Animal Crossing: New Horizons is more complex, bigger and prettier than its previous incarnations, but it does not betray its principles: be nice, cute and calm
I can’t think of a better way to introduce a video game like Animal Crossin New: Horizons than by talking about the late Nintendo CEO, Satoru Iwata . With the launch of New Leaf, the previous installment of the saga, he interviewed the development team and realized the detail they could reach to adapt it to each culture .
Something that made a special impression on him was a Spanish custom. It turns out that for the Japanese, we are a bit weird because we eat twelve grapes at the entrance to the new year. And since Animal Crossing can celebrate New Year’s Eve, from Nintendo Spain they asked that the grapes be introduced as part of the celebration. And so they did, of course.
Animal Crossing not only makes a virtual party for its villagers and for you when the end of the year comes, something that is totally normal if we think that this video game saga is about life in a rural environment in which all the neighbors know each other and they help and appreciate and love ; rather, it tries to make each player, wherever he comes from, feel part of it.
With this in mind, let’s talk about how Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a game that lives for those little details that may not seem like much, but they are the ones that really make you smile and make this game so much enjoyable and during so long.
ANIMAL CROSSING: NEW HORIZONS IS NEW, BUT ALSO VERY FAMILIAR TO YOU
Although the official launch is on March 20 , I have been playing New Horizons for 15 days and I can tell you that everything is fine and works as it should: this is by far the best Animal Crossing to date by cute, easy to use and for new features included, both to make the experience more complete and to make the day to day more bearable.
Now, what was once a job, now almost seems to me a window to the outside world , due to the confinement to which we are all forced by the coronavirus. Suddenly, being able to travel to a desert island, build things outdoors, talk to new people and try to put my shoulder to the island to prosper seems like a very healthy mental exercise.
New Horizons, and any Animal Crossing, is therapeutic. And I say seriously. Even if in this new version there are infinite rewards with which you can try to play hours and hours without stopping, this video game seems to me that it is designed for short games , but that you play every day.
Every day there is a small novelty for you to return, do your homework, talk to your people, forget about the miseries of real life for a while and take refuge in a simpler life. So simple that you pay the mortgage, the reforms of the house and the public works with a money that you obtain in very simple ways: harvesting fruits, cutting wood, fishing, etcetera.
VERY HEALTHY FOR YOUR HEAD NOW THAT YOU ARE LOCKED UP AT HOME BY THE END OF THE WORLD
This is its great virtue and its great problem. Whether you like Animal Crossing New Horizons or not will depend on your mentality as a player. Although all the reward, score and progress systems are basically there, they are not used in the same way as in Fortnite or Call of Duty.
Those rewards vary, from a neighbor giving you a gift because you like them so well, until Tom Nook, the businessman responsible for the whole experiment of going to a desert island to set up a parallel society, offers you new objects to build or customize.
This is perhaps where the video game has evolved the most and where the generation leap is noted , which was already more than evident by the graphics and because it can be played both on a laptop (that’s how I have spent most of my time) and connecting to the console to TV, where the game can boast a high-level artistic design.
Some aspects that were more tedious before have been simplified, such as menu management. Quick access to tools is a blessing, as well as the inclusion of a pole to cross rivers without the need for bridges (which you do not have until late in the game and cost a fortune) as a ladder (now there are different heights with different vegetation and insects).
Depending on how good a neighbor you are, the island will be more interesting , so you will attract shopkeepers and neighbors alike. And the more inhabitants you have, the more you have to work to make the island livable, going as far as getting a public works license and changing the geography of the environment to create better access, move shops or houses, create rivers. ..
And almost everything has a reward, however small. Sell weeds, fish a particular fish, sell a certain number of items … Almost everything rewards you with ‘nook miles’ , a new type of secondary currency with which you can buy some items in the game and they are exchanged from little to little bit. They are different from berries, which are still the ‘real’ money and the money you get by getting more involved in the day-to-day lives of the inhabitants.
Getting one or the other currency is easy and never becomes an obsession . Nintendo has managed to keep at bay that element of ‘service’ video games such as Fortnite or Clash of Clans in which it is always possible to get more and more if you play more and more, while they have introduced elements to motivate you to do certain tasks everyday.
It is something admirable, since all video games try to keep the player hooked as long as possible by mechanisms that can sometimes be dangerous. Animal Crossing kicks his leg a little for more rewards and goals, but it never comes close to what other games do.
A GOOD FAMILY GAME: YOU DON’T HAVE TO COMPETE AND NOBODY CAN GET ANGRY FOR LOSING
All this that I am talking about can be developed as a family using a single console , which given the time that some are going to be confined by the coronavirus, is a success. Dad, mom, son and daughter can share the same island and be all four at the same time (if there are four controls in the house) playing on TV. The island is shared and all changes are registered.
This is also a great improvement from New Horizons over its predecessors, as making playing with friends as easy as possible benefits a lot. And it also sets certain limits, of course. Because it is not the same to play with your girlfriend to have a beautiful island in which the two of you collaborate to have everything very cute than to invite figs to figs to a colleague to take resources on your island and destroy it.
For that there are options that limit what each visitor can do when they travel to your home, and thank goodness that is so. If you trust someone, give them ‘best friend’ permissions so that their work joins yours and that’s it.
It would be very rare for an Animal Crossing player to be destructive to the island of another, because the work that it takes to have everything as you like makes you respect the work of others as much as your own . I have spent hours and hours moving furniture around in order to have my house as I like, although it keeps changing every time I get a new object or I get new customization kits, another addition to the game.
For me, this is without a doubt the best there is right now in Animal Crossing: New Horizons . Once I have done my chores for the day, I start to leave my flowers in the patio, my sun lounger on the beach, I add beautiful things to the town square … And I go back to take a look at the color combinations of the house , Clear.
I ENVY LIFE AT ANIMAL CROSSING, ESPECIALLY NOW THAT WE’RE QUARANTINED
I can’t stop thinking that I would like my life to be more like the one my alter ego has in Animal Crossing, surrounded by anthropomorphic animals that are friendly and dedicating myself to helping others without missing anything afterwards at home and being able to rest whenever I want.
I know that it is a life that not everyone would like to have and that it is too simple for the standards of realization and of ‘always having something to do’ in contemporary society. But in a quarantine moment where you have a lot of time to think about things, I keep escaping to this simpler world in which I wish I could live next month .
I can’t think of any downside that could put Animal Crossing beyond rigidity in certain procedures (identifying fossils and then donating them, for example) and that it’s a game of either you like or you don’t care. I like it, perhaps not as much as other fans I know who can spend an entire year playing almost daily and leaving their game perfect and worthy of a decoration magazine; But I like it.
It is appreciated that there are peaceful and non-competitive video games like this one in which the ugliest thing you can do is suggest to the head of the island’s headquarters that an inhabitant of the game does not like you and they throw him.
Like Minecraft or Stardew Valley or The Sims, Animal Crossing New Horizons tries to build and socialize and you will like it as long as you get involved with all this and how much you know how to exploit your imagination to decorate the world around you.