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CD Projekt Red Explains Why It's Using Unreal Engine 5 for The Witcher 4

CD Projekt Red Explains Why It's Using Unreal Engine 5 for The Witcher 4 Image
  • Posted on 08th Apr, 2022 22:55 PM
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CD Projekt Red explains why its moving to Unreal Engine 5 for the development of the next Witcher game rather than using its own in-house REDengine.

p>Epic Games recently had a live stream event named “The State of Unreal 2022” in which it highlighted several developers that are using Unreal Engine 5 to make games, along with showcasing how developing with the engine can make games look and play better. CD Projekt Red took part in this stream and gave some subtle insight into the development process of the next Witcher game. CDPR had recently announced it was switching from its own in-house game engine to Unreal Engine 5 to make the next highly anticipated game in the Witcher series.

The Witcher developer had already developed its own game engine named REDengine. This engine was used in multiple CDPR projects, most recently for Cyberpunk 2077, and is still being used for the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 DLC.

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It is unusual for a developer with its own in-house engine to switch to a third-party engine, especially for a signature property as lucrative as The Witcher series. CD Projekt Red used its time in The State of Unreal developer showcase to explain why it had made the switch to Unreal Engine for the next Witcher game. The decision to change engines came down to Unreal Engine 5’s new focus on open world game design rather than the linear games which earlier iterations of Unreal saw the most success with.

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As CD Projekt RED is famous for making large, open-world RPGs with many scenario-altering choices for the player to make in almost every mission and side quest, the developer really emphasized the importance of building such games on stable and reliable engines. Though never explicitly mentioned in the live stream, the fact that Cyberpunk 2077 was a game plagued with bugs and glitches since its infamous release back in 2020, likely has to do with CDPR’s choice to switch game engines.

CDPR’s original REDengine was first used for the Witcher 2 and has been heavily modified and updated in the years since, but the REDengine never could quite keep up the same technical pace as other in-house developer engines such as Rockstar’s RAGE engine. The Witcher 3 was a famously glitchy game despite its critical acclaim, but it was Cyberpunk 2077 that may have proved that CDPR’s creative vision as a developer had finally outgrown its technical software.

In this case, it is a good thing that CDPR has made the switch to developing games on Unreal Engine 5. The public consensus based on reviews for CD Projekt Red's more recent games is that the developer excels in writing deep and often morally-grey narratives for players to navigate, but is often let down on a technical side, with glitches and bugs that diminish otherwise perfectly crafted worlds. Moving to Unreal Engine 5 provides a sense of guaranteed stability for the game. This will not only allow CDPR to focus on its strengths in writing and characters, but will also reassure wary players that still feel somewhat burned after Cyberpunk 2077’s release.

The next game in The Witcher series is currently in development.

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