'Animal Crossing: New Horizons' is here just in time to alleviate our social distancing woes

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  • Nintendo released "Animal Crossing: New Horizons" on Friday for Nintendo Switch.
  • The game takes place on an island, where players have control over their appearance and the geography of the island itself.
  • Players can also invite their real-life friends to visit their island and interact with each other in the game.
  • "New Horizons" feels like the perfect stress-relief game for the current moment, as many are social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic. 
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The highly anticipated "Animal Crossing: New Horizons" is finally out on Nintendo Switch, and it's arrived just in time to mitigate social distancing woes during the coronavirus pandemic.

The game, which was initially slated for release in 2019 but was later delayed to 2020, is the latest main title in the series following "Animal Crossing: New Leaf," which was released in North America in June 2013.

In "New Horizons," players escape to an island (courtesy of Animal Crossing's business-raccoon, Tom Nook) where they have the power to terraform the land and move buildings around as they please. On top of that, however, is the ability to interact with the villagers on your island as well as invite real-life friends to visit. 

I haven't played "New Horizons" yet — it's downloading on my Switch as I write this — but it's hard to imagine a better game for the moment.

All Animal Crossing games are rooted in a sense of escapism: sure, you might be saddled with a bit of debt from your new home, but to pay it off, you catch bugs and go fishing, and, oh yeah, the currency is called "bells," which is objectively adorable.

"New Horizons" ratchets it up a notch. This time, players break ground on a breezy island, making the game a vacation sim of sorts during a time where most people are holed up in their homes. "If ever there were a time to hop on a plane and kick it on a deserted island for a few months, it's right now," Polygon's Russ Frushtick writes in his review of the game. 

My Twitter feed has been filled with people exchanging Nintendo Switch friend codes ahead of the game's launch, eager to visit each other's islands and hang out in a space fully divorced from… well, everything else that's going on. People on Twitter and Tumblr are "lamenting" the fact that they'll have to stay inside all weekend and play "New Horizons" and pointing out how timely of a release it is.

After delays and years of waiting for a new major Animal Crossing title, it seems like "New Horizons" ended up arriving at the perfect time.

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