Brewster is coming. Confirmed at the latest Nintendo Direct, the iconic coffee-making pigeon and his cafe, The Roost, are going to be added to Animal Crossing: New Horizons as part of a November update. There's even a dedicated Animal Crossing Direct coming in October to commemorate the occasion. But, after more than six months without a major update to New Horizons, is Brewster's arrival going to be too little, too late?
There's no denying that Animal Crossing: New Horizons has had a difficult year. After 2020's worldwide lockdown solidified the new release as the game everyone was playing, 2021 has delivered very little in the way of fresh incentives to keep living that island life. So uneventful have the updates been that I've not even got past the title screen since late March – and that's coming from someone that's lost over 1000 hours to it since launch. I desperately want to get back into Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but Nintendo just hasn't given me a reason to in 2021.
This year's headline deliveries started strong with the addition of the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Festivale event in February. But since that, updates have dwindled, with the only really notable additions being the arrival of the Super Mario collection in February, and the support for the Sanrio amiibo cards in March, both offering the option to add delightful themed items, furniture, and clothing to your island – the former as a free update, and the latter via the purchase of special amiibo cards that went out of stock as soon as they went on sale. The appetite for fresh content, at least at that early point in the year, was still palpably clear.
But since then, we've had nothing beyond seasonal items, the return of 2020's events, and small bug fixes in the way of updates. That's far from the sentiment Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser had at the tail of 2020 when he said Animal Crossing: New Horizons would continue to get updates through 2021. Nintendo did promise back in July that Animal Crossing: New Horizons will get "more free content" later this year, but this Brewster tease in the closing days of September is the first we've heard of fresh content since that announcement.
The Brewster boost
There's a lot riding on Brewster's imminent arrival then. For lapsed players like myself who are looking for a way to get back in, this update is going to need to do more than add a cafe to the game. The brilliance of the 2020 New Horizons updates was that they always expanded what was possible on your island. For example, the game's summer update added swimming and diving to New Horizons, along with a range of sea creatures to collect and add to Blathers' museum. A new NPC, Pascal the Otter, also arrived with the update, which offered up more items to collect and another reason to make daily trips to your island. October brought with it a whole host of Halloween content, including pumpkin farming and fresh emotes, while the Holiday season also delivered new seasonal collectibles, items, and ways to interact with your villagers.
Massive updates like these made New Horizons feel constantly alive. Every time things started to feel stale, an update with a new mechanic or seasonal event would arrive to keep you interested. But that hasn't happened this year, with Animal Crossing relying instead on recycled events from last year, which feels like such a missed opportunity. Few games have built such a global platform and community as quickly and successfully as Animal Crossing: New Horizons did in 2020. Not many games – perhaps bar Fortnite – have enjoyed such attention from industries and brands outside of the gaming space. From fashion brands to politicians and… mayonnaise, Animal Crossing: New Horizons had the attention of millions, but has risked throwing all that away with a year devoid of updates.
Of course, there are no doubt pandemic-related difficulties that have contributed to that dearth of new content, but sometimes no news is bad news, and by leaving the community hanging, players have been allowed to drift. So now it feels like everything hangs on Brewster and a cafe that's open 24/7.
To be a success in revitalizing the languishing fanbase, this November update has to be more than that. The fact that it's getting a dedicated Animal Crossing Direct suggests that it will be a larger update than Brewster's addition. Recent datamines suggest that that may include updated villager dialogue, fence customization, new tools, and other additional items, but it'll be really crucial that there's enough that's truly new to entice those looking for a way back to return.
Until Brewster graces our islands, why not check out these upcoming Switch games confirmed for release in 2021 and beyond?