This week is your last chance to enter The Matrix on the latest generation of Xbox and PlayStation systems. Revealed this past December and timed to coincide with the release of The Matrix Resurrections, The Matrix Awakens is an Unreal Engine 5 demo that showcases the potential power of current video game hardware and where visuals could go in full games over the next few years. The free demo was always meant to be a limited-time promotion, so anyone interested in seeing the 4K cybercity for themselves has until July 9 to download it on Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5.
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The half-hour experience shows how far games have to go in this generation, as it starts out with a scene that, in an attempt to show off its realistic qualities, flips between real-life footage and computer-generated assets before moving to a guided gunfight on a highway and the finally an open-world section that lets players toy with lots of technical knobs in a giant city. It even has plenty of hidden bits of trivia scattered around, divulging details like how the city has 12,422 manholes and 1,248 intersections.
Access to this graphical prowess will remain relevant for quite a while as developers move on from cross-generation releases and start transitioning to games that are only on the current batch of consoles. The only game of note that’s available now and using Unreal Engine 5 is Epic’s own Fortnite, which made the shift at the start of Season 3.
Even if you’re not interested in the demo right now, it’s worth logging into an account and adding it to your library for free. Much like most digital games that are no longer available on storefronts, anyone who has previously activated it on their account can download it whenever they like.
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While Unreal Engine 5 is uncommon now, players will see many more games that look like The Matrix Awakens soon. From the Vin Diesel dinosaur hunting game Ark 2 to the next Tomb Raider and Witcher installments, plenty on the horizon will be able to further push graphics on Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 to new levels.
The technical analysts at Digital Foundry also released a lengthy video about the demo at the time, praising its quality at nearly every turn.