Eurogamer's review process
Eurogamer.net reviews tell you whether or not we liked something and why, evaluating games based on both what they try to do, and whether they do it successfully.
Our reviews aim to equip you with enough information, analysis and context to decide whether or not that game is for you. They should also act as stimulating and insightful criticism in themselves. We aim to hold video games to a high standard, encouraging and challenging the medium to be the best it can be.
Eurogamer selects games for review on the basis of what we feel will interest you - whether that's in terms of the game's quality, content or profile.
We select reviewers based on their experience with a series, game, genre or platform, but always aim to balance specialist knowledge against a wider understanding of games, game design, and culture as a whole.
Reviews are discussed with an editor or editors before publication, but remain the professional judgement of the reviewer. Star ratings (see below) are set by the reviewer, based on their own review's text; editors may propose changes to them but these are only ever made with the reviewer's agreement.
We expect our writers to spend enough time with a game to understand it intimately, but this is not an exact science and the requirements of different games vary greatly. We trust and expect our reviewers to make informed judgements about what is appropriate. This situation is also influenced by the availability of review materials; we may delay a review if we are not satisfied with the time available.
What we review, and when
We only review games from retail copies, or versions that are identical to a retail copy of the game. We do not review from pre-release "debug code", or alpha versions. Betas have changed over time - we will only review from beta versions if they are functionally the same as the version the wider public can pay money for.
Because we only review retail copies, games will rarely if ever be reviewed from publishers' review events. We may still attend these events for the purposes of other coverage.
We will make every effort to ensure that our experience of a game matches that of the majority of players - for example, by applying 'day one' updates where relevant.
Major networking problems have become less of an issue over time. However, to further ensure that our experience matches players', we will still typically review games that require an internet connection after they have launched and have fully representative player populations.
If a game does not require an internet connection but we judge the online features to be of crucial importance to the majority of players, we will also review it after launch with a fully representative player population.
Review timing will always be at our discretion, but should be as early as possible while seeking to be thorough and representative. When delaying a review until after launch we will often publish initial impressions before launch, or as close to launch as is practical, if there is no prior access.
We may review 'Early Access' versions of games that are commercially available if we think it appropriate - typically, when both public interest is high and the game is functionally very similar to its full release. When games are released as episodic series, we will only publish a full review of the complete series - though we may publish impressions of individual episodes, especially the first.
We always seek to publish authoritative reviews which we don't need to update. The version of a game released to the public for them to spend money on should be the version on which a developer or publisher is willing to be judged. If a game's circumstances change in a specific but important detail, we may update a review or change our star rating, but these cases will be exceptional. If a game's circumstances change in more general and highly significant ways, we may publish a full re-review - but again this will be very rare.
We sometimes review gaming-related (and only gaming-related) products and media, such as books, board games, and films and TV shows based on games. That means yes to reviews of the Super Mario Bros. movie or League of Legends-inspired Arcane show, but no to other general "geek culture" fare. These reviews are always unscored.
As a courtesy to game creators and publishers, we may notify them of any star rating their games have received - but only after the review process is complete and up to 24 hours before publication. We do not disclose the text of a review before publication.
Eurogamer star ratings, and how we review video games
As of 10th May 2023, Eurogamer uses a standard five-star rating system. To read much more on our reasoning behind the move, see our review scores FAQ.
The benefit of five-star systems is they are largely self-explanatory - but there are some points to bear in mind.
As always, our reviews are the subjective, informed, and justified opinion of the individual critic. We don't review as a single monolith or hive mind called Eurogamer, and we definitely don't attempt to measure games objectively.
Games are different to other mediums, occupying an unusual space between consumer products that can on occasion fail to perform their basic tasks - like, say, printers - and works of artistic expression, like film, music, or literature, which are purely thought of on artistic merit. People don't tend to worry about the page-turn rate of their books, at least that we know.
Generally, we see games as a unique form of culture and entertainment media, and review them as such. Since they can vary so widely in their goals, we'd always point you back to the original explanation above: we review games based on both the merit of what they're trying to do, and how successful they are at doing it. We don't aim to provide an old-school product review, and we don't think we should.
We believe in a common-sense approach to star ratings, rather than providing clear boundaries or definitions from one to the next. Comparisons are inevitable, but it's worth remembering that star ratings are not a ranking system that places one game above or below another - games are too broad a medium for that, and there are simply too many of them. Each review is an evaluation of a game on its own terms, with stars giving you a snapshot view of the opinion overall.
