It started with City Folk/Let's Go to the City.
In the first game, you were just a villager. As in, you were completely not important. You had no agency. Villagers could steal from you. You had no say in who leaves and who stays. Nobody cared about what you did. Nobody talked about you. Villagers would only care about what you could offer them. It was a life simulator, not a town simulator. Villagers would be rude to you on a daily basis. Some villagers would even despise the ground you walk on. It made those interactions with villagers who like you actually mean something. It had more depth.
Wild World made the villagers even less two dimensional by giving them hobbies, interests and personalities. They had more of a backstory. They very rarely ran out of things to say. The town felt like a community. You could listen in on and participate in villagers conversations. You could find out who a villager is. What they like, what their goals are, their personality etc. The game rewarded you for doing so. It was encouraged. There were friends, enemies, love triangles etc. Villagers would ask you about themselves and you were rewarded for knowing the intimate details about them.
City Folk stripped this away by replacing hobbies with dialogue trees. Villagers would run out of stuff to say after talking to them 2-4 times then just repeat the same line of dialogue over and over again. They became less important. The game discouraged you from interacting with them.
New Leaf made every villager like you. They practically worship you. The relationship with them is no longer equal. The game gives you so much agency that everything feels shallow. Talking to people feels almost like you're a cult leader rather than a mayor. They also have even less personality. It seems with every iteration the villagers aesthetically upgrade and their personality downgrades. It's become a fashion show. A shallow place to show off to the online community. A competition of who has the prettiest town rather than an actual community of diverse, detailed NPC's.
Thanks to data mining, it's been shown New Horizons has a tier list for their villagers. The ugliest, plainest (farm animals, dogs etc) villagers are at the bottom of the list, the cutest, most stylish favourites (Ankha, Zell etc) are at the top. The villagers have even less agency. You have full control if they leave or stay. They have been reduced to little dolls in perfect doll houses for people to collect and show off. No longer an NPC to form a connection with but a Yu-Gi-Oh card to be displayed and look pretty. Living furniture walking around doing shallow shit so it can be screenshot and posted on tumblr and reddit. It's like breeding for the perfect Pokémon only to throw it away because it only has 4 IV's. That's what villagers have been reduced to.
Wild World: A community of villagers that have diverse personalities where you, the player are an equal.
New Horizons: A E S T H E T I C
Source: Original link
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