Despite The Last of Us Part 2’s mixed critical reception, review score aggregator Metacritic shows it with a critical score of 95 out of 100, with a plethora of 10/10s developer Naughty Dog has been happy to tout. The user scores, meanwhile, sit at an abysmal 3.5 out of 10, based on over 31,000 reviews and counting, over 20,000 of which are negative. All of these numbers are meaningless.
User reviews on Metacritic began pouring in almost as soon as the game launched. Much of this was likely review bombing, a practice in which people intentionally flood a game with negative reviews. Forbes noted that the game had over 5,000 user reviews only a half-day into release, suggesting “unless people are doing blitzing speed runs and then immediately going to Metacritic to post angry 0/10 reviews…something fishy is clearly going on.” The game hasn’t even been out for two full days in the US; running at 25-30 hours, it’s unlikely many of these negative reviews, even taking into account regions where the game launched sooner, are from people who’ve finished it. A vocal contingent of players has been set against The Last of Us Part 2 since its 2018 E3 trailer showed lead character Ellie in a lesbian relationship, and even more joined the fray following April’s leaks. On Metacritic, a large portion of reviews reflect this, calling director Neil Druckmann “Cuckman” and railing against the game’s “SJW propaganda.” “This is a political statement, not a video game,” wrote one user.
Other negative reviews are more reasoned, taking complaints with the game’s story, citing plotholes and unlikeable characters. “Unfortunately, this sequel destroys the remarkable achievements of the first game,” wrote one reviewer. “Once you’ve finished it it literally has been for nothing!” wrote another. Many players disliked what the game does to some of its beloved characters, with one writing that a character’s story was “a complete insult to the character.”
While the negative reviews far, far outweigh the positive ones, there are also over 800 mixed reviews as of this writing, and over 8,500 positive ones. “Unmatched facial expressions, incredible level and audio design and phenomenal graphics make this one of the most beautiful worlds ever created… The story is shocking and real,” reads one early positive review.
For comparison, the generally reviled Fallout 76 for PS4 has a critical score of 53 against a user score of 2.8, based on 4,601 reviews. The disastrous Anthem has a critical 54 versus a user score of 3.5, based on 1,268 reviews. Mass Effect 3, whose contentious ending drew so much ire developer Bioware changed it, has a 93 critical score against a 5.7 based on 1,921 reviews. These critical numbers don’t all reflect the many sites that don’t use review scores, or ones that have dropped numbers or altered how they’re utilized—Polygon, for instance, stopped using numbered scores in 2018, while IGN removed decimal scores in January. (Kotaku, meanwhile, has never used numbers.) In all these cases, however, both the critical and user scores on Metacritic seem to paint at least some reasonable picture of these games’ receptions.
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Whether The Last of Us Part 2’s mind-bending amount of negative reviews are from players predisposed to hate the game or those who legitimately found it lacking, the discrepancy between the critical and user scores is notable. There are a lot of problems with Metacritic: the effects ratings have on game developers and the ease with which players can abuse them, to name a few. Basing your sense of a game’s quality on numbered review scores is itself a fool’s errand; Metacritic scores fail to take into account the diverse critical opinions of the game (several user reviews accuse these positive critical scores of being paid for) and the plentiful non-scored reviews (such as Kotaku’s, among others). Someone looking at critical scores alone would believe the game was widely beloved, only to be faced with the onslaught of negative user reviews that might lead even the most skeptical reader to believe something was amiss on the critical end of things. That aside, the sheer amount and noise of the user reviews would make it even more difficult to tell how players actually feel about the game. Metacritic, for all it’s become a supposedly vital metric for assessing a game’s quality, here shows a bunch of meaningless numbers and a lot of rage, very little of which paint any picture of how players are actually finding the game.
If you want to know how The Last of Us Part 2 is, skip the math. Read a review from some sites you trust, ask a friend what they think of it so far, or watch a bit of the game on YouTube before you buy it.