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Animal Crossing New Horizons, and why if you’ve been patient this long, you should keep waiting.

Content of the article: "Animal Crossing New Horizons, and why if you’ve been patient this long, you should keep waiting."

So, before going off on a lengthy rant, let's just start with the TL;DR:

ACNH makes a great first impression, and is engaging for the first couple months. However, once you've finished paying off your home loans, and you've decorated your island to your taste, there's nothing else to do. Nintendo has removed so much content from previous versions that it lacks staying power, and ends up feeling quite shallow. Plus, they've been so slow with content updates that there's really no telling when – or if – it will ever have the range of activities seen in the previous games.

Now, new players to the series seem to like ACNH the best, so this might not bother people who haven't played previous editions. But, even then, it seems almost certain that ACNH will at least be better after another six months have passed. Hopefully.

Anyway, when I say that it's lacking loads of content, I'm really not exaggerating. Just off the top of my head, here's some of what's missing compared to AC New Leaf on 3DS:

  • Most of the Nook's Cranny shop upgrades
  • The Re-Tail thrift store
  • The fortune teller
  • The nightclub
  • The coffee shop
  • The museum's personal display rooms
  • Specialty shops like the garden shop. They're now traveling merchants who randomly appear some days.
  • ALL multiplayer mini-games. All you can do now is hang out on the island.
  • Most interactions with villagers. No playdates, random home visits, or hide-and-seek.
  • The always-summer island. No year-round shark or beetle hunting.
  • The Dream Suite has been severely nerfed. No more visiting random islands.
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And that's not even counting things from even earlier games like the observatory or flea market days which weren't in New Leaf, but could have conceivably come back.

Basically, it has been stripped down to the point that decorating your island has become the almost sole focus of the game. Yes, they have added in outdoor decorations, item crafting, and terraforming, but that's basically it. There are objectively far fewer things to do in ACNH than in previous games, and it really shows once you've built your island the way you like.

What's worse, at least for me, is that the villagers have become boring. Talking to and creating relationships with the other villagers used to be one of the main focuses of the series, but now it's more like you're building a doll house with animated dolls wandering around. To the game's credit, they have a much wider variety of animations, and are more reactive to/aware of their environment, but there's nothing to do with them. Their dialogue has also gotten bland and repetitive. When I go around town on a given day, like 50% of their comments are some variation on "You're my bestest friend and I'm so glad I moved here!" Over and over.

They hardly ever fight. They hardly ever get sick. They hardly ever say anything more than the slightest bit rude. They hardly ever do anything interesting, once the novelty of seeing them chase after butterflies wears off. Which, to be fair, was unbelievably charming the first time it happened.

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So we're stuck waiting on Nintendo to add content, and Nintendo has been so slow about it. The last major content update was three months ago, when they added diving and deep-sea creatures back in. Since then, all we've had are a couple minor seasonal events. Data miners say that a few things like the coffee shop will probably come back, as there are references in the game files, but god knows when.

I'm not sure I can truthfully say I regret buying it, since I was one of the ones playing it during quarantine, but I am definitely disappointed. If this was Nintendo's first attempt at doing a GAAS-style game, they've really dropped the ball. And for that reason, I do think people should keep waiting and see where the game's at in another few months.

In the meantime, if you haven't played it, think about picking up a 3DS and New Leaf. It's a better, more complete game that gives you more reasons to keep playing week after week. Plus, by the time you're tired of it, hopefully New Horizons will be better.


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