Images & Gameplay via Nintendo

Animal Crossing: New Horizons provides the ultimate escape from your everyday life. The game is perfect for the casual gamer just looking for a relaxing time to enjoy with their friends and family. There is no main goal in the goal besides transforming your island into a 5 star. However, the player has limitless freedom on how to get there. The game provides a breath of fresh air with its amazing graphics and soundtrack.

Animal Crossing has always followed the same format throughout the years. You arrive in a new place and live among local animal villagers and do daily tasks. The game operates at the same time rate in the real world so every day is bound to be different. The game is best played at your own pace, whether you do decide to skip ahead a couple of days or play daily. The choice is all yours.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons seeks to elevate this elevate by still keeping in touch with its roots while revamping it for the newer generation. Overall, the atmosphere of the game provides a relaxing experience to fans of any age.


Tom Nook’s Empire

Animal Crossing moving in
First Day on the Island

Tom Nook the tanuki has been a series staple since the GameCube era of the game. He has been shown many times to be a crafty businessman slowly growing his empire throughout the series from a small shop owner to the president of Nook Inc.

At the start of the game, the player is greeted by Tommy and Timmy, Tom Nook’s nephews, although they are often mistaken for his sons. They inform you about a luxurious island getaway package where you get to live on a deserted island, away from the pesky noise and pollution of city life. You are then prompted to customize your character and choose from 4 islands to move to. It’s important to note that both the character customization and island layout can be changed later in the game.


Day 1: Surviving the Wilderness

Animal Crossing Camp Visitor
Collecting Weeds

When you arrive at the island, you are greeted by Tom Nook who proceeds to welcome you at his tent which he has set up as a base of operations. He then tasks the player with setting up their tent to live in helping to prepare the welcome celebration. This part of the game serves as a basic tutorial to get you used to the controls and mechanics of the game.

Besides your character, two other villagers will accompany you on your getaway. These villagers are randomly selected at the start of the game, but one will always have the jock personality and the other one will have the sisterly personality. In my game, my first two villagers were Goose the chicken and Canberra the Koala. A lot of players will grow attached to their first two villagers since they started their journey at the same time. Personally, Goose has become one of my favorite villagers and still has a home on my island. Sadly, Canberra has moved away…

After you complete Tom Nook’s tasks, the celebration begins and you are then asked to name a suggestion for the island. Although everyone shouts out something different, your choice is unanimously voted as the name of the deserted island. Once the celebration is over, your character goes to sleep and has a mysterious dream about a famous singer. This serves to sync the time and season to your system clock.

When you wake up from your slumber, you are greeted by Tom Nook who provides you with a Nook Phone and informs you about the cost of your luxurious getaway. Did you think everything was free? Tom Nook presents you with a fat bill that needs to be paid off. Thus begins your adventure of indentured servitude to the corporate overload known a Tom Nook.


Day 7: Museums, Shops, and Able Sisters

Animal Crossing Museum guide
Celebrating Museum Opening

The first week in the game is full of content to explore. Since the game progresses in real-time, there is something new to do every day. You have the museum run by Blather where you donate your bugs, fishes, and fossils. There is also the Ables Sister Shop where you can buy new clothes and accessories. Lastly, Nook’s Cranny, run by Timmy and Tommy, allows you to not only buy new furniture, but you can also sell practically anything you can get your hands on to them. Selling your fish and bugs to them is the main way to earn Bells besides the Turnip Market that happens on Sunday. These new developments to the island will vastly improve the local economy of your island

Tip: The Turnip Market can a viable way of earning millions of bells. Every day, besides Sunday, Nook’s Cranny will have two different prices that you can sell your Turnips, one before 12 P.M. and one after. Like the real stock market, the goal is to buy low and sell at a high price. You can also visit other people’s islands and sell your turnips there!


