Want to get a taste of what the interactive storytelling and entertainment created with Unreal Engine 5 might look like in the future? The Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 Experience is a new tech demo that showcases what is now possible when you combine UE5 with PlayStation 5.
Part cinematic, part playable, the demo was created by members of the original crew of The Matrix, including Lana Wachowski, James McTeigue and John Gaeta, in collaboration with teams from Epic Games and partners.
The cinematic element features digital replicas of Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne-Moss as incredibly lifelike digital humans. Then, the demo transforms into an interactive car chase experience and fast-paced third-person shooter action.
These sequences are totally dynamic: the world responds to you in totally unpredictable ways. It’s thanks to Chaos, Unreal Engine’s high-performance physics system that can deliver real-time, cinematic-quality levels of destruction and simulate the movement of clothing, hair, vehicles, and more.
The team used Sequencer to script the car chase in the demo. They were able to use the simulated universe to explore different creative options for cinematic content, with team members driving cars around the virtual city to capture exciting shots. This process mirrored how directors of live-action films will roam a city to find the best streets to tell their story, but without the physical constraints of the real world.
The Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 Experience is designed to take full advantage of PS5 technology, including the super-fast SSD drive, CPU, GPU, as well as console ray tracing.
To do this, we built a vast open world city of 16 square kilometers, consisting of seven thousand buildings made up of thousands of modular pieces, each made up of millions of triangles and enriched with props, signs, debris, etc. . There are 1,248 simulated intersections, 45,073 parked cars (including 38,146 drivable), more than 260 km of roads and 512 km of sidewalks.
This huge and dynamic environment is incredibly rich, complex and photorealistic. It’s made up of billions of polygons broadcast by Nanite, the UE5’s virtualized micropolygon geometry system, and processed by the PS5’s powerful CPUs and GPUs to deliver incredibly high level of detail and visual fidelity. A powerful procedural audio generation system simulates the noise of being in a busy city, increasing the sense of presence in the surroundings.
The result is an extremely powerful, immersive and photorealistic interactive experience. Filled with believable characters and drivable vehicles, you can explore the city on foot, board a vehicle, or fly with an aerial view.
The demo represents a new quality bar for interactive content, both richer and more engaging. This is because the open world environment in The Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 Experience is a living and breathing city.
Its characters and traffic are not only spontaneously generated based on where the player is looking, they are part of an overall simulation that is constantly being evaluated. In short, they exist whether you watch them or not. This means that the people and vehicles in the experience act in a much more credible way.
The environment also feels ‘real’ in a way interactive experiences so far haven’t, thanks to new UE5 technologies that process everything dynamically in real time rather than serving up visuals that have been precomputed offline, as is generally the case. until now.
Lumen is a good example: this powerful global lighting system brings the fidelity of indirect lighting, such as reflections from reflective or wet surfaces, closer than ever to the physical world. With lumen rendered in real time, you can adjust the lighting for the experience by moving the sun to any angle and seeing the effect instantly. There’s even an experimental night mode hidden within the experience for you to discover.
To give the impression of a living and breathing metropolis, tens of thousands of ultra-realistic digital characters populate the city, driven by a sophisticated AI system.
In the above image from Unreal Engine 5, you can see the IO hero with the Control Rig used to adjust the character animation. What’s exciting for game developers about this image is that it shows the asset being manipulated against the backdrop of the live environment. It shows that you can create interactive experiences in a much more natural and fluid way, adjusting things like the character animation in the city as it runs in real time and in final quality.
The Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 Experience showcases what the next generation of interactive experiences will offer: vast open worlds, ever more engaging action, and levels of graphic realism that can match cinematic content.
Download the experience and explore the future of interactive storytelling and entertainment.