Previewing games is weird, sometimes. You can describe a game’s features, its setup. Provide hints as to its story. These are the easy hits. More difficult, however, is describing how a game feels.

You’ve come here to read about Elden Ring, I know. But indulge me for a moment, yeah? Feelings about games can be nebulous, and difficult – if not impossible – to properly quantify. They’re entirely subjective, and when based upon just a small slice of a much larger work can also quite easily be entirely wrong. And yet… I do trust my gut.

One recent example is Marvel’s Avengers. You never want to stick the boot in at preview too much – things can always get fixed – but I knew that game had problems, despite its massive budget, by the end of a 30-minute hands-on. I can’t even explain it. The game was expensive, lavish, and well-produced. But it wasn’t going to work. I just knew it in my bones. The same was true of Anthem. It was difficult to articulate until I could see the product in full, but I knew something was missing. The flip side can be true too, of course. When I first played Breath of the Wild in a highly controlled Wii U hands-on, I knew I was playing something special. And sometimes we get fooled; Cyberpunk wooed me right up until the reality of the console versions came crashing down. That’s a lesson for all of us.

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