CD Projekt Says New Unreal Engine 5 Witcher Game Won’t Be ‘One Store Exclusive’

Today’s Biggest Surprise wizard 4 announcement (that’s what we’re calling it until it has a title) is not that it’s happening – of course it’s happening – but that CD Projekt is switching from its in-house developed REDengine to Unreal Engine 5. REDengine, in several iterations, has been used in The Witcher 2, The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077, but its time is clearly up: CD Projekt said in the announcement that the switch to a new engine signals the beginning of “a multi-year strategic partnership with Epic Games.”

“[The partnership] covers not only licensing, but technical development of Unreal Engine 5, as well as possible future versions of Unreal Engine where relevant,” said CD Projekt. to customize the engine for open world experiences.”

Cyberpunk 2077’s many technical issues are likely the most immediately obvious reason for the switch to the new technology – and don’t forget that The Witcher 3 wasn’t exactly in good shape at launch either. Switching to a more complete and widely used game engine can provide a smoother experience for players right from the start.

More importantly, though, the new technology is expected to make life a little easier for CD Projekt developers. “One of the central aspects of our internal transformation of Red 2.0 is a much stronger focus on technology, and our cooperation with Epic Games is based on this principle,” said CD Projekt Red Technical Director Paweł Zawodny in a statement.

Red 2.0 is a long-term development strategy announced in March 2021 that it aims to allow “parallel development” of multiple projects at CD Projekt, rather than the one-at-a-time approach adopted so far. As part of the process of enabling this change, studio head Adam Badowski said management wanted to “emphasize the well-being of our employees and provide them with opportunities for professional and personal development.”

This part of the change in strategy was especially notable because of long-standing issues with the crisis at CD Projekt. The complaints first surfaced in 2017, a few years after The Witcher 3 was released; at the time, Badowski and CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwinski were largely disregarding the problemand insinuated that the crisis was just how good things were done.

“This approach to making games isn’t for everyone. It often requires a conscious effort to ‘reinvent the wheel’ – even if you personally think it already works like a charm,” they said at the time. “But you know what? We believe that reinventing the wheel every time is what makes a game better.”

Attitudes seemed to soften a bit, as the studio promised.”more humane” and “not obligatory” Crunch for Cyberpunk 2077. But the situation has changed after a delay in late 2019: Crunch was made mandatoryand CD Projekt management did not seem to consider the setback a big deal.

Switching to the Unreal Engine is pretty much a complete reversal of the “reinvent the wheel” attitude, as the studio won’t have to spend time and resources to upgrade and maintain its engine: Essentially, this will be Epic’s problem.

“In the past, we spent a lot of resources and energy evolving and adapting REDengine with each subsequent game release,” said Zawodny. “This cooperation is so exciting because it will increase the predictability and efficiency of development, while giving us access to cutting-edge game development tools.”

It’s not exactly a trend right now, but CD Projekt isn’t the first major studio to decide that an in-house developed game engine is more of a headache than it’s worth. After struggling with a mandate to use the system developed by DICE Frostbite engine in Dragon Age, Mass Effect and Anthem, now it looks like BioWare use Unreal Engine 5 for the next Mass Effect game.

While The Witcher is switching to new technology, CD Projekt has confirmed that REDengine will continue to be used to develop Cyberpunk 2077’s next expansion (although that’s a given as it makes no sense to remake Cyberpunk 2077 into a new engine for the cause. of some DLC). And for those who are especially picky about which site they buy their games from, the developer also said that despite the move to Unreal Engine 5 and the partnership with Epic Games, it doesn’t plan on making the next Witcher game exclusive to any one store.

In the past, CD Projekt games have been released on GOG (their own DRM-free store) and Steam. An Epic Games Store release has been added for Cyberpunk 2077. The next Witcher game will likely hit the same stores whenever it releases, although CD Projekt has technically not committed to specific stores. Aside from the engine, though, there’s very little information about the game, including when it might launch or who might be in it – but the image included in the ad points to a all new witchers schoolstrongly suggesting that Geralt will not be returning.

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