Matrix Awakens tech demo only released on consoles
If you don’t have a PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X / S, you won’t be able to try out the new Unreal Engine 5 tech demo, called The Matrix Awakens. It’s available to pre-load now on consoles, but won’t be released on PC, an Epic Games representative confirmed to PC Gamer. No virtual Keanu Reeves for us, at least outside of Cyberpunk 2077.
I don’t expect something as meaningful as Kojima PT’s horror demo – it’ll be an advertisement for The Matrix Resurrections to some extent – but you never know, and it’s a little surprising that this “Glimpse into the Future of Interactive Storytelling” won I wouldn’t be on PC given the strength with which I associate PCs with both The Matrix and Unreal Engine.
The Matrix Online was meant to make PC gamers the heirs to Matrix history, after all. And the very first scene of The Matrix features Trinity bashing a laptop, while Neo is a brooding coder hiding in a fictionalized version of the moonlight ’90s hack scene. (Romanticized in that I don’t think Kevin Mitnick went to a lot of clubs with only leather dress codes, although I could be wrong). The Unreal Engine was another child of the ’90s personal computer scene, which debuted a year before The Matrix in 1998 on PC, Unreal. (I could see Epic CEO Tim Sweeney nodding at Dragula in a leather trench coat, actually.)
Here in 2021, a high-end PC appears to be the best platform on which to explore Neo’s question in the teaser embedded above – “How do we know what’s real?” – but alas, those without a console among us (like me) will have to content themselves with watching a YouTube video of Matrix Awakens. It will be “revealed” at the Game Awards this Thursday, December 9, although it likely cannot be fully experienced in video form. Epic’s description of “a glimpse into the future of interactive storytelling and entertainment” suggests that this is a hands-on experience.
The Xbox demo store page goes into a bit more detail: “Created by members of the original film crew, including Lana Wachowski with Epic Games and its partners, The Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 Experience is a wildly real-life adventure, bending universe of The Matrix which features performances by Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss. “
It’s not totally shocking that the PC is being left out here, as Epic has so far focused quite a bit on demonstrating the console capabilities of Unreal Engine 5. The “Nanite” rendering of the engine was first shown on the PS5. Consoles give Epic finer control over the experience, as it doesn’t have to consider a lot of different specs. The question “How do we know what is real?” Might not have the desired effect if spoken through the Keanu potato settings on a 10 year old PC.
It’s still disappointing. I also want to play around with free marketing, although I don’t have to: I was already going to watch The Matrix Resurrections (out December 22 on HBO Max and in theaters), and I’m hoping Unreal Engine 5 can make it happen. Reeves’ locks well conditioned. Other than this Unreal demo, there’s unfortunately no new Matrix game announced to accompany the film, but that doesn’t mean we’ll never get our legacy back.