Animal Crossing vs. Stardew Valley: Which Game is Better for You?

When it comes to Animal Crossing vs. Stardew Valley, everyone who has played both these games agrees that they’re equally addictive. Both of them are guaranteed to offer hours of relaxation and entertainment. But given your specific requirements and needs, which one would you pick? Let’s find out which game beats the other in terms of gameplay, storyline, characters, and everything else!

Animal Crossing vs. Stardew Valley

Developed by Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone, Stardew Valley is a role-playing simulation game that was first introduced in 2016 for Windows and later transported to other platforms. The game allows you to play the role of a character who takes over their late grandfather’s tumbled-down farm in Stardew Valley. Your journey will take you to several locations and have you meet numerous interesting characters on the way.

On the other hand, Katsuya Eguchi created Animal Crossing, formerly known as Dōbutsu no Mori, which was released in 2001 in Japan for Nintendo 64. The social simulation video game has several iterations and you play the game as a new resident in a village inhabited by anthropomorphic animals. How you want to build the island that you live in is completely up to you.

Of course, both these games sound interesting, fun, and relaxing in their own way. However, which one of them would make it to the top in an “Animal Crossing vs. Stardew Valley” comparison? Let’s find out!

Animal Crossing vs. Stardew Valley – A General Overview

Animal Crossing vs Stardew Valley
Credits: ConcernedApe, Nintendo of America

Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley have both garnered a lot of popularity among fans of farming and other related life sims genre, making them uniquely iconic.

Stardew Valley has made its name in the gaming community thanks to its numerous major updates, colorful characters, relatively newer IP, and unique world.

Animal Crossing’s latest edition, New Horizons, particularly caught everyone’s attention with its escapist, social gameplay, given the fact that it was released in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is only available for Switch users, limiting who can try it out, while Stardew Valley is available on several platforms, giving easy access to several gamers.

In the end, it’s each game’s experience, nuances, and play styles that set them apart from each other. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the general overview of both Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley.

Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing vs Stardew Valley
Credits: ZackScottGames

As we mentioned earlier, the time when Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released, although unintentional, did it a huge favor. The game offered us all the tools we needed to interact and meet in a calming, virtual space.

The social features are the core of this game and New Horizons has brought several new design features with it as well. The game begins with you arriving on an island with two NPCs after purchasing a getaway package.

From there, you will be required to complete tasks for Tom Nook, after which you’ll be able to redesign the island however you see fit.

The world of Animal Crossing is filled with numerous anthropomorphic characters that you can invite to live on your island. These characters have appeared in several Animal Crossing games.

The game offers relatively more items to find and a larger space to customize and design. One thing that’s similar between Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley is that you will need to forage for resources, which you will then use to craft various items.

Overall, Animal Crossing’s gameplay is less structured, and after you get a three-star rating on your island, the game’s objectives will be completely up to you. Because of this freedom, we see a lot of creativity from Animal Crossing: New Horizons players.

The collaborative game, however, progresses in real-time, making it a little slower than Stardew Valley. Of course, some might find this intentional slowed-down progress relaxing.

Stardew Valley

Animal Crossing vs Stardew Valley
Credits: Chill Gaming

Set in Pelican Town, Stardew Valley starts off with you working as a corporate employee in the city who inherits a piece of land from your late grandfather. You’re happy to give up your dead-end corporate job and run away from the stresses that modern city life presents.

You move to Pelican Town to turn your grandfather’s dilapidated land into a flourishing farm. Your job on the farm entails raising farm animals, building coups and barns, planting and harvesting crops, and more.

Over time, you can customize the playable character and even create new wearable items in numerous colors. While the game was originally single-player, you can now play multiplayer to visit your friends’ farms or build one together.

While the introduction of multiplayer was great, the game doesn’t focus much on it and heavily relies on befriending and interacting with the NPCs in Pelican Town.

The NPCs, in general, have a lot more to offer and they can help you uncover the town’s secrets. You can also romance and marry the datable and marriageable NPCs in Pelican Town or any other player of your choice.

One thing that differentiates between the two games is that Stardew Valley includes mining and combat, which add a different dimension to life sim/farming.

While you can indefinitely fish, maintain your farm, and fight monsters in this game, one of its updates introduced a completion meter, adding an end goal to Stardew Valley.

The game will progress one day at a time and you’ll wake up at 7 am and pass out by 2 am if you’re not already in bed by then. Sleeping in the game will save your progress and you can control the pace of the time by deciding when to go to bed. Ultimately, you can play this game at your own pace.

