Animal Crossing: New Horizons launched its long-awaited Version 2.0 update a couple of weeks ago, breathing a new, but brief lease of life into the game. Players are finally seeing the return of beloved characters from earlier in the series, as well as new opportunities for decorating their islands. Sadly however, I can’t help but feel that this is a lot of content that is beyond overdue. Frankly, the return of Brewster, amongst others, hasn’t been enough to see the return of my passion to Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Animal Crossing New Horizons has been left relatively untouched in the library of my Nintendo Switch until this update, bar the occasional seasonal event, such as Halloween. Back when the game launched in early 2020, I dedicated almost 200 hours into making my island perfect through the means of terraforming, crafting and flower-breeding. Yet now, the grind of Animal Crossing has lost its appeal. A coffee with Brewster and a trip with Kapp’n is about all I needed to satisfy my excitement for the update; after that, I just felt saddened that this content didn’t arrive sooner (and that Nintendo did not give us a quicker way of terraforming!)
Ever since the game launched, players have been asking for more. Data miners found that cooking had already been planned back during update 1.4.0, so why did Nintendo wait until the game had fallen off of the radars of many players before launching it? COVID-19 admittedly hindered Nintendo in the development of certain games, so this could’ve been why it took so long for players to feel listened to. However, with the update being launched alongside the paid Happy Home Paradise DLC, a small part of me can’t help but feel that content may have very well been held back as part of a sales tactic.
Regardless of Nintendo’s intentions, the new mechanics added to the game certainly brought me back onboard with the Animal Crossing: New Horizons hype for a short while. After a lot of grinding and farming however, I realised that I just didn’t care for the game like I once did. Incorporating the likes of vine ladders, the Pro Decorating License, and The Roost at launch would’ve been perfect for me, as I crafted my five-star island and traded items with friends. However, given that I already had a five-star island and an S-tier home by the time Version 2.0 dropped, my excitement dulled quickly, shortly after my first few visits with Brewster.
Harv’s Island certainly brought Animal Crossing: New Horizons another surge in vitality though. Seeing Tortimer and Katrina set up shop in his plaza reminded me of the good ol’ days of New Leaf and Wild World. Having an easily accessible island to purchase and customise items felt fun, but also like yet another element added to decorating islands rather than introducing anything fresh. Interactions with characters like Tortimer felt lacklustre after the initial wave of nostalgia wore off. Compared to prior games, Katrina’s fortune reading has simply become less interesting than it used to be, and I find it a real shame that Tortimer has been reduced to little more than a walking storage shed now.
Another qualm I have with Harv’s Island, and the lore between characters, was the fact that Harriet the lovely hairdresser poodle was not even granted her own store. Shampoodle was one of the most fun aspects of prior Animal Crossing games, allowing players to go for a total makeover in game. Harv, a long-time friend of Harriet, doesn’t even give the poodle a space to set up her own campervan on the island. She merely works from a rug and chair, and has very few hairstyles she’ll give you. I miss the days of being given what felt like an extreme makeover; my character emerging looking completely different depending on the dialogue options I chose.
I’m happy that I was able to return to Animal Crossing: New Horizons and pay a visit to all the characters I was a huge fan of. It was great fun to sing sea shanties with Kapp’n, catch up with the notorious Resetti, and have my friendships blessed by Katrina. However, I was not happy that this all set me back by over two million bells. I am, however, grateful that all of this new content was added at no extra (real world) cost for players. For anyone that plays the game for the first time now or in the future, plunging in 200+ hours will be no struggle at all. They'll now have an abundance of content to explore, bolstered by the new features and updates. Although, this new content somewhat feels catered to the perfection and customisation of islands, rather than granting players new ways to interact with their villagers or have fun beyond designing.
Version 2.0 also marks the end of development for Animal Crossing: New Horizons, with this update being the final one. For returning players like me, it’s a little saddening that we had to wait for the update to experience the full game,. When compared to Wild World and New Leaf, New Horizons still falls short. New Leaf arguably offered more content at launch than New Horizons does 18 months into its life-cycle. On the other hand, New Horizons is a bustling haven for new players now. Anyone picking up the game for the first time has plenty of content to mess around with, and won’t need to wait for the likes of Brewster or Kapp’n, either. A part of me wishes that I was one of them.
While I feel that this is all too little too late to be able to pull me back in completely, there is no denying that I've enjoyed having coffee with Brewster each time I visit the museum. Most importantly, I’m still logging on every day in the hope of encountering the Froggy Chair sooner or later… Yet, I know the novelty is going to wear off much quicker than it did the first time around, which feels like a real shame.
The contents of Version 2.0 have certainly breathed an additional portion of life into Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The initial excitement is there, but after a handful of days, the game feels like more of the same all over again, but with some new resources and DIY recipes added in. I must admit that maybe my expectations for the update were a little too high, but I did hope that it would’ve brought some of the initial magic of March 2020 back for me. Alas, at least the Beautiful Island Ordinance introduced should keep the weeds at bay while I’m away!
For a look at the games arriving in 2022, be sure to visit our video game release schedule 2022 guide. You'll find info on the best PS5, Xbox and Switch games coming in 2022, like Horizon Forbidden West and Elden Ring.