The wait is finally over. In their latest Direct, Nintendo has unveiled their next mobile game that was teased at a press conference back in April. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is the latest installment in the Animal Crossing franchise and is scheduled to arrive next month in 41 countries (except in Australia, where the game has already been released and met with positive responses). It will launch on iOS and Android as a free-to-play game with optional in-game purchases.
First released on GameCube in 2001, Animal Crossing is a series best-known as a community simulation game in which players experience life in a peaceful town inhabited by friendly, humanoid animals.
While there are long-term goals the player can achieve, like completing the museum and cultivating a perfect town, the game does not require the player to fulfill them. Thus, players are free to explore their town, converse with their neighbors, catch fish and bugs, buy clothes and furniture, decorate their house, and pay off their mortgage as they please. Time is a major component of Animal Crossing, with the in-game visuals and weather patterns changing depending on when the game is booted up. There are also monthly events and in-game holidays that reflect their real life counterparts.
Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp stays true to this formula, borrowing elements from Animal Crossing: Welcome Amiibo (formally known as New Leaf), which was released on Nintendo 3DS in 2012. The player is decreed by Isabelle, a main character in Welcome Amiibo, as the new manager of a campsite.
To fulfill her vision of creating an enjoyable campground for everyone, she tasks the player with investigating the surrounding area and collecting fruit, fish, and bugs along the way. The player, with the use of their RV, can select from a list of surrounding areas to go explore. At each site, the player can encounter other animals, who will then send them on additional errands. These favors net the player Bells (the staple currency in Animal Crossing) and crafting materials, the latter of which is a new feature to Pocket Camp. The player can, in turn, use these Bells and materials to create furniture, like a sofa, and set pieces, like a pool, for their campsite. By building up their campsite, the player encourages other animals to stay over, resembling the traditional town residents of previous Animal Crossing games. The player can also decorate the interior of their RV — akin to house-decorating in the series’ other titles — by using the same furniture they have crafted for their campsite. The exterior of the RV, too, is customizable, with options including a new paint job and room extensions. However, exterior customizations are not free and require the player to pay off a loan for it, which fans of the Animal Crossing franchise may have already come to expect.
As for the in-game purchases, they speed up the building process of new campsite attractions, allow players to catch more bugs and fish in one attempt, and to quickly build their new furniture. This currency, known as Leaf Tickets, can also be earned via in-game requests.
Animal Crossing offers a gaming experience unlike any other. While most video games offer thrilling, adrenaline-fueled action, Animal Crossing takes the slower path to incentivize players. It is a game that soothes people’s fatigues from the real world by transporting us to a worry-free utopia. Despite the first Animal Crossing being released on a home console, the franchise’s later, mainstream titles have slowly shifted toward a mobile audience, starting with Animal Crossing: Wild World in 2005. Like most mobile games, Pocket Camp appears to have daily login bonuses, like free Bells and Leaf Tickets, and real time crafting times, which requires the player to participate frequently. The ability to gain access to your campsite anywhere in the world is thus a huge benefit. Not only that, but the average user is more likely to possess a smartphone than a dedicated gaming console, making a phone app much more appealing to the general public. As such, Nintendo is clearly aiming for a more modern, mobile market. The success of Pocket Camp hinges on whether or not it holds up to the other Animal Crossing titles. Will it offer a peaceful break from reality or will it exhaust the player with micromanaging in-game tasks? Only time will tell.
Animal Crossing Pocket Camp will release worldwide in late November on iOS and Android.