Julie Elven, the award-winning musician who provided sweeping vocals for Horizon Forbidden West, has taken to Twitter to call out hateful abuse that has been thrown her way since Burning Shores launched in April 2023. For months, Elven has reportedly been sent a torrent of messages criticising her role in the game as Aloy’s ‘musical voice‘, and the positive LGBTQIA+ representation in the game.
According to Elven, messages range from ‘puking emojis’ to select voices rallying against her, claiming she ‘destroyed Horizon’ with ‘LGBTQ propaganda’ and stating that ‘God won’t forgive [her]’. These comments reflect recent review-bombing attempts by segments of the gaming audience, who are seemingly offended by the Burning Shores revelation that Aloy is romantically interested in women.
‘The positive comments and influx of love absolutely outweigh the negative ones, but the continuous hateful DMs show how much still needs to change,’ Elven said. ‘Love is love. Story-wise, this scene [between Aloy and Seyka] made so much sense and I continue to stand with Guerrilla and am proud to be a part of it.’
Elvin’s vocals can be heard during the final, tension-filled encounter between Aloy and her companion Seyka, which can become romantic, should players initiate the conversation. To be clear, this scene is totally optional and driven by player choice – yet some have taken offence at its inclusion.
Read: Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores was always going to be a love story
‘This is not about DMs where people express that they didn’t like the story – it’s about the absolutely hateful messages,’ Elven explained. ‘I don’t feel too affected by them (and can’t take them seriously or personally tbh), but it’s a reminder how much still needs to change!’
The overwhelming negativity, which has seemingly impacted the game’s development team directly, recently led Metacritic to announce future improvements to its moderation systems. In late April 2023, the company acknowledged the impact of hate on its platform, and stated it was in the process of evolving its tools to introduce stricter bounds for leaving comments.
On social media, this hatred is much harder to moderate, as users can share whatever sentiment they’d like without fear of reprisal. Recent changes on Twitter have also made it much easier for these hateful comments to surface, with a combination of lax moderation, and prioritisation of comments from those who pay for Twitter Blue, contributing to a toxic atmosphere.
As Elven says, this continuous, hateful abuse reveals that much needs to change in social and online spaces, particularly as companies like Guerrilla take bold strides towards representing LGBTQIA+ relationships positively in video games.