Are you ready for an island getaway? I’m sure with the state of the world at the moment that many of you would shout a resounding “YES!” While it’s not quite going to give you the vacation you desire, Animal Crossing: New Horizons will give you a nice reprieve from your everyday life…
Anyone not familiar with the Animal Crossing games, here’s a little rundown: you’re new in town and need a place to stay. This is where your boy Tom Nook comes into play and gives you a nice little place of your own. Nice of him, right? Well, aside from you now eternally being in his debt– and you will spend the next several weeks/months paying off your debt to Mr. Nook. While I’m sure those unfamiliar to the series will read that and think that doesn’t sound fun at all, the whole thing is a relaxing escape from reality.
This time around you’re given a life on a deserted island with the same general premise. You’ll start off paying off your debt with a new type of currency though: Nook Miles. You’ll accumulate more Miles as you complete specific tasks in game and pass different milestones. Miles can also be used to catch a flight to other random islands where you can gather resources and potentially meet and recruit new characters to your island.
One of the biggest changes in New Horizons are in how much you can customize it to be exactly how you want. Want your island-mate’s house next to yours? Do it. Want the store by the beach? Got it. Want a waterfall by the museum? It’s yours. And there are many quality of life changes from previous entries as well, such as the item wheel and being able to switch out tools without opening up the menu is a godsend.
Another big new aspect is the workbench. During your time on the island you’ll come across recipes that you can use at the workbench to craft different kinds of items, ranging from furniture, decorations, medicine, and tools. Which, in a move that feels like it was taken from the blueprints of Breath of the Wild, your tools can now break! Hooray says nobody! This can be a bit tedious at first, needing to replace your tools after a small amount of uses. But before long, you’re able to craft higher durability tools that won’t go breaking on you at every swing.
One of the best things about Animal Crossing has always been having your friends/family with their own houses in your town and being able to contribute to it’s growth together. While you still can have them here on the island with their own place, they’ve taken away the ability for any “secondary” players to be able to contribute into upgrades of the island, which takes away a bit of the incentive to play. And visiting your online friend’s island leaves a lot to be desired as well.
When going to your friend’s island you are left to stay with camera view of your friend and are essentially a tag-along in whatever your friend is doing. And unless you’re using Nintendo’s “wonderful” voice-chat app, your main means of communicating is mostly constrained to using emotion gestures. You can type in text bubbles — or talk on the phone to your friends — as well, but it’s way too time consuming trying to do so for it to be worth it.
At the end of the day, when the sun sets on your island, New Horizons is going to be whatever you really make of it. When it comes down to it these games are meant to be taken in at small chunks at a time over months of time. This is a game you go to to escape reality and not feel pressured to have to accomplish anything. You can work on reducing your debt a bit one day and spend a whole day fishing the next.
It’s the same Animal Crossing you know and love with a lot more to collect and a lot more to customize. If the multiplayer aspects weren’t half-baked I’d score it higher, but even so it’s still what a lovers of the franchise will sink hundreds of hours into. 4/5 Bibles.