Getting to a 3-star Island

Animal Crossing Timmy and Tommy
Shopping at Nook’s Cranny

Although there is no story to the goal, your main objective is to build the island into a popular attraction to get the singer K.K. Slider to play on your island. Tom Nook gives you the title of resident services assistant and tasks you with helping improve life on the island. You are pretty much free to decorate your island as you please. However, there are some general guidelines you must follow.

After the Resident Service Building is completed, Isabelle will come to the island to help Tom Nook out with managing things. While Tom Nook will cover construction-related issues, Isabelle will tell you how to improve your star rating. You can also change your island flag and report any issues with your villagers to her.

Note: Reporting will not get them to move out faster. It will only change their greeting and outfits to their original state if they ever wore or say something offensive. Think of it as a factory reset on your villagers.

To get to a 3-star island, Isabelle will recommend you build fences, plant flowers, and decorate the island with more furniture. Once you hit 3-stars, K.K. Slider will come to play the main theme of the game in a concert the next day. I won’t spoil the cutscene, since you will need to experience that for yourself.


Daily Life After the Concert

animal crossing island tours
Visiting an Island

The game begins to slow down after the concert with no more goals to complete. However, there is still a ton of content to do such as, paying off all your debt, completing the museum, and finding your dream villagers.

In this game, find the villagers you want has become a lot easier than in past games. When you have an empty pole, you can easily hop on an island tour to try and find a new villager to bring back to your island. Moving out your villagers has also become less complicated, but it is now more based on chance. Even your favorite villagers will ask to leave!

Your villagers make up the heart of your island. You will have ones that you love and ones that you despise and wish they would just move away. Rest in peace, Canberra. The villagers in the game feel a lot more alive than in past games. You will often find them exploring your island, trying to catch a bug, or eating ice cream. They will also interact with each other as they walk around the island. There are over 390 villagers that you can get, so you will surely find one that you will connect with.

Tip: When a villager asks to leave, simply close the game and do not talk to them for the rest of the day. When the next day, another villager has a higher chance of asking to move. Keep ignoring that villager until the villager you want to move asks.

Daily visitors will also visit your game every day to keep your game fresh. Each visitor will give you something different, but you won’t know you have come until you log in yourself. Isabelle doesn’t mention anything about them so you have to find them yourself. Currently, there is Lief who sells you plants, Redd who sells art, Savannah who sells you rugs and wallpaper, and Kick who sells you shoes. There is also Flick and CJ who you can sell your bugs and fish for more profit. You can also have them mail you a replica of a species if you give them 3 of the same species. Lastly, there is Label who will gift you designer clothing. There are also a ton of other characters as well you can sometimes find on your island. When diving, you will sometimes encounter Pascal or Celeste stargazing at night. All the characters are pretty fun to interact with, but do become stale after a couple of weeks.

A big con I found with the game that it does tend to get repetitive after a while. You begin to notice that Isabelle will repeat the same information every morning and most days there are no announcements. Even the villagers fail with the same formula of repetitiveness. Although there are 10 personality types in the game, having multiple villagers of the same personality types does tend to get boring because they say the same thing.

Another thing that can be improved is the events in the game. In the first couple months of release, there were multiple events May Day, Easter, Museum Day, and more, but these events have slowed down. The events were what I enjoyed most of the game and was a reason why players kept going back to play. The quality of events should also be improved. For example, the Easter event ran for way too long. Everyone had nightmares of finding only eggs while fishing or exploring their island. A lot of the events were also lackluster. The June wedding event where you had to decorate a wedding hall at Harvey’s island. It was fun at first, but got boring pretty quickly with having to do the same thing all month.

The attention to detail in the game is amazing as you notice subtle changes as time progresses, especially when the season changes. There are also different seasonal activities from building a snowman in winter or collecting flower petals in season.


Decorating your island

Animal Crossing Vivian
On the swings with Vivian

The ultimate goal after you finished your island is to obtain a 5-star rating. The game uses a system to keep track of the types of furniture you place on the island, the number of flowers, and if there is any garbage on your island. If your island is clustered with trash or is barren, your rating will plummet.

