Animal Crossing: New Horizons: Does it Live Up to Its Hype?


Jayne Ogilvie-Russell, Cartoonist

Animal Crossing has always been a very formulaic series. From Wild World to New Leaf, the game has changed very little, save from a few new bugs and fish and a flashy gimmick that changes with each iteration. Animal Crossing: New Horizons, however, breaks this trend.
From the very beginning of the game, players can already tell that this title will be different from its predecessors. Unlike previous Animal Crossings with their pre-established shops, New Horizons starts you off with absolutely nothing but a tent to your name and the clothes on your back. Although this change may seem like a step in the wrong direction, it provides some much needed interest to the stale formula of the series, providing engaging early game tasks that leave you with a strong sense of pride in what you’ve created.
Starting you off on a totally deserted island isn’t the only change that the developers added to New Horizons, however. The additions of both crafting and terraforming make the game feel like a much fuller experience. Crafting makes the daily tasks in Animal Crossing much more entertaining. Now, instead of simply hitting rocks and shaking trees in the hopes that you’ll come across a bell or two, you do it to collect resources, allowing you to make new furniture and unlock new buildings to beautify your island. Terraforming, too, is a total game changer. Long gone are the days of having your path be obstructed by one pesky little rock; now you can mold even the flow of the river and the shape of your mountains to suit your fancy. Coupled with the game’s simultaneously stunning and adorable graphics, terraforming makes customization in Animal Crossing more accessible and rewarding than it ever was before.
Although New Horizons has thus far been a fantastic experience, it is by no means a perfect game. There are some simple issues with interface and gameplay that make certain tasks to be needlessly tedious. For example, you can’t craft more than one item at once; in most instances this isn’t much of an issue, but when you need to stock up on a craft-able item t

hat you use in bulk like fish bait, you can spend 3-5 minutes just pressing the same buttons over and over and over again.
The game is also lacking in any interesting co-op or online multiplayer options. Unlike in New Leaf, where you and your friends could play entertaining mini-games on Tortimer’s island, in New Horizons, you can’t so much as go on a nook miles trip with your friends. I don’t think this fact wouldn’t be quite as egregious if Nintendo didn’t choose to make us pay for their online services, as I find it to be a shame that a game on a system where you have to chalk up 20 dollars a year in order to play online would feature fewer multiplayer activities than a game on a console that allows you online access for free.
Overall, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a charming and engaging experience. Although the game has some small issues, its new additions to the Animal Crossing formula provide a much-needed freshness and level of depth to the game. Over this period of quarantine, I’ve truly enjoyed delving back into the world of Animal Crossing. In fact, despite it not having even been out for a full month, I’ve already managed to sink 100+ hours into the game. Animal Crossing: New Horizons has already been able to bring so much joy and happiness to the lives of me and countless others around the world, and for that, it deserves a 5/5.