Animal Crossing: New Horizons First Impressions

Finally, after nearly eight years Animal Crossing has returned! That’s right, finding its home on the Nintendo Switch, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released just last week. For most of us, that means seven days of real time to travel to our island, pay off loans to a shady raccoon, and make our homes the way WE want. If you’re playing the game the way it’s meant to be played (for example, not duplicating items, time traveling, or cheating the game in other ways) there’s still so much to be seen. So this isn’t so much a review, it’s more of a look at the first week of island life.

Animal Crossing

Island life Day 1: A chicken wants to murder me…

First off, the biggest thing to note is how SLOW the first couple days of Animal Crossing New Horizons are. Unlike previous editions of the game, the first two or three days are very streamlined. You’re not exactly free to do whatever you like, as most of the island will be cut off to you for a few days. Once you get settled, you’ll gain access to the vaulting pole, which will allow you to jump over rivers and ponds, opening a large chunk of your island to you. Before long, you’ll also unlock the ladder, which will give you access to the hill areas and make the remainder of your island available.

Animal Crossing

A small scale idea of what customization is available on your new island.

What New Horizon lacks in the starting days, it makes up for in free reign of customization. First off, when you start your island life you can tell your two other inhabitants where to pitch their tent and live. Don’t worry too much about where they were just now, because you’re welcome to move all the houses and buildings (besides resident services) once the famed Isabelle joins you.

Secondly, unlike previous games in the series, items can now be placed outside. This will allow you to make areas feel more lively and your island feel more inhabited than ever before. You’ll also still have bridges that can be built, as well as ramps for the hills. This gives you even more options to make your island feel like it’s actually yours.

Finally, and this is something I haven’t unlocked yet as it does take some time without time traveling, you’ll have the ability to terraform the island. I can’t delve too much into this yet as I’m experiencing the game the way it was intended, but it looks like you’ll be able to mold the island to the standards that you want. This includes changing the cliffs, rivers, and ponds to your liking.

Animal Crossing

Everyone is always so happy to have new things to do on the island!

Tools have changed as well; these are no longer items that you just purchase as they become available in the shop. Tools are now part of the new crafting system, which the game calls D.I.Y., and they’re all breakable. Basically, you’ll start the game with “feeble” versions of all the tools and they really are feeble. For instance, the net used to catch bugs will break after catching five insects and the fishing rod after five caught fish. It’s a bit frustrating to begin with, but once you get used to it, the crafting is quite enjoyable. On top of the tools, you can also craft all sorts of furniture, fences, even medicine and fish bait. Once you get going, the limitations can start to feel endless. Plus, most items can be customized to be different colours or even include your own designs.

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Relaxing in the museum is nice. Especially with friends.

After only a week, my island is starting to feel more like home than any other Animal Crossing game has. With so much left to experience, so many shops and characters to meet, it’s hard to tell what everything will feel and look like in a month’s time. That being said, this is only a first impression of the game and in a few weeks time we will take an even deeper dive and look at a full review of New Horizons.