Graydon Webb – The Contrarian American

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Credit: Nintendo

Having been a huge fan of the Animal Crossing franchise since nearly its first iteration, I signed on with Josh to write our joint review of New Horizons back in April. At the time, I found the game to be a fresh take on the series formula, with new features like the crafting system spicing up gameplay. I did, however, mention that some veterans of the series could feel overwhelmed by this new design, and I ultimately gave it a 4 out of 5. So considering my wavering opinion following quite the abundance of hype, how has New Horizons kept its mantle of Graydon’s Game of the Year so far?

Well, for starters, I haven’t played much else this year. Whilst spending a large majority of my rare free time attacking my tremendous backlog – including a multitude of indie darlings – I’ve noticed that 2020’s gems have remained virtually untouched entirely. I’ve dabbled in Doom Eternal and Call of Duty: Warzone, but the big-ticket games like The Last of Us 2 and Ghost of Tsushima have been tossed to the wayside, for now. I’m disappointed in myself, yes, but I don’t regret finally getting around to awesome games like Sea of Solitude and That Dragon, Cancer, albeit many years late to the party.

Surprisingly, however, the one game that has always kept me coming back amidst the chaos of work, backlog, and life’s stresses… is Animal Crossing. Not only is it still just as fun as the maiden voyage, but the multiple content updates for New Horizons have substantially increased its value for enthusiasts of the series. Perhaps the best new feature is it’s most recent: players now have the ability to swim in the ocean! This has opened up a whole new aspect of gameplay, with new sea creatures to collect, donate, and sell to our old friend, Pascal. He’s not the only familiar face to return since launch, though. Crazy Redd is back – selling suspicious art pieces out of his rickety old boat – and Leif comes around once in a while to peddle his ever-changing assortment of shrubs.

These new additions to the world of New Horizons help make the game feel old again, and I mean that in the best way. Sure, the crafting system and island upkeep are exciting enough on their own to reel in a series newbie, but for players who have sampled everything Animal Crossing has offered for nearly two decades, it’s nice to see some changes coming down the pipeline that can still put a smile on our rugged, war-torn faces. Because let’s face it, after years of indentured servitude at the hands of a ruthless raccoon tyrant, it’s always nice to have a breath of fresh air on this island every now and again.

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