Epic And Microsoft Aren’t Saying Whether That Unreal PS5 Demo Can Run On Xbox Series X

Epic And Microsoft Aren’t Saying Whether That Unreal PS5 Demo Can Run On Xbox Series X
Screenshot: Epic Games

Epic Games’ impressive Unreal 5 tech demo revealed earlier this week was running on a PS5 development kit. Whether it can also run on Xbox Series X remains a mystery.

“The demo we revealed [on Wednesday] is running on PS5 because that’s been our target platform for this particular experience,” a spokesperson for Epic told Kotaku in an email yesterday. “UE5, with core technologies like Niagara VFX and Chaos physics and destruction—and the newly revealed Nanite virtualized geometry and Lumen dynamic global illumination—is also targeting Xbox Series X.”

When pressed about if the demo was designed specifically for PS5 and couldn’t run on Xbox Series X the spokesperson simply said, “We aren’t running it on XBSX.”

Microsoft has been similarly vague about specifics while clearly wanting people to expect similar performance from their next machine. “The fidelity seen in the Unreal Engine 5 tech demo is something that people can expect for next gen gaming across devices,” a spokesperson for Microsoft told Kotaku in an email. “Developers around the world, including the majority of our 15 Xbox Game Studios teams, are using Unreal Engine to build their future projects. We look forward to partnering with Epic and working closely with Unreal 5 across our development teams when it releases in 2021.”

Epic’s roughly seven minute tech demo called “Lumen in the Land of Nanite” showed a woman traversing ancient ruins full of detailed textures and complex lighting effects. At the very end she even takes flight, zooming through the air as rocks fall and towers crumble, showing just how quickly the world around her could be rendered. And all of it—which Epic says is playable—was captured from a PS5 development kit.

But at no point during the presentation or afterwards did Epic mention the other next-gen console coming this fall, Xbox Series X. When prompted to compare the PS5’s capabilities to Microsoft’s console during an interview with Geoff Keighly, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney demurred. “We love all our of our babies and we can’t make comparisons or pick favourites,” he said.

Epic is a third-party company that does business with Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and many more game creators, but their presumed platform agnosticism came off more partisan on Wednesday thanks to their decision to tie their new game engine demo with PlayStation. That decision has sparked valid questions about what the two upcoming rival PlayStation and Xbox consoles are capable of and has spurred a new round of ridiculous one-upmanship between fans of the two companies.

ImageGif: Epic Games

Sony certainly wants people to watch that demo and assume such graphics are only possible on PS5. Microsoft, meanwhile, is conspicuously noting in their statement to Kotaku that Unreal Engine won’t even be out until 2021, meaning that what’s possible with that engine in that demo, wouldn’t show up on any new console until well after the late 2020 launch of Xbox Series X and PS5. That doesn’t mean the tech demo didn’t show us what the PS5 will be capable of, which leads to that still unanswered question: Can the new Xbox do that, too?

The irony is that many of Microsoft’s upcoming first-party games will be based in Unreal Engine. “Incredible work by the team at Epic @UnrealEngine, many of our XGS studios are using Unreal, like the team at Ninja Theory creating Hellblade II, and are excited to bring these UE5 innovations to life on Xbox Series X,” the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, wrote on Twitter when the tech demo was revealed.

Aaron Greenberg, the head of Xbox marketing, was even more bullish on what the tech demo showed. “Super impressive and can only imagine what the new Unreal 5 Engine will look like on the world’s most powerful console,” he wrote on Twitter.

On paper, some of the Xbox Series X’s specs are certainly higher, but some, like its SSD speed, are lower. Epic’s Tim Sweeney praised Sony’s PS5 SSD during Wednesday’s demo, saying it even outpaced SSDs for PC. That’s led to questions, also unanswered, about whether the new Xbox’s slower SSD would prevent that Wednesday demo from running or running as well. Both Microsoft and Sony have also taken different approaches to designing their new hardware overall, and it’s impossible to know how the finished products will compare before seeing them in action.

Maybe UE 5’s tech demo hasn’t run on an Xbox Series X because it can’t, or maybe it’s just a sign that on this particular next-gen reveal Epic chose to work more closely with Sony instead of Microsoft.

We will see more of what each of the next-gen consoles is capable of in the coming months, as Sony and Microsoft begin to show off first-party games made to get the most out of their new hardware.


  • Was I the only person excited for a new engine but not happy with the outcome? I feel like we aren’t all thinking about this properly. It’s a tech demo that’s been edited to make it run on the Ps5. Not true 4k and running at 30 fps. How is the ps5 going to run something that good in an actual game at a good resolution and a good frame rate? there are so many questions yet everyone just asks, can the new xbox play it? I’d be assuming the xbox could play it IF unreal designed the tech demo for that particular console. They gimped the demo to make it work on ps5 so they could do the same for the X.

    • Its a new engine, not out yet, showcasing a console, also not out yet. And with both, it takes time to truly learn what they’re capable of.

