The frenzy surrounding The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a whole new level of fan overreaction, and this is coming from someone who’s seen what happens when you say Uncharted isn’t perfect.
When they’re not busy launching DDoS attacks against outlets that didn’t like the game as much as they did, they’re being really very angry at Horizon: Zero Dawn, a game with very little connection to Zelda but has become a popular target of BotW‘s most delirious fanbabies.
Both games are huge open world experiences, and both are exclusive to particular consoles. This is of course a recipe for disaster where the two games were destined to be compared in the most vitriolic ways imaginable. Plenty of Nintendo’s zealots were furious when they learned of my own highly favorable review, and if you believe them, Zero Dawn‘s fanbase has had an axe to grind against Breath of the Wild for a long time.
The reality, however, is not quite as these wearers of green, pointy, tinfoil-lined hats would lead you to believe.
According to frantic commentary on my Breath of the Wild review as well as various subReddits, nefarious shills for Sony have been abusing Metacritic’s user reviews in order to give Horizon 10/10 scores and crush Zelda with a bunch of vile zeroes.
The process is called Metabombing, an organized effort from unhinged fanbases or edgy online communities (or both) to tank the average user review score of a game they wish to see fail.
“So I guess Jim is going to use this comment section to justify how Zelda fans are toxic and all that, yet he still hasn’t commented on the Metabombing of the Metacritic user score by Horizon: Zero Dawn fans,” wrote one responder to The Jimquisition’s Breath of the Wild review.
This sentiment is not uncommon amongst those Zelda fans who genuinely are toxic, the fans I guess I’ll just call Fucking Slithering Pricks.
Unfortunately for them I can’t do as requested because there’s just not enough evidence to support the claim that Zero Dawn fans are behaving as badly as accused.
But do remember, throughout the rest of this article – I was asked to do this.
Perusing the user reviews for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, there is very little evidence to suggest Horizon‘s zealous devotees (I’m sure it has them) have been orchestrating anything of the sort. Yes, a handful of user reviews that gave Zelda a 0 also gave Horizon a 10. Going over the accounts myself, I’ve been able to spot a grand total of two users that did it.
Both skilly225 and Skyerls-Pidar fit the profile of somebody who is theoretically spiting Breath of the Wild in some irrational attempt to elevate Zero Dawn. Even among those two, only one of them has a clear axe to grind against Nintendo games – Skylerlst is clearly creaming themselves over PlayStation titles and applying zeroes to Nintendo’s output. The other one has rated various Nintendo games highly and claims to predominantly be a PC user.
If we expand the search to 1/10 reviews, we can find some more evidence. Lampiaobr is blatantly on Metacritic for one specific purpose, and AmazedBunion gave Horizon an 8… while also giving Black Ops III a 9/10. They might just be doing their own bizarre thing.
As we go through the 2/10 scores and 3/10 scores, any Horizon in the history of the reviewers seems to evaporate entirely. Meanwhile, the vast majority of negative reviews appear to be genuinely critical of various aspects of the game or are random drive-by shitposts that have no ulterior motive other than to kick the wasp’s nest.
What happens, however, if we flip the script? How many reviewers who gave Breath of the Wild a perfect 10 went ahead and slapped a big ol’ zilch on a scathing writeup of Guerilla Games’ production?
Say hello to Jimmyrustle22, estenoriega, MORJ, Linknlogs227, ivanmd09, navaga, csgopro, and ivand88! That’s just a selection of users who simultaneously wrote reviews issuing a 0/10 for Horizon and a 10/10 for Zelda.
They’re not the only ones, either. Here’s a negative Zero Dawn review from skysayrain that cheerily admits to what they’re doing:
“The game score is way too high,” they said of Horizon. “Don’t have the game will buy it, probably will enjoy it. giving this game 0 out of 10 in the name of Zelda for all those PS fan boys. good day! =)”
The funny thing is, I don’t even have to try very hard to find Zelda‘s piss champions doing exactly what they’re accusing others of doing.
Just clicking names at random I found NooBziN here, while a cursory search for Zelda references brought me ScofieldMoody. You start to be able to spot them at a glance, like if one of them mentions Far Cry Primal and doesn’t seem to be able to say much else of critical value, they might be like Matsepuldveda.
While I had to dig into the twos and threes while trying to find substantial evidence of Horizon fans acting out, I haven’t even left the zero range while talking about Zero Dawn‘s own user review page.
Far be it from me to disappoint my readers – I investigated the accusations of Breath of the Wild Metabombing, as requested, and came away with the opposite image that had been painted for me. Contrary to the claims, it seems less than five Horizon fans wrote negative reviews for Breath of the Wild, and the link (haha) is tenuous even among those.
Meanwhile, Zelda‘s mini crusaders aren’t even trying to hide what they’re doing.
And don’t think the examples I’ve given already are the only ones available.
“They did it first,” is the excuse I’ve seen for the attempted Metabombing of Horizon: Zero Dawn. It looks like, however, those WMDs are yet to be found.
Obviously, we’re talking about a small subset of particularly troubled individuals who have replaced their sense of self with videogames. Most fans of The Legend of Zelda, just like most fans of Sony’s suite of games, are well adjusted adults who aren’t flipping their shit and behaving in the most undignified ways over conflicting opinions regarding entertainment products.
Nobody should ever take Metacritic scores this bloody seriously.
Still, as someone currently in the firing line of these perverse aberrations, I find it particularly interesting that the same hive mind currently shrieking about a one percent dip in Breath of the Wild‘s average Metacritic score can’t help doing exactly what it accuses others of – bombing something else because they can’t handle the idea of anything other than their Precious potentially succeeding.
Such is the zero sum mindset of those who play for the lowest stakes on Earth.
According to what I can see, no war has been waged on Breath of the Wild by fans of Horizon: Zero Dawn or indeed any other malignant force. It’s a ghost war, concocted in the paranoid and erratic minds of an increasingly hysterical collective. Given their recent and continued acts of absurdity, it should not have surprised me that one of their biggest moral justifications for their behavior – while still weak as fuck – was spun from whole cloth.
Metabombing is trivial and hilarious in its crystallization of misdirected, truly impotent anger. It’s why I like to write about it. In this instance, however, the whole situation’s a little sad as well.
I mean, Breath of the Wild is one of the highest rated games of all time, it’s gotten more 10/10s than any game developer should rightly dream of, and it’s performing very well indeed at retail. Most people who have played it loved it. Even I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Yet, with all that going for them, Zelda‘s hardest of hardcore fans are unhappy and unfulfilled because almost unilateral praise is not the same as unilateral praise. Even worse, they’re paranoid with the hair-trigger backlash instinct of a cornered stray.
And ultimately, I think everybody else is just enjoying playing a fucking good Zelda game.
I hope Breath of the Wild‘s shoutiest fans also learn to enjoy playing it one day.
It’s worth it.