I really love animal crossing as a game franchise, and I have played it for far too long than I would like to admit. But there has always been one thing incredibly frustrating for me which I have to put with for to long, and it’s time to speak out.
The most infuriating thing about playing animal crossing, is when you play it with someone else. Not at the same time, but when you do island/town sharing playing at different times. It’s simply a boring, restrictive nightmare. I’ve played this situation twice in two games, and it has been horrible in both. Let’s look at why.
For the first person who plays in that day, it is actually just normal. This person simply plays and ends the day when they feel bored. This is when the second person plays, only to find a most troubled and barren landscape. Where are all the fossils? Where are all the shells? Where is all the fruit? Where is anything? Why are there suddenly so many new things here? – when you play animal crossing with two people, you live in the world someone got bored of and decided to quit – because the island is the exact same as the first person left it!
This leaves the second player with very little to do. As they watch villagers move in, shops upgrade, and things appear with no idea as to why. Even items donated to the museum you’ve never seen before are rejected when you know that they should be accepted, it’s just that someone else got to it first.
This situation happened to me twice. The first with my brother with Animal Crossing Wild Woods, and secondly with my girlfriend with Animal Crossing New Horizons. For the later, it was bought for her as a present, and I was really glad she enjoyed it, but we did hope to play together on the same island.
The issue that I had was that she played the game so much more than I did, so when I turned the game on it felt like everything was given to me without any effort, and getting things was more effort because of the restrictions on playing second. The second time I played the game we already had a museum with everything I found already donated to, a shop, tonnes more villagers, and the entire island explored and changed. I still couldn’t even cross the river. It wasn’t so much that this annoyed me, but it was incredibly demotivating and made me not want to play, because it just made the game boring and uninteresting.
So much of the game is about unlocking things, finding things, and improving your island – when you already live in an island with all these things already unlocked, there just isn’t any point in playing. I just stopped.
It’s obvious why the developers do this – they don’t want players to cheat the system by using another user account to get more resources and things, but this at the same crushes enjoyment for people playing honestly.
The solution to this problem is simple. Sure, it’s not like you can change the location of villagers and shops – that’s something I can accept. But not allowing the player to enter a fresh world is just unacceptable. When you do this in New Horizons, a player playing for the first time can’t even find enough resources to craft basic tools and recipes!
I also have a solution for the museum problem and shop problem. Although the appearance of buildings and interior change, the sizes of them in the outside world never do. You could have one shop for one player, and one shop for another so that they both feel a sense of progression, same of course for the museum and donation options available. It could encourage a sense of competition, motivating play even further. The rewards for tasks completed are often new buildings/upgrades, which obviously can’t be unlocked a second time, but a reward could still be given.
I can imagine that many people reading this would hate the idea of the appearance of buildings changing depending on the player. And I do admit, this is specifically for me as I always enjoy and appreciate things I work for in games more. This is why more customisation and control would be really amazing in these games.
But allowing players the option to choose is so important. Owning their own separate island on the same switch could completely solve all of these problems for someone, or these suggestions could help improve gameplay for people who wanted to work together on the same island. Settings are necessary to create a good gameplay experience for everyone, and having the option to choose (and also not get screwed over because you played second) seems so important to me that I can’t believe it’s not implemented in the game already. Animal Crossing still needs to fix this.