Review: Why Animal Crossing New Horizons is a must-have for every Switch owner

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Last Friday, Nintendo finally released its latest first-party Switch game to the world, Animal Crossing New Horizons. Now after spending the past few days diving into the franchise for the first time and exploring the colorful and charmingly-crafted world, I’m absolutely hooked. Even if you think that Animal Crossing isn’t for you, I’m here to tell you that there’s not a single Switch owner who shouldn’t add this one to their library. Hit the jump for a closer look at what New Horizons has to offer in its virtual island getaway package.

Animal Crossing makes a triumph launch on Switch

With as much as Animal Crossing has been hyped up by Nintendo, odds are that if the title caught your eye at any point between announcement and now, you’d have already considered pressing the buy button. So whether you’re still skeptical on if it’s actually the type of game for you, it’s worth shelling out the cash for, or if it’s as amazing as fans would have you believe, I’m here to tell you that, Animal Crossing New Horizons is absolutely a must-play.

It’s that last posit, whether or not Animal Crossing could live up to the immense hype, that left me wondering whether to actually add the title to my library. But given that every flagship title for the Switch so far has been nothing short of a masterpiece, I figured it was worth anteing up some cash and diving into the latest from Nintendo.

When it actually comes to the Animal Crossing franchise, I’m far from the biggest fan. If anything, I’m more of a recent convert who has just now seen the light that fans of the series have been basking in for all this time. For full disclosure, New Horizons is actually my very first time exploring the colorful world crafted by Nintendo. But so far, it’s proven to be an absolutely excellent place to start. 

Bite-sized gameplay is perfect for more casual players 

One of the aspects of Animal Crossing that stands out most, aside from its bright design and cute characters, is the relaxed gameplay. When you pick up the game, you don’t have to check a quest log or anything, you just explore your island, catch some fish, cut down some trees, do what you want. It’s easy to dive in for 10-minutes and then put down until later. Some in-game mechanics even go as far to require you to wait until the next day to progress a specific quest along, meaning you won’t need several-hour long sessions to make any progress. 

As someone who doesn’t have endless amounts of time to spend gaming, I really appreciate how Nintendo has managed to make New Horizons a game that can be played for a few minutes at a time, or a few hours.

Expansive enough to keep you coming back

Despite having all of these easily consumable gameplay sessions, nearly every aspect of New Horizons points to a bigger world waiting to be uncovered. As you sink more time into explaining your island, more opens up about what’s possible. Characters dish out new tools and information about what’s to come pretty sporadically. 

Tranquility always has a place in gaming, especially now 

These days, with so many fast-faced action titles dominating the gaming world, it’s refreshing to see something akin to New Horizons. Nintendo has often stood out as a source of more relaxing games, and the latest Animal Crossing is no exception. 

Regardless of if you’re willing to concede New Horizons being one of the games of the year, it’s certainly going to be the most peaceful AAA release of 2020. The game lacks the same sense of urgency that others do, allowing you to explore and your own pace. It’s not that there’s nothing to do or that the gameplay’s boring, but that that in-game characters don’t mind if you complete a scheduled task in an hour or a week from now. 

With everything that’s going on in the world right now, a game like Animal Crossing may be exactly what you’re looking for. All of the gameplay lends itself excellently towards de-stressing, with its scenic designs and calming music.

Personalization reigns supreme 

In a similar vein, Animal Crossing’s lax gameplay style goes hand in hand with customization. There’s really nothing that’s off limits to being tailored towards your liking. From how you choose to spend your time in-game to what your island looks like, New Horizons is what you make of it.   

The games’s narrative sets you off having just signed up for a Getaway Package, and throws you into a deserted island. From the get go you’ll be able to begin piecing things together how you like, choosing where you’ll call home and how that’s furnished. So if that means filling your house with fish tanks like me, there’s no one to stop you. 

An oh so satisfying Collectathon 

If there was one gameplay mechanic that proved to be a cornerstone of Animal Crossing New Horizons, it would be collecting. While in other games where the pursuit of acquiring in-game goodies left you feeling empty (I’m looking at you and your 900 Korok seeds, Breath of the Wild), New Horizons manages to show just how satisfying it can be to amass a collection. Right from the beginning you’re struck with a sense of yearning to set out, explore, and gather. And that’s even before you really have a grasp on how much is actually awaiting you in the world. 

From hoping to catch a bigger or more exotic fish to digging up ancient fossils and curating your own museum, just about all of the posed challenges are filled with some sense of purpose. Then when you throw in actually accomplishing them, there’s a real Satisfaction Factor that’ll surely keep you coming back.  

It’s addictive, but in all the right ways. This isn’t some mangled conglomeration of freemium mobile games, it’s a cohesive quest to craft what Nintendo would posit is an island paradise. All that’s to say, it’s an extremely entertaining, and rewarding experience. 

Final verdict 

All of this leaves me with the resounding notion that Animal Crossing New Horizons is a title that’s absolutely deserving of being on each and every Switch owners’ console. It easily joins the ranks of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Mario Kart 8 amongst the best Nintendo titles of the current generation, if not of all-time.

Sure there’s no groundbreaking narrative or cutting edge gameplay mechanics, but it’s the simplicity that allows Animal Crossing New Horizons to truly excel. The entire experience is packed with the usual Nintendo charm, offering a relaxing game that anyone can enjoy, but everyone should.

Whether you’re a fan who’s been waiting since New Leaf for another taste of the franchise, or are like me, and have yet to experience Animal Crossing, it’s certainly worth a closer look. If you’re searching for something out of the ordinary and want a new game to help you peacefully pass the time during all of the current pandemic chaos, New Horizons is certainly the place to look. 

Buy Animal Crossing New Horizons now

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