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Hellblade 2’s Senua looks pretty unreal in new Unreal Engine tech demo

Epic’s MetaHuman animation tech launches widely this summer

Epic Games showed off new animation technology during its State of Unreal presentation at this week’s Game Developers Conference, illustrating how developer Ninja Theory is using Unreal Engine 5 to bring Senua to life for Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2. While the talk was primarily game developer-focused, the takeaway for most people will be “Damn, this looks pretty good!”

Melina Juergens, performance capture artist for Ninja Theory, and the actor behind Senua, showed how Unreal 5 can take footage of a performance using little more than an iPhone camera and turn it into usable facial animation. Unreal Engine’s MetaHuman technology processes that simple footage to apply detailed facial animations to a 3D model, expressing fear, anger, and more subtle looks without a human needing to finesse it.

But using a more sophisticated performance capture rig, it can also apply highly detailed facial animations in real time to Epic’s MetaHuman models. That’s what you can see in the video above — which also serves as a fresh, albeit brief, look at Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, a title we haven’t heard from in a while.

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is coming to Windows PC and Xbox Series X. Ninja Theory’s sequel to 2017’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice does not have a release date.

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