Tip: Even after you reach a 5-star rating, that score can dip back to a 4 star. I made the mistake of playing unneeded furniture around my island and my score dropped from a 5-star rating to a 4 star one.

One of the new features of the game is the DIY recipes that you can learn through your visitors or by finding them through popping balloons and opening messages on the beach. With these new recipes, you can then craft new furniture and tools! This was a pretty fun mechanic, since collecting all the recipes does take time, but is a rewarding experience overall. However, crafting a bunch of items at one time is time-confusing, especially for items like fish bait where you can only craft one at a time.

Tip: You can even craft your own tools. However, they can break!

Another new feature they added to the game is the ability to terraform your island by adding cliffs, rivers, and pathways. you can pretty much design your island the way you want to. I have spent countless hours designing the layout of my island, only to change it after a couple of weeks. The process can be time-consuming and waste a lot of your bells.

In past games, your town was static and a lot of the buildings couldn’t be moved. Even the villagers’ homes were placed randomly and you couldn’t move them. The developers took note this time around and made the option to be able to move shops and homes. The only permanent fixture on your island is the resident service building that can’t be moved.


Co-op Play and the Dreaded Loading Screen

Animal crossing Playing online with friends
Co-op with Friends

Many players bought the game to play online with their friends. It was also advertised as a co-op game that will allow 8 players on your island. However, the co-op for the game needs some work. There is nothing to do when you’re on another island besides fish and hit your friend with a net. Unlike past games, there are no mini-games you can play besides the one you make up yourself. The loading screen is also something that slows the game down. Whenever someone comes to your island or leaves, the game pauses to a loading screen. This isn’t bad if it was only 1 player visiting your island, but imagine 8 people arriving at the same time. The concept of 8 players in co-op is a nice feature to the game, but wasn’t implemented well.


Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Daily tasks and can be played at your own paceThe game can become stale and repetitive
Seasonal events and holidayDialogue can get boring and repetitive
Customize your island the way you wantCo-op play needs to be improved with less loading time and more activities

Conclusion

Animal Crossing Franking Turkey Day
Turkey Day

Transforming your island into a 5-star paradise will take a lot of work. Animal Crossing is a game meant for the casual player, and those who rush though will experience burn out. Like I mentioned before, it is best to play it at your own pace. There is a ton of content to explore and the developers have mentioned that they will keep adding updates for years to come. So far they have introduced diving, the Dream Suite, and growing pumpkins for their Halloween update. I’m looking forward to seeing what the game has to offer for the winter season. With more content on the way, fans of Animal Crossing New Horizons will always have something to look forward to in the future.

It is currently Turkey Day within the game! You will collect ingredients to make a feast for your villagers. I hope everyone has a nice deserved break and stays safe!


Rating

Story: ★★★ 3.5/5

At the beginning of the game, you are given enough plot and easy to understand instructions. After the main story, you are free to do anything you wish. There also isn’t anything in-depth with the story or the characters. The villagers feel more alive, but usually, only react to their environment.

Visual & Audio: ★★★★ 4/5

There is a different soundtrack for every hour of the game. All songs from K.K. Slider also makes a comeback, but only a few are memorable. Graphics are incredible with great attention to detail.

Game Mechanics:: ★★★★★ 4.5/5

The mechanics are simple and easy to understand. The developers improved the quality of life features that were not present in prior games. For example, the ability to move villager houses. However, there is room for improvement that the developers take into consideration.

Enjoyability: ★★★★★ 5/5

I was really into the game for a couple of months, but as time passed I struggled with finding new things to do. However, it is an enjoyable game if you do not rush it. There are also more planned updates to keep players coming back for more in the future.

Overall Rating: 85/100

game score
Seal of Approval

Available on:

Developers: Nintendo

These sites will also help you learn more about the game and guide you along your journey:

*All photos and images of gameplay belong to their respective owners

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