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“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” is the Game We Need Right Now

On March 20, 2020, the eagerly-awaited next installment of the Animal Crossing video game series was released for the Nintendo Switch. Amidst all the news coverage and attention that is currently being devoted to the COVID-19 pandemic (stay safe, everyone!), I wondered how successful Animal Crossing: New Horizons would be. Would the buildup and devoted fan base be enough to motivate sales despite the ongoing crisis? Turns out, New Horizons was the perfect game to release right now.

Despite the series’s popularity, New Horizons happens to be the first Animal Crossing game that I have had the opportunity to play, so I wasn’t sure quite what to expect when I downloaded it. All I knew about the game was that you slowly built up a community and you start out with quite a bit of debt to what appears to be a raccoon. I am a fan of “life simulation” games like The Sims; in other words, games where just enough random nonsense happens that you don’t care if you’re watching your character wash dishes. As such, what little I did know about the Animal Crossing series sounded pretty appealing.

New Horizons has far surpassed my very meager expectations. If you’ve seen an ad for it, you’ve probably seen the phrase, “Escape to your personal island paradise.” Not going to lie, that’s a great selling point right now when everyone is stuck inside while social distancing. The island that you start with is far from a beach resort, but it’s nice to spend time in a cute forest environment. Plus, it’s been sunny in the game so far, which is a vast improvement to the snowy weather I am currently living through. Even a fake summer beach scene is better than no summer beach scene at the moment.

Aaron Burden
Aaron Burden / Unsplash

To be honest, though, the very best part about this game is how relaxed everything is. People have found ways to make the game stressful by comparing how elaborately they can design their islands, but I personally have had no issues avoiding this problem. The worst thing that has happened to me was my character passing out after being attacked by a too-realistic-for-comfort tarantula (see, life simulation—my character has arachnophobia, too). Your character gets to run around, enjoying their island, chatting with any of the anthropomorphic animals that decide to live there, catching bugs, and generally living a serene life. It’s everything that we’re missing from our lives in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. There is even an online mode where you can meet up with friends on one of your islands. I have yet to try this out, but people have certainly been making the most of this platform. Some have even hosted birthdays and other celebrations on their virtual islands. In a time when we can’t gather in person, people are making do with New Horizons.

New Horizons is definitely not a game for everyone. If you prefer fast-paced shooters, the slow pace and generally calm atmosphere of the game would probably be incredibly frustrating. I feel that it is the perfect game to escape from current events, however. If you need a break from the stressors of life, why not give Animal Crossing: New Horizons a try?

black headphones on a yellow background
Malte Wingen on Unsplash

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