The world is a stressful place right now. If you feel that you need a vacation, you should choose Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Nintendo Switch. Here’s why I and many others love Animal Crossing.
Now is the perfect time to get into Animal Crossing. Fans have been eagerly awaiting a new version for almost a decade. Nintendo released Animal Crossing: New Horizons on March 20, 2020.
Why do people like animal crosses?
Animal Crossing is a life simulator. Each game moves you to a new city inhabited by adorable anthropomorphic animals. The latest entry in the series, New Horizons, takes you to a desert island after purchasing a vacation package from a raccoon called Tom Nook.
If you’ve never played an Animal Crossing game before, don’t be discouraged. There is no story or homework to catch up on to enjoy this outing. I envy anyone who hasn’t plunged their toes yet. There is so much to discover and love on your first outing.
The series began life on the GameCube in 2001, which established many of the franchise’s long-standing characteristics. The most notable of these is a real time clock and calendar that reflect real time. The seasons change as they do in real life. Playing at different times of the day also offers different things to see and do.
While the game has many things to explore, the basic gameplay loop is simple. At first, you will receive basic accommodation and a loan from Tom Nook. You earn money (known as bells) to pay off your loan, which in turn improves your housing. You will then receive a new loan to work until you have the largest house in the village.
But there are many other things to do along the way. There is a museum to fill with insects, fossils, paintings and more. You can collect seashells, fruit and seashells for sale at a profit. You can spend time socializing and sending letters or gifts to residents and real-life friends.
While this may not sound convincing on paper, the way Nintendo presents Animal Crossing creates a sense of calm and serenity that few other games can match. The naive art style, the soft but vibrant color palette and the lullaby-like music are good for the soul.
But it is perhaps the most calming rhythm. Although you are under pressure to pay off your loan and keep up with your neighbors’ busy social life, you are free to tackle the game at your own pace. There is no screen game, no clock and very few mistakes to make.
Sitting on the beach watching the sun go down while the fish twist your line is a truly soothing experience. Your lively fellow citizens are almost always happy to see you, and they make significant changes to your interactions the better you know them.
There is much more below the surface than I remember, but I am determined not to give too much. You will have to play the game to get a real idea of what makes Animal Crossing so unique.
New Horizons is a holiday
The principle of Animal Crossing: New Horizons is that you are heading to a desert island for a vacation. For starters, all you have at your disposal is a tent, and it’s up to you to get to know your neighbors and take advantage of the world around you to get into the world.
New Horizons has some long-awaited features, including a robust manufacturing system. You can use basic resources like wood to make items, and then use items you made to make even more items. In previous titles, you could only decorate your home, but New Horizons allows you to place furniture and decorative items anywhere on the island.
The game also features a new currency, known as Nook Miles, which you earn by completing various tasks around the island. You can use your Nook Miles to purchase unique items not available by other means. A deeper social system allows you to influence the behavior of other residents, including where they should build their homes.
The other game systems have also been extended. There is now an option to select between the northern and southern hemispheres so that the seasons are correct wherever you play. There are new types of weather, an extended character customization system and, for the first time, the game is in Full HD.
While the “HD graphics” may sound a bit 2010, the last Animal Crossing game on a home console was City Folk for the Wii, released in 2008. This level of detail, combined with the series’s charming artistic style, is truly A feast for the eyes. From the way the leaves rustle in the trees, the swaying of a fishing lure, the joyful animation of your character catching a rare fish, everything looks so good.
And so, while New Horizons is a holiday for your character in the game, the same goes for the stressful holidays of modern life. As the world hides and prepares to overcome a global pandemic once in the century, New Horizons is a stay you can enjoy at home.
The game was due to launch in late 2019, but Nintendo delayed it to apply a final coat of polish. In the end, the timing couldn’t have been better.
A place to hang out with friends
In addition to anthropomorphic NPCs, including several long-time favorites from the series, New Horizons offers several ways to play with your real world friends. For starters, each Nintendo Switch system will have a single island available to all users of that console.
This means that if you share a Switch with your partner, roommates or children, up to four of you will have a house on the same island. You can all contribute items to the same museum, maintain and beautify the island as a group, and interact with the same residents. The first person on an island becomes the “resident representative”. You can play online with up to seven other friends via Nintendo Switch Online.
The resident representative is responsible for building most of the main structures and advances in the game. Only they can build ramps and bridges, customize the flag and make changes to other essential aspects of village life.
But you can still hang out with your friends, even if you’re on different systems and different islands. This can be done remotely via Nintendo Switch Online, or locally via local wireless gaming. It is possible to visit each other’s islands, socialize with residents, go fishing together, etc.
At a time when we are told to stay away from each other, New Horizons offers the opportunity to just hang out and embrace the mundane.
A unique title in a generation
You will need a Nintendo Switch to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons. You can buy a physical copy of the game online or download it from the eShop on your Switch. The previous game, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, is available for Nintendo 3DS.
A Nintendo Switch Online Membership ($ 20 for a year) is required to interact with other people online.
New Horizons offers a chance to escape stress, even for a few hours a day. Seasoned Animal Crossing fans and newcomers can take comfort one of the most relaxing gaming experiences ever.