After the news of Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice receiving an Xbox Series X and Series S upgrade yesterday, we just had to dive in. Admittedly, none of us have actually finished the game here at Pure Xbox - a travesty, we know - so this next-gen upgrade is the perfect chance for us to finally embark on that quest. The upgrade has enabled a ton of new features, most notably ray tracing, and while the improvements aren't always in your face, an array of subtle changes elevate Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice even further.
Having played the game a few years back, booting it up again instantly proved how little it's aged. While it could be attributed to the new Enriched Mode we enabled - which adds ray tracing and 4K visuals at the sacrifice of 60fps - switching to the classic graphical options proved that it was always a looker. Unlike other next-gen upgrades such as Watch Dogs: Legion, which is hugely different from its Xbox One counterpart, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice offers a lot more subtlety in its upgrade.
The biggest noticeable change you'll see is the lighting. While it was always stellar, the Enriched Mode uses ray tracing to push it further than ever before. It works especially well during weather effects, such as lightning brightening up the sky. It's an effective bump and makes the world of Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice look more alive than ever before.
Ray tracing also ensures puddles and water give off naturally reflective surfaces. Looking back at Watch Dogs: Legion, when it rained during that game, the city of London turned into what seemed to be an ice rink as the floor effectively worked as a mirror. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice is a bit hit and miss. When it works, it looks beautiful, as reflections in puddles illuminate the wonderful world design. However, mass expanses of water fail to capture the same magic and are a definite low point in the graphical department. It would have been nice to see more work done to really push the ray tracing even further.
Unless you're absolutely adamant you want to see the subtle changes in lighting, we recommend sticking with the Resolution Mode for now. It provides up to 4K visuals, accompanied by 60fps support. One thing we noticed with the Enriched Mode is during graphically intense situations, the resolution would take a noticeable dip that would take us out of the experience momentarily. In Resolution Mode, this issue never seemingly reared its ugly head.
We haven't yet had a chance to try Performance Mode, which allows up to 120fps on applicable TVs and dynamic 1080 resolution, but with the world of Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice being as cinematic as it is, we don't expect it would add too much outside of combat encounters. In the end, it all comes down to how much you appreciate ray tracing. The drop to 30fps with Enriched Mode isn't as bad as you may expect, with it being one of the few games we'd argue benefits from a lower frame rate. But personally, we found the Resolution Mode perfectly balances everything that makes Ninja Theory's masterpiece look magnificent.
The biggest takeaway? This upgrade has got us truly excited for the sequel.
Have you checked out Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice on Xbox Series X|S? Let us know in the comments below.