Horizon Forbidden West developer on Burning Shores DLC review-bombing
Horizon Forbidden West recently expanded its storyline with PS5-only DLC Burning Shores, taking the plot to the future Los Angeles where Aloy fights more robot dinosaurs and, more interestingly, develops feelings for new character Seyka.
It's confirmation of Aloy's queerness, and an optional scene where the two women can kiss, that led to a review-bombing from users on Metacritic, who posted low scores with homophobic comments (via Push Square).
Thankfully, the developers at Sony's Guerrilla Games studio haven't felt personally affected by the online hatred. In an interview with Video Games Chronicle, lead writer Annie Kitain and narrative director Ben McCaw explained that they focused on the positive reactions instead.
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"We're always looking to make something that's compelling, something that's emotionally engaging, so for people who have actually played the game, we were always interested in hearing about those experiences and those thoughts and feedback," Kitain said. "But for people who didn't play the game, or who are just trying to be negative online, we find that pretty easy to ignore."
McCaw added: "We love getting feedback from our fans. We love it when they have constructive feedback about this or that. And we’re perfectly happy when they say they don't like this or that, with regard to virtually any aspect of the game that they've really thought about.
"But yeah, when there's just this kind of blatant negativity, I personally find it pretty easy to just compartmentalise and realise that this is a mindset I can never really jive with, and that sort of thing.
"But overall, we're just enormously pleased with the reaction, because I feel like when we're making this, we worry over every detail, and then to see that we're getting such a positive reaction is really great."
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Sadly, the toxicity has extended beyond Metacritic's User Reviews section, as singer Julie Elven – whose vocals feature in one of the romantic scenes – posted on Twitter this week that she has been personally receiving abusive messages.
Similarly to Kitain and McCaw, Elven says she "can't take [the hate] seriously or personally", adding: "The positive comments and influx of love absolutely outweigh the negative ones, but the continuous hateful DMs show how much still needs to change. Love is love. Story-wise, this scene made so much sense and I continue to stand with Guerrilla and am proud to be a part of it."
Meanwhile, Kotalllo actor Noshir Dalal has also called out "bigotry disguised as fandom" and promised to block anyone continuing to send abuse.
Horizon Forbidden West is out now on PlayStation 4 and 5, while the Burning Shores DLC is available to download now for the PS5 version.
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