The Good and Bad of Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been out for a few weeks, now, and plenty of us in the IGN offices have been capturing bugs and selling weeds to make our perfect island getaways. There’s a lot that’s great about Nintendo’s newest town builder – though there are some things that, much like our initial tent setups, could use some improvement.

We’ve collected the opinions of the IGN team – all at varying stages of the game – on what they absolutely love and think needs an update in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

LOVE: Friendly Villagers

Ok seriously, any time I see my villagers singing my heart just melts on the spot. Plus, you can drop down a stereo and have them sing along to a K.K. Slider song on demand? It’s so adorable!

– Brendan Graeber, Editor

The villagers in general are just really sweet. I love that they call you by cute nicknames and will refer to friends who have visited your island. Finding and returning their lost items and a nice level of variety to the “chat with your villagers loop.” And the special visiting villagers have their own fond place in my heart. Daisy Mae is adorable and I love the surprise of Saharah’s mystery wallpaper and flooring – even when they turn out ugly.

– Janet Garcia, Associate Editor


Animal Crossing: New Horizons is great. But you know what’s not great? It’s menus! For a game that requires you to go through so many menus, why are they so clunky? First off, these store options are way too similar – just hit me with the normal ‘Buy’ and ‘Sell’! Next, why can’t I put things in my storage in batches? Don’t make me click ‘Grab 1’ on a stack of 99 clumps of weeds 20 times. And why, when I do something like release a bug, do they show an animation that then takes you completely out of your inventory?! I love the game, but its menus and inventory system need some work.

– Mark Medina, Producer

Why in the name of Tom Nook does doing anything in Animal Crossing take at least 3-5 steps?! You want to let your friends visit? Okay, well, better head to the airport, then tell Orville that you want people to be able to come over, then tell him who you want to have over, then confirm that you do, in fact, want to go online, then wait while he, I don’t know, signs into AOL or something, then tell him how you want to receive visitors. That should be two clicks and a settings option, three max. Same goes for crafting — why can I not craft 3 of the same items at once? I’m not asking for anything as complex as Monster Hunter World’s auto-crafting system, but I’d really love not to have to click through 12 menu interactions to make 2 bags of medicine.

– Jon Ryan, Senior Editor

LOVE: Reactions

I have over 100 hours in Animal Crossing thus far and I’m not kidding when I say I’ve spent at least 30% of that time clapping like an idiot at all of my friends, all of my villagers, any time I build something, every time I see I fish, and any time I try on new clothes. I’m clapping like an idiot right now thinking just about it.

– Zach Ryan, Director of Social

77 Brilliant Little Details in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

DON’T LOVE: Inventory Management

Inventory management is a big part of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and while some of these elements provide exciting player incentives, but things like juggling my pocket space and crafting materials can also be a huge headache. A certain level of organization is expected with sim games, sure, but that structure needs to feel meaningful and sensible within the constructs of the game world or else it’s just tedious – and unfortunately New Horizons is more of the latter.

– Janet Garcia

DON’T LOVE: Slow Start

I wasn’t able to start my island adventure in Ricky City Island™ until Sunday evening, seemingly not too long after my peers who picked up the game on Friday. But goodness do I feel incredibly behind, largely because of just how slow those first few days on the island are. I get that Nintendo likely designed this to be a slow incline for new players (and didn’t expect just how many people would be home with little else to do), but I found myself frustrated even by the limitations of not being able to visit a friend’s island on Day 1 when everyone else was off swapping fruit and fishing together. The solution to my frustration, I’ve resoundingly heard, is just use “time travel” (aka changing your Switch time to future days to move faster through the game), but considering this isn’t a frustration that only I am facing, I wish there had been some internal levers in the game to allow quicker advancement through those early days that restrict you from exploring the breadth of what New Horizons has to offer.

