I loved Animal Crossing New Leaf, but I was initially unsure if I would get into New Horizons. After playing the GameCube version I felt one of the follow ups was more of the same and I skipped the other (I mix up the Wii and DS versions, not sure which I played). Pocket Camp was my last taste of the series, that was underwhelming too.
Thanks to the passionate community online I was fully hyped by the time New Horizons came out. Plus terraforming looked cool.
This game provided the perfect escape from Covid worries. I've never shared so many game clips online. I've been inspired by the creativity of other players sharing their islands. I'm even hooked on Gary Whitta's in game talk show "Animal Talking".
What makes New Horizons the best game in the series is the freedom of expression. No longer limited by only decorating your home opens up a whole island of endless possibilities. New Leaf felt restrictive in how you played the game. For example, the best way to make bells was to farm island bugs every night. Now saving my resources to craft daily hot items and selling tarantulas/scorpions to Flick got me to complete my home much faster than before.
My favorite thing to do in New Leaf was trying to collect the creatures to occupy my museum. New Horizon's museum is gorgeous, it puts the old one to shame. I have completed the fossil wing (I was short by only one in NL) with the help of some new friends on Twitter, I usually play alone. My ambition is to find every fish and bug in real time over the next year. I'll try to get as many items as I can and I'm deep into flower hybrids.
Oh flower hybrids, when everything started to go bad. It's fascinating how complex and flower breeding is in animal crossing and it felt great getting every flower by the end. Yet it was a tedious process that took up so much time and space it got in the way of the fun, creative things I wanted to do. I'm not sure it was worth it. Even up to now I'm dealing with flower clutter.
New Horizons has many design and interface issues that make it painful for long term completionist players. Like earning the gold fishing rod only after catching every single fish. Why even fish? Gold tools still break, it's not worth farming the gold!
Additional storage space was added in the fall. Early on I thought storage was unlimited, but once I hit the limit I was fighting it constantly. Items that have low stack sizes became torture. I wanted to get one of each clothing item, but the dressing room interface limited what I could buy. A simple check mark (like the one next to crafted items) to indicate clothes you have in your catalogue would make things much easier. I wish the catalogue and storage was somehow combined to make item management more tolerable.
I made a second character to help with storage, get additional rewards and have a new house to decorate. Compounding my frustrations when my things were in two different places, each with their own catalogue. I vowed to fight any impulses to become a collector on my second character so I wouldn't go insane.
It took a while to whittle down my daily routine to simply check the shops, beach and the day's guest. I could still find enjoyment in the occasional project or seasonal event. I achieved my primary goal of collecting every fish and bug, but the museum isn't complete. On New Years Day I tried time travel for the first time, it's more complex then I thought to exploit for Redd's art and haven't played since.
At this point I've taken the my longest break yet from the game with no plans on returning. I'll probably play the final seasonal updates and may finish the museum one day. For all of its ups and downs there was something special about committing to an Animal Crossing for all of 2020.