Leading up to Nintendo’s first main release of 2020, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I was unsure about whether or not to fork out for the title, as my only previous experience with the Animal Crossing series, despite it being an almost 20 year franchise, was a few days of playing New Leaf for the 3DS, which I found to be very boring if anything, however I felt that maybe the fact that I had not fully indulged myself in the game from the beginning of its release and the online culture around it might have contributed to my enjoyment of the game so I decided this time around with New Horizons, now would be a better time than ever to commit fully to an
game from the start of its release.
Attention to Detail
My first views of Animal Crossing and I feel probably the most important element of this game is just how high quality of a product a consumer of the product will be getting. New Horizons has such attention to detail, little things such as hearing the rain of the outside world patter on the roofs of tents and houses, as well as noticing the rain drops slide down the glass of your house’s windows from the inside, the little movements and actions that are perfect for filling-in and digging holes etc. These are all details that would not have been complained about or noticed had they not been added to the game, but their addition does not go unnoticed once added.
As well as physical details of the world, the animals of the game all have their own unique personality traits and puns that make them feel like individuals who truly live on your island rather than just some random AI dotted onto your island. Little details about islanders such as Blathers the Owl being asleep during the day, and hating insects with a passion, or Gulliver, the forgetful seagull who continuously washes up on shore with his friends constantly leaving his messages for rescue on “read”. All animals in New Horizons, and with most Animal Crossing titles to be fair, are unique with their words and their personalities, they feel like genuine characters with their own daily lives on the island.
Additional Content & New Features
As for additional content, it just keeps coming, with new stuff to do every day, due to the game’s clock being based upon real-time, as well as seasonal and holiday events based upon real life times of the year and dates, giving players a reason to consistently come back all-year round with new items, characters and visuals of their island to constantly observe and try to obtain, all for free.
When a franchise has multiple games of the same title, what separates the titles from one and other is the new features and additions. The Nook Phone, it being in itself a new addition to New Horizons opens up a whole new avenue for Animal Crossing players, with new crafting recipes constantly being obtained and learned through the phone, as well as Nook Miles incentivising daily gameplay from players by constantly reward players for doing tasks on their island to get special items through the Nook Miles obtained through doing said tasks. Probably the most popular feature of the Nook Phone, if you are on social media, is the Designer Pro app. This app on the Nook Phone opens up all new ways to challenge your creativity, with players being able to design their own clothing completely, and create designs that can be placed in paintings, sign-posts, on the ground or almost wherever you can think of, with almost no restrictions on what can and can’t be created through the Designer Pro app. The Nook Phone is a genius addition that ensures players are constantly creatively stimulated and rewards them for being so.
And the final game-changer when it comes to major additions to New Horizons comes with the ability to terraform for the player. Upon receiving a three-star island evaluation from Isabelle, the player will gain the ability to terraform their island to their wildest wishes. This includes changing paths, slops, shape of the island and how it comes and much more. It turns the format of assembling your island on its head completely and offers the player endless possibilities when it comes to making their island unique and stand out amongst the crowd, this feature is a game changer when it comes to new features in Animal Crossing.
Online Play & Final Critique
Nintendo have also been known to have an issue when it comes to seriously committing to online play and perfecting it over the years, with the Switch having a lot of backlash since its release of its online subscription service for players, with arguments that you are subscribing to a service that simply does not work for the vast majority of major Nintendo titles. Well, for New Horizons, I am glad to say it works online, however, it can become quite boring and “samey” very quick, with not much to do on an island with your friends outside of looking around or giving your friends items or gifts to bring back to their island, but that can only take players so far. However, in my opinion Animal Crossing is a single-player game and the online is more of a bonus than a detrimental necessity, and the fact the online is probably the smoothest an online mode for a Switch title has been, I will try to look at the online as more of a positive than a negative despite its repetitive nature and swift lack of activities to do with your friends.
My only somewhat of a criticism of Animal Crossing: New Horizons would be with the Animal Crossing formula. The game can often leave players who do not time skip with a lot of free time where nothing new or exciting seems available on their island per say, but that does not necessarily mean the game becomes unenjoyable, as I previously said, the game rewards players with Nook Miles for repeating the same tasks over and over, so you always have something to do, it’s just sometimes it can feel like there is a lack of NEW things to do in the day. To be frank, I have struggled to find any true problems or complaints about the game that truly influence how players enjoy the game.
Overall, I would say Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the third highest quality product on the Switch, coming in just behind Breath of the Wild and Mario Odyssey. New Horizons has a potential for thousands of hours of gameplay and years of longevity for people who are still on the fence about whether to get the game. The gameplay can seem repetitive and boring from the outside, but once it has reeled you in, there is no escape and suddenly your Animal Crossing island will feel like a second home.
Review by Nathan Brennan
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a stellar title, with no effort saved when it comes to the quality, abundance and detail that comes with the game.