Review – Animal Crossing: New Horizons
A few weeks ago, we took a dive into the first week on our brand new island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. While it may have only been the first week, there was a ton to take a look at. That said, a month after release, there has been a ton more to look at. It’s time to take a proper look at Animal Crossing: New Horizons and explore everything the game has to offer at this point.
Upon arrival at your new island, the first bit of work will be finishing where you want your tent to stay as well as your two villagers who move to the island with you, Timmy, Tommy, and Tom Nook. For me, I had Pluckie and Biff join me on the island. Thankfully, one month later, they still aren’t sick of my foolishness. Not only will you be able to pick where each and every one of your islander’s house’s sit, you’ll also get to choose where the museum, Nook’s Cranny, The Able Sisters, and a Campsite all are built as well.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though, it’s going to take some time before we get to all of this. Timmy, Tommy, and Tom all reside in Resident Services to begin with. Having a minimal selection available for anything to purchase, Timmy and Tommy will quickly want to open a shop. To do so you’ll need to find the materials for them to do so: thirty wood, thirty hardwood, thirty softwood, and thirty iron. I’m certain this can be done on the same day you’re given the challenge, especially now that there’s a lot of people who have a better understanding of the game.
The hard part at the time was finding enough iron though. Hitting the rocks on the island alone won’t be enough, if you want to do this the quickest way possible, your best plan is to visit mystery islands. You can buy a ticket to the mystery islands in Resident Services for two thousand Nook Miles, a new form of currency that we will dive into shortly.
Alongside the shop, Tom Nook will quickly invite Blathers to the island. Blathers is an owl that runs the museum and will take donations of fish, insects, and fossils. On your island you will be able to find four fossils a day, so it will take some time to find all the ones you need in your museum. Luckily, unlike the shop, Blathers will get the materials himself to build the museum.
The third shop you’ll open will be much later, this one is The Able Sisters. Once in a while, Mabel will come to your town and set up shop in the Resident Services plaza. Mabel, as well as The Able Sisters, sell clothing items, shirts, pants, socks, etc. Once you’ve spent enough Bells when she visits, she will ask you to find a plot for her shop.
Another big change brought around in New Horizons is the addition of DIY furniture and tools. In previous iterations of Animal Crossing, all of your tools (shovel, net, fishing rod) would all be purchased from Nook’s Cranny. This time around though, they’re crafted. In the beginning, you’ll only be able to craft flimsy versions, before being able to make the normal version that long time fans know. All your tools can break in New Horizons as well, whereas it was just the ax that could break in previous editions.
On top of crafting tools, you can craft furniture and clothing items. A lot of these items are customizable, letting you change the colour, or in some cases even add your own design to them. Most built furniture that has a form of fabric (couches for instance) have the ability to add your own design in place of just a change of colour. Even your tools have the option to change the colour, obviously this is simply aesthetic and makes no difference to how quickly the tool breaks.
There are plenty of ways to learn new DIY recipes to craft. You can talk to a villager who’s building something in their house, it seems like you can do this once per day. Once a day you can also find a message in a bottle on the beach, which will always contain a DIY recipe. Balloons will occasionally travel across your island, with a slingshot you can shoot them down. Balloons can have anything from materials like clay or iron to bells to DIY recipes to clothing. Sometimes when you pick things up, your character will also just kind of decide they know something they can make with that item. Plenty of ways to get DIY.
One massive change from previous editions of Animal Crossing is the ability to place furniture items outside. In New Horizons, everything you crafts or buy is able to be placed and organised outside. This lets you make your island much more distinguished than just having a few villagers and being able to plant trees and flowers. Now you can make whole areas dedicated to different ideas, like parks, cafes, pretty much anything if you can find the right items. You’ll also be able to put down paths and fences to help organise everything. Once unlocked, the game does provide a few path options, but just like with furniture, you are able to make your own patterns.
