Almost Unreal

As part of this week's Game Developer Conference (GDC) publisher Epic Games and developer Team Ninja has shone the light on the stunning facial animation tech that will be used to bring life and personality to the characters of long-in-development sequel Senua's Saga: Hellblade II.
The demonstration video shows off Unreal Engine's "Metahuman" technology, and features the face of actor Melina Juergens, who portrays the troubled Senua in the Hellblade series. The video begins with an extreme close-up of Senua's eyes, slowing pulling back as she delivers a dramatic monologue, before finally being lost in flickering flame. While the blending of reality and digital effects will almost always contain some element of the infamous "Uncanny Valley", it can't be denied that the technology is mightily impressive.
"This cloud-hosted tool allows you to create photorealistic digital humans for your game or experience, with the simplicity of an RPG character creator, yet with a level of realism and customization that you?ve never seen before," says Epic Games' chief technology officer Kim Librerim.
Senua's Saga: Hellblade II was first announced back in 2019, with only scant updates and previews offered on the grim-looking sequel. Given Hellblade II's core approach to psychological horror and deep, emotive characters, the Metahuman tech will allow the developers to best capture Juergens as she delivers what is expected to be another stellar lead performance. Should it be a success, we can likely expect to see other character-focused adventures experiment with the next-gen tech.
Senua's Saga: Hellblade II is currently in development for PC and Xbox Series X.
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