The Matrix Awakens is a must-see next-generation film.

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The Matrix Awakens is a must-see next-gen film.

The Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 Experience has finally unlocked after teasing us with a pre-load earlier this week.

This is the most ambitious UE5 demo yet, and the first chance we’ve had to get hands-on with this cutting-edge rendering technology on consoles. It’s available for Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series S.

For the past few days, Digital Foundry has had unrestricted access to Epic’s experience, as well as the chance to speak with key Epic executives.

We’ll have more to say about that soon, but for now, here’s a rundown of what the experience has to offer, as well as some early impressions, what’s new in UE5, and how it looks and runs.

First and foremost, the experience is divided into three distinct sections.

The first is a character showcase, with Epic creating digital models of both Keanu Reeves (Neo) and Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity) that are rendered as they are today, as well as as they were in the original Matrix trilogy.

We’re seeing a fascinating mix of library assets and fully real-time rendered characters in these early scenes, and it’s been fascinating for us at Digital Foundry to try to figure out which is which! Epic’s impressive MetaHuman digital actor technology is used here, with Reeves and Moss digitally scanned and custom-built but added to the MetaHuman systems that handle rigging and animation.

The character showcase is followed by a fully playable, albeit linear, action sequence that introduces the player character, IO, who was created using the standard MetaHuman toolbox.

It’s interesting to see how a fully’synthetic’ character creation in the MetaHuman system compares to custom-scanned iconic characters at this point, and the answer is: quite well.

What follows is essentially a Virtua Cop-style gallery shooting gallery rendered with next-level visuals, with Neo flying off and leaving Trinity behind the wheel.

It’s a highway shootout akin to The Matrix Reloaded, but this time you’re right in the middle of it.

The fidelity of the city streets is unrivaled, with the PS5 and Xbox Series X rendering at near-Blu-ray quality.

What’s important to keep in mind at this point is that, while you’re watching a linear set-piece, it’s taking place in a fully realized open world…

Nokia News provides an overview of technology.

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