Beware of the Raccoon!
Animal Crossing: New Horizons was probably up with Pokemon in terms of the 2019 games I was most excited about, then Nintendo broke my heart by delaying it until 2020. Well… it’s here now and I’ve obviously purchased it and given it a solid play over the last few days, certainly enough to formulate some opinions. I’ve played every iteration released since the Gamecube and there are some obvious similarities and quite a few new features.
The first difference is that rather than moving into a village that’s already set up you move onto a deserted island and initially, you’re living in a tent. You get to pick the location of your tent and the two animals that drop onto the island with you. You’re then into the Animal Crossing staple of indentured servitude to Tom Nook to repay the various loans you’re going to be taking out to expand your housing situation.
The traditional formula is in there.
You have various tools like fishing rods, bug nets and shovels with which to dig up fossils, catch fish and bugs, collect fruit and lots of other stuff. You can use the items you get to fill up the museum once it’s available, or you can sell them for bells to buy items or pay back your loans. Alternatively, you can decorate your home with it. All pretty routine so far.
The first key difference is there’s now a resource management element in play. You can collect various items which you can then use to craft tools or furniture that you’ve obtained recipes for. These can be found in various places or will be given as you progress. It can be a little annoying when you need something specific and can’t necessarily craft it straight away, but so far it’s been manageable.
The second is that you can collect Nook points by completing various activities and these points can be used to get recipes and inventory expansions, but also allows you to buy tickets to visit other islands. These visitable islands allow for more resources to be collected but also to meet new animals which you can then invite to move to your island. If they accept then you’ll need to choose the location for the house and then create the required furnishing for the house before they’ll be able to move in.
The graphics are largely the same as with the previous versions in the series.
There are improvements to the lighting effects and there’s some movement in the angle of the camera which I don’t recall in older games but is pretty useful, the museum is also pretty impressive visually. Sound-wise the music is inoffensive and unobtrusive but as always it works and the animal speech is as adorable as always.
Animal Crossing has always been a fun series to play in quick blasts rather than one where you have to sit and invest absolutely hours into it and New Horizons is no different. Obviously, you can put the work in early and expand your house quickly and other things but then, in my opinion, you’re missing out on the leisurely playing style that I think makes Animal Crossing what it is. I love that you can just drop in and out when you have twenty minutes or so to kill.
While I love the game I do have some niggly issues with it, the fact that tools break can be incredibly frustrating though thankfully replacements are easy enough to craft or cheap enough to buy. It’s also irritating how when certain buildings, like the shop, get upgraded they’re basically out of use for a day which can be annoying if there are things you need to do within them.
I’m looking forward to the holiday events!
These will be available via DLC and updates over the course of the year, the only one I really remember from older games was the Christmas update which was good fun. I’m also looking forward to unlocking Amiibo support, I’ve made a point of collecting the cards for some of my favourite villagers from older games – roll on having Tangy and Bluebear moving in.
I honestly love Animal Crossing: New Horizons, as it stands it was one of four must-buys for me this year and it’s definitely not let me down. I’ve played it every day since release and I think I’m gradually unlocking bits of progress. Currently waiting on the visitor centre to be upgraded to see what new things Tom Nook has to offer. I’d 100% recommend it to anyone after a chilled gaming experience.