If you followed the Game Awards 2021 ceremony, you probably remember the appearance of Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss. But they weren’t there for a game, in any case almost not, but for the Matrix Awakens demo which runs under Unreal Engine 5. If you haven’t already, we advise you to download it right away since it will be removed from the Xbox and PlayStation stores on July 9.
What exactly is The Matrix Awakens?
The Matrix Awakens is not a game. It is a free technical demo which runs in real time under the Unreal Engine 5 engine, but which is playable!
And that is the whole difference. We have been treated to several Unreal Engine 5 demos over the past two years, but they were always videos of what could be done in the future with the Epic Games engine. But this time, it’s truer than ever.
The playable demo titled “The Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 Experience” is available on Xbox Series X|S and PS5, but you only have a few days left to download it as Epic Games will retire it on July 9 2022. Hurry!
The future is already here
How was this demo designed? What’s behind it? This is revealed by our colleagues from Eurogamer after talking with Epic Games.
If the characters of Keanu Reeves (Neo) and Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity) look so realistic, it’s because they were created with technology MetaHuman from Epic Games, which we detailed at the start of 2021.
The playable technical demo is obviously very scripted, but that doesn’t prevent it from being very impressive when you know that everything is running in real time. Explosions, for example, are calculated in real time using the physics system Chaos from Epic.
Does the world created for this demo seem too rigid to you at first? So wait until you reach the last third in which you can roam freely as well as take control of vehicles. It is the Nanite technology, dedicated to geometry, which hits the mark here, coupled with Lumen, which manages the lights. It is also possible to play with the options to, for example, modify the position of the sun. Ray Tracing works wonders here.
We also learn that to further improve the overall rendering, Epic relies heavily on its TSR (super temporal resolution) solution which injects data from previous images into the current one in order to improve quality. With the help of tools and procedural generation, Epic Games was able to create a realistic and coherent world for a city that is the size of downtown Los Angeles (Downtown district). Here are the numbers.
- The city is 4.138 km wide and 4.968 km long, slightly larger than the size of downtown Los Angeles
- The area of the city is 15.79 km2
- The perimeter of the city is 14.519 km long
- There are 260 km of roads in the city
- There are 512 km of sidewalks in the city
- There are 1,248 intersections in the city
- There are 45,073 cars parked, of which 38,146 can be driven and are destructible
- There are 17,000 simulated vehicles on the road that are destructible
- 7,000 buildings
- 27,848 street side streetlights only
- 12,422 manholes
- Nearly 10 million unique and duplicate assets were created to create the city
- The whole world is lit only by the sun, the sky and the emissive materials on the meshes. No light sources were placed for the tens of thousands of streetlights and headlights. In night mode, almost all the lighting comes from the buildings’ millions of emissive windows
- 35,000 simulated MetaHuman pedestrians
- Average number of polygons? 7,000 buildings made up of thousands of assets and each asset alone could represent up to millions of polygons. We therefore have several billion polygons to constitute only the buildings of the city
This is the same team that took care of this Matrix demo as the one responsible for the Unreal Engine 5 demos previously. To get a glimpse of what the Unreal Engine 5 looks like in a real game, we advise you to watch the first Hellblade 2 gameplay video aired tonight.
Finally, note that while watching the demo videos on your phone is already impressive enough, the experience will be even more striking on your 4K TV.