It's been well over a month since Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and all the cute animals it houses, strolled into our lives. The casual life simulation has been a huge hit, breaking sales records for Nintendo and capturing the adoration of people all around the world as we reckon with self-and-government imposed lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Next to perhaps Call of Duty: Warzone, it's maybe the most I've seen the world taken with a game for some time—I judge this factor by how many "non-gaming" friends I know are into both. (As in, pretty much everyone.) While the Animal Crossing train shows no signs of slowing down, everyone's pacing with it has.
As Staff Writer Hirun Cryer eloquently put it, running daily errands in New Horizons is "a certainty in an entirely uncertain time." We can't commute; we can't wile away a warm spring afternoon shopping; ; we can't risk others by going out recklessly. With everyone trapped indoors, the newest Animal Crossing has slotted itself into our daily lives more than ever before. It feels like everyone's playing it, still; slow but steady.
It's been thrilling to watch it grow.
Deserted No More
One of the most exciting things to watch unfold in the Animal Crossing: New Horizons community has been the towns players have been crafting on their islands. With the unlockable addition of terraforming, we've been able to truly sculpt our towns, rather than just make the best of whatever our island gives us. Take, for instance, my current project: I'm sculpting my town into a mountainous, rural town, complete with a busy downtown that flows to a residential area, and it's been taking ages. But every day, I make new cliffs, chart a new path for a river, and so on. My town is slowly becoming magnificent.
Other players aren't so patient. I wrote an annoying post about the time travelers in the Animal Crossing community—one in which I regrettably called them "ghouls"—but honestly, seeing what folks are creating thanks in part to cheating the system with time traveling, I don't care anymore. I'll never do it myself, but I applaud the creative folks now that I've seen the fantastic fruits of their time-cheating labor. Some players have created micro-metropolises on their islands, thanks to original street designs and the clever use of simple panels. Others have crafted dazzling mori kei aestheticized islands—heavily forested, as if intended to be basked in an old-school beige Instagram filter. The town I'm slowly building is inspired by both trending styles; it's more of a rundown town that's still thriving.
Creators across Twitter and Instagram have been a huge inspiration not just for me, but players around the world. I follow a number of popular Japanese players on Twitter—the usual suspects, like imotarez, uxxixo, atsumori_tof, tobitobi_bibi—who are all immensely creative and deliver massive design inspiration on a near daily basis. Imotarez's bustling cityscape is near famous at this point, with one of their most popular tweets getting over 20,000 likes. Astumori_tof's town looks delightfully cozy and lived in. A lot of players I've seen have been inspired by these players, as a large number have even made their own tiered cliff-side markets. These can be carefully shaped thanks to terraforming, and they always look cool.
These dueling styles have even caused a weird rift in the Animal Crossing community. All over Twitter, I'm seeing folks tear down the more city—like town designs people, shouting them down for not being in the "spirit" of Animal Crossing. It may be a vocal minority, but nonetheless it's all nonsense, if you ask me. Let people craft their towns however they want, whether they're really into making a haunted house, a beautiful fairy forest, a cyberpunk-y city with tight alleyways, or otherwise.
Events Have Been a Mix of Good and Bad
Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been busy with events since its launch too. It kicked off with the controversial and much-loathed Bunny Day, which impacted all our material mining with eggs for ugly egg furniture. Then there was cherry blossom season—wherein all our non-fruit trees turned a nice pink blush, while Nature Day gave us special gardening-related activities for Nook Miles (and introduced bushes and shrub fencing).
Now, we're in the midst of May Day—which is a one-time trip to a deserted island with a maze, and a cameo from fan-favorite feline Rover. (It's so nice to see Rover again.) Later this month it'll be International Museum Day, which gives us a reason to pop into the museum for more than just donating fossils to Blathers again.
The events of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, aside from the too long and obtrusive Bunny Day, have all been great in how short n' sweet they are. They're not completely negligible, as the way fewer events were in past Animal Crossing games, and instead feel like there's something worthwhile to celebrate. After June's wedding-themed event, I'm excited to see where else events head to. Maybe we can even get back Mr. Resetti for more than just his image on connection errors and construction signs.
The Frustrations in New Horizons
New Horizons is by no means a perfect game, and as the months drag on, its seams are starting to unravel ever so slightly. New Horizons is built, like every Animal Crossing game, to be played slowly, and that's especially evident with its newest addition: crafting. Crafting more than one item at a time is mighty tedious, as there is no bulk crafting. To make a non-flimsy tool, we have to craft the flimsy version before we can even get to part two of the crafting process. If there's anything I want fixed in New Horizons, it's that I want crafting to be sped up ever so slightly.
This slow factor also trickles into some Nook Miles rewards, namely Nook Miles Tickets for visiting other islands—how I do the bulk of my resource gathering—and Nook Miles Vouchers, which are worth 3,000 Bells each. Counting the review period for New Horizons, I'm now a few months deep into my island lifestyle, and I have a lot of Nook Miles to show for it—nearly 120,000, in fact. But getting Nook Miles Tickets and Vouchers takes an immensely long time, as they print out one by one, and there is no "buy X amount" option, as there is with, say, turnips.
It's caused me to be an accidental Nook Miles Hoarder, which is a shame. If it were less annoying to buy tickets and vouchers, I would not be sitting on a small fortune of Nook Miles still.
Multiplayer has been another sore point in the community. Traveling to a friend or stranger's town is always a pain, with a long traveling animation to get in and to even leave. Since players have to wait one by one to spawn into the island too, sometimes traffic jams happen for bigger parties. Such as the other week when I was selling turnips at a friend's place: They had also shared their Dodo Code with anyone who DM'd them. It took me an hour just to get to their island. Likewise, our team hangouts for USgamer often take at least 15 minutes for everyone to travel to an island. I wish there could just be a lobby folks filter into with a queue of sorts, and then everyone could batch-travel that way.
All considered, the slights against New Horizons are relatively minimal. There are the nagging nuisances, like those above or just the tedium of terraforming in general, but it's all worth it to enjoy the communities we're all living in and cultivating. I love my animal neighbors (except for Curly, who won't take the hint to move.)
Over a month since New Horizons' launch on March 20, the world is getting settled with the newest Animal Crossing. I know a few friends who have already dropped off it, accomplishing all they wanted to do. That's not me though. I can see Animal Crossing keeping me occupied through the summer, at least—so here's to hoping it's able to keep us all company for another year or so. We sure need those silly animal buddies.