Back in September last year, Gameloft released Disney Dreamlight Valley on consoles and PC platforms as an early access release only available as a purchase with different tiers of founder’s packs. It was initially planned to be a free-to-play release when it exited early access, and has been getting updated quite a bit on consoles and PC. I played it on Switch, Steam Deck, and Xbox Series X last year, and dipped into this year again before it was announced for Apple Arcade. A lot has changed since, and Disney Dreamlight Valley finally exited early access and is available as a premium game on PC and consoles. Alongside that standalone release, Disney Dreamlight Valley Arcade Edition released on Apple Arcade, and it is one of the more interesting additions to the service for a variety of reasons.
Before getting into the differences and platform-specific details, if you’ve never played Disney Dreamlight Valley in any form or even heard of it, think Animal Crossing meets Disney and Pixar. Yes, that’s reductive since Disney Dreamlight Valley has a ton of quality of life features over Nintendo’s massively popular series, but I’m sure more folks have played Animal Crossing than not by now. If you haven’t, Disney Dreamlight Valley is a life simulation and adventure game that lets you create your own avatar and then jump into the magical world. The core gameplay gives you quite a bit of freedom, and is very relaxing. You can fish, cook, harvest items, decorate your house, use magic, and so much more.
There are enough guides and articles on Disney Dreamlight Valley itself since the game hit early access last year. Instead of going into detail about them, I’m going to focus on whether Disney Dreamlight Valley Arcade Edition is worth your time as an Apple Arcade subscriber, whether it is the game that will push you to try out the subscription, how the Apple Arcade version compares to the premium release, and more. I’m approaching this as someone who isn’t a huge fan of Disney and Pixar, but I know enough about the characters included, and I also love Animal Crossing on 3DS. Animal Crossing New Horizons on the other hand disappointed me, so I was glad to see other life simulation genre games deliver on what I wanted, including Disney Dreamlight Valley.
You can play Disney Dreamlight Valley Arcade Edition offline, but since it supports cross platform play with other non Apple Arcade platforms, I recommend playing with online support. I was curious how it would feel to control with touchscreen controls, and Gameloft did a great job here. After a few minutes, I had no trouble playing it on my iPhone 15 Pro. When using a DualSense controller to test, it also showed PlayStation button prompts. I didn’t try it much on macOS yet with keyboard and mouse controls, but it felt fine.
Being on Apple Arcade, Disney Dreamlight Valley Arcade Edition comes with some huge advantages, but also a few caveats. The good news is there’s no extra purchase needed. This is the full Disney Dreamlight Valley experience with the paid expansion, A Rift in Time, which sells for $30 on other platforms all included for Apple Arcade subscribers. There is no premium shop or star path here, so that means some cosmetic items might not be available yet or at all. I’m not sure how this will be handled, but I imagine we might see some content released slowly through free updates like we do in other Apple Arcade games. Either way, Disney Dreamlight Valley Arcade Edition offers stupidly good value for newcomers. It also supports cross platform play.
The downside is that there is no cross progression outside the Apple Arcade ecosystem. Your progress is on iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS, but you cannot bring your old progress or take this progress to other platforms. This might not be a big deal for some, but I’m worried that someone’s potentially hundreds of hours long save file might not carry over to something else if Disney Dreamlight Valley Arcade Edition ever leaves the service. Some developers have made it so progress is still usable on non Apple Arcade versions, but this is something to keep in mind before investing a lot of time into a fantastic game, when you might be better off getting it on another platform.
Speaking of another platform, how does Disney Dreamlight Valley Arcade Edition compare with Disney Dreamlight Valley on PS5, Xbox Series X, Steam Deck, and Nintendo Switch? Based on what I’ve played last year and this year, I’d say my favorite version of Disney Dreamlight Valley is the PC version on Steam Deck followed by Disney Dreamlight Valley Arcade Edition. I love playing life simulation games on a portable, and the Steam Deck version of the full game runs and looks excellent. The Switch version is not as good with much longer load times, worse performance, and menu lag. It looks fantastic on my high resolution display when I play the Xbox Series X version, but the cross save means I never lose progress there. I’ve been jumping between Xbox, Switch, and Steam Deck already.
Disney Dreamlight Valley Arcade Edition on iPhone 15 Pro has a few issues. I was surprised to see it not run at 60fps, and I hope this can be added in an update. The only other issue is the text size might be a bit too small for some people in a few menus, and some of the touch targets are too small on the phone screen. These need to be tweaked for touchscreens. It runs at full screen on both iPhone 15 Pro and iPad Pro (2020) thankfully, and progress syncs seamlessly between them and my MacBook Air.
The Apple Arcade version, like the main game, is a bit buggy though. This is in a much better place compared to the early access release, but still worth noting with some things seemingly being stuck in the ground, a character being out of bounds until I reloaded the game, and things like that. Nothing gamebreaking, but keep this in mind.
Disney Dreamlight Valley’s A Rift in Time expansion is pretty amazing so far. I haven’t played much of it on Apple Arcade, but have been checking it out on other platforms. If you enjoy the base game which you bought on other platforms, Disney Dreamlight Valley A Rift in Time is more of the good stuff with some notable upgrades. I would definitely grab the bundle with the expansion if I was looking to buy Disney Dreamlight Valley outside Apple Arcade. The new locations, characters, Royal Hourglass tool, and more just work so well together. I feel like the bar has been raised so much with this expansion that I don’t know if potential future ones will match.
Since Disney Dreamlight Valley Arcade Edition is basically an Apple Arcade Original release, it will get updates, and I hope the bugs and interface issues can be addressed soon. Beyond that, I’d love for high frame rate support on newer devices at least. I’d even opt for turning down some settings to play this at 60fps on iPhone 15 Pro. One other thing I want fixed is with character naming and how it is handled in this release compared to the game on other platforms. I’m not sure how it works exactly, but it seems like you get locked into a name or no name based on whether you agree to play online or not in the start.
If you have Apple Arcade, Disney Dreamlight Valley Arcade Edition is one of the best additions to the service in a long time despite a few issues. The game itself is great, and while I hope some aspects can be tweaked on iPhone and iPad, I have no hesitation in recommending you play it assuming you’re ok with the ecosystem lock in for progress. If you’d like some more flexibility on that front, I recommend buying it on Steam Deck or any other platform you prefer. In an ideal world, I’d be able to bring my progress over to Apple Arcade instead of having to start over, but this won’t be an issue for newcomers. If you’re new to it, Disney Dreamlight Valley Arcade Edition is excellent.