I Returned to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. How Are the Updates Holding Up?

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has won over our hearts since its launch in March 2020. But now with several updates on its back, has the experience improved or it has been more of the same old thing? 

I got the game in April and had a hiatus of 2 months (July to August). This review intends to check on my impressions of the new additions up to version 1.5.1 of the game.

I also need to clarify that my island is set in the southern hemisphere. Therefore all seasons are changed in my screenshots (and in Spanish), but the events are up to date with everyone else. 

Screenshot showing my neighbours celebrating the inauguration of a brand new staircase.
Nothing like an inauguration to start off the day!

Swimming in the Ocean

For some reason, all game developers create a water area or level that limits your movement speed significantly and that will annoy me until the end of times. But the Ocean Update added the ability to search for sea creatures near your island and I must say I enjoy it a lot. The funny thing for me is that it was launched during summertime in the northern hemisphere. I was enjoying the ice-cold sea alongside my friends for that!

They also added a new character, Pascal. A red otter who loves scallops, he will appear once you grab your first scallop of the day. He usually gives out pearls, mermaid clothing or DIY recipes. Just for that, I am more than willing to jump into swimming mode and search for bubbles all around the shore.

Fireworks and Dreams!

There was a second update for summer in New Horizons, which added a fun festival with Redd’s Raffles and firework shows all throughout August. It also included the very welcomed Island Backup and Restoration Service. No more worries about losing your island if you lost access to your Switch!

There isn’t much to add about the fireworks update, since it was a seasonal event and we need to wait until next year to enjoy it once more. But you can buy fireworks and balloons available at Nook Crane all year round, in case you missed the fun. 

This update also included the ability to visit others’ islands while dreaming, and Luna is the charismatic NPC in charge of giving you the tutorial and acts as a gateway to any island… provided you have the code for it. I still haven’t visited other people’s islands through this method. Still, a very cool concept if you want to create an immersive experience for everyone to check without fear of strangers tampering with your vision.

I liked the pun used in Luna’s name. “Alakama” = “a la cama”, or “going to bed”.

Fishing Tournament with CJ

At the time of writing this review, I was able to enjoy the seasonal fishing tournament. The beaver fishing enthusiast CJ is in charge of this event, where you get 3 minutes to fish as many fish as you can. Afterwards, you get points and, in exchange, you can get some cool furniture or clothing. I missed the first tournament held during July, but today I am going to use all the fish bait I can craft.

Screenshot showing the fishing tournament's UI
A Horse Mackerel catched during one of the tournament’s challenges

October = Spooky Times

We are currently in full Halloween mood, and Animal Crossing is not the exception. Your neighbours and some balloons can give you DIY recipes to create pumpkin-themed furniture. The update also included new eye and skin colours, so you can finally dress up as any fantasy character you feel like. Every day you get to buy a single candy from Nook Crane, but I believe you can go to any friend’s island and buy another one with no problem. Maybe this is how you treat or trick in New Horizons?

Final Verdict for This Review

Overall, Animal Crossing: New Horizons still has the charm of creating your ideal island. I can understand how some fans were upset at the time of release due to the lack of content compared to previous titles. But the events are a good addition, especially if you got friends to play together and share recipes. I feel like my return to this game was a good experience so far, and I am looking forward to see what else they add in the future.

Just a decorative screenshot at my friend's island.
I visited a friend’s island and I had to dress up for the ocassion.

Check out my other reviews, or read more about my impressions on another title available on Switch, Graveyard Keeper.

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