Metacritic to improve moderation amidst Horizon Burning Shores review bomb

Metacritic's decision is tied to the 'abusive' string of reviews that followed the release of Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores.
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Review aggregator Metacritic has vowed to improve its user review moderation in future, following a major string of ‘abusive, disrespectful’ comments about Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores. While the vast majority of critic reviews praised the adventure for its storytelling and overall performance, user reviews currently paint a different story, with the game sitting at a 4.1/10 rating on the website.

According to Eurogamer, this score was previously as low as 2.7 – driven by a review bombing effort that targeting two major factors in the adventure. This first was reportedly its relatively short length. The second factor relates directly to late-adventure story spoilers.

Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores story spoilers follow.

In the final stretches of Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores, Aloy’s evolving relationship with Quen warrior, Seyka, is revealed to be romantic in nature – and players get the choice to pursue this connection. Despite their shared kiss being optional, it appears some weak-minded players are taking offence, channeling their outrage into petty reviews in an effort to tank Burning Shores.

Read: Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores review – Absolute Fire

The comments displayed on Metacritic will not be republished here, as many of them are repugnant, and display an ignorance that has no place in modern discourse. While Metacritic has rarely stepped up to address issues like this – which are, unfortunately, common – it appears the size of the furore around Burning Shores has now forced the aggregator’s hand.

In a statement to Eurogamer, Metacritic has confirmed it is aware of ‘abusive and disrespectful reviews’ for the game, and is ‘currently evolving [its] processes and tools to introduce stricter moderation in the coming months.’

‘Fandom [parent company of Metacritic] is a place of belonging for all fans and we take online trust and safety very seriously across all our sites, including Metacritic,’ the company said. ‘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.’

It is currently unclear how these moderation process will be evolved, but it does appear the cleanup process for Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores is underway, with the game’s user score changing as abusive reviews are excised. There is hope that similar incidents will not occur in future – but we’ll have to wait to see how Metacritic will improve its review system.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.