Nerd Out First Out – Animal Crossing: New Horizons (First Impressions)
Updated: 2 days ago
My First experience with the Nook inc Deserted Island Getaway Package
It’s been 8 years since the last main series Animal Crossing game. So, in all that time how much has changed? With the release of Animal Crossing New Horizons yesterday, a lot of long-time fans like myself are getting used to all the new features. Here are my initial impressions of the game now that I have experienced 2 days of my new life on a deserted island.
From the ground up
A smart thing that Nintendo and co have done this time around is start all players from the ground up, we are on a deserted island after all! This means you start out with the bare minimum: a plaza and tent which Tom Nook and his nephews Timmy and Tommy run, 2 neighbours for company and your own tent to sleep in. That’s it. The aim of New Horizons is to design your town exactly how you want it, quite literally from the ground up. Unlike previous games that start you off in a well populated town complete with 6-10 villagers, a museum, a town hall, a shop and sometimes even a “city” to travel to. The intention here is that your island is now fully customisable, you can decide what amenity to place where and even change your mind later in the game! I’ll talk more about the levels of customisation in the next section.
Made to order
Something that long-time fans of the series will be unfamiliar with is just how customisable everything is in New Horizons. Everything from your characters appearance, your island’s layout and even exactly where your villagers and shops will be placed is down to you. As you start up the game you are asked the usual questions of what your name is and when your birthday is. Then you are asked for a photo for your passport; this is when you design your character from the skin shade, hair colour/style and even your eyes and mouth too! That’s right, no more looking online for the answers to questions that determine your appearance. We are truly living in the future! You can even decide what villagers you want on your island, to a certain extent. After a day or two on the island, Tom Nook gives you a ‘Nook Miles Ticket’ which allows you to visit (what I guess is) procedurally generated islands that will have resources similar to your island for you to forage. There will also be a random villager on this island each time and if you like that villager you can ask them to move onto your island! Never has any Animal Crossing game been so customisable!
What’s New (Horizons)?
As to be expected, with each instalment in the franchise comes new features and new characters. This is always the most exciting part of a new AC game, what features have been added? Well Nintendo went all out when it came to New Horizons. There are too many new things to detail in this post, but I will discuss the most obvious changes. First, Nook Miles. I’ll try and explain what they are in as few words as possible. They’re essentially another form of currency on the island, you earn them by living your best deserted island life. This means, whenever you catch your first fish, catch your first bug, sell your first item, make your first friend, etc. you earn points that equate to Nook Miles and can be spent on paying off your mortgage and expanding your house, buying lucrative items and tickets to explore the islands mentioned before.
The second new thing to highlight is the Nook Phone. A mobile phone provided by Tom Nook himself. This phone contains, a camera for in game photos, an app to track your Nook Miles, your ‘Critterpedia’ which tracks all of the bugs and fish you have ever caught, a place to make custom designs, a map and so much more. It just adds another level of interactivity and gives players more to do in a day. The last new addition that I want to highlight is the crafting element of the game. Unlike previous games, players can’t just buy a fishing rod, butterfly net, shovel, etc straight off the bat. Well actually they can, but it is cheaper and more efficient to craft them out of materials found on the island yourself. The only annoying thing is a fishing rod made from tree branches only last so long - so after you’ve used it a short number of times, it breaks, and you’ve got to gather more materials to craft a new one. Although this sounds tedious, I still am only 2 days in, and I assume that after a while you will gain new materials or new ‘recipes’ (crafting instructions) in order to build tools out of more sturdier materials.
The First Impression
Animal Crossing has always been a game that you need to put time into. You’re not going to achieve everything in just the first few days. So that’s where I’m at, day 2. I’ve created my character, moved onto the island, met my new neighbours and put up my tent. By the end of yesterday I had managed to earn enough Nook Miles to upgrade my tent to a small house and even donated enough fish and bugs to open a starter museum. On day 2, I had an encounter with Gulliver – a travelling seagull who washes up on your island and asks for your help – decorated my house more, explored the other parts of my island that were previously inaccessible without the vaulting pole (as there are no bridges on a deserted island!) and explored the other islands. All of this was only enough to keep me entertained for a couple of hours at a time. I’ve never really been the kind of AC player to spend hours gathering things to earn upgrades, I’ve always just played what I felt like. However, on a deserted island, you kind of need to do these things for the game to be fun in the long run. If you don’t upgrade things you are literally left with an island with only a few inhabitants and just a couple of weeds and logs. Although this is a good thing for those who want to really put a lot of time and effort into this game, it does mean you do get bored in these early days rather quickly.
My only gripe with the game so far is that events and encounters that were seemingly rare in previous games are popping up for a lot of people in the first few days of the game being released. For example, from my memories of Wild World (DS), City Folk (Wii) and New Leaf (3DS); things like tarantulas, Gulliver, balloon presents and sharks had varying levels of rarity. Considering I have been playing this game for almost 15 years now yet have only encountered Tarantulas a small handful of times means that they’re fairly rare. However, myself and a few of my friends all had multiple tarantula encounters last night – the first night after release. Could it be that Nintendo have stepped up all their rare encounters to keep us entertained on a mostly empty island? Or have I just never noticed how common they are? Also, will it always be as common as this? If so, it takes away some of the excitement upon finding a dorsal fin sticking out of the water or finding rare items in balloon present. The more I play, the more I’ll find out, I guess!
I am so excited to build up my island from scratch, to design it exactly the way I want with the new levels of customisation available and to watch it develop over time. I’m also excited to visit my friend’s islands to see how they have laid theirs out (and to steal their fruit!). I’m already really enjoying my time with Animal Crossing New Horizons and I am looking forward to seeing what new events, seasons and villagers I will encounter over the coming months. Although it can seem a bit chaotic and maybe even boring at first, especially if this is your first game in the series, with a little perseverance I can see it becoming the best game in the series for a lot of fans!
My in game passport!