Hellblade II Xbox Series X Trailer Likely In-Engine, But Not Real Time Says Digital Foundry

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At The Game Awards 2019 Microsoft officially unveiled the Xbox Series X (Or is it just the Xbox? It’s confusing.) and it’s first exclusive game – Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II. The game looked absolutely gorgeous, and Microsoft and Ninja Theory have assured fans the trailer was “in-engine,” but what exactly does that mean? Every time a new lineup of consoles is set to launch, publishers try to lead us astray with pretty, overpromising “next-gen” trailers, so is this just another fakeout?

Well, the tech heads at Digital Foundry have gone over the Hellblade II trailer with a fine-tooth comb, and it does seem like the trailer is in-engine, although there are some caveats. Before we go on though, check out the trailer again for yourself.

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According to the Digital Foundry folks, the Hellblade II trailer does have some flaws that likely wouldn’t be present in a pre-rendered CGI cutscene. Most notably, there are some imperfections in the trailer’s field of depth effects and some halos around certain objects. That said, just because the trailer was probably built in-engine doesn’t mean it was running in real time on Xbox Series X hardware. There’s evidence the footage has been prettied up somewhat – in particular, there’s almost no level of detail draw in, regardless of how far objects are from the camera. Even next-gen hardware probably won’t be able to pull that trick off.

What we’re likely looking at is a trailer built with Unreal Engine 4 on a powerful PC (Xbox Series X hardware wasn’t finalized until recently, so it’s unlikely an official dev kit was used) then polished up a bit for its big debut. It should also be mentioned that trailer is only running at 3840x1608 rather than true 4K due to the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen, and mastered at 24fps. So yeah, the trailer isn’t pure fantasy, but temper your expectations a bit – we’ll have to wait to see what Hellblade II looks like running on actual hardware at full resolution and 30 or 60fps.

The Xbox Series X is set to launch in late 2020. A release date hasn’t been specified for Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II.

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