gaming · Reviews

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Review

I have played  Animal Crossing series since the beginning. This series is pretty special to me. It holds fond memories from my childhood and it’s been amazing to see how this series has grown over the past two decades.

Does the newest title hold up to the prior games? I have had the game for almost a month and wanted to give enough game play time to reach a conclusion.

What is Animal Crossing?

You’ve probably seen it all over social media lately. It is a bit popular with people of all ages, including this 88-year-old grandma, who clocked in hundreds of hours on the previous game, New Leaf.

Why is This series so Appealing?

This game is a life simulator, similar to the Sims. But it is a tad different– you are a human in a village with talking animals with various personality. The newest title has additional customization, yet keeps the same feel of the original.  This time, you’re on a deserted island. You are able to customize your character and the world around you, talk to the animals, collect various fossils, fish, and insects around the island, while paying off your mortgage to a raccoon and expanding your home.

When this game trailer was released, I excited to see what the game had to offer. But I wasn’t really on top of the latest news and haven’t played much video games in awhile, in part due to being in grad school and working at a new job. The recent quarantine due to the virus gave me a lot more down time.  I was luckily able to get the system and bought a digital copy of the game.

I was blown away by the visuals, especially in comparison to the original. Above is a video of the progression in this series.

The player is able to make the island a habitable–and fun location, making decisions such as where to place buildings and outdoor furniture, and thinking creativity while doing so. You first start the game in a tent and you soon get to own a home. This home can then eventually expand into a mansion sized location, but only after you pay a raccoon several million coins–or bells–the in-game currency.

The Best Parts of This Game: 

*Added customization–you can place furniture all around the island grounds, even on the beach! Once you progress in the game, you can even change the shape of your rivers, move homes, and tear down cliffs. I was able to build an outdoor cafe and am in the process of making an outdoor library.

*Free DLC: Nintendo updates the game occasionally, adding new features for players to enjoy. Although the feedback can be mixed on certain DLC events (Bunny Day had mixed reception due to replacing some spawns of fish and other items with collectible eggs), I like that these updates keep the game fresh.

*Nook Miles: Nook Miles works a bit like achievements in other games. You earn miles, or points, which you can then redeem for various items and unlock certain aspects of the game. It makes the game both rewarding and engaging.

*Expanded Inventory: I personally love that the game cleared up this issue from previous iterations. You can finally have an expanded inventory. In previous games, you carried letters with you and I tucked my extra inventory items in the letters for the sake of storage. But now I do not have to worry about this–and can freely pick up items without making frequent in-game trips.

What I Dislike About the Game: 

Long Loading Screens for Online Play:When visiting other villages or meeting up with friends, for online play the loading screen can be a bit slow when people enter islands, even if you have a decent internet connection.

Tools Break: This part of the game is a bit frustrating, especially if your work bench is on the other side of the island. The workbench is essentially the only means to build items such as tools and ‘farming’ or getting materials for items is a repetitive process. Interestingly, this game lacks indicators on the tool (as of this post), when they are about to break, such as a crack. Sure, previous  games did have axes that broke, but they seemed to last a lot longer and gained visible indicators over time, so players knew when to replace them. Even the hard to find golden tools also break, as well.

Overall: Despite its flaws, this new entry to the Animal Crossing series, with its added customization can give players the opportunity to make an island and home fit to their personal tastes. The additional, free DLC will keep the game both fresh and fun!

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