So, for a quick review.

7/10

So, I’ve dunked well over 680 hours on this game, and while I do enjoy it. I can’t help but have criticisms of where the game is, and what its predecessors do differently.

New Horizons is certainly a game that was helped by the pandemic. I find more than half of its success had to do with quarantining and forcing people out of their standard comfort for their safety, whether they agreed to it or not. So, what’s the next best thing? Why, virtual hangouts of course. And Animal Crossing really scratched that itch. Now that the world is slowly attempting to return to normalcy, regardless of science, I find people have either stopped playing or are more frustrated with the game and are becoming much more vocal about it. There needs to more than bi-monthly updates with a few seasonal items, most of which are recolours. There just needs to be more interactivity, and events on a daily basis.

Now, I get it, this is supposed to be an island, a deserted island, they want to keep that aesthetic because, otherwise, what’s the point, right? It’s just frustrating because we’re now at a point where the game has been out for over a year. And its bare bones when you really get down to it. I like the crafting system, I do, I think it’s a great addition. But it’s the only addition they’ve actually added, I’m including terraforming in this, too, because realistically, terraforming isn’t something you do every day.

Besides that, getting the recipes is nice, getting duplicate recipes is not. The recipe system is strange, and also extremely frustrating because sometimes you get recipes you don't have the base for, sometimes you get good stuff from villagers, and the beach bottle, and other times, for new recipes, you HAVE to shoot down the presents that float over the island. And it’s the ONLY way to get them. Why? Why is this in the game? And not to mention it’s not guaranteed. Thanks for wasting my time!

(A neat thing to remember is the balloon colours on the presents give a hint what they are inside. Blue is materials, Red is clothing/furniture, yellow is bells, and green are recipes. Sometimes. These colours are just an indicator of what comes from the present, and they actually factor in percentages of how many balloons you've popped. Balloons will spawn every five minutes. When then minute ends in :04 or :09.)

Let me just get what I like out of the way, because New Horizons has really good s**t in it. And its addictive when you have an idea of what you want to do. You can spend hours upon hours terraforming and crafting as long as you have a halfway decent plan on how you want to build your island, it can be a great pastime.

The designs and updates to character models are absolutely lovely. Everyone looks they're made of soft fabric, like felt, and items have beautiful texturing, and for the first time, I actually a see discernable difference between handheld and dock mode. Not in performance, but just in visuals. I also like most of the newest villagers they’ve added to New Horizons. Dom was one of the villagers who greeted me when I chose my island, so I’m very attached to him. On that note, I really like Raymond, Sherb, Judy, Cyd and Reneigh. Megan is so-so, I find her design to be incredibly plain, but I think my favourite of the new villagers is Audie. I love her colours, and her sunglasses and her little pineapple dress. She’s definitely a villager I'm keeping an eye out for.

If you’re wondering who my favorite of all time is. It’s Marshal. That funky little squirrel was my first villager in New Leaf, and he’s been there for nine years now. He cried when I came back to my 3DS village after two years of not playing. On the other hand, I also quite love Apollo. He was in my village all the way back in the original Animal Crossing for Gamecube, so I feel very attached to him, too.

My village right now has all ten residents. Which are Dom, Marshal, Diana, Ankha, Julian, Gladys, Judy, Pekoe, Stitches, and Merengue. I’ve gone through a whole bunch of villagers too, like Tucker, Wendy, Butch, Knox, Rory, Vivian, Cherry, and the entire bane of my existence in the Animal Crossing universe, Nate. I hate Nate so much, with such a vigorous loathing passion that I literally spent every moment on my island smacking him with my net until I used one of the Amiibo cards I held onto from the 3DS era to get rid of him. Seriously, ******** Nate. After playing Animal Crossing for three generations, there are villagers you just end up despising because they ******** you over somehow and you never forget it. I'm also very disappointed you can't bully a villager away like you used to, sometimes man, you just gotta get your message across.

The fact that you can villager hunt by using the Nook Mile+ point system is great, I like the daily activities because it at least incentivizes daily play, and it pays to do daily tasks. Those Nook miles do offer great rewards such as unique crafting recipes, hairstyles, and even the lauded Nook Miles Ticket to go on Island Tours, it’s a great place to gather resources if you don’t want to touch your island, this is also the place where you get to hunt villagers. Although, they got rid of a few islands and I'm super bummed out about it. I wish they just kept them rare.

