Content of the article: "The Last of Us 2 leaks and backlash had a huge impact on Youtube reviewers. This is a bad thing and we should talk about it. (Spoiler Free)"
I know the title is pretty controversial but I feel like there's proof to back up my claim here.
The Last of Us 2 came out to universal critical acclaim. Not all of the reviews were perfect (1, 2) but even the less positive ones tended to praise the gameplay while expressing their dislike of the story. This is far, far different than what we saw with youtube reviewers. If you were to graph out these reviews you would see a noticeable and stark drop off after release day.
My theory: Their reviews would not have been so negative if there was not overwhelming community backlash.
I find it genuinely hard to believe that almost every big name youtube reviewer found the story and gameplay lacking. Watching their reviews, I found a common theme and I think it really helps explain why their arguments are bad. (That's not to say you can't personally dislike a well-loved game. I'm sure plenty of people dislike The Witcher 3, Skyrim, GTA 5, etc. But there is an overwhelming majority of people who think they're good.)
The youtubers I'm talking about are
(He talks about TLoU2 at the end),
I watch all of their videos frequently but there's no denying that it's strange they all came out of their experience having the same or surprisingly similar opinions. They all tend to hold on to a few points specifically:
- It was too depressing. Games should not be this bleak for the point of being bleak.
- Abby sucks as a character and her section sucked.
- The gameplay was boring.
This then lead to a general consensus of 5-6/10. AKA "I'm not going to hate on it like people on the internet have but I also didn't love it like the critics did" I swear every single one of them said that. Now I can't speak on the gameplay because I have never played it but I don't think that's relevant when discussing their points here.
Since when are we supposed to be "not ok" with bleak and depressing video games? The gaming community has always rejected arguments saying violent video games are bad because they're violent for the sake of being violent. The argument just does not stand up to any amount of scrutiny. Are we supposed to shy away from games like Spec Ops: The Line or The Walking Dead for being too emotional, bleak and depressing? I don't think so.
I also don't think it's at all fair to call them liars but I do think they were heavily influenced by public opinion like everyone is. I believe that they understood that internet critics were being unreasonable but thought that it must mean the game is somewhere between the 10/10 and 1/10 ratings they were seeing. It just reeks of having a knee jerk reaction to something and then creating reasons to explain that reaction, even if they aren't accurate. Just like how if you're enjoying a movie but all of your friends talk about how awful it is, you will likely start to have a more negative opinion on it. If you say that it wouldn't influence you at all, you are likely incorrect.
I also believe they were genuinely worried about the backlash they would get if they were to speak positively about the game. There would have been mass dislikes and people unsubscribing if they were to give a positive review in the middle of the immense backlash. Although this position is the weakest I do believe it is still worth considering.
I'm sure there's more to say but I'm more interested in what you all think of this topic and the extremely polarized reviews that came out on release day compared to the weeks and months after.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the idea that their reviews were influenced by public opinion, why or why not? How much do you think public opinion influenced these youtubers' reviews?
Edit: Also addressing other general criticisms that I also do not think make sense but are common when discussing The Last of Us 2. 4. Lack of Player Agency I believe that linear games serve an important storytelling purpose. We are not always supposed to be able to choose what a character does all the time. There are plenty of games that do that. The Last of Us 1 didn't do that and so I don't understand why people wanted a branching storyline for this game.
- Playing as the bad guy is far from “bad writing.”
- Unpopular opinion – Game reviews are straying further and further away from their purpose
- The Last of Us Part II’s fan backlash is a big reason why Hollywood & most games follow the same formula.
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