– Terri Schwartz, Entertainment Editor-in-Chief

Animal Crossing: New Horizons doesn’t leave you with a lot of mobility once you have placed your original homes and the museum. For a game that has endless customization you are unable to change the major landmarks on your island forcing you to lock in your town’s design right of the gate. Which if you are playing for the first time can drive someone wanting to create nice symmetry on their island, a loss for words wishing they had thought things through. However, getting past that, the endless adventures of Museum time with friends and endless discovery on the beaches distracts quite nicely from the indebtitude of the fearless Tom Nook. Although, I am told you can move buildings after Residents Services is upgraded, but with Tom Nook there is always a price.

-Chris Del Padre, Video Editor

LOVE: Everyday Fun

I love that every day in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a surprise. I spend all day cleaning up my island, building what I need, and exploring everything. Then I get to wake up with the excitement that now that house I’ve been working on is built, or now I get a ladder, or now my trees are grown! Logging in every day has been a joy, and to be honest, I’ve gotta go check and see what’s new right now, so… bye!

– Mark Medina

LOVE: Pacing

This isn’t specific to New Horizons, but it’s been a minute since a mainline Animal Crossing game. I love that Animal Crossing makes an effort to pace out your playtime. From waiting until the next morning to see the tree you planted sprout, to the painful moments when you have to wait until Nook’s Cranny is open to sell your bugs, fish, and whatnot (oh, and if you’ve been selling to the box outside for 20% less than market value, stop doing that – know your worth), it’s been peaceful to not feel rushed by the thrill of in game progress. Of course, there’s always time traveling, but that is so much more effort than I’m willing to put in.

– Sydnee Goodman, Producer/Host

On top of events and different sets of bugs and fish to catch, seasonal recipes make me feel incentivized to play this game all year.

– Janet Garcia

I actually love that New Horizons only lets you do so much in a day (without having to resort to time travel, of course). I enjoy every relaxing moment spent collecting the resources I need to upgrade my house, the museum, the shops even saving up bells to pay off my debt to famed capitalist playboy, Tom Nook. But when I hit that wall where I’ve caught, inspected and donated all the bugs and fish that are native to my island this time of year, chopped all the wood I feel like chopping, dug up all the fossils, shovelled(?) all my rocks and shook all the trees, when there’s nothing left to do that wouldn’t feel like boring grindy nonsense… that’s how I know that it’s time to put Animal Crossing away for the night and go play Doom Eternal instead.

– Jeremy Azevedo, Director of Gaming Video

DON’T LOVE: Load Times

Every time you enter a building there’s a noticeable load time. Same goes entering a room inside that building, or even a fitting room in the Able Sisters Shop or when someone comes to visit your island.I’ve spent a long time watching that basic circle closing transition screen and staring at a little island icon at the bottom right-hand corner of my screen. When Sony said the PS5 would significantly cut load times I thought it was cool but not groundbreaking since a lot of load times have already gotten better. Then I played ACNH. Suffice it to say I’d love to see ACNH running on PS5 because these load times kill me.

– Janet Garcia

DON’T LOVE: One Switch, One Island

Nintendo made the design decision to still limit the number of islands per Switch console to one — just like with Animal Crossing: New Leaf. While the idea to have multiple people in the same household share an island, connect, and work together is a noble one, it also creates a very lopsided experience for the “secondary” players. You see, in the world of Animal Crossing, not all villagers are created equal. While gamer parents with kids may be able to surprise and delight their young ones by driving the decisions behind where to place new homes or shops and create custom designs, the first player to join an island remains the sole decision maker for the course of the game. Not only that, one player jumping on in the morning and harvesting all the resources from rocks, digging up the fossiles, or picking all the fruit will be the only one in on that fun as these resources are only refreshed once a day. In essence, there are fewer things to do for all players if they share an island.

Whereas the 3DS was a personal portable device designed for a single user, the Nintendo Switch by design is also a home console able to support multiple users and Nintendo accounts. The design decision to only have one island per console may “protect” the game’s economy from users “breaking the game” by farming rare items across multiple islands or being able to bounce back and forth between islands in two hemispheres for year-round access to fish and bugs, but it also severely impacts the experience for multi-player households. Sure, you can buy another Switch and copy of Animal Crossing for your players 2, 3, and 4, but I’m sure Nintendo designers could’ve come up with other — more customer-friendly — ways to counter exploits for same-console players.

