Following its reveal last year, we’ve all been clamouring for more information about Animal Crossing on Switch and during E3 2019, Nintendo delivered. We got a title – Animal Crossing: New Horizons – and a short trailer detailing the premise, plus a more in-depth look during the Nintendo Treehouse Livestream.
If you’re after details on the game - now scheduled to arrive on 20th March 2020 - you’ve come to the right place; we’ve collected everything we know so far about Animal Crossing: New Horizons below for your enjoyment....
What We Know...
It seems Nook has a new business venture! He’s sold you a Nook Inc. Deserted Island Getaway Package, although said package only comes with the barest of necessities to survive on the island – a tent, a lamp and a camper bed. Once you’ve pitched up, it’s up to you to build a life from the ground up using the natural resources you’ll find on the island.
It’s been delayed to 2020 ☹
Yep, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has slipped from 2019 into next year - the game will now be releasing on 20th March 2020. While this is disappointing for people who hoped to be playing it over the holiday season, we’re sure fans would rather wait a little longer than have the developers burn themselves out or rush Animal Crossing to Switch when it isn’t quite ready. We don’t know about you, but our backlog is positively bursting – there’s plenty to be getting on with in the meantime, so another few months isn’t the end of the world.
You start from scratch
Rather than arriving in a pre-existing village, you’ll be starting from absolutely nothing in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Speaking on the Nintendo Treehouse Livestream, developers Aya Kyogoku and Hisashi Nogami said they wanted to give players the opportunity to build everything from scratch, as opposed to arriving in a pre-built town. This means you’ll be able to choose the exact location of amenities on your island, but there’s a lot of work to do before we get to that stage…
Crafting's the name of the game
This seems to be the biggest change from previous games. Borrowing mechanics from Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, you’ll be finding and harvesting resources to build furniture, tools, clothes and other things as you colonise the island. Materials such as stone, clay and wood can be easily found and used to fashion rudimentary tools at Nook’s crafting station, while Timmy will buy unwanted inventory items giving you cold hard bells. You’ll need hardwood to craft sturdier equipment, although there’s no confirmation of durability meters attached to the fruits of your carpentry (that’s a joke, although it would be hilarious to sit down on a bench and have it collapse).
There's a pop-up onscreen map
During the Treehouse livestream we saw a map in the bottom right corner which would flash up (along with the time in the opposite corner) after you’ve been stationary for a couple of seconds. It showed an airport on the south coast of the island – will we be greeting new arrivals there and dropping friends’ off at Departures when they go home?
You can place furniture outside
As well as the ability to move items in half unit increments (as in Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer), you can also now drop furniture outside. This means no more living hard; BBQs everyday (on our specially built patio).
Earn Nook Miles with your NookPhone
Tom Nook’s expertise knows no bounds; he’s expanded into mobile tech and developed his own branded cell phone. Through this device you manage many of your day-to-day activities and also access your DIY recipes (used to craft your gear). Ever the entrepreneur, Nook also has a ‘Air Miles’-like system that gives you passive gains as you accomplish tasks both big and small. Even weeding will go towards earning these miles, giving you a constant sense of progression. We wouldn’t get too excited, though. Knowing that swine Nook, redeeming ten thousand miles will probably get you a rubbish keyring or something, and he’ll no doubt want bells as well. Git.
NookPhone has a camera and apps
While the capture button works as you’d expect, you can also use your phone to add filters to your shots and snap selfies to your heart’s content. There'll also be other 'apps' for the NookPhone - it sure is a versatile bit of kit. No word yet if Crazy Redd can jailbreak it for 5,000 bells.
Accurate Southern Hemisphere seasons
As we previously reported, players in the Southern Hemisphere can finally sync the game to their seasons and get weather that looks a little more like what they see outside the window.
There's same-console 4-player co-op
Using your NookPhone (watch out, that raccoon collects call data and cookies, you know!), you can 'call up' another player with a house on the island (up to eight people can reside there) and play in co-op with another Joy-Con. The camera will track the ‘leader’ (you can switch) and ‘warp’ the guest to the screen if they stray too far. Four people can play together on the same screen in this manner.
Whether they’re learned from Dr. Shrunk is unknown, but a wheel of gestures can be accessed and unlocked in a similar way to Animal Crossing: New Leaf.
Dig up clams for bait
Digging clams on the beach will enable you to craft fish bait. Yarp.
You can pole vault over rivers
In the trailer you can glimpse the player character doing their best Luke Skywalker impression and vaulting over the river with a pole, which should save time getting around the island. Blue milk unconfirmed.
