It was a big deal when CD Projekt finally confirmed in March that the witch 4 (opens in new tab) (not the official title, but what we’re rolling with for now) is in development. Also unexpected was the news that it is not developing the game using a new iteration of its REDengine, but will use Unreal Engine 5. state of unreal (opens in new tab) event, studio members talked about why this change was made.
“There was a demo that took place last year, which was the medieval setting demo, where at one point there’s a billboard that looks strangely familiar with things we’ve done in the past – it even has a sign that says ‘monster slayer wanted. ‘. ‘” Slama says in the video. “And I was like, ‘Hmm, they’re trying to tell us, come to Unreal Engine, see how great your games can look there? Was this whole demo made for this nefarious purpose?’ I don’t know, but it definitely caught my eye.”
Get more information on why @CDPROJEKTRED chose to use #UE5 to create new open world games, including a new saga for The Witcher! 😻 pic.twitter.com/IVKFKljwf7April 5, 2022
This “wanted monster slayer” image is actually from a multi-part tutorial, which you can see below, on creating medieval environments in Unreal Engine 4. Despite the specifics of the engine, it seems like a clear call from The Witcher, a fake -Medieval monster hunter who often takes work on local bulletin boards.
Of course, getting someone’s attention is a far cry from convincing the studio’s leadership to switch to an entirely new engine. REDengine has impressive features, but building, maintaining, and updating it from game to game is a big drain on development resources. Switching to Unreal Engine 5 allows CD Projekt to leave much of the engine-level development to Epic, allowing it to focus primarily on making a real game.
“Unreal Engine is like a toolbox that has a lot of features, a lot of solutions, that allow teams to try new things,” said Art Director of Visual Effects and Lighting Jakub Knapik. “The fact that Unreal is used by many teams already in the world, many perspectives are projected into the design of the tools, and this helps the tool to be much more agile.”
Here is that tutorial segment:
Another big part of the decision to switch to Unreal Engine for the new Witcher game is its open-world-specific features, which Slama said will make it easier for developers to deal with the “exponentially greater” number of issues they’ll face while making worlds. open compared to linear games.
“Players can go in whatever direction they want, they can handle content in whatever order they want, theoretically,” Slama said. “To really encapsulate that, you need a really stable environment where you can make changes with a high level of confidence that you’re not going to break 1,600 other places in the future.”
Strictly speaking for myself, I don’t care which engine CD Projekt, or any other studio, decides to use: I’m here to impress myself with games, not technology. But if switching to someone else’s engine makes the process of making good games easier – and CD Projekt clearly seems to think it does – then I’m all for it.
It’s not the only studio to come to that conclusion: Crystal Dynamics announced today that it’s working on a new game Tomb Raider (opens in new tab) using Unreal Engine 5 as well. The previous Tomb Raider trilogy uses Crystal Dynamics’ own Foundation engine.