– Peer Schneider, Chief Content Officer

LOVE: Shopping and Customization

So many different things to shop and craft! I’m very excited to build my world exactly the way I want it. Presents from the sky and gifts given to you by your villagers or mailed from friends adds some welcome variety to the mix. I can’t even begin to describe how much joy I got from turning my blender on and off over and over again.And the Designs App has led to some stunning pieces, too! I suck at this stuff but I’m looking forward to trying my hand at it, but I really love seeing what everyone else makes.

– Janet Garcia

Animal Crossing gives you an insane number of options for clothing. Within the first few days I had more shirts, more shoes, and more pairs of shades than I’ve had in almost any other game I’ve ever played. Do I want to fully roleplay and dress my small village man in a little fishing vest, cargo pants, and floppy hat and spend my day fishing? Or should wear a pink Power Rangers costume and cowboy boots and break rocks on my neighbors island? Somedays, I dress my guy like Zach Ryan, tight jeans, a denim jacket, boots, but sometimes I’m god damned Elton John in a sequined onesie menacing Tom Nook and making best friends with a museum owl. The possibilities and combinations are seemingly endless, and I love it.

– Zach Ryan

DON’T LOVE: Terrible Villagers I Can’t Evict

Most of the villagers who come to your island are cute and loveable… but not all of them. Sometimes you get a stupid cranky one or some smug idiot who thinks he’s going to be a movie star – and they irritate absolutely everyone. Why can’t I have the option to sit down with these animals and break the news that “you’re just not Hyrule material, sorry champ.” The worst part is trying to convince a visiting animal at the campsite to stay at my town, only for some other jerk to claim the plot of land I want to reserve for this new good villager. What the hell, Leopold?!

– Brendan Graeber

DON’T LOVE: Multiplayer Woes

I love visiting my friend’s town or hosting a get-together on my island, don’t get me wrong. But I also can’t help but feel like multiplayer is missing a lot of meat. For starters, you can’t even tell who’s on your island once the gang is assembled – there’s no menu or display that even lets you know how many people are on the island, and how many more can still come. Hell, most of your friends can leave and you wouldn’t be able to tell someone was still sitting in your museum for an hour because there’s never any indication! It’s also a bummer that there are no official minigames to take part in, like the ones in New Leaf’s Island Tours. There’s only so much you can do with your own tools – nevermind the fact that you have to put a ton of work in just to unlock a timer.

– Brendan Graeber

Seeing other people’s islands and shopping is a blast but all the fun I’ve had from AC Multiplayer is thanks to the players. The Nintendo-provided experience is bogged down by load screens and without anything for friends to do or accomplish together, a lack of any meaningful purpose.

– Janet Garcia

LOVE: Team Work

I remember when the first Animal Crossing game was announced for Nintendo 64 almost 20 years ago. Nintendo said it would be a new genre: a “communication game” — and two decades later, Nintendo’s vision is alive and well. Playing with three kids in my household, I’m always impressed with how Animal Crossing inspires us to work together in unique ways. For example, my youngest son started an island on the southern hemisphere. Being a big dinosaur fan, he wanted to name it Isla Nublar, so that no doubt drove his choice — but in the end, it created the perfect travel destination for the rest of us “northies.” We tell each other – in real life – about bugs and fish we spotted in-game, and we keep sending virtual letters with fossils attached to the owner of Dinosaur Island. Likewise, if one of us needs a particular resource to craft something, we donate and trade. Subtle touches like stores having different inventory every day and non-native fruit commanding a higher price nudge players to work together and communicate. We’ve even perfected speed fishing where one player throws bait and the other casts the lure to try and nab rare fish before month end. Love this game.

– Peer Schneider

DON’T LOVE: Sea Bass

Haha, more like C+ Bass. Haha, get it?

More like C+ Bass, haha.


Those are some of the things we love (and don’t love) about Animal Crossing: New Horizons. What about you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, and be sure to check out our guides to getting as many DIY recipes as possible or how to get a perfect island rating in our Animal Crossing wiki!

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