Animal Crossing has quickly over the years become one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises. With the release of the long-awaited Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Nintendo Switch, there are huge expectations from fans to see their beloved franchise on a proper mainline console away from the series’ usual home on the portable front. Read on to see how Animal Crossing: New Horizons fares in our review below:
It’s fair to say fans have been awaited New Horizons for quite a while, with the last core game coming out eight years ago in the form of New Leaf for the 3DS. There have been spin-off titles like 2017’s Pocket Camp for iOS and Android devices, but the hype for the next mainline title has been quite adamant. With New Horizon’s being delayed from its initial 2019 release due to Nintendo focusing on making sure that they would keep crunch to a minimum for their developers, fans showed support on the surface but in their hearts, the excitement as I mentioned before was reaching its peak. Now that Animal Crossing: New Horizons is finally here, with ample development time and technical resources thanks to the Switch’s hardware, this could very well be the mark of the franchise moving into the upper echelon of gaming.
Animal Crossing was never a franchise I had a lot of interest in, however, due to the extreme hype of the game I slowly became interested in playing it. Although I’ve played City Folk (2008) and New Leaf (2012) before, I stopped after a few hours to play other games I was more interested in. Due to the on-going Coronavirus pandemic, I had more time to invest in the game like many others. Playing the game for a longer period made me realize just how captivating the game was and how I should’ve given the previous games more of a chance.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a game I have a really hard time comparing to other contemporaries. You play an FPS most of the for its gameplay, RPGs for their storytelling and sports games to simulate real lift sports however Animal Crossing is just different. New Horizons is probably the slowest game I’ve ever played, that I probably wouldn’t have invested that much time in if the situation was not as crazy as it is now. Calling the game a slow burn is an understatement with the number of things you can and will be doing.
If you’re playing an Animal Crossing game for the first time you’ll quickly notice that there’s no point in the game. Animal Crossing as a game series offers a virtual exercise in relaxation that helps with a disconnect with problems of the world. Playing New Horizons, at least for me, offered as an escape from the problems of the world.
The game starts with your player character flying off to a deserted island, which functions as your new home, thanks to the Nook Getaway package run with Tom Nook now joined by his nephews Timmy and Tommy. You’re then tasked to help make the island a home using the resources available.
New Horizons puts a huge focus on crafting and collecting items compared to its predecessors, which makes sense considering the setting of the game. Gathering resources, crafting tools, and then using those tools to gather more and different kinds of resources is the gist of the game. So much focus on the crafting mechanic puts a strong emphasis on exploring your island. The game systems are also very polished and streamlined this time around. Furniture, for example, can be crafted using resources around the island instead of simply buying them from the store. You can also place the aforementioned furniture outside your house, which is new to the series allowing greater personalizing of your island.
Another addition to the franchise the durability system, straight out of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, where your tools break after constant use. This system is decisive, like it was in BOTW when it came, and can be quite annoying when you’re hunting for rare resources or bugs for example.
To not make the game overly-frustrating there’s also a reward system where Tom Nook will award Nook Miles for your everyday tasks, including getting a sort of compensation when you break tools. These goals are diverse can range from tasks you’ll need to complete in a day, while others are more long term.
Thanks to the strong implementation of multiplayer in the game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a joy to play with friends. You can visit your friend’s Islands and invite them to yours to play together. You can also do couch co-op if you’re not into playing online, however, that’s fairly limited since one player functions as the leader while others as a follower. The player who functions as the follower will be limited in terms of what they can do like not having access to their inventory, however, most of the people who’ll be actively playing will be playing online using their consoles anyway.
Animal Crossing: New Horizon is a breakthrough for the series that has made the franchise every more accessible than before. The game’s systems are extremely polished and though-out with the developers, as noticed by me, putting a strong focus on making the game as relaxing of an experience as possible. New Horizon has made me a fan and I can’t wait to dive into more content that’s coming in the future.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a 2020 life simulation video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch. It is the fifth main series title in the Animal Crossing series. New Horizons was released in all regions on March 20, 2020.
Final Score - 9/10
Animal Crossing: New Horizon is a breakthrough for the series that has made the franchise every more accessible than before.