I think by now there’s not a person online who hasn’t heard of Animal Crossing, but in case you somehow didn’t hear, the next installment in the series, New Horizons, arrived on March 20th. Fans have been waiting 7 long years since New Leaf for another main game, and it feels somewhat surreal that it’s finally here after first hearing about it back in 2018.
Many of us here at Rapid Reviews UK are big fans of the series and have got our hands on the game. So welcome to a brand new segment, from myself and Jen (self-proclaimed Animal Crossing experts), called Rapid Reviews: On New Horizons! Here we will be documenting the development of our islands and the progression in game-play as new things unlock, like a diary.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing this, Jen has only been able to pick up her copy today, so you will be hearing from me this time! Am I enjoying my time on a deserted island so far, and what can you expect from the first couple of days? If you need any more convincing to buy this game, read on to hear my thoughts and what I’ve done so far.
After waiting not so patiently for my copy to arrive in the post on Friday, the cartridge was in my Switch as soon as possible. It is yet to be removed, which can you give you an idea of my stance on the game…
After giving the game your details and designing your appearance (don’t worry, you change this later when you build a mirror), you get to pick an island layout. There’s a choice of four random layouts, so it’s all down to you and how picky you are. You will then arrive on your island, where it’s important to note that you have a native fruit, airport colour and two starting villagers which are completely random. I went with what I was given, but I know many who restarted to get exactly what they wanted (particular popular with peach fans!).
After meeting your new villagers, Tom Nook, Timmy and Tommy, it’s time to set up your tent! You can place this wherever you like in the starting area of your island, as you don’t work out how to get across rivers until later on. I placed mine on its own in an area of land jutting into a river! When I next chose where my villagers’ tents were situated, I put them next to each other in an area I plan to make a little village for everyone. A ceremony (which takes place at night no matter what time you’re playing) is held to name your island, and then you wake up on your first day on the island!
This day mainly consists of getting to grips with the crafting system, a new addition in the series. Like most crafting in games, you collect materials from your environment such as trees and rocks, to make items like a fishing rod and a net. I was also introduced to another new entry, Nook Miles, which I had to earn in order to upgrade my tent to a house. These are earned by completing tasks, and can be spent shopping too. You can do everything I’ve mentioned here by entering Nook’s tent at your plaza.
Honestly, I spent most of the first day admiring how beautiful this game is. With such a long time between New Leaf and New Horizons, you definitely appreciate the upgrade in graphics more, down to the very last detail. My hair swishing as I walked, the wind rustling the trees and the sunlight hitting off the water; it really does look superb. Joined with a classic Animal Crossing soundtrack, I was totally immersed and relaxed, which is well needed in the current climate.
You do hit a bit of a dead end in terms of progression on day 1, as once you have paid your Nook Miles for the construction of your house, there isn’t a main task as such. I still put a good 6 to 7 hours in that day, having fun using another new feature, the Nook Phone, to track my Nook Miles and run around catching bugs.
The second day is where the ball really gets rolling! I woke up to my new house and got to work crafting some basic furniture, which I placed both inside and outside. I also planted some flowers from Timmy’s shop around my abode, and donned a new outfit. The tools that you craft are breakable, so I spent a lot of time collecting materials to craft the tools, which I then used to collect materials…and weirdly, it’s not boring at all.
I was happy to see that my airport was now open for business! Here, you can take part in a mystery island tour, so long as you’ve bought a ticket with your Nook Miles. This allowed me to find fruit or plants that weren’t native to my island, and gather materials I had run out of (those damn iron nuggets). Not only this, you can run into villagers camping on these islands, given the option to invite them to live on your island. I met Sherb the goat on one of my first tours, immediately asking him to come join me!
With the airport open, I could now visit friends and have them visit me! This requires Nintendo Switch Online, and you either have your gate open for friends or generate a one time Dodo Code to give to someone, granting access. At this stage, there isn’t a lot to do as your islands are so bare and there are no mini games. But it was still exciting to join others in the Animal Crossing excitement and have a nose at their island, maybe pinching a fruit that you don’t have. I played with my friend Millie, as well as our overlord Mike, and it was so much fun!
I also met with some familiar faces, helping a washed-up Gulliver fix his communicator and visiting Blathers’ new donation tent. Giving him 15 donations means that he can open up the museum, which goes into construction the next day, then opens the day after that. He kindly gave me a DIY recipe for a vaulting pole too, so you can now jump the rivers and explore the rest of your island. I also continued to work towards paying off my loan in bells so that my house could be expanded, as well as find materials required to open up Nook’s Cranny.
My third day was a little quieter, as it was Mother’s Day! The time I did spend playing though, was mainly based around catching fish and bugs to sell, so I managed to pay off my loan! I am still yet to build Nook’s Cranny, but I am hoping to get that completed today.
The game-play is what you can expect from an Animal Crossing game. Catch bugs, fish, buy items and decorate your home. It’s not constant action, even with the added crafting. As the game goes on and you unlock new buildings, there will be a little more to do. But it’s meant to be played to relax, with no pressure. Yet somehow, though there doesn’t seem like an awful lot to do at face value, I found myself juggling tasks.
The Nook Miles means that you have never-ending objectives to complete and work towards, so day 3 consisted of completing those. I did all sorts from planting trees, going on mystery tours, watering flowers, catching new insects ready to give to Blathers… all activities which seem so menial, yet they’re so addictive. I also bumped into Wisp, who some of you may recognise from Welcome Amiibo, and helped him find his spirit pieces.
My thoughts so far…
New Horizons was well worth the wait, and honestly everything I could have hoped for. It has the same feel as every Animal Crossing game but with the excitement of new features and stunning visuals. I personally like that progression is slowed down so the expansion of your island is more gradual. It means you can pop on to do your daily tasks without feeling like you have to put hours into the game. Of course, with good ol’ time travelling you can speed up this progress, but I’m really enjoying taking things slow and seeing my island grow.
Now, here’s a sneak peek at a new addition to my island when I popped on this morning, and next time we will be joined by Jen to see how she is getting on with the game!