Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Hands-On Impressions at PAX East 2020

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I was fortunate enough to be able to go hands-on with Animal Crossing: New Horizons while trotting around the show floor at PAX East this year, and besides having my demo cut short due to a fire hazard, this is definitely the Animal Crossing title we have been excitedly hoping for. 

To start — yes, I said a fire hazard. Somehow, an exposed wire underneath the Animal Crossing booth below the demo units was igniting the carpet, which not only smelled horrible but was cause for concern as they quickly shut the demos down to allow for a tech crew to change out the hefty, burnt cables. Even though this was disappointing considering the ecstasy behind wanting to play a game you have patiently been waiting for for 45 minutes in line, it still gave me enough to see that it would be worth the wait to release on March 20th.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

With my co-op cohorts, led by a Nintendo employee, we journeyed across an island and got to play around a bit. As someone who hasn’t sunk hours into an Animal Crossing title since the original GameCube release, it instantly took me back and felt on point in comparison to that experience. Obviously, the crafting and ability to manipulate the environment are new additions, but beyond that, I was back in the early 2000s. 

Digging up fossils, chasing down wayward balloon presents, and fishing away all felt as I remembered. I visited Blathers in the museum and was pleasantly surprised to find I would be spending time filling out this building come the 20th, as I had done so many years ago. On top of that, so many series favorites are right where we left them, from Isabelle at her assistant’s post to the Able Sisters customized merch shop to Redd’s shady offerings. The gang’s all here. 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Crafting is going to be a super interesting addition to the game, as instead of running out to Nook’s Cranny each morning to see what could be for sale today (which you’ll still be doing once you unlock the shop) you’ll be hoarding sticks, weeds, and rocks in order to build your way to a perfect island paradise. Busy work was kept to a minimum, for the most part, in the GameCube and Wii versions of this series, as you could pretty much complete a daily routine in the game in less than an hour if you needed to be quick about it. However, with this new addition, as well as the fact I am completely unaware of changes made since the last console release of an Animal Crossing title, this feels like something that will allow for almost endless time running around versus the feeling of needing to log off and wait for something interesting that would occur in the elder versions. 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Changing the environment at a whim is a game-changer as well. I recall my dad and I spent way too much time resetting our GameCube villages over and over looking for the evasive three-tiered version of the village with the bridges and buildings in just the right spots. Now, all you have to do is move things around to your liking and call it a day. With the depth at play here, I think visiting other islands is going to be a must, not only for inspiration but just to see what people have created. 

Even though it was nice to see all of my wonders come together first hand at the event, I was more than convinced from the previous Animal Crossing Direct that this was going to be exactly what I was hoping from the get-go. Luckily, nothing here changed my mind. I can’t wait for March 20th to jump in, and I hope you’ll all join me! See you on the islands!

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