Animal Crossing: New Horizons Update 2.0

Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a great game. Half-Glass Gaming even called it 2020’s game of the year, as did many others. It has to be up there as one of my favorite games maybe ever. Not my single all-time favorite, but it’s certainly a top 10 contender.

The game released when COVID-19 lockdowns were just starting to happen. It was a smash hit, and during the pandemic, it was exactly what everyone seemed to be looking for. We got a simulated social life in a time of self-quarantine. We got routine and attainable goals while many people’s lives were upended and uncertain. We got something consistently comforting and wholesome at a dark time. And we got hundreds of hours of content.

But that wasn’t quite enough. I was one of the many people who simply ran out of things to do. I bought every upgrade. I got all the fossils for the museum. I have an abundance of nook miles that I’m sure I’ll never know what to do with.

It seems that Animal Crossing: New Horizons has lost relevance at this point, and it’s pretty much dead in the water.

Or is it?

On Friday, there was an Animal Crossing Nintendo Direct presentation, which teased the game’s free 2.0 update.

I have to admit, the update piqued my interest. There’s so much in it! They called this the 2.0 update for a reason. This update was designed to revive the dead horse that is New Horizons. Partway through the trailer, I said to myself, “Okay, this is a good update,” thinking it was wrapping up. But then I moved my mouse to the video timeline to see I was only halfway through the trailer. They just kept rattling off new content.

Some of this content includes: coffee with other residents, residents visiting your home, new camera modes, new Nook Miles items, new furniture customization, new room customization, more storage, more bridges, more emotes, a shopping center on Harv’s island (which you need to buy, introducing a use for the millions of bells you accrue or have accrued since maxing out), new islands with different biomes, farming(!), cooking (!), town stretches, town ordinances, and gyroids (!!!), as well as a host of other features I didn’t mention. Like I said, there’s a lot here.

On top of that, they also announced the Happy Home Paradise DLC, in which you can design vacation homes for other residents, as well as design stores, schools, and restaurants. There are new design features like room size, lighting, dividers, and ambient noises. You can even soft ship residents by having them live together.

But will this get people to play the game again? For me, it will. I’ll at least check it out. More importantly, though, will I play it as much as I used to? Will Animal Crossing be part of my daily routine again? I’m going to say probably not.

I don’t have the time I used to, and I’m sure this is the case for a lot of people. I was an essential worker during the quarantine times, so my work day hasn’t changed that much. But a lot of other things have. I’m applying to schools. I’m going out with friends, I’m spending weekends on trips or at the cabin. And I’m working on music and planning shows again. These are all great things, but they mean I simply don’t have the hours to spend on the daily tasks I used to love to do in Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Update 2.0

I think a lot of people are in a similar situation and headspace. We’re all excited to get back into the real world. And I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like time is moving at like a million miles an hour now that schedules are full again.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons was exactly what we needed a year ago. It was a cultural phenomenon because it came out at the exact right time. That’s part of what made it so special. I didn’t feel right meeting with a bunch of friends in person during a pandemic, but we could all get together on my island and cash in turnips, or stargaze for a while, or just sell a ton of apples. But the thing that made the game so important can’t be recreated. Not exactly.

Maybe this update will bring a chunk of community back — I’m sure there are people who will love bringing their friends to the in-game coffee shop. I just don’t think it’ll really work for me.

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