- Animal Crossing’s core gameplay involves making friends and building a virtual life over weeks, months, and years.
- Adding more themes and settings to the game could increase replay value and make it stand out.
- Implementing new themes seasonally could make the game feel more diverse and engaging.
Animal Crossing is a franchise that prides itself on being an altogether different product from the other AAA offerings. While most games lend themselves to binge-worthy play sessions, the Nintendo-developed series is meant to be consumed in bite-sized chunks over a long period of time between releases. What began on the GameCube is now one of the most revered Nintendo-exclusive licenses, even bringing in people who don’t usually play games as a regular pass time.
The property has evolved over time, but Animal Crossing‘s core gameplay and progression remain the same. Players are put in an open space and are tasked with making friends and building virtual life, all while impressing others with the society they’ve built over weeks, months, and years of slowly making small but significant improvements. The art style has been rigid over the years, and while that repetition is comforting to some, the use of more themes and settings could help it retain more replay value and make it stand out in the future.
There’s a tradition with each Animal Crossing game that a number of furniture items will be dedicated to other Nintendo properties, including Zelda.
Animal Crossing’s Multiplayer Makes Themes Feel Worthwhile
Multiplayer has become a staple of Animal Crossing, and while it doesn’t offer much in terms of things to do together, it’s always a charming moment when a friend comes to visit the town or island to see the fruits of the player’s efforts. The customizability of Animal Crossing means no two spaces are the same, but the art style, color palette, and items on offer can make seeing friends’ spaces feel somewhat cut-and-paste, especially if those friends have spent a similar amount of time with the game.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons launched worldwide on March 20, 2020, and is the second highest-selling Switch Game, having shifted over 40 million units.
Utilizing themes and presentation flourishes from the get-go like the Wild West, high fantasy, or outer space to establish some kind of fundamental difference could offer the series so much variety, and make each visit a genuine surprise. Having items, decorations, and characters that maintain the theme while adhering to the typical Animal Crossing gameplay loop would make the series more replayable, and go a long way to making the experience feel instantly engaging.
Animal Crossing Could Update its Themes Often
Animal Crossing does well to keep up with certain seasons, implementing new items and events that coincide with specific periods of the year like Easter and Halloween. It shows that Nintendo has a level of commitment to the series and its players for the long haul, and though it could seem like a substantial undertaking to implement more than one new theme to Animal Crossing, releasing them seasonally like other events could be a viable way to make the game feel more diverse.
Animal Crossing Begins as a Blank Slate
All Animal Crossing games up to this point begin in the same way; players start small and work their way up to a stage where they can tailor the game to their preferences. However, this can sometimes take hours to get to, and so the first few play sessions can be slow until it finally starts to open up. Themes could give the early game instant variety, and grant an element of visual beauty, even when the player is in the stage of gathering items to make the space their own.
Animal Crossing has to Take Chances to Stay Competitive
Other games haven’t gone too far with their thematic diversity, but Stardew Valley gives players an option from the off, asking them to select a plot of land that prioritizes farming, fishing, foraging, or even one that facilitates multiplayer. It’s something that gives the gamer justification to play, and replay the game multiple times over, and Animal Crossing doing something similar with more elaborate themes and ideas could help it to retain its place as the life-simulator trailblazer. Not much has to change to make the next Animal Crossing a success, but in an effort to stay on top, themes could help it to have even more stopping power than it currently has.