It's been many years since Nintendo first invited gamers to pack their bags and make a new virtual home for themselves in the world of Animal Crossing. Now, with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Nintendo has fine-tuned the franchise's formula to the point of near perfection, offering gamers an island vacation that's easy to pick up and almost impossible to put down. The game offers up all the core mechanics that have appealed to fans since taking out their first mortgage with Tom Nook. Once again, there's no winning or losing. Instead, the game is essentially a personal Zen garden, encouraging players to simply have fun and enjoy life on their island as they see fit. For some, that might mean raising a colorful garden; others might enjoy passing the time near the water with some fishing. There's no wrong way to play here, and that's the best part about it.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons brings with it a number of upgrades and additions that fans of the series should appreciate. Right off the bat, players have more customization options for their characters, including choosing their characters' skin tone. This might seem minor, but it adds a much more personal touch that can make the game more relatable to players. It also introduces a robust crafting system to the series. By visiting a bench, players can use materials collected from the island to build all kinds of items, from handy tools to festive decor. Being able to craft tools is a welcome change, as players no longer have to hope certain tools are in stock at the shop. Another interesting addition are Nook Miles, a new kind of currency that players earn alongside the usual Bells. Unlike Bells, which are earned by selling off items, players earn Nook Miles simply by playing the game. The Nook Phone app lists different challenges for players to accomplish; accomplishments earn Nook Miles that can be used to pay off home improvements or for other shop exclusives. By doing this, the game removes a lot of the "greed" element of previous games, rewarding players for things they'd likely be doing anyway.