CD Projekt Red announced recently that it is developing The Witcher Remake, alongside the start of a brand new saga for the series too, which will start with the tentatively titled The Witcher 4. Both of these games are being developed in Unreal Engine 5, as CD Projekt steps away from its own Red Engine and instead goes along with Epic Games’ widely used technology. This is going to be great for both games across the board.
The bottom line is this, CD Projekt Red clearly believes moving the Unreal Engine 5 will lead to better games and better development. CTO Paweł Zawodny said earlier this year “it was the shift towards open world support that brought Unreal Engine 5 to our attention,” with art director Jakub Knapik adding that “Unreal is used by a lot of teams already in the world, a lot of perspectives are projected into the design of the tools.”
Unreal Engine 5 should make CDPR better at what it already does, and the struggles with Cyberpunk 2077’s development and initial release (granted, this has been turned around massively in the last two years) likely played a part in this shift too.
While The Witcher Remake isn’t being developed by CDPR, it is being handled by fellow Polish studio Fool’s Theory, which helped with the development of The Witcher 2 and 3. CDPR says it is “providing full creative supervision” on the project, so it’s not like The Witcher 4 and this remake will be completely separate entities.
I can quite easily see the move to Unreal Engine 5 helping out both games here, especially considering CDPR will be involved somewhat with the remake. Can I confirm the exact form this potential help will take? Absolutely not, but my point is that I think there could be some similarities between The Witcher 4 and The Witcher Remake, simply because how one of the teams learns to use Unreal Engine 5 can only help the other.
How The Witcher Remake will reinvent and modernise the 2007 original remains to be seen, but it’s not unrealistic to assume that some of how Fool’s Theory changes The Witcher could be integrated into The Witcher 4, and vice versa. Does this mean we’ll get them quicker than we expect, or that both games will be incredibly similar? I don’t know to be honest, I’m just interested to see how both games being developed at the same time in the same engine impact the features, problem solving, and overall quality of each game.
CDPR clearly trusts the technology at play in Unreal Engine 5, so much so that it want to synergise development of the Witcher games.
In fact, this stems to the Cyberpunk franchise as well, and I think it highlights how CDPR is desperate to not have a launch situation anywhere near the disaster of Cyberpunk 2077. While the Phantom Liberty expansion is still using the Red Engine, it will be the last project to do so with the 2077 sequel, codenamed Project Orion, also moving to Unreal Engine 5.
This large-scale adoption of Unreal Engine 5 is definitely a costly move, which further cements how much CDPR trusts the tech and how it can influence the games the studio makes in the future.
I think Zawodny’s comments on Unreal Engine 5, and what it can specifically offer CDPR the types of open-world games it makes, cements why this is such an important move not just for the studio’s projects, but its overall image too. “This opens a new chapter for us where we really want to see how our experience in building open-world games gets combined with all the engineering power of Epic.”
Whatever happens to CD Projekt Red going forward, I really hope the move to Unreal Engine 5 pays off in the end.