A hot potato: Another game is being review bombed—a term used when a large number of people post negative comments and scores to its Steam page over a short period. This time, the title in question is the five-year-old Total War: Rome 2. Why? It seems that people are angry over an update that supposedly increased the frequency with which women generals appear in the game, but it appears that nothing actually changed.
With over 21,000 Steam reviews since its September 2013 launch, Total War: Rome 2 has a ‘mostly positive’ rating on the platform, but only 19 percent of the 1000+ reviews over the last 90 days have been positive, leaving its recent rating as ‘overwhelmingly negative.’
Most of the newer complaints are directed toward the recent Ancestral update, which players claim increased the chances of women generals appearing in the game, even though there is no mention of this in the patch notes.
A screenshot (top) from a Steam user showing five out of eight "Available Generals" as women brought the debate into the spotlight. It led to the same arguments over historical accuracy that followed EA’s decision to put a woman on the front cover of Battlefield 5.
On Steam’s Community forums, community content editor Ella McConnell responded to the situation back in August by explaining that "Total War games are historically authentic, not historically accurate - if having female units upsets you that much you can either mod them out or just not play. People saying they won't buy the game because there are too many women in it is fine with us - if that's their reason, we'd rather they didn't anyway."
Unsurprisingly, the comment didn’t go down well with a lot of players. In a follow-up comment, McConnell wrote: "I'm not HR, nor is it my job to push a 'personal agenda' - I convey the views of the company, which is where the statement regarding historical authenticity vs. historical accuracy (and the inclusion of women) originates."
In a statement, Total War devs Creative Assembly said there is only a 10 to 15 percent chance of female characters appearing as recruitable generals for some of the playable factions. The exceptions being the Greek States, Rome, Carthage and some Eastern factions, which have a zero percent chance, and Kush, which has a 50 percent chance. The company added that there have been no changes to recruitable female general spawn rates.
Several games have been hit with review bombings over the last few years, including PUBG, Firewatch, and GTA V. Valve has tried to address the problem by introducing histograms that show the positive to negative ratio of reviews over the entire lifetime of a title.