Animal Crossing: New Horizons First Impressions

There are not many games as relaxing and delightful as Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It’s come at the perfect time too, as we could all do with a little relaxation these days. This is going to take a little more time for a full review, as a game like this takes time to see everything that it has to offer. The following are my first impressions of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Tom Nook has come up with a new business idea – the Deserted Island Getaway Package. It’s time to start again from scratch with nothing but a tent and some basic tools and build your own town, shaping it the way you want, growing what you want and meeting lots of new villagers. There are beaches, fish to catch, bugs, decorate your house, grow flowers… the options sometimes feel endless.

The game has that classic Nintendo charm we all talk about. This, though, has it in spades. The whole package is feel-good, peaceful and you can express yourself and unleash your creativity. The game is like a blank canvass, and your island is yours to do with what you please. There are no weapons, or jump scares, or bosses… just sit back and relax.

The game is played out in real-time, as soon as you wake up from your tent on the first morning the game syncs into reality. If it’s summer outside, then it’s summer in Animal Crossing and so on. Certain creatures only come out during the day or night and there’s also going to be seasonal events too. When you start up you can pick southern or northern hemisphere, to keep the weather patterns local to what you’re used to.

The first few days on the island you’ll be getting used to the basic game loops of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. We meet Timmy and Tommy of Nook Inc to start with, two employees of Nook Inc. They invite us to our new island paradise with two other islanders and the first job is to pitch your tent and help out your neighbors. Once that’s done, there’s an island party where you get to name the island and then it’s time to meet Tom Nook himself. He’s the mastermind behind the whole operation and always looking to lend you money (interest-free of course). He’ll help you with the basics like picking fruit and collecting resources. After a busy first day then it’s off to bed.

On your second day Tom Nook will be waiting for you outside your tent, he’ll give you a NookPhone and inside it’ll have mini-objectives. This little checklist is a great way to keep you engaged and you also get rewards. There’s a couple of currencies in the game; bells and NookMiles. Bells are the game’s currency, like money. NookMiles are a scheme cooked up by Tom Nook and Nook Inc, and you can trade NookMiles for rewards and upgrades. Tom Nook is looking for payment for the travel to the island and your set up fees, so your first task is to pay back 5000 Nook Miles. This is a great introduction to the NookPhone and how that works.

Catch fish, bugs, plant flowers, speak to your neighbors. All provide rewards and get you into that Animal Crossing game loop. It won’t be too long before you’re still up past midnight saying to yourself “Right, I only have to catch 3 more unique species and THEN I can go to bed…”. Tom Nook has you in his pocket from day one, have no doubt about it.

After the first few days, things open up. Blathers the Owl comes to the island looking to open a museum, you take out a loan of 98,000 bells for your first house and you build a shop for the island. You’ll start to craft tools tool including a shovel, vaulting pole and an ax allowing you to collect more resources. One thing that is a little annoying is the breakable items, it doesn’t take too long to craft again, but at the start, they don’t really last very long and I found it interrupted the flow a bit, but it wasn’t a huge deal.

The game just snowballs and you’ll start to have a huge checklist of things to do each day. You can check in every day and make sure you get everything ASAP or you can take it easy and check in every few days or when you can. Although the villagers might start asking where you’ve been.

There’s local and online co-op play too. After a few days, you’ll be able to open up the local airport which you’ll then be able to invite people to your island, or you can go to theirs. The interactions are fairly limited in classic Nintendo fashion, but that makes sense as you have a huge variety of ages playing this game.

Animal Crossing New Horizons has something for a variety of players. You can collect things for Blathers (and yourself) and also put loads of time and effort into designing your own home. There’s furniture, wallpaper and plenty of other things you can do to customize your game, it feels almost limitless.

I am new to Animal Crossing and what I have played so far I am really enjoying. The process of gathering resources and getting that new upgrade feels peaceful and rewarding at the same time. I really like the real-time aspect of the game as I wouldn’t want to rush through this one. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a joy to play and certainly a great game for the times. I’ll be back with a full review soon.

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