      Even the makers of the engine wouldnt get everything possible out of it, there will be tricks and techniques to take it to heights they never imagined. And its THEN that we’ll start to see whats really capable.

      A few old guildies in WoW worked for Krome, and worked on a few early PS3 titles. Which basically meant doing the basics that worked with the PS2, until people found ways to take advantage of its better hardware. Given how complex the setup of that hardware was, that was a pain to do.

      Developers around the world basically piggybacked and leapfrogged each other, taking each others work and building on it to make a better process. So you didnt see what the PS3 could really do for about 3 years. It happens every generation, and this is no different. Its what a PS4 could do with a few tweaks.

      If this is the base level, what we see in 18 months is potentially going to look pretty special.

      • This is not the “base level”. This is way beyond anything you’ll see this gen in actual working games. Don’t believe me? Wait and see.

        • Yeah, gonna call bullshit on that one Regi666. If you look at the specs of the coming generation, they shit all over the PS4 and Xbone. Particularly the GPU, where we were dudded a little last gen. End result WILL be a big step up in quality from the PS4/Xbone to PS5/XbSx. More pixels, more processing power, and smoother framerate equals better graphics.

          My point was mainly that there is no way anyone could get the best out of the new generation though. Not yet, because they simply havent had the time to develop the little tricks and techniques to do so. It happens every generation, and people say exactly the same thing you just did.

          That goes for new engines as well like the Unreal engine shown here, so you have both the basic abilities of the console, and the engine. But its not close to what people will get out of it in time. Dont believe me? Wait and see.

    • Upscaled resolution and 30fps may be common and unimpressive at this stage of console gaming but you’re ignoring the amount of high quality cinema grade textures and physics being shown under those conditions.
      I would have preferred something that showcased the perfect balance too but this is less about showing off the PS5 and more about promoting the engine to developers.

      On a side note, we won’t be seeing games designed like this on any platform for some time yet.

  • I don’t get why it’s even a valid question. We’ve all seen the specs for both systems and they are extremely close if not pretty much the same. To ask whether the demo could run on Series X is like asking whether a game run on one high-end gaming PC could run on another. Of course it could. I doubt very much of the demo was bespoke for PlayStation 5 if at all. I just can’t stand reading the gaming press when new systems are coming out. It’s all just scraps of meat thrown to the console wars.

  • “After looking at the specs, I can’t see why it wouldn’t. No-one’s tried, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be managed.” Job done.

    I mean… that pretty much seems like what those quotes could all be paraphrased to, anyway. Some fucking ‘mystery’.

  • I pretty much stopped paying attention to all the publicity releases from both consoles months ago. The proof will be in what they actually deliver.

  • I think the question is flawed from the ground up, could this particular Tech demo run on XSX? No because it’s a Tech demo made using PS5 architecture. Could XSX also do an impressive Tech demo of its own using UE5? Sure I don’t see why not and anyone saying otherwise is kidding themselves.

    Also there is very likely a decent amount of contracts that went in to releasing that demo with the specific branding of “being run on PS5” which is why Epic are reluctant to say if it could or could not be done on XSX.

    The question also has another flaw which is that “does it matter if this demo can run on XSX?” Games have ALWAYS been developed and designed to hide flaws due to either software limitations or hardware limitations, the “long elevator rides” were put there for a reason as I’m sure everyone knows by now, and what the demo tried to show was the advances in UE5 which it did an okay job at doing. But this seemed far more like an advertisement for Sony than an actual Tech demo of a new engine, they showed us some “behind the scenes” with lighting changes and showing the new bump mapping etc. but unless you watched the full interview with the Devs for most people it was just a “look PS5 have good graphics haha take that Microsoft” video to watch and justify their own thoughts on whatever side of the fence they land on in the console debate.

    My question is still the same as it was when the new Assassin’s creed game was given a little more info in MS’s disappointing reveal event… Thing… Which is just “how long are we going to have to wait until we get a game that genuinely fits the title of ‘next-gen'” AC looks like a slightly better looking Assassin’s creed nothing too exciting seen of it so far, whether that’s because they chose not to or couldn’t due to it not being as polished as they’d like, in not sure, but it seems like for the most part, until we see some of these first party games like God of War 2 or Halo Infinite we won’t know what the next gen of games is going to look like at all, at least for the next couple of years until the Devs can “catch up” and really familiarise themselves with the new hardware.

  • Microsoft and Epic aren’t allowed to say whether it would run on XSX or not. Epic would have signed an exclusive content deal with Sony to launch the UE5 tech demo on the PS5.

    Legally their hands are tied.

    the unreal engine is used in tons of high profile games across multiple platforms, there is no doubt UE5 will be used on the XSX. it will take a couple of years for developers to wrap their heads around the new engine and extract the best possible results from it.

  • “We love all our of our babies and we can’t make comparisons or pick favourites,” he said.
    While cashing in what was probably a PS5 marketing cheque for exclusivity to push that out one week after Microsoft’s “gameplay” trailers.
    The cagey response just seemed to me he is bound by contract terms.

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