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Polaris, the codename for the fourth The Witcher game, is using Unreal Engine 5 rather than CD Projekt Red’s own REDengine. This is in order to free up a lot of its developers to refocus on the game itself, as Epic Games‘ engine offers an enormous amount of pre-built assets and tools.
As well as this design decision, it looks like the company is ensuring that the next Witcher game is as strong as possible, whenever it releases.
“At the end of July, the [Cyberpunk 2077 expansion] Phantom Liberty team working on the pre-release phase consisted of 300 people,” said CEO Adam Kiciński in an earnings call earlier this week (via Video Games Chronicle).
“That’s fewer than at the end of 2022, but it still it remains our biggest team. On the other hand, the Polaris team has grown to almost 260 developers at the end of July,” he continued. “After releasing Phantom Liberty, we will transfer a big part of the team to Polaris.”
CD Projekt Red entered a “multi-year strategic partnership” with Epic Games in 2022, adding that the developer’s years of expertise will ameliorate Unreal Engine 5’s compatibility with other open world titles.
“Unreal Engine is like a toolbox which has a lot of features, a lot of solutions, already there that allows teams to just try new stuff,” explained VFX and lighting art director Jakub Knapik in a tutorial posted to YouTube. “The fact 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, and that helps the tool to be way more agile.”
Elsewhere, CD Projekt Red defended its decision to denote Phantom Liberty to be the conclusion to Cyberpunk 2077 with no second expansion on the cards.