You’ll start with a couple of neighbours on your island
The developers confirmed that you won’t be entirely alone when you land on the island. You’ll have a couple of other villagers (islanders?) who also took advantage of Nook’s Getaway Package, so it won’t be too lonely. They’ll still check with you before setting up their own camp, so don’t worry about them setting up shop where you’d planned to put your greenhouse. This isn’t Civilization, after all.
The game will feature autosaves
Unfortunately (for him), Mr Resetti has been made redundant as New Horizons uses an autosave system. Aya Kyogoku fortunately confirmed that he’s since found a new job, so we can still expect to see the mole pop up elsewhere in the game.
... but Animal Crossing: New Horizons will not support cloud saves
Nope, due to concerns involving ‘time manipulation’ (messing with the system clock to ‘time travel’ for specific items/benefits/events), Nintendo has confirmed that, disappointingly, cloud saves won’t be supported in the game.
It will be compatible with amiibo
In the same interview, Kyogoku also confirmed that you’ll be able to use your amiibo in the game, although she stopped short of confirming exactly what they’ll do.
Tom Nook isn’t such a bad guy
Apparently Nook is working ‘tirelessly’ and reinvesting all his bells in the community. He also doesn’t charge interest on loans and will wait as long as it takes for you to pay off your debt, no pressure. We’re still not convinced.
There’s no direct interaction with Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
Kyogoku stated that “we feel they’re two different types of games” and that there’ll be no direct interaction between Animal Crossing: New Horizons and the free-to-play mobile game, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, although there will be ‘collaboration items’.
Only one island per Switch
While up to eight players can share a single island, there’ll only be one island per system and you won’t be able to set up camp on a friend’s island (unless, of course, you share a Switch).
The following tidbits have also been confirmed:
- Voice chat will probably be done via the wonderful Nintendo Switch Online app.
- Isabelle is in the game, although her appearance may depend on which facilities you decide to build.
- There are no new villager personality types.
How does it look?
As you can see from the screenshots on this page, the visuals are very much in line with Animal Crossing: New Leaf, albeit with a beautiful high-def sheen. Characters appear to be a tiny bit larger than before. There’s a lovely depth-of-field effect and seeing the series in HD for the first time (shh, we don't talk about Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival) feels similar to the jump from Pikmin 2 to Pikmin 3 – it’s not particularly surprising, but those apples have never looked juicier. All that flora and fauna is a treat for the eyes, that’s for sure, although there’s nothing revolutionary going on.
We glimpsed some new and improved animations (laying paths with a trowel, for example) and the leaves on trees are now animated, reacting to the wind in a pleasing manner. Water – ever the barometer of video game graphics – has been given a visual overhaul, too. The time lapse section of the trailer shows it off best and it looks lovely. The lighting also looks particularly nice - check out the glow of the tent and the changing shadows throughout the day:
Overall, casual players might glance at this game and not see much difference from New Leaf or Pocket Camp, but returning players will notice myriad enhancements and visual touches.
Is there anything we should be worried about?
Of course not! Well, some people might be a little disappointed at how familiar the Switch game looks. On current evidence, the bustling metropolis and various expanded features many have dreamed of don’t appear to have materialised. The devs have gone in the opposite direction, focusing on the ‘local’ angle and developing your village completely from the ground up. It seems to be very much a gentle evolution of the formula. Nook’s taken a leaf from the book of the Fyre Festival organisers, it seems, and planting you on a deserted island removes the possibility of a bustling shared online space. Not that we expected an Animal Crossing MMO or anything of the sort, but some veterans who were hoping for expanded horizons might find New Horizons to be playing things a little ‘safe’.
The lack of cloud saves is another disappointment. We understand the potential for 'time manipulation', but it seems like a solvable problem and one that should be solved; Animal Crossing is a game you can easily invest hundreds of hours in, and on a portable system (in 2020!) you shouldn’t have to worry about losing your progress if your Switch gets dropped or stolen. One Nintendo Life team member suggested Mr Resetti’s cousin, Mr Restorri, could arrive to berate you if cloud save-based foul play is detected. There must be a workable solution to this problem that doesn’t penalise players for real-world scenarios where you might have to change your system clock, though.
There are still a shedload of details to come and plenty of things we don’t know. We noticed that you can actually see other islands in the distance at the end of the trailer. Might we be island-hopping across atolls? There’s potential for new features and reveals to come in the nine months until release, so we’ve got our fingers crossed for more, more, more!
What did you think of the Animal Crossing: New Horizons gameplay reveal? Are you excited at what's been shown so far? Disappointed about the delay? We'll update this article with more info as and when it comes, but in the meantime share your thoughts and opinions below with a nice comment.