Like everyone else at PAX East 2020, I was most excited to check out Animal Crossing: New Horizons while at the show. Luckily I got a chance to play both the demo on the floor and another one setup to show off some extra pieces of the experience. Below you’ll find ten minutes of fresh gameplay from that demo, along with my impressions of the game so far. Being able to jump ahead, past the deserted island that you start out with, was a great way to see what’s to come for new denizens of Tom Nook’s little island paradise. But what was most clear was that this game is shaping up to be every Animal Crossing fan’s dream come true.
New Horizons in Quality of Life
That’s a bold statement, to be sure, but I have the receipts to back it up. And they all point to the Quality of Life improvements made to the overall Animal Crossing experience. If you watched the Nintendo Direct presentation then you probably already know a lot of them.
The big story out of there was the ability to modify your map, but that wasn’t even offered in this demo. Instead it was pretty normal AC gameplay, wandering the island, talking to animals, buying stuff, and checking out the other shops/museum. But in between all of that was the smoothest and most enjoyable AC game yet.
Accessing your Nook Phone and opening an app is quick and easy, though the regular inventory management can still be a bit cumbersome if you don’t keep its limits in mind. The Museum looked great and had a wonderful layout to display your various collections. And getting around the island, which seems to be about the same size as previous villages, is simply a breeze. Being able to hop over small gaps or use a pole to jump across water is game changing in every sense of the phrase. More than that though, you can now craft items, meaning you don’t have to wait for them to be available in the shop all the time and can build or upgrade items much easier.
Speaking of waiting. Remember how you’d complete your daily tasks and end up with nothing else to do? That’s where Nook Miles come in, offering a sort of secondary currency to buy items and upgrades. You earn them by completing various objectives, most of which have different tiers worth more Nook Miles. Now you’ll have a reason to catch 25 bugs or sea bass beyond selling them for Bells, and can always find some new objective to work on in your downtime.
I could go on and on about the tiny, almost imperceptible improvements made to the AC formula, but I already did that in the video below. Check it out and be ready to jump into your own island experience when Animal Crossing: New Horizons hits Nintendo Switch on March 20th, 2020.