As Turkey Day rolls around in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, many who picked up the game thanks to its big Version 2.0 update and Happy Home Paradise DLC will be celebrating with Franklin. This year's celebration is more unique following Version 2.0, which added cooking as a new branch of New Horizons' DIY crafting system. Now Franklin offers players all the recipes they help him prepare for Turkey Day, and they can continue giving him ingredients to make even more dishes.
It's nice to see the in-game holiday get more attention, and cooking is a fitting mechanic for a real-life holiday that centers big meals with loved ones. However, Animal Crossing: New Horizons' cooking is not as fleshed out as it could be. While the extra content is good, Nintendo left out a lot of potential that could have made cooking a more worthwhile activity for players to dig into.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons' DIY Cooking
Animal Crossing: New Horizons stands out from previous entries in the series for pushing customization to a new level. Players can decorate their homes, create their own outfits, and even terraform the appearance of their islands. Crafting has been a big aspect of this customization, as recipes can be discovered to create a variety of furniture pieces and more using materials like stones and twigs.
Cooking is just one addition to the game with Version 2.0 and Happy Home Paradise, with the DLC offering some exclusive techniques like building partitian walls and polishing items. Making cooking one of the universal additions with New Horizons' free update was a smart move given it offers more of a purpose to activities that have been in the game since the beginning - namely fishing and growing fruit trees. Between those ingredients and new ones like potato and tomato crops, there are tons of options for savory and sweet dishes.
All of that has been woven well into Animal Crossing: New Horizons' Turkey Day celebration too, with Franklin asking for everything from pumpkins and potatoes to fish and even the mushrooms that players could discover around their islands throughout November. Still, while it is fun to see one's villagers celebrate around a feast, it would be nice if the physical rewards did a little more.
How Animal Crossing: New Horizons' Cooking Could Improve
For all the effort that goes into gathering recipes and ingredients for cooking, the dishes aren't very special. There's a huge variety of them, and most of the food looks delicious, so it's perfect for players who have restaurants on their island and want to lay out nice meals as decor. But if someone wants to eat one of those meals, the only benefit they bestow is a few extra "power" charges that allow characters to pocket trees and destroy rocks.
This power is something players can receive just as easily by eating ingredients like fruit. While individual pieces of fruit are less efficient than a fruit-based cooking DIY, it's arguably more important to moderate that power unless someone is undergoing a huge renovation project. It could even be considered a detriment if players forget to dispel their extra charges and accidentally break a rock when they meant to gather more iron ore.
Nintendo could have made a more interesting and useful cooking system if it learned from one of its own successes: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. There's a robust cooking system in Breath of the Wild, allowing Link to gather ingredients across Hyrule and craft various meals that include buffs like stamina regeneration, attack increases, or even extreme weather resistance. Animal Crossing isn't nearly the same kind of game with combat and RPG elements to consider, but it could carry on this spirit.
A number of basic cooking DIYs in New Horizons could still be abundant sources of power charges. However, it would also make sense for sweeter, more sugary dishes to offer benefits like faster running speed for a limited time. Big savory meals could also make the player more efficient at certain tasks like felling a tree in one go. There are plenty of niche quality-of-life benefits that meals could open up, from diving longer in the ocean to building friendship faster. However, for now it's a really basic execution on a mechanic with lots of gameplay potential.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is available now on Nintendo Switch.
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