Cyberpunk 2077 director says studio's switch from REDengine to Unreal Engine 5 'isn't starting from scratch'

Cyberpunk 2077 Phantom Liberty hacker
(Image credit: CD Projekt Red)

Cyberpunk 2077 marks the end for CD Projekt's REDengine, the in-house technology that it's been building on since 2011's The Witcher 2. Last year, CD Projekt announced that its next Witcher game and other games going forward—including Cyberpunk's sequel, codename Orion—will be developed with Unreal Engine 5.

In a recent interview with Cyberpunk 2077 director Gabe Amatangelo, I asked about that transition to UE5, especially in light of the cutting edge tech the studio has continued adding to Cyberpunk 2077 (it's the first game to build in Nvidia's new ray tracing Ray Reconstruction, for example). Does all that work essentially die with 2077? 

"It isn't starting from scratch," Amatangelo said. "A lot of times when you build these things, like Ray Reconstruction, there are a lot of methodologies you can apply to new engines. Learnings and the strategy of setting up the architecture. And when you look at the things that Unreal does well, the things that REDengine does well—there are some similarities and some gaps, but the brilliant engineers are like 'with all the stuff that we know you crazy creatives want to do in the future, there's less of a delta here. Let's strategically shift to [Unreal Engine 5]'."

I asked Amatangelo if he could point to any specific challenges that the dev team faced with REDengine that would be easier with Unreal. He didn't want to give away any secrets from Cyberpunk's sequel, but said that at the high level it's "refreshing" to be coming to Unreal with what they've learned while developing 2077 without having to start the process of "rebuilding" their own engine for the next game.

"Likewise there's some things that REDengine does better than Unreal [that] we're working with Epic to basically bring to that engine as well. So it goes both ways… It's about economies of scale: you can obviously do all these amazing things in both. There's so much nuance behind it, but it comes down to ways to approach things to be able to do more. Not necessarily better—it could be just as good—but do it more. It's a scale thing sometimes."

The Cyberpunk team is ready to start developing the sequel, but it likely won't be the first game we see from CD Projekt built on Unreal Engine 4. That's more likely to be The Witcher 4 (or whatever its name ends up being), announced last year. 


Cyberpunk 2077 2.0: What the update changes
Cyberpunk 2077 lifepaths: Choose your origin
Cyberpunk 2077 endings: Aim for your ending
Cyberpunk 2077 romances: All the encounters
Cyberpunk 2077 console commands: How to cheat

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).