Aloy holding her hand out to Seyka in the Horizon: Forbidden West DLC Burning Shores

Metacritic Plans Changes After Homophobic ‘Horizon Forbidden West’ DLC Review Bombing

The Burning Shores DLC for Horizon Forbidden West has forced Metacritic to change how it moderates its user reviews in the future. While critics’ scores for Burning Shores were generally favorable and, at the time of writing, averaged out to 83, the average user rating told a different story entirely. At the time of writing, the user score was 4.0, but it has reportedly been as low as 2.7 in the past. The difference between these two sets of scores is shockingly massive. When that’s the case, it’s usually down to one thing: review bombing.

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**Note: possible SPOILERS ahead for Horizon Forbidden West’s Burning Shores DLC.**

Burning Shores sees the series protagonist, Aloy, make her way to a lava-flooded future version of Los Angeles to hunt down the remaining members of the Far Zenith she did battle with in the main game. There, she meets Seyka, a resident of the Burning Shores who needs Aloy’s help to find her captured community. Since Aloy needs help navigating the new area, the two strike up a deal to travel together.

What seems to have triggered the review bombing of Burning Shores is the confirmation of Aloy’s sexuality–she is attracted to women, as players are given the option to have Aloy confess her feelings for Seyka at the end of the game. This option results in the two women sharing a kiss, which seems to be what has set off the review bombing, with the low scores accompanied by the predictable homophobic comments painting the mere existence of anyone who’s not cisgender and heterosexual as “political.”

In response, Metacritic told Eurogamer that it is aware of the “abusive and disrespectful reviews of Horizon Forbidden West Burning Shores,” and explained that the company is currently working to evolve the tools and processes it uses for moderation so that it can introduce stricter rules. Though it is unclear what those new tools and processes will be, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Burning Shores isn’t the only piece of media to have dealt with review bombing. Other games like The Last of Us Part II have dealt with similar issues—as have HBO’s The Last of Us TV adaptation and Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, and She-Hulk, just to name a few.

Over on Twitter, many celebrated Metacritic’s statement, agreeing that it was about time stricter moderation policies were implemented.

Hopefully, other outlets will soon follow suit. Review bombing has also been an issue on sites like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb. Though it’s likely to be a while before any changes are fully implemented, as Metacritic said they would be working on this issue in the “coming months,” it’s certainly a positive step forward. And for those of us who have continued to enjoy Aloy’s story, Guerrilla Games recently teased that a third Horizon game is already in the works.

(featured image: Guerrilla Games/Sony)

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El Kuiper
El (she/her) is The Mary Sue's U.K. editor and has been working as a freelance entertainment journalist for over two years, ever since she completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including British TV (she's seen every episode of Midsomer Murders ever made) and franchises like Marvel and Pokémon. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.