I am what you might call a casual gamer. I enjoy playing video games, but I don’t always have the time to dive into giant open-world RPGs. It’s for this reason that cozy games like Animal Crossing and Disney Dreamlight Valley have always appealled to me. These are titles that you can play at your own convenience for any amount of time and enjoy every second of it. There is a deep comfort in stress-free games like these that always calls to me.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons was one of my favorite games when it was first released. The ability to create my own island and slowly complete tasks at a leisurely pace was deeply satisfying. But it only took a few months for me to grow tired of the repetitive gameplay and move on to even newer horizons. Now that Disney Dreamlight Valley has fully captured my attention, I can’t help but reflect on how Disney’s new life sim has improved on the Animal Crossing model.

Animal Crossing and Disney Dreamlight Valley Similarities

It’s hard not to acknowledge the similarites between Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Disney Dreamlight Valley. Both games immediately drop you into some sort of fallen paradise and put you to work to fix it up. All of the elements you’d expect from an Animal Crossing game are present in Dreamlight Valley. There’s mining, fishing, gathering, crafting, and gardening that you are free to pursue at your leisure. Each of these games also allows for full customization of both your house and the environment you live in.

Beyond the gameplay elements, even some of the character structures are similar. In Animal Crossing, you are basically working for Tom Nook to industrialize your island and attract villagers. In Disney Dreamlight Valley, you are essentially doing the same thing for Scrooge McDuck. While this similarity between the two games is strong enough to call out, it’s also where Dreamlight Valley begins to differ in it’s approach to the genre.

The Characters are the Heart of Dreamlight Valley

The biggest difference between Disney Drealight Valley and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, for me atleast, is the focus on characters. While Animal Crossing offers some crossover characters from previous games, it is more about growing your Island than interacting with the villagers. In Disney Dreamlight Valley, the heart of the game is the character quests you work your way through.

It’s no surprise that the main draw of a Disney game would be the Disney characters you get to interact with. The conversations you have with Mickey, Goofy, Donald Duck, and even Ursula are some of the absoute best parts of the game. It’s a nostalgic deep dive that makes the game worth playing and the writing really captures the essence of each classic Disney character you meet. Although you do need to do a bit of grinding to accrue Star Coins and complete Dreamlight Duties, it doesn’t feel too much like a chore because you’re doing it to help your Disney pals work their way through storylines.

It’s this connection to these classic characters that keeps me coming back to Dreamlight Valley over and over again, and the knowledge that more characters are coming that keeps me excited for the future of the game.

Cooking Is an Essential Aspect of Friendship

Another important difference between the launch of Animal crossing and Dreamlight Valley is how much Disney has incorporated cooking into the game. In Animal crossing, this functionality arrived late in 2021 and it was more of an add-on to the gameplay rather than something essential. In Disney Dreamlight Valley, figuring out meal recipes and cooking is a core element. It’s directly related to resource gathering, completing quests, and even keeping your own energy up.

The cooking system is simple and fun with all of the recipes requiring the real ingredients you would need to make them. You even get a great introduction to cooking by completing Remy’s quests and learning to make Ratatouille.

The Disney Dreamlight Valley Roadmap Is Exciting

Disney Dreamlight Valley is still only in it’s early access period and still has quite a few bugs to work out of the system. That being said, the game has had a strong start and will likely only grow in popularity when it goes free-to-play in 2023. The fact that there are already confirmed updates on the Disney Dreamlight Valley roadmap has me excited to keep playing, and the Scar’s Kingdom Update that went live mid-October has proven that Disney will bring it with each of these subsequent content releases.

One of the biggest reasons I stopped playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons was the lack of new content. By the time the big 2.0 update arrived in 2021, I had already moved too far beyond that game to come back to it. The fact that Disney is already planning on bringing big character updates to the game is a huge plus for me, and something that will likely keep me invested in my personal Dreamlight Valley.

Looking to get into playing this game? Take a look at the best tips for Disney Dreamlight Valley or dive into our full Dreamlight Valley Wiki guide for more info.

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