Animal Crossing: New Horizons Review

The latest installment in the Animal Crossing franchise, New Horizons, is a great new addition to the series. Despite a few shortcomings, however, crafting items, designing your home, and hanging out with friends online never felt sweeter. 

Your adventure begins by receiving an invitation from everyone’s favorite business raccoon, Tom Nook. This hardworking animal is hosting an island getaway in which you’ve been selected to start a glamorous new life on a deserted island. Here you will build a personalized home right from scratch, befriend cute and funny island inhabitants, and so much more.

Sadly, unlike previous installments, the time in which it takes for New Horizons to fully blossom and show what it has to offer is long winded. For instance, I was finally able to unlock all the tools necessary for island exploration, but doing so required a number of real-life days to pass. (More on tools and crafting later.) This ultimately left me at a standstill, and I had no choice but to wait it out. Others who aren’t so patient, however, may opt into time travel, which speeds up progression by manipulating your Switch’s internal clock forward. That being said, I found myself whacking trees, fishing for sea creatures, or hoarding countless seashells in an attempt to remain occupied while I waited for progress to greet me at the door. 

Spending a little time fishing for god knows what out there in the deep blue(ish) sea. Source: Game capture.

One of New Horizons greatest successes is the newly improved home customizer. This new mode allows you to sway the camera in multiple directions and place a number of items down, all at the same time, wherever you see fit. This is a huge improvement and step forward for the series. For instance, in the past you had to grab and shift each individual piece of furniture and move it to a desired location. Now, selecting a variety of home goods in a given area is simply executed by pressing a button and using the left thumbstick. In essence, designing your living area is insanely easy, initiative, and more enjoyable this time around, unlike games of the past which caused headaches and total frustration. 

In contrast to other games within the Nintendo Switch library, multiple save slots for individual playthroughs are non-existent in New Horizons. Instead, only one precious save slot is offered per console, meaning you’ll have to share one island with the entire family (or group of friends) whether you like it or not. If you choose to share the wealth, however, it’s worth noting that other participants can snag your resources and these decisions are permanent, which may cause havoc within your household. The only way around this situation is to purchase additional Switch systems and New Horizons cartridges. 

A random 10 minute video of Animal Crossing: New Horizons gameplay. Source: TSOG via YouTube.

Should you ever be out of things to do, New Horizons offers a vast amount of tools and lovely household items to build. Whether you wish to craft a handy yet flimsy axe or shovel, or perhaps a wooden dining set for your beachfront home, doing so will require you to search and claim a number of materials. And while hunting for these items may seem like a chore, at first, you’ll eventually come to appreciate and understand that these moments surve as a much needed break from the usual day-to-day tasks. I found these instances to be very relaxing at times and often therapeutic, as I was finally able to turn off my brain and focus on other things besides home decor and design. 

Staying at home is fine, but getting out and stretching your legs is even better, as New Horizons allows you to explore your friend’s island online. Here you can drop or trade a variety of items with your pal, or just hang out and spend time together. While traveling to another island isn’t required, it does add more depth to the overall experience. For example, exploring another location allows you to collect fruit not found within your environment, which in turn adds variety to the types of trees growing on your particular site. Although I mostly choose to play alone than with others, it was really nice to hang out with friends within a virtual setting and troll one another whenever the opportunity presented itself. 

Although it’s a slow burn at first, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a great new addition to the series. Customizing your home and crafting lovely home decor is easily done and enjoyable to accomplish, and the option to explore with friends or troll them online is an absolute treat. Yes, it’s disappointing to not own individual islands when sharing a Switch system and game cartridge, but coexisting in harmony is an option for those who can make it work. This is my favorite installment from within the series thus far, and I don’t see myself taking a break any time soon.