You probably already know if Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the kind of game you would be into, but for me it’s been a crucial part of my social distancing coping mechanism. I absolutely adore the game and could write an entire piece gushing about it. However, I feel kind of bad for Animal Crossing: New Horizons because it’s been thrust into a position I can’t imagine it was ever intended to be in.
For context, Animal Crossing as a series has always been about playing in increments and slowly developing your town over time. It’s consistently positioned itself as something you check in with maybe once or twice a day before moving onto whatever else you had going on in your life. Obviously the world has been a bit different recently, granting people an excess of time to spend with a game that cannot sustain that.
Consider articles like this one, where people are stuck between completing objectives that would normally take an hour or two without much of an issue. Were this a normal world we lived in, people might not be able to simply obliterate all their goals in one sitting, more akin the way Animal Crossing: New Horizons probably planned for.
Now we have people, myself included, blitzing through every goal that would usually take a few days under normal circumstances, left without much else to do in the game. Sure you can catch fish and bugs, collect materials, craft stuff and sell things, but when you’re desperate for anything to do, these objectives might seem a little more thin than they normally would.
This is in no way the fault of Animal Crossing: New Horizons though. The world went and flipped upside down and now we’re all here just struggling to hang on, often escaping into video games to pass the time. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was not built to deal with these kinds of sustained, long-term game sessions, but it’s doing its best despite that. There’s just enough to do and check in with in the game that I can check in with it for an hour or two, several times a day without feeling too bored.
I ultimately love Animal Crossing: New Horizons and will continue to play it for the foreseeable future, but I can easily see a scenario in which people burn out on it because they’re playing it ad nauseam. I’ve already seen people complaining about the lack of storage options, or the long wait times for certain amenities to be built, or even with the pace of unlocking new items and crafting recipes, which are all valid concerns if this were a game that you were meant to play in long sessions. But that isn’t Animal Crossing, and while it’s still holding up for me, it’s important to realize that you should pace yourself with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and not expect the same things you would from another game.