Preview: Prepare to be in it for the long haul in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Time to grow your island paradise.

Screengrab via Nintendo

Like all Nintendo groupies, we have been dying for a chance to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons, so when the folks at Nintendo U.K. invited us to an early preview, we jumped at the chance.

At the session, we were provided with a look at three stages of the game. The first placed us in the early stages on the island, where you have the bare amount of tools and resources available. The second propelled us forward a few weeks to see what the island looked like after a bit of love and decorating. Finally, the third was pretty much the same, only months later.

We were given complete freedom to explore and try out everything. We pole-vaulted over rivers, climbed up cliffs, and visited the new and improved museum. Straight away, from these three different stages, you understand exactly what it is the new game is focusing on. You start with nothing and slowly gain access to new abilities and tools that allow you to create your ideal island paradise. But it all feels earned over many days, instead of instantly given to you.

No matter which version of the world we looked at, the premise and objective were always the same. Upgrading and improvement were the core gameplay mechanics on offer, and it was obvious that the dedication of time and care can go a long way.

Preparing to get sucked into the game for the long haul to see your island grow from a deserted barren wasteland to a bustling community is what makes this game so appealing and addictive. We imagine it will feel pretty darn good after investing a few days into the game to finally getting some form of payoff and reward when you look back at how your island started to what it is now.

This is only helped by the inclusion of Nook Miles, the game’s semi-achievement system, which allows you to be rewarded for doing the usual boring stuff like weeding to get new items. Terraform the world to your likeness by creating new rivers and cliffs and make the world your own. The Animal Crossing team has given players the tools that they need to truly make each experience their own.

But all these things take time—unless of course, you cheat and time travel, but we have yet to see if that’s even possible, or how it will negatively affect the world.

Seeing the possibilities on offer on what an island can become was truly the biggest plus side. The player can shape and control everything around them, and this is something we haven’t really had in Animal Crossing ever. The series’ next installment truly is a new horizon.