It's easy to forget when you spend so much of the year jetting around seeing games in development - especially when some of the games look a bit 6/10 - that being invited to meet games developers and talk to them about their work in progress is a tremendous privilege.
We haven't forgotten though, which is one reason why last month we gathered a handful of competition winners from Eurogamer, VG247 and Rock, Paper, Shotgun and flew them to Stockholm to visit DICE and see Battlefield 3 (a game which definitely does not look very 6/10). The other reason was because we wanted to shoot some readers repeatedly in the face.
Sadly we didn't get to do that - the multiplayer component of Battlefield 3 was being saved for public shows like this week's Eurogamer Expo - but we did get to try out the co-operative mission shown off during Gamescom a week previously, and we also got to check out Operation Guillotine, a D-Day-esque assault on Tehran from deep in the single-player campaign.
"The new co-op experience of Battlefield is impressive," reports reader Colin Gallacher, who was already firmly on the DICE bandwagon before he came out to Sweden, having "loved nearly every minute" of the PC alpha. "You could tell the co-op wasn't just tacked on in a meaningless way. The teamwork moments were well thought out and the spotting targets beforehand was useful."
The level we get to play through sees us clearing a series of rooms and corridors in a warehouse at night, before escorting a convoy of Humvees through nearby streets and getting into elaborate firefights with foes on the ground and in elevated positions, using infrared sights and powerful rifles to spot and dispatch distant enemy pixels.
Although we're playing on PS3, fellow PC gamer Chris Hockey is also pretty taken with the co-op setup. "I loved the fact that it actually felt like a co-op level, rather than just a single-player level that happens to have two players in it," he reports afterwards.
"It's also pleasing to be given the freedom to choose our own style of play. Rather than using a limited weapon choice to create a sniping or shotgun level, we had the equipment available to play exactly as we wanted. Although in my case, of course, that meant the freedom to play badly."
Another of our competition winners was Joe O'Connor, who has a similar take. "Although I was playing the level with someone who wasn't very well versed in FPS games, the co-op level pushed really hard towards making you work as a team, right from the very first connection with the enemies. I like that."
Operation Guillotine, meanwhile, of which you can read a detailed account elsewhere on the site, drew uncharacteristic criticism. "Pretty disappointing," was Colin's verdict. "No dinosaurs and it wasn't set in Scotland? I've already cancelled my pre-order."
Once we explained that dinosaurs are extinct and Scotland isn't in Zone 1 so no one cares, however, Colin changes his mind. "The night-time setting of Tehran really set it apart from other games I've seen," he says. The level begins overlooking the city before racing downhill into walls of tracer fire and bodies being thrown this way and that by the impact of mortars.
Despite that, Chris Hockey was impressed by something else - a sense of restraint. "The sound was fabulous, and the lighting belied the fact it was being played on console," he notes. "It also felt like a battle played out in a realistic manner and depicted large-scale warfare without being grandiose or over the top."