The Duck’s New Thoughts on New Horizons

The newest Animal Crossing for the Switch is here at last, and I have been having a great time with it so far.  As of writing this, I’m not terribly far into the game, but I think I’ve played enough to get a decent feel for it, so it’s time I shared my initial impressions, plus a few tips that you might find useful.

I think there are two major factors that have caught my eye the most.  One, the customizability of the game, and two, the crafting/material gathering, making this game kind of feel like Animal Crossing meets Breath of the Wild meets Harvest Moon.  Let’s start with the first feature, which is apparent from the moment you start the game because you actually get to customize the look of your character.  In every prior Animal Crossing title that I can remember, your character’s face and initial hairstyle and hair color were completely random.  But in this game, you actually get to make your character look exactly the way you want, which I really appreciate.  You can also pick your island layout from four random options (isn’t New Leaf the only other game in the franchise that lets you choose your town?), which was also really nice.

Fully customizable goodness

Of course, this is Animal Crossing we’re talking about, so customizing your game does not end at your character and island’s appearances.  We’ve always been able to decorate the inside of our homes, but now we actually have the ability to put items outside, as well.  This new feature will take some getting used to (never before has Animal Crossing spoiled me so much), but I’ve already adorned my front yard with some tiki torches that look really cool when lit up at night.

The other major factor I wanted to discuss was the game’s feel.  In this game, you are building a village from the ground up, so you start off with no traditional store, museum, etc.  Your fellow villagers even start with tents instead of houses.  Thus far, I have managed to get the museum and first version of the store, and let me tell you, it’s immensely satisfying having to create your entire town from scratch.  It takes the mayor role from New Leaf to a whole new level.  You even get to choose where these buildings are placed, so you can really make the town you want.

Another addition to this game are crafting materials.  You can hit rocks for stones, iron, or clay, and you can strike trees with a stone axe for wood (the regular axe will chop the tree down, so keep that in mind).  These materials were used to build the store mentioned above (30 pieces each of wood, softwood, and hardwood and 30 pieces of iron), and they can be used to craft items, too, like furniture and tools.

Enjoy that fishing pole while it lasts, Charlotte, my dear….

You actually start with very flimsy tools that break very quickly, but you can also learn recipes for stronger tools that take longer to break.  While the crafting is kind of cool, I must admit that I’m a bit bothered by how quickly tools break.  I suppose it makes sense that “flimsy” tools would be rather…flimsy, but even regular tools break eventually, which is…a bit disappointing.  I’m hoping I’ll eventually be able to craft tools that never break because this new feature is something I could do without.

On a more positive note, I rather like the fact that you can’t explore the entire island right away.  There are no bridges (I mean, this was a previously uninhabited island, after all), so you need a pole to vault across rivers and a ladder to reach higher places on your island.  And these two items are not supposed to break, as far as I’ve heard.  When you could fully peruse your new home in every previous Animal Crossing game, I think it’s kind of cool that this one makes you work a bit harder to explore the whole place.  It really gives it more of a “deserted island” feel.

So anyway, I’m really enjoying the game thus far.  Since you don’t start off with unbreakable tools, shops, or even the basic ability to explore the entire island, I feel like this will be the most satisfying Animal Crossing game yet.

Oh yeah, I’ll definitely be having a lot of fun with this game

I do, however, want to mention one major caveat.  The biggest cause for concern that people have had with this game thus far is the fact that you can only have one island per Switch (no amount of game cards will change this).  People have also said that, even if they wanted to share an island, the first player is the only one who can progress the story, leaving any other player feeling like just another villager.  Not to mention they are reliant on player one to progress the story and build shops for them.  While this is not an issue that personally affects me, it doesn’t seem right to me that everyone in a household would need their own Switch and copy of the game in order to enjoy it to its fullest.

But let’s try to end this post on a more positive note.  Here are a few tips I’d like to share with you all:

  • This game has two currencies, the traditional Bells and Nook Miles (they’re like New Leaf’s Meow Coupons), the latter of which are earned through various tasks, like planting trees, catching bugs, taking photos, or talking to villagers.  While 5000 Nook Miles are required for paying off your tent, it seems Bells are used to upgrade your house after that.
  • Nook Miles can also be spent on a ticket that allows you to travel to a random “mystery island”.  Here, you can gather extra materials, get new fruit or bamboo, and even meet new animals that can move to your island if you ask them.
  • One of the first things you should spend your Nook Miles on are extra storage and a tool ring for an easier way to switch between tools.
  • You can eat a fruit to gain extra strength.  This allows you to uproot trees and break rocks.  I would not recommend breaking rocks, however, because you get more materials from simply striking them with your shovel, and broken rocks take some time to return.
  • If Gulliver washes up on shore, he will need five communicator parts.  These can be found by digging in specific spots on the beach.  Look for areas where a small stream of water is shooting out of the sand (this looks the same as the spots where clams are hiding) and dig there to find the missing parts.
  • Make sure you gather as many materials as possible!  You’ll be grateful you hoarded lots of building materials when the time arises!

Banner image from Nintendo official website

This post was originally published on Virtual Bastion on March 31, 2020.

3 thoughts on “The Duck’s New Thoughts on New Horizons

  1. You are right about how it is quite a challenge to develop the island in New Horizons and how that makes the smallest of achievements seem like major events, such as getting Blathers to come to the island for the first time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of my next goals at the moment is terraforming my island. I’ve seen such amazing islands on YouTube, so it would be cool to do something interesting with my own. Just need some more planning before I know exactly what I’d like to do.

      Liked by 1 person

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