After teasing us with a pre-load earlier in the week, The Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 experience has finally unlocked. Available for Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S, this is the most ambitious UE5 demo seen to date – and the first chance we’ve had to go properly hands-on with this cutting-edge rendering technology on consoles. Digital Foundry has had unfettered access to experience for a few days now, along with the opportunity to talk in depth with key personnel at Epic. We’ll be sharing more on that soon but for now, here’s an outline of what the experience offers, some initial impressions, what’s new in UE5 and how it looks and runs.
First of all, the experience is actually split into three separate and distinct sections. The first is a character showcase, with Epic successfully creating digital models of both Keanu Reeves (Neo) and Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity) – rendered as they are today, but also as they were in the original Matrix trilogy. What we’re seeing in these initial scenes is a fascinating mixture of both library assets and fully real-time rendered characters, and it’s actually been quite fascinating for us at Digital Foundry to attempt to pick out which is which! Epic’s impressive MetaHuman digital actor technology is deployed here, with Reeves and Moss digitally scanned and custom-built but added to the MetaHuman systems which handle rigging and animation.