Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the fifth instalment in the seminal Nintendo franchise of the same name. While each iteration of the game has outdown and improved on the last, the Nintendo Switch addition is perhaps its boldest and best yet.
Fans of the franchise will of course be expecting to wander into their brand new island and instantly begin paying off their loan to Tom Nook – the island’s tanooki landlord.
And while this does happen in a sense, there are a few obstacles veterans in the series may not be expecting.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons wholly strengthens the core aspects of the games that have come before it, while adding two huge new additions to the core game.
While it continues to rely on players’ yearning for new furniture to put in their ever-expanding homes, getting a house is the first problem to overcome.
Tom Nook first pitches players in a tent on this new exotic island of theirs.
This allows him to rope players into his brand new Nook Miles program, complete with a “Nook Miles Points” reward scheme for carrying out tasks on the island.
These tasks can be as arbitrary as hitting rocks with a shovel, or catching five bugs.
The Nook Miles Points allow players to purchase extra upgrades and pieces of furniture for the island, but crucially it gives players the opportunity to purchase the ability to terraform.
The ability to terraform the island is gained after an approximate seven-day slew of tasks and goals laid out by Tom Nook.
After achieving these goals players can reshape the island by creating and destroying rivers, path. The end result is an island that looks almost exactly how you want it to.
These new abilities are without a doubt the best addition to the franchise, despite one or two limitations.
While being able to put in a river or mountain anywhere they want, players are forced to steer clear of any natural beaches or rocks.
It’s not a gamebreaker, but it does slightly limit the ability to create the perfect island paradise.
Despite this, the tools are well crafted and give a great end-game opportunity for veterans to show off their design skills.
The other big inclusion in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is perhaps a little more divisive for long-time fans of the series.
Over the years players have hunted down tools in the game – shovels, axes, nets, fishing rods, etc – before holding on to them for dear life for the rest of the game.
In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, however, players are forced to craft their tools from sticks and rocks. You can upgrade tools with iron ingots later on – remind you of anything? – but not before your basic tools have been broken a remade countless times inbetween.
At first this is perhaps the most hindering part of any Animal Crossing game – and continues to bog down gameplay in the first week of play.
As things progress, however, fans will certainly get used to how the crafting mechanics work.
Unfortunately the mechanics don’t really go any further than building tools and upgrading them once before they break and the cycle begins again. If the game included a few more steps in the cycle, it may have been a little more enjoyable.
Despite this, fans of the franchise will feel right at home in this beautiful addition to the franchise – it is absolutely show stopping.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons will truly capture the hearts, minds, and lives of long-time Animal Crossing players.
While the game only introduces a handful of new mechanics, it doubles down and improves on so many of the older aspects. So much so that fans will be absolutely giddy by the end of the first day.
Despite some of the new terraforming and crafting tools being a little stiff, their inclusion is quite literally groundbreaking for the game.
Fans and newcomers will fall head-over-heels in love with this island getaway, and just when they need it most. Indeed, a game that lets you escape to a tropical paradise is THE perfect release for the coronavirus lockdown, and a must-have for all Nintendo Switch owners.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is available on Nintendo Switch now.