“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” post pandemic

The world was turned upside down during the COVID-19 pandemic. Masks became commonplace, stores were closed and schools moved to online platforms. However, not all impacts were negative. In March of 2020, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” was released just as lockdowns around the world began. Due to this timing and the already established community, the game skyrocketed in sales and popularity.

“Animal Crossing: New Horizons” is a game made for the Nintendo Switch, built upon the existing games in the series titled “Animal Crossing.” In this installment, the player is traveling to an abandoned island to begin a new life with Tom Nook (the business racoon,) Timmy and Tommy (whose connection to Tom Nook is unknown, but they are being mentored by him,) Wilbur (the pilot,) Orville (the pilot’s assistant) and two randomized villagers. Together, the goal is to build the island up to a full civilization where K.K. Slider (a famous in-game musician) comes to perform. Of course, the term “together” also means you, completely on your own. Not to mention, you’re in debt.  

Island tours became commonplace on YouTube channels, with people making islands so complex that the game itself lagged from the amount of items in a given area. Time traveling, where the player changes the time on the console to do more in a given day of the game, was a technique used by many. But after time, the game became repetitive after the last update (2.0) was released. All of that brings us to the present day of 2023.

Now, players take their time in the game. Villager tier lists are popular, ranking villagers by popularity, cuteness and other factors decided by the ranker. Although time traveling is still used by many, there is not the same rush as there was in 2020 when the game first released. Many players either completely flattened or restarted their original islands, as they had nothing else left in the game after reaching the five-star status. Some influencers have begun to take on challenges, such as completing a full island in a month or a week. In this case, they complete all the upgrades and get all five stars in the time period they allow themselves.

After the 2.0 update, the creators said they will make no more updates to the game. This upset fans, and ultimately decreased its initial popularity. Those who purchased the DLC that came out alongside the 2.0 update have much more content to consume, making the game feel more exciting for a longer period of time. However, those who either cannot afford or do not want the DLC don’t have that luxury.  

All in all, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” is a brilliant game. The visuals and graphics are beautiful, and the sound effects are beyond words. While these factors are very present in the gameplay itself, the lack of updates and new activities has brought the game to a plateau rather than the upward spike it had previously. Playing with friends isn’t as brilliant as it was in the world’s shutdown, and has resulted in less overall popularity for the game. Still, no one can forget the “Animal Crossing” craze and nearly every gamer would get on board with another installment of the series.

Photo Credits: IMDb

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