Animal Crossing: New Horizons Review

The new camera feature makes these adorable scenes so much easier to compose

I was 16 when I played my first Animal Crossing game. An unfortunate side effect of being a ‘gamer’ in the UK is that you have to wait for the EU version of the game even though Australia (a fellow PAL and English speaking territory) got the game almost a year before.

It was an excellent game, as a teenager still living in the tiny room I had at mum’s house it offered me a massive amount of space to design and develop into my own little world.

As the Animal Crossing series evolved I was then able to take that world with me with Animal Crossing: Wild World and Animal Crossing: New Leaf, the latter of which I plunged untold hours into mostly so I could fill my house up with Sharks.

I’ve missed a few games in the series as I didn’t have a Wii and I never got a chance to play Happy Home Designer (although I have been collecting the cards).

With the Wii U’s HD graphics I had hoped for a new entry in this higher definition and even though many people dismiss the Animal Crossing Plaza that was short lived on the console I enjoyed seeing all the villagers in HD.

I was ecstatic when Nintendo announced they were bringing Animal Crossing to the Switch (a console that I’ve already decided is my favourite ever), although this was short lived as at E3 2019 they announced that the game was being delayed until March 2020 (quite rightly however to give the team more time).

It meant waiting another six months from what I was expecting but I also had Pokemon Shield to sink my teeth into so it wasn’t too much of a pain to wait that time.

But now I have my hands on the game so I thought I’d write up my impressions of the game I’ve waited so long for and if it was worth the wait.

Is The Magic Still There?

Black Bass are truly KVLT.

To put it shortly, yes.

The long form of that answer is me explaining that I stayed up until 3am on the 20th of March so I could play the game and get the intro jobs done ready for the first day with the game (days start at 5am) to be more productive.

The game has been out for 60 hours now and I’d say I’ve spent at least 20 of those hours playing Animal Crossing (eight of those also spent at work having really bad withdrawal symptoms).

Now I’m on my third house expansion and progress is starting to get locked behind real world days I’ll probably be able to spend less hours a day on it but that’s one of the greatest parts of Animal Crossing, it’s a game you can come back to again and again.

There’s always more bugs, fish and fossils to find & donate and now there’s Nook Mile achievements to meet which adds a lot of stretch goals to keep even the fastest player coming back.

The Good Bits

The scale of these fish is immense

It’s clear a lot of work has been put into the game, the crafting system alone is a game in of itself with it hooking into the existing gameplay loop of designing the perfect town ridiculously well (you need to craft to make stuff to put in your town, you need resources to craft so you need your town to supply that).

For me, Animal Crossing has always been about using trees and flowers to create meadows & forests and now Nintendo have given you the means to not only use game objects to shape the land but actually tools to shape the land.

I can’t wait to unlock this feature, being able to terraform my island to how I see fit whenever I want is going to allow me to build all kinds of ideas that I’ve been wanting to do for ages.

Aside from the ability to change the landscape there’s been enhancements to the in-game camera tools which now allows for all kinds of machinima in the game and I look forward to seeing how people get creative with that.

Additionally the new Nook Miles achievements mean that there’s new ways to show off your accomplishments outside of the different items given to the player on completing certain tasks like in previous games.

These Nook Miles achievements also make the game less tedious when having to wait for time to pass in order for in-game events to happen which in the early game (where there’s a lot of waiting) keeps you engaged.

Lastly, the fishing feels absolutely epic when you reel in something ridiculous like an Oarfish.

The Not-So-Good Bits

So far the only bad bits I’ve encountered is the friend system, unlike other games where you can see all your Nintendo Online friends and interact with them Animal Crossing requires you to share a code initially in order for the friend to visit, after this visit you can then set them up as a friend so they can visit again.

I understand this is to protect the player’s town but it’d have been nice if your Nintendo Online friends were pre-populated into your friend list in order to streamline the process.

I do however love the NookLink app on the Nintendo Online app on my phone and how that can be used to send messages as this is a lot easier than typing in game.

What I’d like to see going forward

Unlike previous Animal Crossing titles which were self contained games with all the calendar events implemented from the start the developers decided to use a more agile approach and the calendar events will be released as DLC over the coming year.

I’m hoping that as Animal Crossing: New Leaf received an update after five years to enable Amiibo support the development team will keep the DLC coming for the next three years at least in order to keep the events fresh (in previous games if you got all the furniture from the event then there wasn’t much bringing you back for more).

I’d imagine as the team has taken some influence from Pocket Camp (a mobile game based on Animal Crossing from which the crafting system draws inspiration) they’ll keep the game updated frequently during the first couple of months to get people hooked but as there’s no micro-transactions to rinse the user of money it’ll be interesting to see how far that goes.

Summary

If you like Animal Crossing then this is basically the ultimate game for you and you should buy it.

If you don’t like Animal Crossing then I’d like to point out that the majority of the western world is currently isolating in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus and this game will allow you to create your own world while you’re not allowed outside and you should buy it.

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Currently building reciprocal.dev. Interested in building shared understanding, Automated Testing, Dev practises, Metal, Chiptune. All views my own.

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Colin Wren

Colin Wren

Currently building reciprocal.dev. Interested in building shared understanding, Automated Testing, Dev practises, Metal, Chiptune. All views my own.

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