From the first day this experience was teased, I knew I wanted to go. That September, where we got another contender within the Super Smash Bros. fighting league, was one of the happiest. I knew I would lose myself whatever happened. I dreamt of what the experience could be, and knew that when it was finally revealed in full I wouldn’t be able to hold my excitement in check.
Then the Island Getaway Package was unveiled at the largest gaming event of the world, and I was beyond happy with what I was seeing. We might not have seen much, but the island felt larger than any previous town – despite their being very little within it.
Over the months since that reveal, more has been revealed about the overall Package that has proven the people building it have been focused upon an evolution of the place we’ll be going, with plenty to keep anyone occupied.
Now, with the date having come and gone, I’ve been here a few days and can say exactly what I think of this new experience. And it started before I even got on the sea plane to head to the island.
The questions others – such as Rover while on a train – asked in the past to determine how we would look while within the town are gone, with the ability to customise ourselves with the starting options.
The range of options ensures that each player villager can be unique with their facial features, with more hair options able to be purchased pretty much straight after with Nook Miles. But I’ll talk about those later. One thing I will say here though is that the ability to alter your facial appearance at any mirror is a welcome inclusion.
Having a choice of a set number of maps isn’t anything new – having been available in the previous experience – but the starting of the experience certainly is. Once on board the sea plane and at the island, you’ll have noted you didn’t name it. That comes during the island welcoming party, which as a starting phase doesn’t overstay its welcome.
It teaches exactly what it needs to about living on the island, with future days seeing more things opening up and more things for you to learn. Once that party is done, your time is your own, so you can progress as fast or as slow as you’d like. It’s certainly recommended to move from a tent to a house as soon as you can, and for that you’ll need to earn some Nook Miles.
For the first time in one of these experiences, there’s an incentive program that awards you a sort of monetary value that can be redeemed for the aforementioned new hairstyles, along with other things. Nook Miles are awarded for simple things like catching fish and bugs, getting fossils assessed, or more complex things like catching fish without losing them in a row.
Those are the fixed incentives, which have a set number of stamps for each objective. Completing them also awards new passport phrases that allow you to edit your phrase upon it. Pretty quickly, you’ll get access to the daily objectives of Nook Miles+, which offer the same simple objectives that are easily completed.
The other large addition here is crafting, with plenty of things able to be built by your hands. Using a flimsy axe on trees and rocks, you can get wood and ores. Sticks can be shook off trees, and even weeds, flowers, and fruit have their place in crafting. However, even regular tools can break, but they last longer than the flimsy variant so you can still see a good amount of use from them before they do.
With all these materials you collect, you can then go to a workbench to build furniture that can be placed both inside and outside. Other things such as medicine and fashion accessories can be crafted as well, and some of them can even be customised – which Tom Nook will talk you through once you have progressed enough.
Elsewhere, there’s the smaller touches, such as no longer being forced into conversation upon entering and leaving shops, with that instead being dealt with seamlessly by just a few words as the action takes place. Menus for items on sale now mean wandering sales-people and stores no longer needing to have individual items within the world for you to see.
All this, and I haven’t got to how the world looks and feels. And everything feels more alive now. The island itself is more detailed than ever, with familiar buildings looking a lot fresher than in previous experiences, villagers are doing a lot more than just wondering around, as more often than before they’ll be fishing or watering flowers.
But now you can even see them resting under trees, hunting for bugs, and even interacting with the furniture placed outside. Those within buildings will also be doing more, with Nook drinking a cup of coffee of a night to keep him going, or else reading something on his phone. Villagers will also be seen using their own workbenches when they get them.
Overall, the experiences are great with one, and I could talk in detail about everything going on with Halesowen Island. However, these things need to be experienced for yourself. Sure, some might not like the slow nature of things, but more than any other world, this is one of the simple everyday experiences you will find.
For anyone who likes to take things at their own pace, I can guarantee you’ll enjoy heading out to your own Island Getaway Package. Even for those more goal oriented among you, with the Nook Miles system here, you’ll get something out of discovering how to unlock new achievements and going for them.