When in doubt, it's worth revisiting the words of the review itself, which are the reasoning for the number of stars given. We also continue to provide a short, one-sentence summary with every review.
Broadly, our star ratings be considered as follows:
5 Stars means the best of the best, getting to the heart of what video gaming can and should be. It doesn't mean "flawless", but it does mean either pushing the boundaries of the genre or medium, or otherwise being a truly exceptional example. We only expect to see a handful of 5 star games each year.
4 Star games are those which stand out above the crowd of other broadly competent games as something particularly noteworthy. They need to have something special, even if there are some drawbacks overall. You may see quite a few 4 star reviews - that's simply because, when looking for games to review beyond the standard big releases, we try to pick out and uncover ones we expect to be great. We see that as part of our job!
3 Star reviews will range from lukewarm to even mostly positive, for the wide variety of games that just lack that next gear up. It might be a polished, well-functioning effort that doesn't do anything particularly interesting, a slightly uninspired year for a mostly great annualised series, or even a brilliant concept that ends up with mixed results in practice. Crucially, 3 stars should be seen as a middling, mixed, or positive-leaning review - it is not a negative or "bad" review.
2 Star games are those where the negatives begin to outweigh the positives, for instance where ideas are especially uninspired, or where something a little unimaginative is also buggy or clunky in practice too. That doesn't mean these games don't have redeeming or even really interesting qualities - just that they're a little too buried.
1 Star games are primarily those that have serious flaws in design, technology or concept, are openly offensive, or just deeply unenjoyable to play - flaws that make them impossible to recommend spending your money or time on. Fortunately, games like this are pretty rare.
Previous review systems
Until 10th February 2015, Eurogamer.net scored games out of 10. Between this date and 10th May 2023, we used a recommendation badge system.
We don't convert our old reviews from previous systems into our current one. While using recommendation badges, we passed through a star rating out of five to Google, for the purposes of keeping a high-profile presence in search results - however for the avoidance of doubt, reviews from that period should still be considered according to the badge system only.
For the sake of understanding our older reviews, here's how the previous badge system worked:
Essential games are the best of the best. They're games that thrilled us to the core, getting to the heart of what video gaming can and should be. We only saw a handful of Essential games every year.
Recommended games are just that. They're the games that we find most interesting, most ambitious, most exciting and most fun; the games that we want to bring to your attention.
Many games received no badge. This does not mean we think they're bad games. They cover a pretty broad spectrum of quality, but typically they are games with some qualities to recommend, but about which we have reservations.
Avoid is not so much for games that aren't to our taste, as games that have serious flaws in design, technology or concept, are openly offensive or deeply unenjoyable - flaws that make them impossible to recommend spending your money or time on. Again, we only used this badge rarely.
Accessibility in Eurogamer reviews
As of our change to five-star ratings in May 2023, Eurogamer now includes a new boxout in all of our reviews, specifically dedicated to accessibility.
The way this works is simple: in the boxout we will list - or in cases where there are lots of them, summarise - a game's available accessibility options.
This boxout does not count towards the overall star rating of the game, as it's intended to be informative for our readers, rather than a form of criticism. We also believe accessibility criticism requires proper space and expertise of its own.
Still, while it's only a start, we believe the accessibility boxout's existence and prominence in all Eurogamer reviews can have a significant impact on its own, making clear to developers that we are paying close attention. Readers can also make a judgement from the box itself - if it's a small box with a short list, there's a good chance accessibility has only been given small consideration.
Crucially, not all accessibility options in a game are listed as such - for instance, the ability to replay a tutorial at any time, toggle running on/off with a single button, or change the size of font - and so for our writers, we provide specific guidelines on what to consider here. These are our own internal guidelines, aided heavily by the accessibility reference guides provided by Can I Play That?, a dedicated gaming accessibility site.
Likewise, accessibility goes well beyond explicit menu options, and is a factor in game design itself - another reason why it's difficult to build this into our review scores. We believe the best way to approach this is through accessibility experts' dedicated writing on the subject. As such, wherever possible, we will endeavour to cover the biggest or most noteworthy games from a dedicated accessibility standpoint. You can see this with our accessibility writing on games like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and Final Fantasy 16.
This is an area where major sites are still finding their feet, including Eurogamer, but it's our aim to lead the way in accessibility coverage in mainstream gaming media as best we can.
This policy was last updated on 30th August 2023. Here's where you can read all of Eurogamer's reviews.