Electrocatalytic CO2 reduction has the dual-promise of neutralizing carbon emissions in the near future, while providing a long-term pathway to create energy-dense chemicals and fuels from atmospheric CO2. The field has advanced immensely in recent years, taking significant strides towards commercial realization. While catalyst innovations have played a pivotal role in increasing the product selectivity and activity of both C1 and C2 products, slowing advancements indicate that electrocatalytic performance may be approaching a hard cap. Meanwhile, innovations at the systems level have resulted in the intensification of CO2 reduction processes to industrially‑relevant current densities by using pressurized electrolytes, gas-diffusion electrodes and membrane-electrode assemblies to provide ample CO2 to the catalyst. The immediate gains in performance metrics offered by operating under excess CO2 conditions goes beyond a reduction of system losses and high current densities, however, with even simple catalysts outperforming many of their H-cell counterparts. Using recent literature as a guidepost, this talk will focus on some of the underlying reasons for the observed changes in catalytic activity, and proposes that further advances can be made by shifting additional efforts in catalyst discovery and fundamental studies to system-integrated testing platforms.