Animal Crossings: New Horizons is the right game at the right time. As we all adjust to this indeterminate period of sitting in our pants and adjusting webcams so colleagues can't see the whiskey bottles, what could be finer than escaping to a beautiful island that Covid-19 will never touch, in a world you make better every day?
This is, of course, an extremely simplified precis of New Horizons' structure and vibe. There are a hundred ways that Animal Crossing sets about achieving this feeling, and though this entry is brand new any series vet will be settling into some very familiar grooves. Some of my friends immediately started terraforming enormous orchards. Some went straight for the flowerbeds. Others obsessed about making the first turnip round of a new era. And everyone's in it for the fishing, the bug-catching, the gathering, the constant incidental interactions that over time build into colossal stamp collections.
A beloved element of these games becomes the museum. Me, I especially like fossils. Gathered (very) gradually over weeks and months, these will eventually form a stupendous dinosaur display (one which of course requires a museum upgraded enough to show it off). Fish species you donate will be seen in aquariums, bugs you've caught can be seen fluttering around habitats, and both curator Blathers and highly informative labels supply a level of detail you will come to luxuriate in.
Obviously I've had plenty of time to play New Horizons over the weekend, and as ever things in these games run on a schedule relating to real days. So you typically start a building one day, then it'll be finished the next.
The museum this time around... four days. And that's not what even annoys me! Look I know I'm an entitled whiner but who cares: first you get Blathers to come by handing over five specimens to Nook, then pitching his tent spot; next day Blathers arrives, you give him another 15 specimens, then it's time for a proper museum. We're in business!
At this point Blathers no longer accepts donations until the museum is finished. No biggie eh, so while waiting I dumped all the stuff I intended to donate in future outside the museum steps. This collection was going to get off to a flier. This morning I returned to my town ready to start this game proper and...
It takes two days to build. Two days! It won't be finished until tomorrow, which means I've currently got a non-functioning eyesore surrounded by insect boxes, fish tanks, and unappraised fossils which also means I can't begin planting hyacinths around where the paths will be because I can't be bothered to pick everything up and put it down one-by-one again.
And I'm an amateur next to the wider Villaging world, which is cramming its towns full of cages and crates.
Look: I'm not really mad. I just feel Blathers teased me a little here, that he gave me enough rope to hang myself with. He never said two days. I was already dreaming of doric columns and complete fossil skeletons, merrily content to believe I had life all worked out. That I had a schedule, I had control.
But it's fine. I'm fine. This staying in your house lark makes me feel very sane. I am very sane indeed. And this owl best remember that he's the one locked in here with me.