Metacritic owner Fandom assures “stricter moderation” is coming, after Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores was “review bombed.”
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“Our team reviews each and every report of abuse (including but not limited to racist, sexist, homophobic, insults to other users, etc) and if violations occur, the reviews are removed. We are currently evolving our processes and tools to introduce stricter moderation in the coming months,” Fandom closed.
When Metacritic added 36 hour user-review embargos in 2020, they insisted it was “based on data-driven research and with the input of critics and industry experts.” Regardless, there was speculation it was in response to the negative user reviews for The Last of Us Part II.
At this time of writing, Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores has a Metascore of 82 out of 100 on Metacritic. This is based on 48 reviews from critics such as IGN and more. However, the user score is 4.1 out of 10, based on 1988 user reviews.
Aside from 744 positive reviews, 70 are mixed, and 1,174 are negative. Many of those negative reviews criticize the DLC as a whole, not adding to or being worse than the base game. In addition, some were also critical of players being able to choose if protagonist Aloy has feelings for another women — what would be her first love interest.
Others were also upset the DLC was exclusive to PlayStation 5 while the base game is also available on PlayStation 4.
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“Why ruin your character and reduce the level of the game,” asked Ahmad2020 in their review, further inquiring, “Have you benefited something now?”
“It’s garbage disposal of the material you want to throw in the garbage collection,” read another review giving the Burning Shores DLC a 0.
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Cyshox wrote, “The content is somewhat decent but everything fells like a generic afterthought that could have been impemented in the base game if it wasn’t cross-gen,” adding, “Sony is dropping the ball lately.”
“Visually look awesome, but what about storytelling? Aloy lesbian! What are you doing Sony & Guerilla really? Stop doing it with your characters,” bemoaned GSh773 in their review.
They added, “That’s awful plot, you create a wonderful world, and absolutely awful minor characters. Bad really bad. I love this franchise, and I don’t want to see how you’ll destroy it. and now I’m start thinking about 3 part, and it scares me.”
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Another user praising the game’s presentation was indorilnerevar, who asserted, “Visuals 10/10, content to world size ratio 3/10, unneeded romance arc feeling rushed and forced 0/10. I’d say 3 is a fair average.”
“This game is a big disappointment. I played Horizon Zero Dawn, The Frozen Wilds DLC and Horizon Forbidden West and all where great games,” admitted Mangomia, adding, “But this DLC failed to live up the expectations.”
They elaborated, “The story I boring and doesn’t even add something interesting to the lore of the franchise. The characters are terrible writing. The relationship between Aloy and Seyka is rushed and felt very forced. 0/10 for me.”
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One user who was far more curt was Kratos_himself. “Enough with the politics agendas, learn from Japanese studios like from software how to focus on gameplay and story without all the crap you put in your games, you ruined another beloved game for me, thanks Sony.”
Some gaming news outlets framed the majority of negative reviews as only being over the gay scenes. Kotaku’s Sisi Jiang reported that “Homophobes Are Review Bombing Horizon Forbidden West’s DLC.”
“The bar is on the floor, y’all. But it doesn’t stop bigots from running face-first into it,” Jiang insisted. “Recent players complained on Metacritic that ‘homosexuals’ were putting forward a ‘dirty agenda’ that ‘sabotaged’ what could have been a beautiful story. Nearly all of the reviews with a ‘0’ score complained that they shouldn’t be forced to see gay women exist in the world of Horizon.”
Jiang also defended Aloy’s sudden romance with someone she just met “as if that isn’t how human romantic attraction so often works.”
Forbes’ Paul Tassi proclaimed that the backlash “Shows Metacritic Must Curb Review Bombing.” Feeling that Aloy’s romance was justified by an ancestor also being a lesbian, Tassi took issue some would dismiss the game as “woke propaganda,” or pushing a gay or LGBT “agenda.”
“While deleting this comments may be deemed a violation of ‘free speech,’ Metacritic is, like all websites, a private entity and they can do whatever they want,” Tassi encouraged. “And if they do erase some hateful comments, they sure are leaving a whole lot of them up for an extremely long time.”
“I’ve seen fans at least sometimes mask their hate of a games politics by attempting to say the game itself is bad (even if it isn’t), but here we are just seeing…unbridled homophobia.”
Tassi doubted that “most if any” of the negative reviews had actually played the DLC.
“So, there are two things I think Metacritic can do here,” Tassi suggested. “The first is require even more verification for user reviews, be that by phone number, or what Rotten Tomatoes has recently done for movies, providing some sort of verification that you actually purchased a ticket. The second is better moderation, which may be the main thing.”
The risk of users who had not seen the product they’re reviewing goes both ways, as GameRant’s Dalton Cooper notes “On the flip side of the coin, some may argue that there are people who may be giving Horizon Forbidden West 10s in an attempt to keep its user score artificially high.”
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