It's safe to say that Animal Crossing: New Horizons has gone down rather well with fans of the series and new players alike. Social media has been absolutely swamped posts as people get busy on their deserted islands, filling their Critterpedias with bugs and fish, designing their own clothes, remodelling their islands and generally having a good old time. The game has crossed into the mainstream media in a way that few games do, with non-gamers taking notice and asking what all this joyous, colourful nonsense is all about.
And with the way things are going for many people around the world at this difficult time, we can't think of a video game better suited to calming everyone down and reminding us that everything will be all right in the end. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is an absolutely outstanding video game.
It's not perfect, though - what video game is? The question of how Nintendo can improve Animal Crossing has been fluttering through our minds like a common bluebottle over the past few days. The Switch entry has streamlined so many things about the Animal Crossing experience, but there are still a few areas we wouldn't mind seeing refined in an update.
Fortunately, the ideas we've come up with are exactly the sort of things you could change with a patch. The base game is top-notch; we're just nitpicking with these. Still, after collectively spending many, many hours with the game, here are a few suggestions for improvements we'd like to see in the future.
Batch item crafting
Yes, we're looking at you manila clams. Anybody who spent the last days of March hunting the elusive Golden Trout or Stringfish will know the pain of crafting endless individual items. Yes, you can hammer 'A' to bosh out fish bait faster, but you're likely to get an RSI if you do 30 in-a-row like we did. Multiple times.
The option to simply select the item and adjust the quantity you'd like to craft would be a lifesaver, or more accurately, a thumb-saver. We'd be happy with a 30-second montage as we watched our character hammer away, feverishly wiping sweat from their brow before presenting 30 finished fish baits.
Regardless, the ability to craft multiple items in one go would be very gratefully received.
It seems that Golden Tools are simply shiny, more durable versions of the normal tools in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. In previous games the hallow golden versions of your toolset were noticeably 'better' than their common counterparts--the bug net was bigger, the slingshot fired three pellets, etc--but this time they appear to offer no improvements whatsoever. What's more, they break!
The idea of Golden Tools has always been a little strange considering by the time you've got them, you've very likely already completed every task they are useful for (bred all the flowers, caught all the bugs and fish, etc). And now that Golden Tools break like any other, they're... well, they're kind of useless. What we need is another tier of tool, the Diamond Tools. They wouldn't break, they'd function better, they'd be perfect.
For all we know these already exist in the game, or Nintendo has plans to release something similar down the line. We know it's bad form to blame your tools (bad workmen, and all that), but what we'd give for a diamond fishing rod!
Inventory sorting options
Inside your house you're able to open up your Storage by pressing right on the D-pad and sort the items within Alphabetically or by Time or Type. When you're out and about, though, you can only sort your inventory (on the 'X' button) by selecting an item, holding 'A' and dragging it manually. Why not add the same sort function from Storage to the items on our person, too?
Optional touchscreen support for menus and Custom Designs
Nintendo is inconsistent when it comes to using the touchscreen as an optional input for first-party games. Some games (Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, for example) allow you to use the touchscreen for menus, and we'd like to see this applied to Animal Crossing, too. It's already available for typing (press the 'R' button), but we can't see any reason why it shouldn't also be an option for menu navigation, adjusting your house layout and creating Custom Designs. It might not be precise enough for the latter, but it's odd that it's not included as an alternative input method.
Going even further, it's arguable that an additional touch-only control scheme would be a great accessibility option. It worked beautifully for Animal Crossing: Wild World, and beyond the imprecision of our finger or the Switch stylus compared to the Nintendo DS stylus, we can't think of an obvious barrier to implementing optional touch controls.
Improved quick tools (map a tool to a D-pad direction)
The quick Ring Tool is very useful for avoiding frustrating moments when you're cycling through all your tools looking for the right one. However, rather than cycling through everything we're carrying, we'd prefer the option to map specific tools to the left, right and down buttons on the D-pad. That way we could access our most used tools instantly. Want to put them away? Hit the button again. Simple!
It's a little thing, but switching between the pole, the ladder and our other tools is a tad sluggish, even using the Ring Tool, and especially in the early game when your island lacks bridges and inclines and you have to constantly whip your vaulting pole out.
Animal Crossing is a sedate life sim promoting the virtues slow living, and we love that. However, we wouldn't mind a little more alacrity in its menus. It's not terrible by any means, we just feel transitions could be snappier. We've places to be, fish to catch, people to see!
Speed up online travel time
The first time we visited another person's island we absolutely loved the seaplane flyover and Wilbur's speech over the intercom giving local time and weather. It's great if you're one person heading to another's island. However, with multiple online visitors having to watch every single flyover when a new person arrives, that same sequence soon becomes interminable.
If you just visit a friend or two, it's probably not a big issue for you. If you're inviting folks over for an island party, though, best set 20 minutes aside while everyone flies in. We'd love to see travel time when playing online get a speed boost.
Blathers repetition reduction
Let's preface this suggestion with the fact that we love Blathers. The knowledgeable night owl who looks after the museum is one of our favourite characters, and while he's known for going on a bit, we think he's fabulous. More often than not we listen rapturously to his factoids about the bugs, fish and fossils we bring him.
'Going on a bit' and 'blatantly repeating yourself' are two different things, though, and while we should be used to it from past games, Blathers' repeated dialogue can start to grate. This applies to any character tending an amenity, although it doesn't seem such an issue with the others - perhaps because we speak to him (to assess fossils, usually) more often. We'd love him to have some more variation to his repertoire of phrases.
There are ways to politely circumvent some of Blathers' blathering by donating items or assess fossils in bulk, but a some alternate dialogue in this introduction speech wouldn't go amiss.
The ability to change the island Resident Representative
This is an issue that many families with a single Switch will have encountered. For whatever reason, Nintendo took the 'One Switch, One Island' route with New Horizons. However, there's another design choice which makes even less sense to us - you cannot swap your island's Resident Representative.
Progress and projects are tied to just one person in New Horizons (the 'Mayor' of the game, if you will) and others aren't able to dictate projects or manage the island in the same way. This is fine as long as the primary player--the person who named the island and started the game--is still actively playing it. Should that player lose interest or not be available, however, anyone else living in the island is stuck (from a progression perspective). Being able to change the Resident Rep would solve this problem.
This is an issue that many players will never encounter or even have to consider, but for the people (primarily families) this affects, the ability to switch your island's Resident Representative would be incredibly useful.
What do you think of these suggestions for improvements to Animal Crossing: New Horizons? Let us know by choosing the ones you think would be most welcome in our poll below, and be sure to share any other suggestions in the comments section.
Don't forget to check out our exhaustive Animal Crossing: New Horizons guide for more tips and tricks!