Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been an unquestionable success for Nintendo. The game holds a rare 91 on Metacritic, sold more than 11 million units in eleven days and has penetrated the public consciousness more than any other game in recent memory. Animal Crossing: New Horizons deserves all the praise it’s received for its charm and extensive customisation options. However, after playing the game for dozens of hours, a few of the game’s flaws turn into slightly bigger annoyances. While they’re not game breaking, here are a few easy improvements Nintendo can make to Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Whether you’re jumping into New Horizons for the first time, or 100th time, be sure to check out how to time travel in the game, and why Animal Crossing is the game the world needs right now.
This is likely the least contentious entry here, as durability in games is a surefire way to attract controversy. In New Horizons, most of your tools can break after using them for a while, meaning you’ll either need to buy a new one or scavenge for the materials needed to craft a replacement. Scavenging for materials makes for a novel element early on in the game, when the experience is driven by bite-sized tasks and the joy of simply existing in this impossibly joyful island.
After approximately 30-40 hours the game opens up exponentially. At this point, players gain the abilities and resources to completely change your island; adding footpaths, creating higher ground or filling in lakes. Paired with the ability to move around buildings, it’s likely that most players will be obsessed with re-organising, what was previously, a mess of an island. This means most players will also be using their tools to chop down trees and dig up trunks a lot more to create space, consequently leading to increased amounts of breakage. At this point, the game should be about getting creative, not scavenging for materials.
There are a few quick fixes that could easily alleviate some of these frustrations. Durability bars below tools would mean a tool wouldn’t surprisingly break at an inconvenient moment. While players can also, eventually, acquire golden tools, these are also susceptible to breakage. Making gold tools invulnerable in the late-game would be the best way to retain the simple charm of the early hours, and avoid the annoyances that arise from tools breaking on you for the 268th time.
Tarantula/Scorpion Island Spawn Rates
In New Horizons, players are able to venture out and explore unique islands. There might be rare bugs or fish to catch, or fruit not native to their own island. But, shortly after New Horizon’s launch, players began to discover tarantula infested islands. In any other game, this would have been a nightmare. In Animal Crossing? This was a lucrative business opportunity. These tarantulas could be sold for an extraordinarily high price. So imagine players’ joy when they could fill their inventory with 40 of these hairy, expensive beasts.
Since the seasons have changed, Nintendo have replaced tarantula’s with scorpions, but the premise remains the same. But this change also bought lower spawn rates along with it. It’s exceedingly rare to find these islands full of hostile bugs and tons of bells. This is a problem that effects players in the early stages of their adventure and players in the late game. Early on, players are motivated by paying off their large, inflating mortgage. Late-game players are driven by reorganising their island, which can also be a pricy endeavour. Either way, it’s something that will effect people jumping into New Horizons late, as they’ll already feel behind the rest of the community with no way to catch up.
Animal Crossing’s biggest draw was, arguably, its cast of endearing, weird anthropomorphic animal villagers. They were sometimes cute and sassy, sometimes angry, and sometimes downright creepy. Their treatment of you could vary wildly and whether they were wholesome or rude, you wanted them there because it added so much personality and spontaneity to the experience.
So what’s changed? Well, villagers in New Horizons are just different shades of friendly. Most of them worship the ground you stand on and congratulate you for everything you do. It’s undeniably cute, but the weirdness from the series’ past seems to not be here. You’ll need to try quite hard to irritate a villager, and even then I haven’t seen any of them remember the event or carry any resentment toward me. I never thought I’d miss being hated by digital neighbours. New Horizons has turned the series into a game about collecting and crafting, rather than a game about making friends with weird rabbits and dogs.
Other Quality of Life Fixes
Buying more than multiples of five – When shopping at Nook’s Cranny, you’re given the option to buy 1 or 5. There’s no in between and no option to buy more. Choosing the amount you’d like to buy is pretty much standard in any other game and it’s unnecessarily drawn out here.
Crafting more than one at a time – This might sound like a trivial complaint but in actuality this problem is a major time waster. If you’re crafting a ton to decorate your large island, you’ll have to sit through an animation that can take a few seconds. Early in the game, this animation is cute, but it can add up significantly when you sit through it 4 or 5 times in a row, before being able to actually play the game.
Isabelle’s Announcements – The communities favourite dog, Isabelle, will give a 30-second PSA whenever you log in on a new day. These are useful when she actually has a special announcement, like a timed seasonal event you won’t want to miss. But, so much of the time, Isabelle’s announcement boil down to “Good morning! There’s no news today, but let me tell you about my TV habits before you can play the game.” Undoubtedly cute; however, they’re only necessary when there’s actual news to be delivered, otherwise the game’s just getting in your way.