Tobold's Blog
Thursday, April 02, 2020
Animal Crossing: New Horizons

So I ended up buying Animal Crossing: New Horizons, to form my own opinion about this game. After playing for a few days, I can give you my first impression: It isn't exactly my favorite game ever, but it is okay. I am having some fun for the moment.

Many commenters said that Animal Crossing was essentially the same a Stardew Valley. Not really, I'd say. Compared with Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley is a stressful and action packed game. In Stardew Valley one game day corresponds to 774 real life seconds, or 12.9 real life minutes. In Animal Crossing one game days corresponds to one real life day. Animal Crossing is thus 111 times slower than Stardew Valley. On the other hand, the time in Stardew Valley advances only when you play. In Animal Crossing the time passes, whether you play or not. Quite a lot of players use that to cheat, manipulating the clock of the Switch to "time travel" and advance the game faster when they want.

The overall effect of the "real time" in Animal Crossing, if you don't cheat, is that it plays a bit like many mobile games. If you play too much during one day, you run out of things to do. For example you only have 5 rocks on your island, each of which can be mined up to 8 times per day. Once you collected those 40 stone/ore/clay, you need to wait a day for the respawn. Trees give 3 wood each, but there are a lot of trees, and you can plant more. That is where the difference to Stardew Valley becomes striking: You can plant things, but they take several real days to grow. Very relaxed pace!

In my previous post I was a bit worried that Animal Crossing was too sandboxy, and wouldn't have enough goals to pursue. Fortunately I was wrong. I think the game strikes a nice balance between holding your hand and giving you freedom. There is always something to do, and you can always ask Tom Nook "what should I do" to learn your next major goal, or look on your in-game smartphone to check what activity would earn you some Nook Miles. But if you want to ignore those goals, you are free to do other stuff that is currently more interesting to you.

There are ways to "hardcore" Animal Crossing, like time travel cheating, or travelling to a deserted island and removing every tree, flower, and rock to make tarantulas spawn, which sell for lots of cash. But if you play Animal Crossing "normally", it becomes a game that you pick up every day to do some tasks for an hour or two, and that you don't feel bad for then putting away and waiting for the next day. One of the least stressful games I ever played, without being boring. That is some achievement! Certainly not everybody's cup of tea, but if you are looking for a relaxing game, this is not a bad choice.

Stardew Valley can be modded as much as you want and there are mods for time too (faster, slower, you can even freeze it).
Yes, sure. But if I discuss a game on the internet, I kind of have to discuss the version of it that most people are playing, and not individually modded versions.
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