Top 10 Times Video Games Got Review Bombed

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Top 10 Times Video Games Got Review Bombed

VOICE OVER: Riccardo Tucci WRITTEN BY: Johnny Reynolds
Review bombing has become a recent way for players to voice their disatisfaction of games. For this list, we'll be looking at instances where players took to review sites to flood it with negative game reviews for various reasons. Our countdown includes "Mass Effect 3" (2012), "The Last of Us Part 2" (2020), “Pokémon Sword & Shield” (2019), "Star Wars: Battlefront II" (2017), and more!
Transcript
Script written by Johnny Reynolds

Review bombing has become a recent way for players to voice their disatisfaction of games. For this list, we’ll be looking at instances where players took to review sites to flood it with negative game reviews for various reasons. Our countdown includes "Mass Effect 3" (2012), "The Last of Us Part 2" (2020), “Pokémon Sword & Shield” (2019), "Star Wars: Battlefront II" (2017), and more! Do you feel any of these review bombings were justified? Voice your opinion in the comments below.

#10: “Spore” (2008)


Review bombing, at least that exact phrase, is a relatively new concept in gaming. The first instance in which it was used was in an Ars Technica article concerning 2008’s “Spore.” The PC game allowed players to create their own unique creatures, taking them through entire evolutionary cycles. However, “Spore” drew the ire of gamers for something that had nothing to do with its gameplay. EA included problematic DRM software that limited players to only 3 installations. Any change to a PC would trigger another installation and when you ran out, you’d have to contact EA support. Understandably frustrated, players flooded Amazon with one-star reviews over the issue. Oh EA, if only you know what you were unleashing onto the world.

#9: “Fire Emblem: Three Houses” (2019)


“Three Houses” is a fantastic entry into Nintendo’s long-running RPG series. Its characters were wonderful, its narrative came with a nice helping of replayability, and it sold better than any past installment. But as we’ve seen several times, review bombing isn’t just used for bad games. Shortly after release, “Three Houses” began getting review bombed by some Metacritic users, seemingly due to it being a Switch exclusive. The very same thing happened to another Switch exclusive, “Astral Chain,” just a month earlier. As that came from third-party developer PlatinumGames, it makes a little more sense even if the method of voicing frustration was juvenile. But “Fire Emblem” has been a Nintendo exclusive since its 1990 debut. Thankfully, Metacritic deleted those unnecessary reviews.

#8: “Mass Effect 3” (2012)


“Spore” may have been first, but the review bombing of “Mass Effect 3” was the first high-profile case and elicited a response from the developer. The final entry’s controversial ending has been discussed ad nauseum, making it one of the most talked about endings in gaming history. And when the game released, the vitriol was intense. With it boiling down to a simple decision rather than the multitude of choices made across the trilogy, players felt cheated and voiced their annoyance by review bombing the game on Metacritic. Day 1 paid DLC, a supposed “dumbing down” to reach a wider audience, and homosexual relationships also frequently appeared in negative reviews. But to appease the biggest complaint, BioWare released an extended ending as free DLC.

#7: “Borderlands 3” (2019)


When a new entry in the looter shooter franchise was finally announced, fans were thrilled at the prospect of returning to Pandora. But for some, that excitement quickly turned sour. For PC, Gearbox announced a year-long exclusivity deal with the Epic Games Store, meaning Steam users would be left out unless they wanted to take their business elsewhere. Many were angered as they had purchased previous games through Steam while others simply didn’t like Epic Games as a company. In response, players overloaded Steam pages of previous installments with negative reviews and scores. Just months before, the “Metro” series experienced something similar. However, “Exodus” was announced as an Epic Games Store exclusive 18 days before launch and long after Steam had accepted pre-orders.

#6: “Pokémon Sword & Shield” (2019)


The thought of a mainline “Pokémon” game on Switch was definitely an enticing one. But complaints began to pop up almost as soon as we got a look at the game. $60 for something that didn’t look much different from previous installments on the 3DS, which launched at $40, was an understandable annoyance. Some previous entries also allowed for PokéDex transfers between games so that players wouldn’t have to start from scratch. Not only did developer GameFreak nix this feature, but it also cut around 500 Pokemon including Squirtle and Bulbasaur’s evolutionary lines from the original games. Dubbed ‘Dexit’ by fans, this controversy hung around long after release day. And it was the crux of negative user reviews on Metacritic, of which there were many.

#5: “Madden NFL 21” (2020)


NFL fans have been begging for the organization to drop EA as game publisher for what feels like forever. With every year, “Madden NFL” disappoints fans with very few notable improvements and an abundance of technical problems. 2020’s entry was no different. As soon as the game released, players uploaded hilarious, bug-filled videos. But many others flocked to Metacritic to seemingly hurt the game as much as they could. While other entries have also been review bombed for similar reasons, including the 2021 follow-up, none made headlines quite like “NFL 21.” The PlayStation 4 version is currently sitting at a 0.2 user score, the lowest user score on the site.

#4: “Star Wars: Battlefront II” (2017)


EA really is a glutton for punishment. The publisher’s 2015 “Battlefront” reboot, while visually impressive, was criticized for a lack of content. The addition of a campaign in the sequel got fans hype for an improvement, though that was quickly overshadowed by unbelievably shady business practices. The game’s predatory use of microtransactions and loot boxes became a frequent talking point during beta trials. Players who were willing to pay actual money could skip through any grinding, quickly unlocking famous characters from the movies. These practices caught the attention of several government bodies, caused EA’s stock to drop, and resulted in a whole lot of negative user reviews on Metacritic.

#3: “Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition” (2021)


When a remastered trilogy with some of GTA’s best entries was announced, many players were likely ecstatic to revisit them. But since we live in the present, we know that enthusiasm was undeserved. The trilogy launched with an unfathomable amount of bugs ranging from issues with physics to character models. It was total grounds for refunds, which the fanbase requested en masse. Others took to Metacritic to bomb the collection on every platform. In case you hadn’t heard from every corner of the internet, perusing each platform’s release on the site would let you know. Rockstar did implement fixes via patches to the game a couple of months after release. But the damage had been done and the good will had been burned.

#2: “The Last of Us Part II” (2020)


The review bombing of “The Last of Us Part II” is one of the most famous cases and the best example of how problematic it can be. The sequel famously had several plot points leak, including the death of a beloved character and the fact that players control the supposed villain later on. While these plot points were completely different experiences in-game, it was enough for some players to hate. Coupled with a lesbian relationship and the inclusion of a trans character, “The Last of Us Part II” drew out the worst hate the internet could offer. Of the whopping 67, 085 negative user reviews, many 0s were posted less than a day after the game launched, meaning most barely played it if at all.

#1: “Warcraft III: Reforged” (2020)


Review bombing can be an over-the-top response that isn’t always justifiable. Other times, it’s the only way for players to let companies know how royally they screwed up. “Warcraft III: Reforged” is undeniably a case of the latter. A remaster of Blizzard’s groundbreaking RTS game, “Reforged” launched with technical problems, underwhelming graphics, and missing promised features as well as previously shown cutscenes. That would be enough to anger any fan, but Blizzard went the extra mile. Players of the original game were forced into a mandatory update to implement “Reforged’s” gameplay changes. And Blizzard declared ownership on all user-created content. No wonder the game was review bombed into oblivion.
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