After three years of waiting, it finally came. The Wild Hunt arrived in force and did not cease to amaze. 

Now, as I have not finished the campaign, or even left White Orchard (essentially the prologue and training realm) this is not a full review. It is more, or less, an impression; they say first impressions are everything and if that is true, my opinion will not change. 

I have played a little over five hours in White Orchard alone. That is more than 3/4 of The Order and it is only the prologue. If that is not a testament to the game's scale, I'm not quite sure what is. What a wondrous five hours it was. The landscape seems to take inspiration from Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, with wildflowers, green grass, beautiful water (oh my, the water) and towering forests. It is a land that I felt compelled to actually explore, just to see more of it. I felt connected to it. All the Northern Realm is a stage and Geralt is only a player. 

Which brings to mind the intricately woven narrative. Talking with the herbalist and hunter in White Orchard was eye-opening; having played the previous two installments and familiar with their storytelling, I was expecting greatness, but this was so...coddled. I say that as a very good thing. They cared for the story. They loved it like a child, much more than the other iterations and as a writer myself, I appreciate the subtle nuances and connections they have twisted within side-quests in connection to the main narrative. I appreciate how they made me care for NPCs just by talking to them and hearing their story.

They even took care to tell the griffon's story and made me FEEL for the beast I had to kill. The only time that has ever happened for me was Shadow of the Colossus. "I'm sorry for what the humans did to your love," I whispered as the beast lay dying. "I'm sorry it had to come to this." 

I have yet to see the effects I've had on this world, but I am sure I will soon.

Then there is graphical prowess. I am playing on a PS4. And let me tell you, it's one of the best-looking on the console. Sure your PC elitists will complain of the downgrade because they love to max everything at 1440, but it's meaningless to me. The world of the Wild Hunt is so robust, dense, well-imagined and thought out...so beautiful, that complaining of a downgraded resolution is simply pointless.

Control schemes have been improved from the previous entries, as well as combat. Combat is extremely visceral. DECAPITATIONS!!!! Weapons finally have heft to them. Enemies are unforgiving, even on normal difficulty, but not as much where you're throwing your controller down. I would safely say normal difficulty would be a great transition to Souls games. There is a lot of dodging and backstepping. And decapitation. Enemy AI isn't terribly intelligent, but the enemy types are varied enough to challenge even experienced Witcher players like myself. Shield bearers, two-handed axe men, archers (who when accosted up close draw swords and are as equally capable), normal swordsman...the enemies WILL surround you. And decapitations. Did I mention decapitations? Beautifully violent.

Sound and score are also on point. Hearing blood gushing when I cleave a limb is something I won't be forgetting any time soon. Wind howls and birds chirp. Pianissimo to fortissimo, the score varies with action and non-action sequences and the non-action sequences are somber, touching moments even if you're only staring at a beautiful rosy sunset. The soundtrack is one of the best I've heard, Polish influences abound, and I love it.

There isn't much more I can say about Wild Hunt at this time, but man what an adventure. Beautiful, haunting, touching, blood-pumping, intriguing, and just overall exciting, the Wild Hunt is a game I will be playing for a long time.