Do you already know how you will plan the buildings on your island (this website helps you)? What style do you want to base your interior design on? Which neighbors do you welcome in your settlement and what fruits do you want to harvest from the start of the game? In fan circles, the anticipation for Animal Crossing: New Horizons increases almost every hour after the waiting period on March 20 has finally ended and the switch-exclusive life simulation invites you to a virtual holiday.
In advance we had the opportunity to set foot on a fantastic island and try out three savegames to see what island life would have to offer.
Nintendo previously announced a lot of information about the title, most of it in the big Nintendo Direct for the game on February 20, 2020 – a summary of the presentation can be found here. In addition, new trailers (and drinks) are in the mood for New Horizons. But just as a look in the travel brochure cannot be compared to the moment you feel the sand under your toes for the first time, we are of course very keen on the possibility of trying out a playable preview version. We packed our bags, let's go!
The trial vacation starts
The adventure usually starts with checking in at the airport. In the preview version, the character has already completed this step and we start when we leave our tent – of course, only our temporary home, later we will reside in a chic house – and do what we feel like doing. After a short tour of the island, we devote ourselves to catching insects and fish, digging up fossils, introducing ourselves to the rest of the population and making equipment such as a watering can and a shovel. At the workbench, we also use the raw materials that we find on the island to produce new decorations such as door wreaths or pieces of furniture. On the beach we even find a message in a bottle with instructions for a new crafting object!
During our island escapades, the controls work in a catchy manner, they are also learned at lightning speed, thanks to the different height settings of the camera, we (almost) always have everything in the area in view. No matter what we do, through almost every action we earn the so-called Nook miles. We redeem the rewards program of the resourceful tour operator Tom Nook for larger bags, items of clothing or other goodies.
After we have settled in briefly, we switch to the second, more advanced game. Our accommodation no longer has fabric walls, but tidy walls and is lovingly furnished with parquet, kitchen, dining table, music box and a fruit basket. In the extra room there is the sleeping area, equipped with completely color-coordinated furniture. The customization options in New Horizons are immense, and we're excited to see how we can put our own stamp on our booth and island in the finished game.
A lot has changed outside too, instead of living in a tent, Tom Nook now lives in the beautiful city center, where he takes care of our concerns together with crowd favorite Melinda. Nepp and Schlepp manage the shop, the hedgehog siblings have opened their tailoring. In the locker room we easily try on the daily changing clothes display and put outfits that we like in the shopping cart. Here, too, the selection is breathtaking – from kimono to business outfit, from rubber boots to sandals – every fashion lover will find it. Especially since there is also the option of designing your own clothes or importing outfits from the predecessors New Leaf and Happy Home Designer using a QR code.
Source: PC Games
In the meantime, the number of inhabitants on the island has also increased. During a tour, we examine the lovingly furnished houses of the neighbors and then pay a visit to the museum. Curator Eugen has already received a few donations in this game, so we are delighted with the well-filled exhibition rooms. We were particularly impressed by the aquarium area – the implementation was wonderfully successful in New Horizons! We tear ourselves away and visit Tom Nook, who now offers other services. For example, we can remove certain buildings and rebuild them elsewhere – provided the necessary small change. So if you later find out in the game that you are not happy with the design of the infrastructure, there are ways to undo decisions.
The third and last save that we try out during the session shows that we can make far more in-depth adjustments to the island. Here the island editor is already activated, a powerful tool that we can use to remove cliffs, dig new ponds or redirect rivers, for example. Like the rest of the control, this works very simply and intuitively. In a moderate form, we adapt the environment by building bridges or stairs. Of course we determine their design so that your island really corresponds exactly to your aesthetic preferences and reflects your creativity!
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (buy now for € 59.99) is a game that you have to get involved with – preferably every day and over a long period of time. Mapping this is of course not possible in a test game despite several savegames. But everything that we have experienced so far makes you incredibly keen to finally be able to design your own personal island without having to rely on a pre-prepared game that we have to give back with a lot of heartache.
Reserve or last minute trip?
You don't know if the game is worth a trip for you? Animal Crossing stands for itself and has almost no competition – from the indie clone Hokko Life Apart from that – but if you like Stardew Valley, for example, or have spent a lot of time designing your interior and clothes in The Sims, the cute animal crossing could also hit your nerve. In addition, we were not yet able to try out the multiplayer aspects, i.e. online co-op mode or local team gaming.
Source: PC Games
The multiplayer part and visiting other islands are an important part of the series, how well this works will only be revealed over time. One thing we can say: Animal Crossing also exudes so much charm on the Switch that we would have preferred to extend our short preview holiday.
I want to have holidays. Now!
Animal Crossing is an experience that you either love or that leaves you completely cold. I think from my text you can read that I really like the series. But I am aware, as enthusiastic as I am of what I have experienced, that on the one hand many can not gain anything from crafting and on the other hand that a large group of players will not know how to start with New Horizons. Many play to experience great stories or compete with others for high scores. New Horizons is diametrically opposed to this, with a non-existent plot and practically no challenge. But also in this group there are definitely people who like to relax virtually for a change and want to give up the pressure to perform for a few minutes. I am such a person, and from New Horizons so far more than pleased. March 20th really can't come fast enough!
Every beginning is sparse. First of all, we live in a tent – not a luxury vacation! (Source: PC Games)
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