Scanning the skies for fresh ideas in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Although Animal Crossing: New Horizons took the world by storm last year when it released just as the world was shutting down due to COVID, I held off on getting it for a long time because I had played the 3DS game a ton, and it just didn't seem like the new iteration had that many new features. (I've also been playing the Animal Crossing mobile game daily since its release almost four years ago, although it doesn't really compare to the regular games.)
Anyway, the price of New Horizons had dropped a bit so I went ahead and picked up a copy, and after playing it for weeks now, as I suspected, to me it's essentially the same experience as the 3DS game. The main differences are that this game's progression at the beginning is much slower and important events are more spaced out, and although that made the experience feel a little different starting off, soon enough it became the usual grind of trying to 100% the museum's collections and working to earn bells to buy house and town upgrades. The other main addition to this iteration is crafting, where you collect resources in order to make special furniture. Collecting special furniture to decorate my house and town are not my main draws to playing the Animal Crossing games in general, so other than crafting essential tools when needed, I didn't spend much time with this.
I realize that although I blogged about the original Animal Crossing game on 3DS, I'd never posted any follow-up comments to its huge "Welcome amiibo" free expansion. If that expansion hadn't happened on 3DS, features that it introduced there such as missions, increased storage, and the interior decorating tools from Happy Home Designer, and that are included in the Switch game, would have made a much bigger impact (not to mention a huge bonus that wasn't included here, which was a full Animal Crossing-themed version of Panel de Pon, which could have been a standalone release). As it is, as an Animal Crossing vet there wasn't much in this Switch version that felt really fresh to me. The game launched with some features noticeably missing, some of which have been added in (such as swimming), and it's sort of obvious that there's still at least one more update waiting in the wings as Brewster's coffeehouse is conspicuous in its absence. I'll probably continue to chip away at the game bit by bit and it may be that the game reveals depths that I'm just not seeing yet, but from what I've read and seen about the game that doesn't seem likely. It would be interesting to see if Nintendo pulls another "Welcome amiibo"-like expansion that add in another big set of new features, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. We'll just have to wait and see.