I have begun a slow return to playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I played it pretty heavily for most of 2020, kinda hit a wall of boredom in 2021, and have only played intermittently since then. The exact moment I knew I needed a break from the game was when I realized I wasn’t going to keep up my dailies because it meant I’d have to get up and change the cartridges in my Switch. That, plus my dislike for anything that makes me feel like I am obligated to play a game every day or else play at a disadvantage. I know it’s not a big deal to miss a day here or there in ACNH, which is why it lasted as long as it did, but eventually I felt tired of playing the game just to dig up a few fossils, pick some weeds, water some flowers, and talk to my island neighbors at least once.
Now, I’m dipping back into it. I don’t know if I’ll try to keep up with my dailies like I used to, but I kind of missed the quiet, happy moments that game brought me. Conversations with my odd but friendly neighbors. The satisfaction of seeing a design come together. Seeing how just overjoyed my neighbors are to see me every day. The weird but fun furniture and house decoration combinations you can put together. Finally experiencing what it’s like to have a parent contact you just to tell you they love you or give you a small gift rather than doing so only when they want something from you. Watching my neighbors chase bugs with their nets out and look of pure, focused joy on their face. All these wonderful little things have been missing from my life and I wanted to see if I can recapture this joy without getting bogged down in the daily grind.
Plus, a lot of content has come out. There was a whole DLC thing, about designing vacation homes for residents, that I’m excited to try out. There’s even been some add-ons to the base game to support players like me who typically play late at night. Though I’m not sure that keeping the stores open an hour later is going to fix my inability to get to the store before it closes. Most of the time, I play from 11pm to 12am, right as I’m calming down for bed. I do appreciate the other rules you can institute, called “ordinances,” since they can remove some of the grind or just make it easier to succeed when you’re starting out. I am not starting out, though, and the daily review of my island is an important part of my process for figuring out what projects I want to work on, so I’m only really using the late-night one to encourage my residents to stay up late enough for me to talk to them.
I had just finished most of my work on rearranging my island (geographically speaking) before I stopped playing and had been doing the tedious work of watering flowers for decoration, figuring out where I wanted to put trees, and playing around with decorations. I have since forgotten pretty much every part of how I wanted to decorate my island in this configuration, but half the fun of it is trying out different designs and layouts until you find something you like. I’m looking forward to gradually getting it all into place, filling the large empty spaces on my island, and adding new bridges or ramps that I had to do without since the limit used to be smaller. It’s only two more, but that’s enough to add one of the ramp sets I remember I wanted or a couple bridges I’ve been doing without. The ramps were low priority and got left off in favor of much more necessary bridges, but now I can add them back if I want! Secret beach access for everyone! I’ll probably need more hedges, though, if I want to control movement around my island.
Throw in stuff like a coffee shop, gyroids, and even more storage space, and I’ve got a whole lot of new content to enjoy now that I’m getting back into the game. I don’t know how long this will last, but I’m excited to play it again and that’s enough for me.