There isn’t all that much to look forward to on a daily basis. I do like C.J and Flick as visitors. They’re a good way to make cash on off days, but honestly, I kind of miss Chip and Nat. I grew up with them, and I guess the passing of the torch is nice, getting C.J or Flick twice in a week really sucks.

At this point my praises end. Months ago, I would have had a much higher opinion but as you can see from my likes, a lot is missing, it’s almost been a year, and the game isn’t that different from where we started, and if this where we are, I’m horribly disappointed.

Looking back on New Leaf, which I personally think is the best AC out there (and it’s the one game I have perhaps put the most effort into in the franchise), New Horizons is very, very, very tiresome from the repetition. There needs to be dozens of quality of life updates that just haven’t happened yet.

There are too many things missing in New Horizons. The game feels tired and boring unless you set yourself daily goals, in which case, just do something else. Every now and then you get a fun little event you can finish in fifteen minutes, and then… wait for the next event.

In New Leaf, you had your daily visitors, but it cycled between NPC’s like Katrina, Redd, Katie, Gracie, Pascal, Pete, and Phineas. Not only that, but all of the events were also already preloaded into the game, there was no need to wait. You could play through the game without any major updates, unless you wanted those sweet, sweet unique distribution items, like the fireworks table. And there was an actual downtown area you could visit.

This really mixed the daily routine because not only did things cycle through the shop, but Gracie’s items could go on discount, and you could use your 3DS tokens to buy special Nintendo themed furniture from fortune cookies. (We could also potentially have a conversation about the original Animal Crossing had arcade machines where you could PLAY actual Nintendo games of the past, and they took it out because… obviously.) This was rectified recently with the March update adding Mario themed items, but I only use the Pipe item, because it has the best functional use in the game.

In New Leaf, there was a post office with two characters with their own unique personalities. Pelly, who had the day shift and Phyllis who had the night shift. They had been in the franchise for years. I miss Phyllis. She was such an a**, I loved her. But here, you have to rely on Orville to send a letter. I used letters so much in New Leaf and in City Folk, I don’t like losing them as an integral feature.

There is still Kicks, and Leif, who visit, and now Labelle takes up a daily slot instead of Gracie, but, there’s no Shrunk (villagers teach you reactions), there’s no Brewster, Resetti, or Tortimer. No Badges, or god forbid if Re-Tail ever came back. Shampoodle is gone for good. The Police station isn’t here (which isn't that bad) and we don’t even have exhibition rooms in the museum. The more and more I play between New Leaf and New Horizons, I just want more. I want a better game. I don’t want to pop into the game for two minutes, see that Lief is in the Town square, and turn the game off. The only really new visitor is Gullivarr, which is kind of weird since we still have regular Gulliver. A recolour of an NPC isn’t impressive. It feels lazy.

Some of the events also aren’t so well thought out. The Bunny Day event was a goddamn nightmare last year, and when I saw those eggs on the trees again, I felt my heart drop. I’ve never liked Zipper, and having to fish up the eggs, or shoot them down, or shake tress, or smack rocks was exhausting. And you get them whether you want them or not!
I hated it. They took feedback on this, and then decided to make it harder to shake event related items out of tress. And I can safely say they missed the point, but it was a good try.

Also, I ******** despise the fishing tourney. It’s the worst, the absolute worst thing in the entire game. It’s tedious, slow, exhausting and garbage returns in the winter months. If there is actually anything I would change in the entirety of New Horizons, it’s the goddamn fishing tourney. They should not have kept the exact same format from the bug tourney. Give us variety, for the love of god.

I’ve already finished the Fossils, the Fish, the Bugs and even the Deep-Sea Creatures encyclopedia. I finished all this with minimal effort. And let’s not talk the Art Gallery portion because I have never finished it ever, not once, never. I don’t have that kind of patience. Gyroids aren’t even in the game except for the construction Gyroid that takes donations for new construction projects. There’s so much less going on even at the best part of the game.

The biggest gripe I have is the lack of quality of life updates a year after the game has released, and I’ve chosen these specifically because the groundwork is there, it’s possible to do these without a lot of leg work, the ideas are there, so I don’t really understand why they haven’t implemented them yet. But here’s some ideas.

