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Did Epic tempt CD Projekt Red over to Unreal Engine 5 with a "fake" Witcher demo?

CD Projekt RED is making the leap from its own REDengine to Unreal 5 – and it may have all started in a most peculiar way.

Yesterday's Unreal Engine 5 presentation by Epic Games came with a few surprises: as well as the announcement that Unreal Engine 5 is now available to download for all developers, Epic also played host to the likes of Crystal Dynamics (which announced its new Tomb Raider game) and CD Projekt RED.

We're hot off the back of March’s announcement that CD Projekt RED is working on a new title in The Witcher series – a title that will be developed using Unreal Engine 5.

This marks a pretty big switch for the folks at the studio, since previously the company had made a pretty big song and dance about using its own proprietary tech, the REDengine. Alex has already explored why this is a monumental announcement, and yesterday we got to hear a little about the story behind the engine switch from the devs themselves.

It all started, per Jason Slama (game director at CD Projekt RED), with an Unreal 5 demo that showed off a Medieval environment. "At one point, there's a notice board that looks strangely similar to things we've done in the past that even has a sign that says 'monster slayer wanted'.

"Are they trying to tell us 'come over to Unreal Engine – this is how great your games could look?'" asks Slama. "Was the whole demo made with that nefarious purpose? I dunno, but it caught my eye!"

As you can see in the tweet embedded above, the Unreal 5 demo certainly does look like it could be set in the world of the Witcher – it's dark, imposing, and you can imagine the wind howling through the failing construction, too.

We know that CD Projekt has at least been fiddling around with new tech since it announced "exploratory work" had begun on new games late last year.

We'll probably never learn whether or not the technical wizards at Epic did intentionally lay this demo out in order to coax the folks at CDPR over to its engine, but it's definitely not a coincidence that this interview, footage, and story all made the cut for Epic's presentation. The company is clearly happy it's managed to get a high-profile studio like CDPR – Cyberpunk be damned – on its books.

Whilst we wait for more information about The Witcher 4 – or whatever the hell it's going to be called – you can appeal to your appetite by checking out the newly-announced Witcher cookbook, which will feature over 80 recipes inspired by the fantasy world that Geralt likes to call home.

About the Author

Dom Peppiatt avatar

Dom Peppiatt

Features Editor

Dom is a veteran video games critic and consultant copywriter that has appeared in publications ranging from Daily Star to The Guardian. Passionate about games and the greater good they can achieve, you can usually find Dom listening to records, farting about in the kitchen, or playing Final Fantasy VIII (again).

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