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2020 in preview: Animal Crossing: New Horizons and the pleasures of a gentle life sim

We're rooting for this one.

Now that 2020 is here we're having a little look ahead at some of the year's new games that have us intrigued.

My fondest memory of playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf was when the Eurogamer office became obsessed by turnips. Day after day we'd all bring in a 3DS and compare our latest market prices. And when one person's town was paying out more than 100 Bells per vegetable? We'd all gather round, pile in, and sell sell sell.

If this all means absolutely nothing to you then, rest assured, you are definitely the well-balanced one in this paragraph. But this communal experience we'd all buy into - literally, I suppose, playing the game's stalk market - became a shared demonstration of Animal Crossing's magic. Invest any time into a town and it becomes impossible not to get drawn in by its wholesome fictions, where your mundane tasks become part of something far more valuable.

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Back on 3DS, this was only amplified by being able to take my world with me and share it sat next to others. It's something I can't wait to do again with New Horizons on Nintendo Switch. The latter's new features (crafting! pole vaulting! outside furniture!) aside, Animal Crossing has always felt best when shared with others - the ability to open the gates to your town, even briefly, a thrill mixed with terror that visitors might also steal all your plants.

Animal Crossing is a life sim in the best possible way - one whose wholesome setting gives meaning to the simple tasks it requires while providing respite from our own wild world. I can't wait to start caring again about makebelieve bank loans, animal inhabitants and, yes, turnip prices.

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