This time last year, many of us were diving into Animal Crossing New Horizons for the very first time. I remember spending the few days before the games release thinking about how I wanted my island to look as well as some of the Villagers I was hoping to invite. Of course, I didn’t realize at the time just how much this game was going to mean to me over the next twelve months.
I had previously played Animal Crossing New Leaf, Wild World and Happy Home Designer, but I never managed to get into the games as much as I should have done or keep up with them. The number of times I restarted my New Leaf save is ridiculous, although I have found myself jumping on there from time to time to check up on things. I knew from the start I would enjoy playing Animal Crossing New Horizons little did I know that this would be just the start.
Just a few days after the game was released, the UK was put into its first lockdown. Like many others, the uncertainty and unknown of the upcoming few weeks mixed with the varying emotions was challenging at times. The real world suddenly felt very surreal, and it was almost like something out of a dystopian movie. However, there was something about the bright and colourful world of Animal Crossing New Horizons that helped escape the real world even if it was just for a little while.
Having that time to escape and relax somewhat with the game was wonderful. After completing the initial starting aspect of the game, the new-found freedom felt a little overwhelming as it was something that felt so restricted in the real world. It did help when it came to keeping in contact with friends as I was able to go and visit them on their island and hang out while staying safe. It felt odd but not at the same time, but I was glad I could easily see my friends, albeit virtually on each other’s islands.
As I hadn’t really experienced many of the in-game events in previous games I was excited to see what the events would be like for New Horizons. I can safely say I enjoyed all the year events even if Zipper is absolutely terrifying. I’m hoping that for year two of Animal Crossing New Horizons we’ll see some of last year’s events make a return as well as some new events.
In May 2020, I started a series called The Animal Crossing Diaries. It was my way of sharing some of the things I had been up to as well as being able to look back and reflect on my time and experience with the game. I’ve actually been reading back through some of them and realized just how much fun I’ve had. Looking back at the first time I went swimming or when my friends hosted a Halloween Party and costume contest. Thinking of everything that we’ve been able to do together virtually has been so much fun.
I also discovered the Animal Crossing community on Twitter, Instagram, Discord and, YouTube. I was blown away by how detailed and incredible other players islands are, and how welcoming so many people in the community are. Even when life was far from normal for so many of us, everyone was coming together to share their stories of Animal Crossing, their ideas, what they’d love to see, what they’re up to and so much more.
For myself personally, Animal Crossing New Horizons has not only been a pleasure to play on my own and alongside my friends, but it has helped me through a number of times when my mental health wasn’t in a good place. It gave me something to focus on without being pushed or directed as to what I needed to do, and it gave me the freedom to do what I wanted but at my own pace. I still play pretty much daily although the amount of time I play for does vary. If I’m not playing Animal Crossing New Horizons myself, I’m usually watching an Island Tour video or searching for more custom designs.
I’m looking forward to what the next year of Animal Crossing New Horizons brings us, and I can’t wait to start working on both of my Islands again and relaxing with my villagers.
Happy first birthday Animal Crossing New Horizons! Thank you for all the amazing memories we’ve created so far! What are some of your favourite memories from the game since its release?