horizon metacritic review bombing burning shores

Metacritic looks to ‘evolve’ its moderation following Horizon DLC review bombing

Aggregate site to ‘introduce stricter moderation’

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-This article contains plot spoilers for Burning Shores

Media aggregate site Metacritic has responded to a recent controversy that has seen Horizon Forbidden West DLC Burning Shores ruthlessly review-bombed on the site, with many negative user reviews plied with hate speech, tonal abuse, and homophobia.

The DLC, which was launched by Guerrilla Games on April 19, was generally well-received by critics and Horizon fans — And while some players were left understandably frustrated by Guerrilla’s decision to only publishing the DLC on PS5, (leaving the PS4 community behind), it seems that this is not the main point of contention for a portion of the players who left negative user reviews.

A lot of the negativity, (veiled or otherwise) is weighted toward the fact that, over the course of the story, Horizon hero Aloy meets another woman, Seyka, while on her journey through the new world. As the two characters spend time together over the course of the DLC, Aloy finds herself drawn to the Quen tribe warrior, ultimately resulting in a scene where the player can, should they choose to do so, bring the two characters together for a passionate kiss. And it seems that this, of course, is a cause for concern among the angriest and loudest of the gaming community.

Last week saw the User Review section inundated with both massively negative written and numerical reviews, leading the DLC to sit at a current score of 4.0 (actually higher than it has been previously). While most of the more homophobic of the site’s 254 negative reviews have since been removed, many remaining reviews choose to mask themselves a little better, simply claiming that the DLC is “poorly written” or that “the world is boring”, before following up with a flat score of zero out of ten — somewhat raising eyebrows.

Speaking to Eurogamer, Metacritic owner Fandom addressed the moderation situation.

“Fandom is a place of belonging for all fans and we take online trust and safety very seriously across all our sites including Metacritic,” writes a spokesperson. “Metacritic is aware of the abusive and disrespectful reviews of Horizon Forbidden West Burning Shores and we have a moderation system in place to track violations of our terms of use.”

“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 did not divulge exactly how it intends to curb hate speech on the platform, but the statement represents an acknowledgment of an issue that has plagued the website for many years and is certainly not an overnight problem that suddenly began with the release Burning Shores. Ultimately, wherever the public is open to review any form of art, you will find conflict.

horizon metacritic review-bombing

There is an inherent importance to the Voice of the People when it comes to the criticism of art and all media. In the past, negative reviews en masse have led to a much-needed change in regard to certain title or project — Not just in gaming, but in all forms of artistic interpretation. But that situation and this situation are not one and the same. The reviews in the spotlight here are hate speech; the spreading of negative ideology; and a continued inability to evolve with a growing world and community.

This wailing cacophony of noise, which is seemingly created and delivered alongside the launch of almost any TV series, film, comic, or video game that chooses even the most minor path of inclusivity — be it through race, gender, sexuality, or any other humanitarian issue — has ensured that aggregate scoring has ultimately become a wall of white noise, generally to be ignored by producers, publishers, writers, developers, and, of course, fans.

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is available now on PS5.

Metacritic improving moderation after Horizon Burning Shores reviews [Eurogamer]

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Chris Moyse
Senior Editor - Chris has been playing video games since the 1980s and writing about them since the 1880s. Graduated from Galaxy High with honors. Twitter: @ChrisxMoyse