Is Hellblade 2 worth playing?

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 screenshot
Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 screenshot
Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 – have you played it? (Xbox Game Studios)

The Friday Letters page asks if the Xbox Series X/S is still just a ShooterBox, as one reader hopes for a new Splinter Cell game.

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Spare time
I’ve seen some people describe Hellblade 2 as the ultimate Game Pass game, in that you can play it for no extra cost and appreciate the graphics, but I don’t know. I think it’s pretty well documented that not paying for a game (or I guess anything) means you don’t feel the need to try to get your money’s worth or even necessarily give it your full attention.

I don’t know how much of a factor that was, but I was bored out of my mind by Hellblade 2. The graphics are great, there’s no doubt about that, but they’re pretty much just rocks. The landscapes are great, but they’re also mostly the same (except for that weird bit in the woods, which seemed completely pointless).

The story doesn’t seem to make any sense, in terms of whether it’s all real or not, and the characters are actually quite basic and clichéd, especially the slaver. I can’t say more because of spoilers, but the biggest problem is simply that it’s so boring to play. The combat is super simple and super repetitive and the puzzles are the same.

Is it okay that I can play it for free? I think so, but if that hadn’t been an option I just wouldn’t have played it all, which, after coming out on the other side, would have been the preferred option. It wasn’t worth my time and I wouldn’t really recommend it.
Jan van Gent

Proof of power
There were some very mixed opinions about Hellblade 1 and I’m not surprised that the sequel is the same. As a fan of the original, I have now played the second one and I like it a lot too. If I’m honest, it’s probably not that good because it’s all a bit known now. Plus, I preferred if the original story focused more on Senua.

But I thought the combat and puzzles were a big step up from the first, especially the puzzles. Moreover, it is of course absolutely wonderful to look at. I have no doubt that these are the best graphics ever and I don’t even know what number two would be. It almost doesn’t matter because it’s so far behind.

Hopefully the fact that it’s on Game Pass means that a lot of people will appreciate it and realize that the Xbox Series can see how well the PlayStation 5 handles it. Although that begs the question, would Microsoft go all out to port it? A strange thought, but if they want it to sell, I think they would.
Taylor Moon

Beautiful but boring
RE: Bobwallett. I actually liked Ryse: Son Of Rome and it had a decent combat system, albeit not exactly super duper deep.

It received more criticism than it deserved.

It was fun, although it got a bit old and monotonous towards the end.

Hellblade 1, however, was a beautiful, mind-bending, boring affair.

I really couldn’t get into that game and even found the whole puzzle side of it to be a very tedious affair, and not even particularly challenging.

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Dream come true
Heads up to anyone with an Xbox who’s up for a bit of racing action. GRID Legends Deluxe Edition, which includes all DLC, currently costs £7.99 on the Microsoft Store. For that price it’s an absolute bargain! Also on sale is the excellent EA Sports WRC for £17.99. Originally released last November, the game has had a few updates and now plays much better than it did back then (car behavior, frame rate, etc.). Hopefully some DLC with additional stages will come later this year.

Nice to read the letter and response yesterday about the upcoming physical releases of the Tomb Raider remaster. Good stuff! I couldn’t wait that long; I had to get the digital release. It’s everything I ever wanted from a Tomb Raider remaster.
Paul C.
PS: Paper Mario: The Millennial Door. Quality.
PPS: I’m looking forward to and longing for a new Splinter Cell game. Will this ever happen?

GC: If a remake counts, yes. Assuming it wasn’t quietly canceled because it’s been a long time since anything was heard about it.

Credit where it’s due
I thought I would share a positive shopping experience with Currys. An Underboxer said they had a bad transaction with them and it was my first time using them so I was wondering how it would go.

Anyway, that wasn’t the case. They normally have a 25% discount pre-order code for Nintendo Switch games, so they pre-ordered Paper Mario for £37.50 after reviews rose.

It arrived at 11am on launch day. Delivery was free, followed by an email and text message informing me of the time my parcel would arrive by DPD and the option to provide instructions if I was not at home.

Plus, the purchase qualified you for a free three-month subscription to Apple TV+, along with their other services if you want them. I’ve been wanting to see the fourth season of For All Mankind for a while now.

To withdraw
I beat Marvel’s Midnight Suns a while ago, and it shouldn’t surprise you that I played the PlayStation 4 version. I suppose that’s where the technical issues arose for me. Although to me the graphics looked somewhat like… Xbox 360. Sometimes. Clearly there’s more going on under the hood, but the Resident Evil 4 remake looked much better on last-gen hardware, with very few compromises. I did notice that in the destroyed stairwell, where you fight a lot of flying insects, broken vases would not disappear. But that was it.

More troubling for me is that I bought a full edition of Midnight Suns but can’t find the DLC missions. I thought they would become available after I beat the game, but no. The store is acting very strange about it. But I now have a PlayStation 5! Maybe it’ll be easier to find if I port the game via my DLC?

That said, the purchase was painful. £340 used at my local indie shop and £100 less thanks to a very generous contribution from one of my housemates, but that still leaves me feeling really big for the rest of the month. Like one of those lobster monsters from Elden Ring.

So there are no new games as such to go through. I’ve contented myself with seeing what’s new in Fallout 4. Which so far seems to be the Enclave and that requires a lot of killing. Even on the easiest settings. And I haven’t figured out how to transfer my PlayStation 4 saves to the new consoles yet. Trying to do everything at once on the first day made the PlayStation 5 very unhappy and crashed. So yeah, I guess…

The comeback year
So we’re back on the rollercoaster for this year’s Call Of Duty. I really hope they push the boat out this year, after the awful Modern Warfare 3. The fact that it’s Treyarch and Black Ops is a positive sign, but nothing so far in these teasers tells me anything about what it’s gonna do be like.

The whole concept of an annual Call Of Duty may be lazy, but if they do it right, I’m still a fan. However, it feels like a long time since we’ve had a decent story campaign and I hope Black Ops 6 sees that return in a big way.

ShooterBox redux
Very happy that the rumors suggest we’re getting another Doom and that it will likely be multiformat. I’ll definitely get that on my PlayStation 5. But one thing that strikes me about the Xbox lineup is that they still haven’t broken away from the ShooterBox label.

Call Of Duty, Doom, Perfect Dark, Gears Of War 6… even Indiana Jones seems to be a first person shooter and I imagine there’s a good chance that Contraband is too. State Of Decay also appears to be a third-person shooter. There’s a bit more variety now with Avowed, but that’s pretty much beyond any other Killer Instinct.

It’s quite laughable that the big secret is once again Blue Dragon. It didn’t make any difference to the Xbox 360 and I’m pretty sure it won’t improve Xbox’s Japanese reputation this time around either. Especially after they just closed Tango Gameworks.

Even as a PlayStation 5 owner, I’ll be watching the showcase because soon it will be just like any other third-party publisher. There will probably be a number of games that I’ll feature and eventually play on my PlayStation, although other than Doom I can’t say I’m all that excited about the thought of any of these games.

Inbox is also running
That Paper Mario pre-order display is great. I wish Nintendo would just sell it as I would certainly pay £10+ for that.

I saw a trailer for a new Netflix movie called Atlas. Reminded me a bit of Titanfall with the pilot/mech relationship. Is anyone watching it yet?

GC: We mentioned it yesterday in the story about a possible Titanfall 3. However, it only came out today.

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