If you had asked me a week ago what my most anticipated game of E3 was, I would have replied “Harvest Moon” without skipping a beat. Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley is the newest Natsume made Harvest Moon game to enter the fray and I’m absolutely loving everything they’re showing about it.
Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley has been called both a return to roots and an innovator for the series. The farming is like nothing you’ve ever done in a Harvest Moon game. In fact, the field looks more akin to something like Minecraft. But before you pass judgment, hear me out. It works. Players are able to interact with their fields though a specific mode that highlights the 8 squares surrounding the player. The lower screen displays options on how to interact with the terrain, which include options to excavate rock, raise or lower the dirt level, and till the earth.
I love the direction they’ve taken with this, but I worry about the time consumingness of it all. While they’ve taken out and simplified other time consuming aspects of the game, which I will get into in a moment, moving around and editing the terrain one tile at a time took just as long as it sounds like it would. I’m holding out with hope that we’ll see upgraded tools in the future that will make this process go by faster.
Speaking of tools, the days of having to cycle through tools to complete a task are long behind us. Simply walking up to a tree will give you the option to chop it down. Facing a rock will automatically prompt you to swing at it with your hammer. While the Natsume rep I spoke with was unsure if this feature would make it into the final game, inventory space is currently unlimited. The development team wants to bring the focus away from the more tedious tasks found in past games and focus more on the game itself.
Another welcome change is the ability to have full control over the layout of your field. By using a tool, players are able to pick up and place buildings anywhere on their plot of land, just as long as the land has been flattened and cleared of trees. Is your well too far from your crop field? Move it. The options to build structures on your property also extend out into adding bridges to the land.
The library of possible farm crops has been expanded like crazy. Along with this, cooking has been completely redesigned and now dish quality will scale with your food prep experience. Farming too has been streamlined. While the only animals confirmed at the moment are the usual suspects of cows, sheep, a horse, and chickens, taking care of those animals is now easier and less reliant on your ability to remember which livestock you’ve already cared for in a day. Animals will now show mood bubbles above their heads, illustrating what they need to make it through the day. In a move I’m overly excited for, feeding animals has also been simplified to simply walking up to the food trough and interacting with it. No more counting fodder stacks and running between the dispenser and the trough.
The demo I was able to play focused largely on the many new farm-centric features we’ll be seeing in Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley. The new ways in which you can interact with the land and the animals living on it had me walking away from the booth grinning like an idiot. I’m looking forward to hearing more about how the game seeks to return to its Harvest Moon 64 roots as we get closer to its release date.