[Review] Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the Perfect Escape, Now And Always

When Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Doom Eternal released on the same day, gamers had to make the unenviable decision of choosing which to play. Weeks later, I and many others have largely moved on from Doom Eternal – still a great game! – and have collectively sunk thousands, maybe millions, of hours in the Animal Crossing. Indeed, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is as perfect a game for our times as you could ask for.

New Horizons is the latest in a series of the life-simulator Animal Crossing series. In a way, it builds off the well-worn formula the series is known for: starting with little but a tent and debt to your name, you are tasked with building up your home and island by collecting bugs, fishing, and meeting new villagers.

For many, a return to this idyllic daily living style – greeting villagers while on your way to catch that elusive stringfish – would have been enough to mark a return to the Animal Crossing world a success. Yet, new additions and game play mechanics help enhance and drive home the player’s ability to make the island/town all their own.

For example, the crafting mechanic gives players new uses for gathered materials. Not only that, by finding new DIY recipes, players can make the furniture they want, in a way, giving them the freedom to decorate as they please. There are still furniture and clothing options locked behind the Bells, the game’s currency, but the ability to craft almost tables, chairs, bridges, etc. gave me more freedom to design the island and my home as I pleased rather than having to wait for said object to randomly appear in the shop.

The most important addition, however, is the Nook Miles system. You get awarded Nook Miles based on certain accomplishments – catch 100 fish in a row, for example. Additionally, there are several tasks that rotate – catch 5 bugs, plant 3 flowers, examine 3 fossils – that can be done for miles as well. Given then never-ending task-reward system Nook Miles offer, this creates an intensely satisfying positive feedback loop that incentivizes not only returning to the game, but also building up your island.

Additionally, Nook Miles can be redeemed for a trip to new islands. These islands give players access to unique landscapes, exotic flora and fauna, and occasionally new animals to invite to your island.

If building your own island community weren’t enough, the online features allow friends to visit each other’s islands. Although the online is overall a paltry experience compared to the daily activities within your own island, group activities and even mail messages from friends are a nice touch in a game all about building community.

In total, Animal Crossing: New Horizons might be the perfect solution for you in the time of COVID-19, and beyond. Looking for an escape? Missing friends and community? Trying to find ways to spend your time? New Horizons has got you covered.

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