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How Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp quietly became one of the best in the series

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp was released on mobile (Android and Apple iOS) back in November of 2017.  There was a large amount of hype that came with the game's release.  The game offered a bite-sized version of the full Animal Crossing experience fans were used to.

Instead of building up your village specific to your style, players are asked to build a campsite and have four specific locations they can travel to.  These include: an island filled with bugs, a beach and a creek for fishing, and a forest filled with fruit.

One of the best new additions to the Animal Crossing series in Pocket Camp is an RPG-like system to build up friendships with the animals touring the camp and surrounding locations.  Completing requests for the animals increases their friendship level.  The higher the level, the better rewards a player will receive.

There are campsite amenities that the player can build and upgrade as well.  You can build a skate ramp, a rock band stage, a tree house, a castle and more!  In total, there are over 30 of them and this gives the player lots to do and incentive to keep playing.

While the hype was strong during the launch window of the game, it started dying off pretty quickly.  A lot of people tried out the mobile version of Animal Crossing for a couple weeks and then dropped the game entirely.  There wasn't a tremendous amount of content during the first several months of the game's launch and players became bored.

With that said, the game has added an incredible amount of content over the past year.  These additions have turned Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp into one of the very best games in the series.  

The game has implemented several new features to the Pocket Camp world that fill the game with life and constantly give the player something to do.  They have added fishing tournaments, bug catching events in the garden, Gyroidite scavenger hunts that all reoccur every month.  With each new month, that introduces new items, special clothing, furniture, etc.  So the incentive to keep playing continues.

There have been major updates each season this past year.  In the Spring they added Timmy and Tommy's Fortune Cookie Stand.  The Fortune Cookies are purchased with Leaf Tickets, the game's currency.  The special fortune cookies offer really special unique items, some are themed like for Halloween and others are neat items like Splatoon equipment or Nintendo consoles.  Players can also purchase two Fortune Cookies per day and about once per week it'll be a fancy special one that gives really unique items.  Players can also acquire more Timmy and Tommy Fortunate Cookies by giving rarer items to the village animals with routine requests.

In the Summer, they added Gulliver's cargo ship, a bartering system where players can take all the furniture and clothing they've acquired throughout their journey and trade it in for additional items.  More recently in 2019, they added the ability for Gulliver to recover maps that can be used as part of Blather's Treasure Trek game to recruit new animals to your campsite.

They also added Scrapbook memories.  The Scrapbook memories are a series of "cinematics" that play out at your campsite between certain animal friends.  They are unlocked by leveling up the friendship level of specific characters and inviting a specific group of animals to your camp.  It's another nice addition that adds to the overall experience and players often encounter some pretty funny scenes.

In the Fall they added new fruits unique to player's camp locations.  One of three new fruits (Grapes, Lemon, and Lychee) started appearing at people's campsites.  This new item really helps boost the buy and sell economy of the game.  In Pocket Camp, players can sell items in their Market Box to other real world players.  However, most people list items with an insane mark-up value that aren't worth buying.  But with the addition of these new local fruits, player's can buy rare fruits that aren't native to their camp sites for $100 (or cheaper) and re-sell them for $600 at their own site or trade it to an animal at the camp for $1,500.

They also added a new cabin location where players can decorate, similar to decorating one's house in previous Animal Crossing games.  Players can invite their animal friends to hang out in the cabin.

And in the Winter came one of the largest updates with the arrival of Happy Homeroom and Blather's Treasure Trek mini-games.

Blather's Treasure Trek which is a fun mini-board game where players roll dice to acquire special items and sometimes really cool prizes, while journeying through a treasure map.

Happy Homeroom is a new mini-game where players must use furniture they have acquired by purchase or various tasks and use these items to create the perfect room for your guests.  It's relatively simple, but it's fun to collect the specific items (sometimes you have to get lucky with the Fortune Cookies) and meet the requested layout demands.  A perfect score will result in 3 gold medals and the more medals you unlock, the higher rank you obtain.

The game continues to add special set pieces that can be purchased with Leaf Tickets and placed in the campsite.  These include some of my favorites, Pave's Dancing stage and K.K. Slider's DJ booth.  Pave's Dance stage is based off Brazilian Carnival with accompanying music.  DJ K.K Slider has a light show and different tunes.  You can even set up some microphones for additional singers!

It's not just new content that Pocket Camp is delivering.  The developers have also added better quality of life improvements in the game.

They recently introduced Pete's Parcel Service which may be my favorite update to date.  With Pete's Parcel Service, players are able to go into one singular menu and complete all of the animals requests and in a very quick manner.  This reduces the time the player needs to complete all requests during the 3 hour period.

The way Pocket Camp works, is that the game goes through eight 3 hour windows.  During those three hours, one animal will be at each location: Breezy Hollow, Saltwater Shores, Sunburst Island, and Lost Lure Creek.

Before they introduced Pete's Parcel Service, users had to go to each location individually and talk to the animal there and then talk to the animal three separate times to complete all of the animals requests.  Pete's Parcel Service speeds this entire process up considerably which is great for Mobile users with very little free time.

The developers also updated the Daily Goal process with new rewards and new goal challenges.  Some of the different goals are collecting a bunch of fruit, or to catch several fish, or even selling and buying goods from the Merchant Box.  This is a positive addition, but there's still a lot of room for improvement.  As of right now, there's only five separate daily goals so after 3-4 weeks, they get a bit predictable and repetitive.  

Friend and visitor menus have also been improved upon making it easier to purchase items from other users.  Although, I'd still like to see a search function so you could search for the items you're looking for instead of just checking each friend manually.

Ultimately, I've been incredibly impressed with all the additions to Animal Crossing Pocket Camp since it's release 1 1/2 years ago.  I love the RPG and level up systems they have built into the game and the daily tasks and reoccurring quests really add to the replayability and longevity of the game.  I believe at this point I've actually spent more time playing Pocket Camp than any other game in the franchise.

I'm going to be very curious to see how much of this content and gameplay systems the developers bring over to the Nintendo Switch version.

The Animal Crossing series is perfect for those pick-up-and-play mobile gaming sessions, where you can actually accomplish quite a bit in five to ten minutes.  And I highly encourage anyone that's desperately waiting for the Nintendo Switch version to arrive, to jump back in to Animal Crossing Pocket Camp and give it another try.

With E3 coming up, Animal Crossing fans will be eager to check out the new Switch version which is likely to come out in late 2019.  But just know that there's already a pretty great Animal Crossing title on mobile while you wait.

Jeffrey Brown

Jeffrey Brown

A 10 year game industry veteran spending most of my time in QA and Project Management. I grew up a huge Nintendo fan, but enjoy all consoles. Outside of games I coach basketball & enjoy live music.

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