I had my first opportunity to try out some online play in Animal Crossing: New Horizons the weekend before last. My sister and my friend visited my island so I could give them some of the stuff I had accrued during my extra two weeks with the game. They grabbed new fits at the Able Sisters clothing shop, which had yet to arrive in their games, and marveled at how big my house was. Afterward, they couldn’t stop gushing about my island in relation to their own.
“Just wait!” I told them, a little bummed by their reactions. “Your islands will be just as developed as mine soon. I’m only a couple weeks ahead of you!”
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is meant to be a pretty chill experience, but players can get lost in the pursuit of money and island upgrades. Animal Crossing is what you make it. There are no pressing goals and nothing needs to be addressed immediately. I think the series is at its best when you just spend time walking (not running!) around your island and speaking with your neighbors without really accomplishing anything.
It’s easy to compare yourself to those around you. Like a strange form of “fear of missing out,” otherwise known as FOMO, this phenomenon can make you feel as if you are in stasis or perhaps even going backward. But just because friends have gotten married, found good jobs, or moved to the big city doesn’t mean you’re somehow behind schedule if you haven’t. Everyone moves at their own pace. Sometimes, the choice isn’t even yours thanks to your background or financial situation, which is a whole other can of worms.
Animal Crossing is the same way. We’ve seen incredible things come out of New Horizons since it launched on March 20, but the way progression is built into Animal Crossing means players and their islands develop at different paces. Things get even more disparate when you take time traveling—changing the date on your Switch in order to speed up in-game events—into account. Some of the more impressive islands making the rounds are simply impossible to create within the single week New Horizons has been available, but that hasn’t stopped players from publicly coveting these futuristic visions.
I don’t blame anyone who looks at more developed Animal Crossing islands and feels like they’re missing out once they return home. It can be frustrating to know there’s a whole world of characters, clothing, furniture, and crafting projects out there that you can’t access yet. But unlike real life, fortunately, those features will definitely be accessible to you. It just takes time. So grab some of your favorite fruit, hand it out to your island neighbors, and breathe. New Horizons isn’t going anywhere and, pretty soon, we’ll all be playing the exact same game.