Making your own patterns isn’t the easiest thing in the world. New Horizons provides a 32×32 grid to let you make your own pixel art that you can use for practically anything. These designs will be usable for your furniture, path, or with the pro designer, your own clothing. You will also be able to use your designs for your island’s flag, being one more way you can distinguish your island from others. Alongside changing the flag, you’ll also be able to change your “island tune”. This is a song you’ll hear villagers sing, or even just hear around your island. If you have an ear for music, this is something you’ll enjoy. Although you are limited to only a handful of notes so nothing too intricate can be made here.
Doing practically anything on your island will lead to you receiving Nook Miles, the aforementioned new currency. Nook miles are used to purchase a variety of items, from the mystery island tickets that were mentioned before, to more DIY recipes and other furniture items. These also help keep track of things that happen on your island. How many balloons have you shot down? This will tell you. If you’re ever stuck and don’t know what to do, you’ll also unlock Nook Miles+ which are little challenges that switch out once completed, so the option to grind out Nook Miles is always there.
In the process of making your island perfect and yours, you’ll probably find a cliff or river is in your way. Well that’s okay, because you’ll have the option to fix them. Once your island has a three star rating, which generally only takes having a handful of villagers, a bunch of trees and flowers, and some items placed outside, you’ll unlock the island designer. With the island designer, you’ll be able to properly craft your walkways and destroy or add to ponds, rivers, and cliffs. This will literally let you sculpt your island to your image, within reason. You can’t build a cliff more than three levels high as it’s “too dangerous”. On top of being able to move villagers and sculpt the island, you can also eject villagers. That’s right, someone bringing you down? Just don’t like the way they look? Boot them off the island!
Most recently, New Horizons went through the Bunny Day event. The Animal Crossing series has always made it a habit to celebrate many different holidays, just in their own words as to not alienate people of different religions. Even if it is obvious what holiday it’s meant to be. With New Horizons, most likely as an attempt to stop people from time travelling, they’ve decided to release updates for each major event, so they’re not already in the game and you can’t just skip forward in time to do them. While there were a lot of complaints from fans around the Bunny Day event, it was quite fun for a bit.
A “bunny” named Zipper will visit your town and place eggs everywhere for you to find. I say everywhere because they are literally everywhere. In the trees, in the seas, in the rocks, in the ground. Everywhere. Zipper and the Bunny Day event provided new DIY recipes, all focused around eggs and gave the challenge that if you craft everything, he will give you a special DIY item. After almost two weeks (the event went from April 1st-12th) Zipper would return to your island for Bunny Day and check your progress. After completing every DIY item, he provides you with another DIY item, the Bunny Day wand. The wand is an item that will let you quickly change your outfit and save outfits to it. It’s a nice item to have if you’re someone who’s into changing up your character’s look often.
After a month of playing New Horizons daily, I’m surprised I’m still not sick of it. The hard part is the first couple days, when you need to learn all the new mechanics that differ from the previous installments, but after that, it’s pretty much smooth sailing. Once you unlock the island designer, it becomes a bit overwhelming. You have the ability to sculpt your entire island, and it’s difficult to decide where to start or come up with ideas for your it at times. It never hurts to steal someone else’s ideas and make them your own as well. New Horizons has honestly been an absolute blast to play and I’m excited to see what next big updates comes out for the game.
It hurts to look at previous Animal Crossing games at this point. New Horizons looks great, everything feels distinguished and all the villagers, even of the same species, are clearly different.
It’s hard to go against a tried and true gameplay style like Animal Crossing has had since the beginning. They made a bold choice changing certain things, like the DIY, but it works and makes sense in the context of New Horizons.
Animal Crossing is a very relaxing game. The music matches this. While you have the option to buy records to play in record players, the games base music is one single song on a loop.
If you’ve played Animal Crossing, you mostly know what you’re getting into already. That being said, the big changes that were made to the game has made New Horizons a nice experience and would easily explain my one hundred fifty hours in the game already. Which is nothing compared to some people.
Final Verdict: 8.5
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is available now on Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.