Animal Crossing: New Horizons was one of the most highly anticipated games of 2020, sharing its birthday with a game that could be the antithesis to its peaceful, nurturing nature, DOOM Eternal.

The game is all about community and growth, as you are set as the mayor of a town of anthropomorphic animals. It is your job to grow the town into something beautiful, with a peaceful, happy community.

While this may seem cheesy to the average gamer who spends time playing Call of Duty and Rainbow Six: Siege, you have to understand that this game is a life simulation, allowing people to escape into this digital world, which grows in real-time. 

Let’s learn how to play the game, and why it’s worth your time.

Some Details

The latest release in the series is available only on the Nintendo Switch, available for about $60. This may turn away some buyers who might not have or want a Nintendo device or are willing to pay the steep price of this relatively new game. 

Despite this, many have also purchased a Nintendo Switch purely for playing the new Animal Crossing; it is just that popular. 

The Gameplay

As a life simulation game, there isn’t anything too complex to remember or keep in mind. As the player, you assume control over a custom avatar you create on your own. This avatar represents you in this world, as the mayor of the island.

The island in mind is deserted, and you have bought it from the recurring character Tom Nook, a tanuki businessman. As the new mayor, it is your responsibility to see this island grow into a budding community of various characters that each has different appearances and personalities, each unique in their way. You also have one massive debt to pay off to Nook, essentially paying your mortgage for the island.

You start with a simple tent and a busy island covered in trash, weeds, and other odds and ends. As you explore and clean up the island, you can create and find tools and decorations that establish yourself better. You shape the island into your paradise, as you earn money from completing tasks and selling items you find to the Nook family.

Features

One of the best features of the game is that it is entirely in real-time. The Nintendo Switch knows your location and adjusts the game time based on your timezone, allowing you to see the game world and island evolve in real-time, seeing the weather change. Even the seasons change depending on your hemisphere!

This ‘everything happens in real-time’ feature means you can wake up at the crack of dawn in real life, hop onto your switch and watch the virtual sunrise as your village wakes up, and the insects are all dispersing for the day. 

You can even go and catch some of these to start a collection, use as gifts for those villagers who are so inclined or sell them for additional money. Once the sun is up and the world is awake, you can visit and mingle with the villagers, make friends, get to know the unique characters, and see how they live their lives on this paradise you are crafting for them.

Characters

The characters have always been a favorite aspect of the game. With each villager being an anthropomorphized person, they each have adorable and unique characteristics that really knits together your community. 

They are entirely independent and don’t need your say to interact with the world, so you might catch some of your favorite characters enjoy a day fishing on the coast, or enjoying a picnic with their friends!

It is this sense of community that you build within this world that makes this such a fantastic game that is loved by many. There is no rush to do something; there are no specific objectives or quest markers or enemies for that matter (besides the angry bees and tarantulas…). 

You are free to grow the island in whatever way you see fit, and this sense of peace and accomplishment is what has driven this to be one of the most popular games in the world.

Summary

Animal Crossing is a beautiful game about creating a charming island getaway from scratch and growing a lovely community of virtual friends in real-time. So if you want a life simulation that gives you the experience of a virtual vacation, give Animal Crossing: New Horizons a go!