The tech demo based on Unreal Engine 5 for Matrix is impressive. Half film, half game - this is how Microsoft Xbox announced the 30 gigabyte demo for Xbox Series X | S and Playstation 5. Indeed, the lines between video games and cinematic reality are blurring, especially when it comes to moving images.
The ultra-realistic piece of technology was created with the participation of Lana Wachowski, James McTeigue and John Gaete from the Matrix film crew and, among others, Epic Games. The gameplay value of the demo is negligible, it is rather a kind of feasibility experiment that hints at the future of gaming. Epic Games' Unreal Engine 5 obviously delivers top performance when it comes to transporting the most realistic possible image of the world to the displays.
Keanu Reeves or Keanu Reeves?
The demo begins with an introduction. Desolation? Not at all. After around two and a half minutes, it becomes clear why the tech demo for Matrix is currently on everyone's lips: Keanu Reeves can hardly be distinguished from its digital counterpart, and the same applies to Carrie-Ann Moss. After a bit of games philosophy, it goes out onto the streets of the big city. A rapid chase with shooting shows what fans can look forward to from 2022 - Stalker 2, one of the first games with the help of the new graphics engine, could then come onto the market. The release is targeted for April.
Other titles have recently been announced: Redfall from Arkane Studios; Dreamhouse: The Game, a house building simulation game, or ArcheAge 2, which is also being developed on the Unreal 5 engine. Even Fortnite should make the leap to Epic Games' new technical framework.
But first back on the streets: chase, weapons at the ready. In the role of IO, players in the tech demo shoot at pursuers, who fortunately are numerous. Impressive explosions, car stunts, tracking shots - if you didn't know better, you could assume while playing the tech demo that you are watching a film. The city in particular looks impressively realistic.
This cannot be fully said of the agents. The graphic jump becomes clear, but it's still a long way to get to realistic digital people in ingame sequences. However, one must consider the hardware factor: The tech demo for Matrix is currently not running on a nitrogen-cooled high-end PC, but on commercially available console hardware, even if it is in the case of the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X | S the hottest shit on the store shelf. Despite its limitation, the Unreal Engine 5 delivers game impressions that make you want more.
With a panning camera over the city, the demo creators make it clear what the engine is capable of: the technologies used can be switched - the day-night change is particularly impressive.
If you can, you should play the demo - after all, future games could look something like this. Ultra realistic in large parts. Xbox writes about the scope of the demo: "The sprawling city includes around seven million objects, each consisting of millions of polygons - including 7.000 buildings, 45.073 parked cars, of which 38.146 are drivable, over 260 kilometers of roads, 512 kilometers of sidewalks as well as thousands of crossings, lampposts and shafts.”
Anyone who has played games such as Watch Dogs Legion 2 can make a direct comparison: On the Unreal Engine 5, the big city looks much livelier and less artificial, even if it is not completely realistic in slow sequences. However, it is also a fact: if you were to hide the game content and only use the metropolis as a yardstick, you would hardly be able to distinguish the images from a film. The photo-realistic look with the modern lighting system is impressive. It is more complicated with the characters: the main characters, realized with modern 3D scans of the actors, are close to the cinematic reality, especially in the sequences in which all resources can be used for the presentation. Can you still recognize the digital images as such? Yes, sometimes you have to look very carefully.
The "cannon fodder" looks much more like computer characters, but the new engine also improves here significantly: the AI follows a daily routine, cars drive around - and lots of them, including those characters that are not visible on the screen, are part of the simulation. The degree of realism is significantly higher than before.
Anyone who was unsure whether the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X | S would actually usher in the next generation of gaming can see for themselves by playing the tech demo.
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