I won't try and convince you that Animal Crossing: New Horizons' multiplayer is a hassle-free experience. The game stops in its tracks for everyone on an island when someone arrives or departs, and you can't decorate or change up your island's décor while entertaining visitors. Yes, that stuff sucks. It also doesn't matter.
Animal Crossing's multiplayer works for me because of the connections it facilitates between people in a year where many of those connections have frayed. The game stops when someone arrives because it makes a big deal of their arrival, and pauses again when they depart so you can wish them goodbye. And I don't care about moving furniture around or planting trees when I have friends over because I'm too busy playing impromptu games of tag (bopping them on their heads with my bug-catching net and running away giggling like an idiot), or holding a scavenger hunt, or playing hide-and-seek to care.
None of those activities are baked into the game. They're examples of many ways to entertain yourself and your visitors that you can come up with all on your own. Shacknews editor-in-chief and CEO Asif Khan transformed his island into a race track and came up with a way to hold races. And once they leave, you can't wait for them to return so you can show off all the building, redecorating, and other changes you made since their last visit. In a surprising and charming sort of way, Animal Crossing takes players back to the days before social media, when every occasion to see a friend or family member in person felt important and special: You wanted to share everything that had happened since your last in-person convo, and maybe show off changes big and small in your life, too.
The spirit of fun and togetherness makes Animal Crossing: New Horizons the Shacknews Best Multiplayer Game of 2020, and one I'll continue to enjoy throughout the lifespan of the Switch.
Check out the other winners from The Shacknews Awards 2020 in our Year of the Games: 2020 article.
David Craddock posted a new article, Shacknews Best Multiplayer Game of 2020 - Animal Crossing: New Horizons