Bulk Crafting – This one by one crafting is a nightmare, simply because the animation. I’ve heard it’s not a hidden loading screen, and you can speed it up, so what’s the deal? Why do we have to do one, by one, by one, by one? It’s maddening, and the only reason why I’m complaining is because I make a lot of bait, and one of my major money makers besides turnips is Hot Items. Sitting there for fifteen minutes just to mash A through the selection screen, to the confirmation screen, to the building animation and then to a text asking if I want to keep crafting. You know what would make this way easier? Just ******** have bulk crafting.

Permanent Pro Designs – This one might be strange, but I’ve made designs through the pro design app that I’d like to be permanent. And just like in the builder app, how you can place permanent designs for pathways, I want my designs to be treated the same way. I don’t understand WHY they have the option to decorate with pro designs in the builder but treats it the same as if I planted it on the ground myself. This is perhaps the biggest oversight imo, there’s no reason for this.

Shopping Carts – Don’t you love going to a store and buying one thing, and then buying one thing again? And doing that until a few minutes have passed and you bought three things? Unnecessary. Able Sisters has it the worst where you can only buy one thing on display, and if you want to see variations, you have to go into the change room, and not be in a wand outfit or in a wet suit. I hate how this works. Why the limitations? Why take a step in the right direction but keep then just backflip into mediocrity? Just let us tag s**t for bulk purchase.

Fixing tool hit location – Please just let me see where the ******** I’m messing in the builder app. Holy ********, it’s the worst thing when I build a cliff nine times when I want to hit the cliff an inch to the left. The only reason why I have 680 hours in this game is because I’m forced to play longer to fix the s**t I’m ******** up to begin with.

Simplifying Dodo Travel – I would like if this system was revamped a little bit. If I open my island, I’d like people to able to come and go in as they like. It’s just a big stopping mechanism where they halt everything you're doing for any online interaction. I’m like wow, every time I had to stop every single thing I’m doing to wait. At the very least, I would sincerely prefer a little text from Dodo Airlines. Pls, it doesn't need to be like this.

Touch-Screen Support – The switch in general needs a bit of an upgrade on this, but touch screen support would be incredible. Making pro designs would be significantly easier.

Item Owned Indicators – This is a simple request, right? Just let me see by way of a checkmark to know if this item is already in my nook catalogue. It seems like this should be an easy enough addition.

Locking items – No. I’m trying to pick the present I shot down, not pick up the fountain. ********. Put the Fountain back, turn away, try to pick up present. s**t. Picked up fountain again. Repeat ad infinitum.

More Furniture Outside – Let me add rugs outside. Let me add light fixtures to cliffsides. Let us use the environment that is currently not being used. They clearly have the program to know not to break walls or make rivers if something significant is in the way, so I don’t see why this is a problem.

And finally,
Crafting From House Inventory – This is the biggest gripe I have. A lot of games have crafting, and a lot them usually add an option to craft from your main inventory directly. It’s sorely needed. I don’t understand why I have to dig around my inventory to find the customization boxes, or twigs and rocks and iron to make my tools. Just… this could absolutely be fixed easily, and yet…

This is just about how the game is now, a lot of small updates could fix a lot of these readily! But I have a feeling they likely won’t, they promised Brewster four times now and he still hasn’t happened. There have been a lot of updates recently, I enjoyed Festivale with Pavé which was the big one, but I also enjoyed the small events for the Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day. It was sweet. The Mario items being added are great, and it looks like they’re not going away, but… It’s Zelda’s thirty fifth, too. Along with Metroid’s. Are we getting fanfare for those series, too? No? Why am I not surprised?

I’m only upset about all this because of one reason. Pocket Camp, the app game, literally generates dozens of unique items every season that you can buy with real money or work for during the seasonal event. All of that creativity is NO WHERE in this game, and a lot of these items would make New Horizons perhaps the best game in the series, but for some reason, they’re dragging their feet. I don’t get it. They get new fun seasonal bugs, unique flowers and even rare fish, they get fun furniture that brings in NPC’s… Where is all this effort? And if it’s in the app game, why not bring it to the main game? Ah, right. Of course. The potential loss of money for the app that has minimal work put into it, compared to a game that had an actual ******** budget.

I want to love New Horizons so much more, most of my time on the game is spent hanging out with friends and attempting to make my island look pretty with as little effort as possible. Some parts of my island need serious TLC but I don’t have the effort to do it, and the items I want still aren’t available to me, and terraforming makes me want to suffocate my switch under my pillow.