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Opinion: PS5 Unreal demo came at the perfect time for Sony and the worst time for Microsoft

From interesting tidbits to larger Xbox Series X announcements, until recently, it was pretty safe to say Microsoft was leading the way ahead of next-gen console launches. However, it’s taken a turn this week. Microsoft had a misstep with some “gameplay”, and Sony stepped up with a PS5 Unreal Engine demo.

Sony’s PS5 reveal schedule had been pretty lacklustre – a developer-facing tech talk by Mark Cerny that baffled many consumers and a half-decent but hardly inspiring controller reveal. Meanwhile, Microsoft has had a steady trickle of reveals from their in-house team as well as smart collaborations with outlets to explain the interesting technology behind the new console.

Related: PS5 vs Xbox Series X

The beginning of May has seen things take a sharp turn for PS5 and Xbox Series X promotion. The shift isn’t seismic but, thus far, Microsoft seemed to have the share of good-will while impatience was growing with Sony. So, what’s gone wrong and what’s gone right?

Interestingly, Sony’s biggest win thus far did not come directly from them. Rather, it was Epic Games who threw them a bone. During the Summer Games Fest, Epic Games showed off the new Unreal Engine 5 running on the PS5 in real-time – and it looked stunning. 

The demo gave off Tomb Raider/Uncharted vibes but with some superpowers thrown in but that’s neither here nor there, what was truly impressive was how it looked. From a stunning level of detail to remarkable lighting effects. Epic Games also explained some of the new tech behind UE5 and how it’ll help games truly step up for next-gen.

During the stream, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney had high praise for the upcoming Sony console:

“The hardware that Sony is launching is absolutely phenomenal … Not only an unprecedented amount of graphics power, but also a completely new storage architecture that blows past architectures out of the water and is far ahead of even the state-of-the-art, highest-end PCs you can buy.”

Related: DualSense – Everything we know about the PlayStation controller

The video sent social media ablaze with mostly positive opinions on the stunning demo, and the excitement was rife amongst the Trusted Reviews team too. While Sony still has a lot to show – we still await the actual PS5 design – it feels like the company has turned a corner out of nowhere. However, you can definitely give the assist to Microsoft.

Following Microsoft’s Inside Xbox last week, the disappointment was palpable – particularly relating to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Xbox touted gameplay as a highlight for the Inside Xbox stream and, while we did get it for some games, it was notably absent for Valhalla. The absence was despite Ubisoft tweets ahead of the event suggesting it would appear and developer Ashraf Ismail later apologised:

For the PS5 Unreal Engine demo to come less than a week after this gameplay mishap will be an unplanned yet welcome coup for Sony. While not an example from an actual game, the demo provides a good insight into what graphical levels gameplay can reach – something which fans were expecting from the Xbox Series X last week and Microsoft failed to deliver.

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