Nintendo Switch ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ is the island escape we all need today

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And so began my frenemy relationship with Nook, someone you always end up owing in Animal Crossing. He means well, but you’ll quickly notice you end up doing most of his grunt work. Compared to the real world, though, he’s an angel. Nook may charge you an eye-popping amount of bells to upgrade your flimsy tent into a genuine home with a roof, but there’s no interest on your debt, and no forced payment schedule. You just need to explore your town, earn some cash, and pay it off whenever you can. That’s infinitely better than dealing with college loans in your thirties and fighting with banks and our insane credit system to own a home.

DIY crafting, which debuted in the Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp mobile game, also changes up the flow of the series for the better. Instead of just earning money to buy furniture, clothes and other accessories, you can build them on your own, assuming you have the proper materials. That makes chopping wood, mining for stone and metal and collecting cherries far more rewarding than previous titles.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to try the local or online multiplayer portions of the game, but I’m definitely looking forward to sharing my island experience with friends down the line. And if you share your Switch, you better get used to living on a single island with everyone else in your household. That seems like a particularly draconian move by Nintendo — the only way to get multiple islands is to buy more copies of the game. I also didn’t get to test the New Horizons features in the Switch Online App for smartphones. It’s your gateway to voice chatting with friends, and you’ll also be able to scan QR codes for unique items from older Animal Crossing games.

Nintendo Switch Animal Crossing: New Horizons

After diving into New Horizons for about 12 hours, my island utopia has finally started to take shape. There’s an impressively large museum to display the fossils and animals I’ve collected. I helped construct a thriving store run by the Nook kids. And my house is shaping up into quite the bachelor pad, with an expensive stereo, a grown-up reclaimed wood bed and a microphone for my dreams of in-game podcasting. More so than any Animal Crossing before it, New Horizons has become a calming ritual for me. I look forward to checking on my island every morning, greeting newcomers, and taking another look every night to sell items before the shop closes.

Nintendo Switch Animal Crossing: New Horizons

It may seem a bit frivolous, but all of the time I spent in the game was time spent avoiding political fights on Twitter, news about how we’re ill-equipped to fight the coronavirus, and fretting about the fate of our civilization. Every moment spent in New Horizons is a moment I can breathe a bit easier, which feels like a miracle today.

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