Animal Crossing vs Stardew Valley – 9 Things That Set Them Apart

Now that we have a basic understanding of what each of the two games is all about, it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty details and figure out which game falls short in certain aspects and which one is taking the lead!

Let’s take a look:

1. Game Modes and Platforms

Animal Crossing vs Stardew Valley
Credits: Wickedy

The first essential difference between Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing is that the former offers PC, Xbox, or PlayStation gameplay, and the latter is exclusive to Nintendo.

So, if you don’t have this console built by the Japanese giant, you won’t be able to try Animal Crossing. However, you can still play Stardew Valley, which is one of the best games with striking similarities to Animal Crossing.

Both games offer multiplayer gameplay, with Animal Crossing offering multiplayer for 8 players with a special focus on its various social features and Stardew Valley offering multiplayer for 4 players with a focus on satisfying cooperative gameplay.

2. Gameplay and Activities

Stardew Valley vs Animal Crossing
Credits: God is a Geek

Animal Crossing is somewhat like Minecraft in the sense that the game offers a lot of freedom in terms of what you want to do. After completing the main quests, you can do whatever you like.

Your primary task in the game is to turn your island into a safe haven and a paradise for all the residents and foster as many satisfied villagers as you can.

There is no time limit and the customization methods and techniques are also entirely up to you. You can spend your time gardening, visiting other players’ islands, hanging out with the NPCs, or simply exploring the area.

However, farming in Animal Crossing is a hobby rather than a simulator. You will most likely profit more from fishing or catching bugs. Death, shortage of supplies, and starvation are absent in this game.

The entire goal of the game is constant development and while you can expect some daily new quests, some players have reported them to be too simple and repetitive. Therefore, you will have to create a task for yourself.

You can terraform the island, implement creative projects, and design anything you want. The game also offers extensive customization of textures, which allows you to change almost all surfaces, be it paths, interiors, or clothing.

Animal Crossing offers a carefree experience for fans of customizing characters, exploring, and crafting coupled with regular seasonal events.

On the other hand, Stardew Valley’s gameplay is closely knit with its storyline. It is particularly captivating because it offers themes of fulfillment through hard work and the threat that a massive corporation presents.

Most of the money in Stardew Valley comes from farming and the game requires plenty of hard work. However, you can also experience an awesome adventure in the dungeons, embark on exciting journeys, or visit Pelican Town to socialize with the community.

Stardew Valley also offers two additional features that are absent in Animal Crossing; combat and romance. You can fight monsters and get married in this game.

Fighting monsters also opens up new possibilities, creating a mini-game within the game where you can discover the town’s extraordinary secrets and find amazing hidden treasures.

Since Stardew Valley is a role-playing game, it offers better long-term goals and quests, which will gradually become challenging given that the days in the game are short. However, the game promises to become more relaxing as you earn some bucks.

3. Relationships and NPCs

Stardew Valley vs Animal Crossing
Credits: DangerouslyFunny

If you’re someone who pays special attention to your relationships with the NPCs in a game, this differentiator will be of significant importance to you.

The NPCs in Animal Crossing are animals, while, on the other hand, the NPCs in Stardew Valley are humans. Since there are 300 villagers in Animal Crossing, each with their own motives, character, and ambitions, you should expect complete NPC randomness in this game.

While each character is unique and each meeting is memorable in Animal Crossing, something is still quite amiss when it comes to relationships and NPCs.

Although you won’t find many NPCs in Stardew Valley and the ones present are always the same, your relationship with them will likely be more satisfying.

Throughout the game, you will also come across several new characters who will share interesting backstories with you. All the characters in general are a part of the entire plot and their stories go much deeper.

If you’re on the lookout for a more realistic and joyful experience with NPCs and in-game relationships, Stardew Valley might just be what you’re looking for.

4. Graphics and Time

Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley
Credits: zoenotzoey

You can fill new structures to attract more dwellers to the desert island you discover in Animal Crossing. The game features advanced 3D graphics that will impress and satisfy fans of modern-day video games.

One of the most significant differences between Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing is the daily mode. In Animal Crossing, everything happens in real-time and everything, including sleeping, traveling, plant growth, etc, takes as much time as it would in real life.

While this might seem too slow for some gamers who enjoy fast-paced games, it allows for a more relaxed gameplay without any need for rushing things.

In Stardew Valley, since its creator was heavily inspired by Harvest Moon, you can enjoy a sandbox world in 2D pixel art and a top-down view. Fans of classic retro games with surely fall in love with this game.

