Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the fifth game in the increasingly popular Animal Crossing series, was developed and published by Nintendo for the Switch on March 20. It instantly became an internet sensation and for good reason. The game’s addicting collecting mechanic, combined with endless customization options and fun multiplayer visits, makes Animal Crossing: New Horizons one of the most joyous video games experiences I’ve ever had.
For returning fans of the series, New Horizons doesn’t change up the formula so much so that it’s unrecognizable. The core gameplay is the same — build relationships with villagers, attract new villagers to your island, and make it as beautiful and personalized as you want it to be.
Just like any other Animal Crossing game, however, newbies are going to have trouble figuring out what to do, especially for the first couple days. The game tries to combat this as best it can. Players can even receive direct guidance from Tom Nook by asking him, verbatim, “what should I do next?” The tutorial lasts longer than in previous games as well, which is a huge plus for inexperienced players. Unfortunately, you are still mainly left to your own devices, which could be a downside for anyone diving into their first Animal Crossing title with no clue what to expect.
However, once the game picks up around the second or third day, the options are endless and New Horizons is an Animal Crossing game like no other. The biggest new mechanic in New Horizons is crafting, which allows you to create furniture and tools with the resources you’ve collected. This was one of my favorite additions to the Animal Crossing world because it completely changed what I needed to do to progress.
For example, to get new villagers on your island, you have to pick out a plot of land where their house will be. After this, Tom Nook asks you to craft items for them that they will need once they’ve moved in, such as a bed or outdoor seating. This is an extremely different experience than past Animal Crossing games, where villagers mysteriously pop up on your island at random when spaces are available. Now, the process feels more personalized because I actually helped my new friends move in and gave them the supplies they needed to do so.
Another new gameplay mechanic is Nook Miles, a new form of currency. You receive Nook Miles by meeting milestones, such as planting all types of fruit on your island and completing mini quests, like catching a specific fish or chopping down trees. With these Nook Miles, you can buy Nook Inc. merchandise, hairstyles, upgrades, and other specialty items.
The most important Nook Miles item, however, is a Nook Miles Ticket, which grants you access to a mystery island. The mystery islands are random and a phenomenal addition to New Horizons, giving players unlimited areas to fish, catch bugs, and hunt for resources, as long as you have the 2,000 Nook Miles to fork over for a ticket. I ended up utilizing mystery islands almost constantly, especially at the end of the day when I had already mined every rock and shaken every tree at home.
Like every Animal Crossing game, the main appeal is the customization options for your town and it feels like New Horizons give us more possibilities than ever before. Per usual, you can create your own designs to put around your town or to put on your clothes, leading one of my friends to make a small shrine to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Similar creative and funny examples of homemade designs can be found all over Twitter and the best part is that you can easily scan your friends’ designs into your own game with a QR code.
Playing with your friends is more fun than ever in New Horizons as well. To visit your friends, you stop by Dodo Airlines and catch a flight to their island. Once there, you can sell your foreign fruits for a ridiculous amount of money, go exploring with your pals, and talk to their villagers.
While I loved building up my own island, of course, one of the most exciting things for me was visiting my friends over and over and seeing how their town was progressing too. I had a blast seeing what weird things my Switch buddies would do to their islands or how much better they were at decorating their house than me. Visiting your friends and having visitors felt like it had real-life impacts too — often, when a friend visited your island, the villagers would remember them and mention them in conversation later.
Everything felt personalized and totally under my influence. Even when I couldn’t visit my friends myself, I ended up texting everyone I knew about their towns and what was going on. My friend Hannah was even thrown a fun little birthday party by her villagers, and they sent me pictures to show it off.
Overall, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is an incredible experience and is, without a doubt, my favorite in the whole series. The formula is familiar for returning fans, yet still manages to feel like an enormous breath of fresh air. It is a distinctive, positive, and rewarding simulation that immerses you in a fun, colorful, stress-free environment. While it still has its confusing moments, especially for new players, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was definitely worth the seven-year wait and is better than I could have ever hoped for.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is available now on Nintendo Switch.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is an incredible experience and is, without a doubt, my favorite in the whole series. The formula is familiar for returning fans, yet still manages to feel like an enormous breath of fresh air. It truly is a distinctive, positive, and rewarding simulation that lets you become fully immersed in a fun, colorful, stress-free environment. While it still has its confusing moments, especially for new players, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was definitely worth the seven-year wait and is better than I could have ever hoped for.