captured. Fights are one-on-one, with players only facing one threat at a time, but based on the gameplay footage thus far, the sheer amount of animations is impressive, whether Senua blocks attacks or goes for killing blows. The famous Battle of the Bastards from Game of Thrones was an inspiration for Hellblade 2, per combat director Benoit Macon, lending a personal feel despite the more epic nature of some conflicts.

Combat Performance Capture Time


Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice had its share of performance capture for the combat, which took about two days in a “small boardroom” per the developer to IGN. Hellblade 2’s combat, on the other hand, was captured on a proper motion capture stage, purpose-built for the same, and requires around 70 days to record. If that isn’t an indication of how much more time and effort went into combat’s motion capture, nothing is.

New Puzzles

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As you’ve probably deduced by now, there’s plenty of combat in Hellblade 2, much like in the first game. However, puzzles also make a return – one of them involves finding three Runic symbols to remove a barrier. This is somewhat similar to puzzles from the first game, but there are some new ones. As IGN noted in their preview, a rock in the environment reveals a face depending on the viewing angle and leads to more information on the story. Again, while not all that dissimilar from Hellblade 1, there’s the hope of fresher cerebral challenges arising throughout.

More Enemy Variety

Hellblade 1 had its share of variety in the bosses, though the enemies boiled down to a few rudimentary types by the end. Thus far, Hellblade 2 is expanding on this, with regular enemies now capable of a wider variety of attacks, both melee (like stomping the ground and stunning Senua) and ranged (including one that breathes fire). The Focus returns, slowing enemies down and providing a better opportunity to take them down.


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Like Alan Wake 2, Hellblade 2 is a digital-only release. Explaining the reasoning for this, studio head Dom Matthews told Xbox Wire that the team “took advantage of the freedom that digital-only distribution offered us to create a game of the length that fits perfectly with our intended experience but could be sold at a lower price to reflect the shorter length of our story. This framework allowed us to focus on the things we really care about – taking our fans on an unforgettable journey into Senua’s unique world.”

However, Hellblade 1 was also a digital-only release at launch. It would receive a physical version on PS4 courtesy of 505 Games, while Microsoft published it physically on the Xbox One. Perhaps that could occur with Hellblade 2 down the line.

Pricing Comparison

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Regarding the price, in this day and age, when first-party titles from Microsoft and Sony (and occasionally Nintendo) are launching for $70, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is only $49.99. Hellblade 1 launched for $29.99, with the idea being that it’s “half the size of a AAA game, but sold at half the price,” per Ninja Theory’s Dominic Matthews.

While that’s arguably more noteworthy given its production values, the scale of both games is on a completely different level. As studio co-founder Tameem Antoniades (no longer with Ninja Theory) told NME in 2022, “The goal with Hellblade 2 isn’t to perfect it but to create an experience that feels more believable and more refined. Its ambition in terms of scale is bigger. I think Hellblade 2 will make Hellblade look like an indie game.”


Alongside announcing its price, Ninja Theory also revealed that the length of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is “similar” to the first game. A quick visit to HowLongToBeat reveals that Hellblade 1 requires about 7.5 hours on average to complete the main story and nine hours if you complete everything. Remember that this is the median – it could take less time if you rush through or longer, depending on how leisurely your playthrough is.

Xbox-Exclusive vs. PlayStation-Exclusive

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Hellblade 2 opts for a larger scale and graphical improvements, but like the original, it’s still exclusive to a specific console – Xbox Series X/S. Hellblade 1 was first released on PS4 in 2017 but would eventually arrive on its way to Xbox One in April 2018 (with Microsoft announcing its acquisition of Ninja Theory in June). Could history repeat itself, especially with Microsoft’s new multiplatform strategy for its first-party titles? Time will tell.

Launch Resolutions and Frame Rates

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Like its fellow Xbox exclusive Starfield, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is locked to 30 frames per second on Xbox Series X/S. The resolution isn’t confirmed, but per VFX director Mark Slater-Tunstill to Game Pro, the frame rate is due to wanting a more “cinematic” feel to the title, mirroring films that ran in 24 FPS. There aren’t any other graphics modes, so if you want 60 FPS, playing on PC is the only option.

While Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice ran at 1080p/30 FPS at launch on PS4, it would receive some enhancements on PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, from a 60 FPS mode with a dynamic resolution to 2160p/30 FPS modes (also with dynamic resolutions but sticking closer to the higher end). On the Xbox Series X, a new update would add a 1080p/120 FPS mode, a mode for up to 4K resolution at 60 FPS and Enriched Mode for dynamic 4K up to 30 FPS and ray tracing. Long story short, it isn’t impossible that Hellblade 2 could receive such enhancements on more powerful consoles.

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