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The best games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons laid-back gameplay has taken the world by storm. There’s never been a better time to stay inside and enjoy the leisurely island lifestyle — and people are loving what the title has to offer. But once you’ve burned through your first 40 hours, New Horizons is best played in short bursts. Most people will log in for a few minutes each day, see what’s happening on the island, finish their daily tasks, and quickly log out.

If you love everything about Animal Crossing and are looking for a similar game, or don’t own a Nintendo Switch, the following eight titles might be just what you need. None of them are identical to New Horizons, but they all offer a unique combination of crafting, exploring, and chatting with your NPC neighbors that New Horizons fans are bound to enjoy.

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My Time at Portia (PC, Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

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Not only is My Time at Portia an excellent life simulator, but its graphics are just as cute as New Horizons’. Players will travel to their family’s rundown workshop in the town of Portia and do what they can to restore the neglected land. While harvesting resources and farming will take up a significant chunk of time, there’s also the chance to interact with dozens of entertaining townsfolk — you can even try to romance a potential spouse. And for those who get bored of the laid-back lifestyle, Portia offers up some ancient ruins that are home to terrifying beasts that need to be dealt with.

The Sims 4 (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

The Sims 4 screenshot 1
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What else is there to say about The Sims 4 that hasn’t already been said? The series is one of the most popular around, offering both hardcore and casual players an incredible amount of control over their Sim’s life. Customize their look, home — even give them a job — then slowly upgrade everything as you play. There are numerous unique locations to explore, events to attend, and items to collect. Fans of the Animal Crossing series will love the robust building system — but might miss the lack of humanoid animals.

Terraria (PC, Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android, iOS)

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Originally thought to be a simple 2D Minecraft knock-off, Terraria has proven itself to be so much more. Players can collect over 3,000 items, battle more than 300 enemies, and explore 20-plus unique biomes. Although it originally launched in 2015, a massive update — titled Journey’s End — is set to launch on May 16, bringing with it over 1000 new items and a creative mode. Terraria is much more action oriented than New Horizons, but it still gives players access to a beautiful world to explore, along with the tools needed to make that place home.

Stardew Valley (PC, Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android, iOS)

Stardew Valley Chromebook
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Another farming sim, another rundown farm to fix up. Considering this game was almost entirely crafted by one developer, the amount of content packed into the world is incredible. Your main concerns will be cleaning up the farm and planting crops, but you’ll also have the chance to explore dungeons, go fishing, take part in seasonal events, and put the moves on the local population. This one is just as laid-back as Animal Crossing, although you might feel a bit of anxiety creeping in as the day ends and you hustle to finish the rest of your chores.

Minecraft (PC, Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Android, iOS)

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The bestselling game of all time, Minecraft lets players make the world their own. Enjoy delving into dangerous cave systems? Prefer to start a small farm and raise animals? Or maybe you just want to build massive structures and terraform your land? No matter what you choose, you’ll have a large degree of freedom when it comes to gameplay. If you can get past the blocky graphics, you’ll find a lot to love in this hit title.

Rune Factory 4 (Nintendo Switch, 3DS)

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If you enjoyed New Horizons but wished there was a bit more action, Rune Factory 4 will be the perfect fit. It features all the usual life simulator tropes — such as farming and marriage — but you’ll also spend most of your time going on dungeon runs and slaying monsters. And while the game certainly isn’t the prettiest to look at, it makes up for it with charming characters and over-the-top dialog.

Harvest Moon: Light of Hope (PC, Switch, PlayStation 4, Android, iOS)

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There was a time when Harvest Moon was the only farming simulator on the market. Now — even with several other great options available — the series is still a great choice. The graphics in the latest installment are a bit goofy, but you’ll still have access to the same excellent content that has kept the series relevant over the past decade. Better yet, the game offers a robust co-op mode that allows you to tackle all the challenges with a friend by your side.

Slime Rancher (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

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This one is by far the strangest game on the list, but one that New Horizons fans will probably fall in love with. The game plays out from a first-person perspective but is every ounce as adorable as Animal Crossing. Players jump into the role of Beatrix LeBeau, a young ranch worker who travels light-years away from Earth to try and live out her dreams on the Far, Far Range. Your playtime will be split between growing crops, upgrading gear, exploring the massive open world, and trying to unlock the 150-plus hybrid slime species. It’s certainly different from New Horizons, yet it still manages to be a relaxing game that will keep you glued to your screen for hours on end.

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a writer covering consumer electronics, technology, and gaming. His work has been published on various websites…
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