Alright, be honest, how many of you were playing a bunch of DOOM Eternal or Animal Crossing: New Horizons over the past weekend? I’m expecting the answer to be almost all of you, considering the fact that they’re two of the biggest releases for the entire year, at least so far anyway. Your opinion on that might change once Final Fantasy 7 launches, but I digress.
Two massive releases launching on the same day would ordinarily lead to one of those said games being pushed back a little, so both titles have room to breathe on the marketplace – but that didn’t happen. Nintendo and Bethesda were quite content to stick with the March 20th release date, and quite frankly, they were right to do so. The simultaneous release of both games has been nothing short of perfect.
The fan bases for DOOM Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons have been loving the shared release date ever since it was announced. For months, wholesome fanart showing characters like the Doom Slayer and Isabelle interacting with each other has been circulating on the internet, and it’s been a joy to watch. Seeing Isabelle handle a Super Shotgun or Slayer going on a fishing trip has been weird, sure, but completely entertaining.
It’s a match made in heaven, due to both games representing the polar opposite ends of the gaming spectrum. They are the epitome of “opposites attract”. DOOM Eternal is an incredibly intense, gory murder-fest where you control a man literally powered by his own hatred for the forces of Hell, while Animal Crossing: New Horizons sees you in debt with the actual Devil.
When played together, their contrasts help to complement each other’s qualities, amplifying the enjoyment received from both games. It’s the tonal whiplash from one extreme to the other that helps appease all of your gaming needs as you jump between each title, which has made for an interesting week of gaming, but a brilliant one nonetheless.
DOOM’s level design and combat often left me feeling exhausted, but in the best way possible. The dizzying array of enemies and threats in each fight, especially on the harder difficulties, made for a pulse-pounding affair that I needed a few breaks from. Fortunately, Animal Crossing’s chilled out atmosphere and overall lack of urgency created the perfect antidote, as gathering 30 iron nuggets for my tanuki overlord gave me a respite from punching a hole in another demon’s chest.
While this joint release would be fantastic in and of itself, the events of the world at the moment have somehow made DOOM Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons even better. This sounds like a bit of a reach, and to be fair it is, but I genuinely feel like the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has given both games some emotional nuance regarding how we consume and enjoy video games.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons paints a picture of idyllic island life, its mellow attitude regarding the world at large providing a wonderful counter to the seemingly endless deluge of negative headlines and constant doom and gloom. Self-isolation doesn’t have to be so bad if you can start a new civilisation on a remote island and be done with it. Honestly, sign me up for one of those Nook Inc. Holiday Packages, they sound great right about now.
Meanwhile, DOOM Eternal appeals to the opposite emotion. Though Animal Crossing might provide a safe haven to escape from the bleakness surrounding us, DOOM Eternal feels like a chance to revel in it, so to speak. All the social media posts of people ignoring government guidelines and acting like there isn’t a fucking pandemic happening right now will undoubtedly make you want to punch someone’s head off, so you may as well practice the safer option of punching a virtual demon instead. Social distancing, remember.
DOOM Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ joint release date felt like a moment of divine happenstance when it was first revealed, and that feeling has only elevated now that they’ve launched. They’re a unique odd couple pairing, but one that the world could really do with right about now.
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