Animal Crossing: New Horizons review round-up

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is unquestionably the biggest Switch game of the first half of the year – possibly of the year as a whole – and given the current coronavirus pandemic, it sounds like one that's sorely needed. Fans have been waiting a long time for this game to arrive; while it was originally slated to launch in 2019, Nintendo ultimately pushed it back to March 20th, 2020. With New Horizons now just a few days away, the first reviews have started to go live – is it a worthy follow up to the superb Animal Crossing: New Leaf on 3DS?

A quick look at Metacritic tells us the answer to that question is a resounding "yes." At the moment, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is holding down a very impressive 91 out of 100 Metacritic rating. That will likely fluctuate a little bit as more reviews are added, but it's also worth pointing out that Metacritic is counting 48 reviews in that score.

It probably won't surprise you to learn that many of the review excerpts up on Metacritic mention the COVID-19 outbreak specifically, pointing out that a game like Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the perfect antidote to the world's problems. Indeed, if we're all going to be stuck inside while we wait for the outbreak to slow, it certainly seems like New Horizons will be a really good way to pass the time.

Beyond the coronavirus outbreak, there seems to be another theme to the reviews that have been published so far, with a number of them saying that New Horizons improves on the Animal Crossing formula to become the best game in the series yet. New players can look forward to an accessible game that will be easy to get a handle on, while it seems returning veterans can expect a game that only builds on what previous games in the series have done.

In Eurogamer's unscored review (where the game is nonetheless rated "Essential"), Martin Robinson says that New Horizons is "probably the best this series has ever had to offer and therefore one of Nintendo's very best games to date," noting that tool durability and the fact that features can take too long to unlock are the only "small, annoying details" worth criticizing.

Similarly, Nintendo Life's Alex Olney – who gave the game a 10/10 rating – describes New Horizons as a "masterpiece" that was worth the extended wait. "Every moment is unashamedly blissful, with excellently-written characters that truly feel alive and an island paradise that gives back infinitely more than you put in."

So, whether you're a new player or a longtime fan, it looks like Animal Crossing: New Horizons has a lot to offer. The game is out on Friday, March 20th here in the US, so those of you with a Nintendo Switch might want to consider spending the weekend on your own little deserted island.