Animal Crossing…you love it or you don’t. The biggest question I get asked is “Why would you like this game? I just don’t get it” Or if you are my partner “So how many Animals have you crossed yet?” While it is definitely not the latter, it is an almost cult like experience that has taken over Switch fans for the last week and an ever growing meme community on Reddit is keeping interest alive. After playing obsessively for a week. a new event has come into the game for Easter with a nightmare inducing Rabbit who is replacing eggs with fish, fossils and loot that will help further your island. In a maddening response in not being able to do anything, even with a ticket to another island, eggs have infiltrated the other islands and I am so mad that you can’t opt out, I am taking a much deserved (and needed!) break until the event is over to deliver my review and thoughts on this game changing title.
You start out on a deserted island, with nothing. Absolutely nothing. Tom Nook and his two nephews arrive with a tent for you to start settling into island life and bringing back to a habitable state. You collect fruit, tree branches, fish, bugs and dig up fossils to trade for as much money as possible to build your house and then start decorating the island. You do get a couple of new inhabitants that come to the Island when your house has been built. After this there is no more hand holding, it is your job to travel around and convince other inhabitants to move. You can also talk to campers when your campsite is built and make it attractive enough for them to move.
I spent my first few days shaking trees to get branches, collecting clumps of weeds, fishing, collecting bugs and getting coal and loot from rocks. It is imperitave to understand that your first few days with New Horizons will be slow. There isn’t a whole lot to do and if you really want to get ahead in the game, I recomment doing these menial tasks as much as you can first up to start building your collection. You can shake trees to collect furniture (2 per day) as well as tree branches, bells and the unlucky wasps nest. When you get the axe you can chop down trees for wood, be aware they don’t grow back so you will need to shovel up the stump and plant a piece of fruit or acorn to grow another tree in its place.
Part of foraging and collecting resources allows you to find the crafting table (or build one of your own!) in order to build furniture, decorations, wallpaper etc. This is a part of the game that I really enjoyed seeing the ability to craft things as opposed to having to save up Bells to spend instead. Having the choice to do either allowed my island to expand rather quickly and fill up with all kinds of weird and wonderful decorations. If you don’t want to purchase things you can hunt down DIY recipes from all over the game the islands. These can be shaken out of trees, found in bottles washed up on the beach, given to you from neighbours on the island and many other places.
Another new addition to this title is the Nook Miles program. These are daily tasks that earn you points that can be redeemed for travel tickets that take you to other islands to collect resources and find other fruit. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy you can purchase new hairstyles, clothes and items. Every day brings a new batch of new Nook Miles missions to complete and after a couple of weeks the same objectives come around again. Most of what you need to do ends up completing Nook Miles objectives so they are pretty easy to obtain just by playing the game on a daily basis. Colecting fruit, talking to neighbours, crafting items are all included and it was rare that I short on them.
This game features some online capabilities, if you have a Nintendo Online Membership you can open your island up for visitors or you can jump on Dodo airlines and visit a friends island. Apart from running around and checking out their designs, you are fairly limited on what you can do. If you are “Best Friends” you can collect fruit, dig up fossils and talk to the islands inhabitants. One of the best things about the online component is the resource sharing. Your online friends can easily share their designs and items they have collected with you through this service, or use the mail service to send items to your collection. This is where I spent a lot of time collecting unique and cool designs for my character. While the process for getting online and inviting friends to your island is long and tedious, it is something that could be impoved in future titles.
There is a huge online commuity creating some pretty unique and interesting designs that you can pair with the Nintendo Switch app to scan the QR code and send into your game. I was able to get a Aquaman tshirt and matching hat, a Superman outfit and Wonder Woman cape and lasso all from Reddit. These are a bit of a trek to import but once you do it a few times it adds another element of customisation to the game.
Graphically this game is a huge leap forward for the series. While not at Super Mario Odyssey or Breath Of The Wild levels, there is quite a bit more that has been added here to bring it into the current gen. The way the leaves on the trees sway in the breeze and the water splashes when you are catching a fish is gloriously detailed. The museum in this game is an open building and a lot of time and love has been put into makign this walk through experience one you won’t forget. When you are done selling your loot, you can donate bugs, fish and fossils to the museum that proudly go into elaborate displays. This is such a welcome addition to the game and I found myself donating more than I could afford to just to watch a massive great white shark swimming in the huge aquarium. Being greeted by a swarm of Butterflies as I walk through the bug exhibit and following the time stamp of the type of bug and when I caught it is a great time capsule and acheievement keeper.
While the current Bunny Day event is frustrating A.F., the game itself is a great leap forward for the series. Having it ready on the Switch is also something that while this was a thing on the 3DS, the improved graphics and new gameplay options warrant the upgrade. People are asking me how this compares to my favourite game Stardew Valley, and while there are similarities, they are essentially completely different experiences. This game runs at an extremely slow pace which forces you to slow down with it. I enjoyed the forced time to stop and enjoy a shared experience with my friends (who like myself cannot go out at the moment). Time will tell if this game keeps up with its planned in game events, I for one will keep checking back to fill my Island and fill it with weird and wonderful designs.
Animal Crossing New Horizons is now available on the Nintendo Switch.