Moreover, its daily mode is pretty regular and the in-game days last approximately 20 minutes each. The playable character in Stardew Valley will have to go to sleep to regain strength for upcoming challenges.

5. The Story

Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley
Credits: theamandafiles

If you’ve ever played or heard of Animal Crossing, you might already know that this game isn’t intrinsically concentrated on the story. Whichever part of the Animal Crossing series you play, you will create a hero, travel to an idyllic place, and customize it however you like.

The gameplay in Animal Crossing: New Horizons significantly focuses on designing the island to transform it into an energetic paradise for its residents, helping the animal characters in their daily life, and performing tasks given by other villagers.

Meanwhile, Stardew Valley is heavily focused on its story. The swarming story starts with you as a young but tired employee in the big city, which you leave to take over and transform a farm – previously owned by your grandfather – into a profitable estate.

The town you move to becomes a source of secrets to explore, the locals become your friends [or even lovers], and, consequently, the village becomes your home.

Stardew Valley, unlike Animal Crossing, is a farm simulator with elements of RPG. A lot of what happens in the game depends on your actions and decisions and each encounter in the game leads to a new adventure and a new story that might or might not entail mature themes.

6. The Quests

Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing
Credits: BeardBear

Stardew Valley technically ends when Grandpa determines your success at the beginning of Year 3. However, you can continue to play for as long as you want even after the game’s supposed end.

When you’re done with all the quests sent yo you via mail, you can find many more randomly generated quests outside Pierre’s General Store.

While these quests can contain unusual requests and seem a bit random, they ensure that you never run low on your to-do list tasks.

This is not the case in Animal Crossing. You can easily run out of things to do in the game, especially if you’ve completed all the required buildings and shops and your island has a 5-star rating.

7. The Recipes

Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing
Credits: Waifu Simulator 27

In Animal Crossing, you can acquire new recipes by finding and learning DIYs. However, recipes in Stardew Valley are learned through blossoming friendships or The Queen of Sauce, a cooking channel.

Animal Crossing has a whopping 141 recipes in total, but the 74 recipes in Stardew Valley are quite essential in improving your character’s energy and health.

Stardew Valley recipes also sometimes come with special effects with benefits such as improved farming or mining. As the game progresses, your meals in the game can highly impact whether you will succeed or fail in certain activities.

8. Frequency of Updates

Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing
Credits: Mayor Mori

Animal Crossing wins the race in terms of new content. The game keeps evolving frequently, making things more interesting than before, with frequent patching and free new content.

Stardew Valley, on the other hand, is an indie game and with the development team of only one person, you might notice a delay in updates and slowness in how things are made.

If you’re hungry for frequent new experiences, Animal Crossing might be a better fit for you.

9. Co-Op Gameplay

Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley
Credits: yakkocmn

We mentioned earlier that both Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley offer multiplayer. However, the only element that’s lacking in Animal Crossing is co-op gameplay, which is only possible for people playing on the same Nintendo Switch. You won’t find any official way to play co-op on the same island and at the same time from two different devices.

Stardew Valley definitely wins in this case. You can create a complete LAN and have up to 4 other Stardew Valley players living on the same farm. The players can also have their respective finances separated.

Stardew Valley makes it possible for players to enjoy the game together from afar without any need for device-sharing.

The Final Verdict

Both Animal Crossing game series and Stardew Valley have a strong fan community filled with creative and supportive individuals and both these games have several similar experiences, so fans of one are likely to enjoy the other game.

The games have a massive world to keep you busy for hours on end and they offer a lot to keep you busy during an otherwise boring day. Both of them are simple yet refreshing and wholesome.

We hope this Animal Crossing vs. Stardew Valley guide has helped you conclude which of these two is the kind of game you would try first or focus on the most. In the end, the ultimate decision lies in your hands and it’s your specific requirements and needs that will help you decide which game is better for you.

If you’re interested to find out about other games that are similar to Stardew Valley, be sure to check out our blog: 10 Games Like Stardew Valley That Come with A Similar Gaming Experience (2022).

Meet the author

Hello Stardew enthusiasts! I'm Yamna, your freelance aficionado in the enchanting world of pixelated agriculture. Delve into my game guides, where strategies sprout like digital crops, and mysteries unfold amidst pixelated landscapes. Join me on this expedition, where each guide is a compass navigating you through the art of farming in Stardew Valley. Let's cultivate a vibrant story together, where every tip is a twist and every harvest is a triumph!

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