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New Horizons: A Veteran’s Perspective

[Image source]
[Image description: A blue gradient background with the Animal Crossing logo. Fully says “Welcome to Animal Crossing” then has, on a tag “New Horizons.”]

Note: I am sorry to any TTS users. I normally include image descriptions but this goes into a lot of my island aesthetics. There are just so many images that I don’t want to try to describe them all.

As I’ve mentioned before in my other Animal Crossing content, I’m a veteran of the series. I’ve played every installment but City Folk, Pocket Camp, and Amiibo Festival. I have over 400 hours racked up on New Leaf, own the special edition 3DSXL, and the New Horizons Switch. 

Animal Crossing is clearly an outright obsession of mine, so what does somebody that’s been with the series so long think about it?

[Image description: Small section of a medium-tone grey screen. Top line says Animal Crossing: New Horizons in a very dark grey text. Below, in blue, it says Played for 95 hours or more]

I think that speaks for itself.

I know other people have racked up a lot more time on it, but 95 hours is pretty respectable. There’s another 25 or more racked up on my account for Blake. (I’m weird; I let my characters play games with me. It’s just a thing I do.) 

The main thing I love about this game is just how much more customisable it is. AC games are all about customisation, but this one just knocks it out of the freaking park. Being able to customise the island however you want is just fantastic. Mine may not be as fancy compared to some other people’s, but I love it a lot. I have a nice little corner that exists solely for taking photos—

—and a little temple complex— 

—to a large, multipart park.

And, yes, these take up roughly half my island. All of my villagers are clustered in the southwest corner.

But the thing I have to love the most is the clothes. They’ve always been a staple of AC, but they tend to be either…hit or miss in the older games. 

Mostly miss.

But there were some cute outfits I’ve always adored.

However, there’s so much variety in New Horizons it’s almost dizzying. 

They range from cute, comfy, and casual—

—to elegant and beautiful— 

—to prim and proper, semi-business attire— 

—to high-end fancy—  

—to goth, utilitarian, outdoorsy, and more! These other styles aren’t to my personal taste, hence why I don’t have any examples. Of course, I have a lot more outfits than just those, but that’s just what I grabbed quickly off the game. I could do an entire look book if I wanted to. I have so many outfits that I’m honestly still discovering new ones with the pieces I already have!

The other major sigh of relief for me was the construction services. I could get my red zen bridges right off the bat, no worries needed.

What does this have to do with anything?

In New Leaf, we had “Public Works Projects” which is exactly what Tom Nook does in this game, though it was bridges and other fancy things like wells, lamp posts, and so much more. 

That sounds fantastic, right?

Yes, in theory, not so much in practice.

The only way you could unlock most public works projects was if villagers flagged you down and offered them as suggestions to the mayor character. 

The worst part was that certain features were locked behind specific personality types.

Don’t have a Cranky villager? Too bad, you’ll never get a zen bridge!

The other thing I am so very thankful for is being able to move houses and choose where people live.

This was an absolute nightmare in New Leaf. People would just move in randomly

Have beautiful pathing down? Too bad, some jerk might move in over it!

Have an amazing foreign fruit orchard worth 100,000 or more bells per picking? Tough luck, half of it’s gone now!

This is an absolute lifesaver in New Horizons and I have never been happier.

And that’s about it for what I like. I know that might not seem like a lot to people unfamiliar with the series, but it is. The improved aesthetics are so welcome as well as the smaller quality-of-life features that I could go on for much, much longer about.

And now, for the things I don’t like.

Honestly, my biggest grievance with the game is probably the DIY system. The way it’s structured and functions is sound and easy. Gathering materials isn’t that difficult especially once you get late game. It works and it does so well.

My main problem is just how many duplicate recipes you can get. I’ve gotten the bamboo lunch box probably 3-4 different times (including when my best friend sent me a copy). I get so many duplicates that it’s frustrating. And then I don’t get stuff I want, like, period. My house is basically barren because I haven’t found any items I want. 

My biggest complaint with the DIY system was back at the beginning of April. ANybody playing around that time will know what I mean.

For those that don’t, there was an Easter event that went on for nearly two weeks. That probably doesn’t sound too bad but, trust me, it was horrific

Need mineral materials so hit a rock? You get a stone egg.

Want to fish to make money? Too bad, water eggs.

Want wood? Tough luck, you get wood eggs.

Hear a balloon? You better be happy with sky eggs.

But for me, the absolute worst freaking part was that it overlapped with cherry blossom season. There were these amazing limited-time recipes that you could get. Just beautiful that everyone wanted.

But Bunny Day ruined it. 

And cherry blossom season is my favorite time of years in Animal Crossing.

And, yes, I absolutely love Japanese aesthetics if you haven’t gleaned that by now.

I basically just shut the game off for two weeks. I didn’t bother playing because I was just extremely upset and frustrated by how much Bunny Day ruined the experience for me. I think I logged in to check the tailor shop and stuff, but that was really about it. Maybe 30-45 minutes if that

My other major problem is the house upgrade system. The first several are normal AC fare: you upgrade to an 8×8 tile room for your main room. However, after that, Nook just plops another room down in your house. 

It’s 6×6 tiles. 

That might not sound like a big deal, but trust me, it is. Like I said, I racked up over 400 hours in New Leaf. You can three additional rooms on your main floor along with an upper story and a basement. All of these can be upgraded to 8×8.

Here’s how I can best illustrate the difference. 

This is a New Leaf 8×8 kitchen:

(I apologise for the bad quality, but it’s a screenshot from the 3DS.)

This is a 6×6 New Horizons kitchen:

In New Leaf, you can have stuff along the walls and a table and still have space to walk. In New Horizons, you have to choose between the two. 

I don’t like it at all

In a game all about customising things, they took away a huge part of the customisation joy when it comes to your house

Saying it’s frustrating for me is an understatement

I do get why they did it though. In New Leaf, you have a small island where you can catch extremely rare beetles like they’re candy. You can earn upwards of 300,000 bells per one visit if you play your cards right. Not quite so much in New Horizons. You just have the stock stuff to catch. You can earn a lot of bells, but nowhere near as much as New Leaf. So having the same expansion system might just feel punishing especially for new players. 

So they came up with a middle ground.

It’s not one I like, but I understand why it happened.

But honestly, in the end, these two major grievances are minor points overall. They’re major in the scope of Animal Crossing which is all about the details. Bunny Day is behind us and other veteran players may like the new house upgrades. 

And even though I’ve gone on for a while, keep in mind the time I’ve racked up on this. Look at how much I’ve developed my island. I absolutely adore this game. It’s a solid entry in the series. 

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