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The real reason The Last of Us 2 is getting review bombed

The Last of Us Part 2 director Neil Druckmann knew that the game would be divisive among fans. Now, though, it's being attacked by people who haven't even played it. Less than four days after release, The Last of Us Part 2 has gotten thousands of user ratings on Metacritic, many of which are as low as they can get. 

The average person has no power to stop a game from being released or stop people from buying it, which is where review bombing comes in. Gamers who object to something about a game, from the platform it's released on to the game's very existence, use the only thing they have: negative user reviews. They hope that by dragging the ratings down as much as possible, they'll get people to think the game isn't worth buying and make it flop.

First of all, some of you may ask why this appears to be deliberate review bombing. It could just be a really bad game, right?

For starters, The Last of Us Part 2 has only been out for a few days as of writing this article, and already has nearly 50,000 ratings on Metacritic (note: many of the user reviews contain spoilers, so don't read them if you're still planning to play). That's more than every version of the original The Last of Us combined. A good portion of those ratings came when it had been out for less than a day. Considering the game is supposed to take anywhere from 15-25 hours to finish, it seems pretty unlikely that these are fair and honest reviews. Undoubtedly some people started playing and decided the game wasn't for them, but thousands of 0/10 reviews within a few hours of release? That's more than a bit suspicious.

Secondly, most critics adore the game. People will be tempted to point to that as an example of critics being out of touch with their audiences or, worse, of "paid shills." However, stack up good reviews almost across the board next to, apparently, near-universal hatred from fans, and it looks a bit fishy.

Third, as we've mentioned before, The Last of Us Part 2 had a rough time of it even before release. After leaks spoiled some of the game's content, fans of the original got up in arms. There were also other decisions that people felt were "betrayals" of the characters, the series, and the fans.

So what's caused this huge outpouring of hatred from people who have never played the game and most likely never will? 

Predictably, some of the backlash is due to what some perceive to be Naughty Dog catering to "SJWs," or "social justice warriors." Some — including those who likely reviewed the game before they could have feasibly finished it — accused it of including "LGBTQ propaganda." Others were more specific with their criticisms, though not necessarily accurate. Another user on Metacritic took issue with one character being "a buff trans girl." This character is not that, and is simply a straight woman who works out. But it's easy to imagine this take came from someone who saw the character in a pre-release cutscene and hasn't yet met the character in the game. This HITC article helpfully explains the offensive misunderstanding.

Other players are upset because of what was revealed by the leaks. The Last of Us fans were given major plot points without any context or buildup. It ended up looking hasty and forced, as if Naughty Dog were going for shock value rather than actually telling a good story.

Finally, as mentioned before, some of the negative reviews are sure to be from people who played and genuinely didn't like the game. That's especially likely now that it's been out for a few days, for two reasons: first, the initial dogpile of negative reviews has subsided a bit by now. Second, players have actually had enough time with the game to decide whether they like it or not, and why. 

The Last of Us Part 2 is currently sitting at a 3.9/10 user score on Metacritic, which is actually up a bit from the initial review bomb it suffered. Google's audience rating summary puts it at 2.2/5, with most scores being either a perfect 5 or an abysmal 1. However, a few brave souls who actually read through some of the negative reviews note that those people don't seem to have even played the game (which is, after all, the whole concept of a review bomb).

In short, if you're concerned about the low scores that The Last of Us Part 2 is getting from players and questioning whether it's actually worth buying, take a look first and make sure you know why it's getting those scores. If people are genuinely objecting to the gameplay, the storytelling, or something about the game itself, that's worth looking at. If you see tens of thousands of negative reviews from people who, in many cases, haven't even played it, you can probably take those with a grain of salt.