Following its reveal in 2018, we’ve all been clamouring for more information about Animal Crossing: New Horizons. If you’re after details on the game - scheduled to arrive very soon on 20th March 2020 - you’ve come to the right place; we’ve compiled everything we know so far about Animal Crossing: New Horizons below for your enjoyment.
What we know about Animal Crossing: New Horizons
The game is getting its own adorable themed Switch
Alongside all the expected Animal Crossing Switch cases, plushies and associated merch, Nintendo is releasing a beautiful Limited Edition Animal Crossing: New Horizons Switch (the standard model) with pastel Joy-Con, a black console featuring highlighted icons and a dock with Tom Nook, Timmy and Tommy beckoning you to their salty island. Just look at it...
It appears that only the UK version will come bundled with a download code for the game itself and Nintendo Japan is selling the standalone dock and the pair of Joy-Con separately from the console too - we've got our fingers crossed for a western release.
Regardless, we don't need another Switch. We don't need another Switch. This is the mantra we'll be chanting to ourselves for the next few months.
It was delayed
Yep, Animal Crossing: New Horizons slipped from 2019 into this year - the game will now be releasing on 20th March. The devs stated that it would be a "disservice" to fans to release it in a rushed state. While this was 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. And March is getting very close now.
Tom Nook has a new business venture
Appealing to your desire to get away from it all, the infamous raccoon and real estate tycoon has now 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. On arrival you'll be given an orientation tour by Nook Inc. staff, but 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.
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. The February 2020 Animal Crossing Direct explained that we'll be able to choose the general template and layout of our island in a similar way to previous entries:
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).
Isabelle is back in a similar town planning role
Once your island grows sufficiently, it seems that Nook will call in the town planning professionals and Isabelle will once again be on hand with her amenity expertise. Jolly good, too.
There's a pop-up onscreen map
There's a map in the bottom right corner which flashes up (along with the time in the opposite corner) after you’ve been stationary for a couple of seconds.
There's an airport
The Nintendo Treehouse livestream showed an airport on the south coast of that island and we guessed that we would be greeting new arrivals there and dropping friends’ off at Departures when they go home. That turned out to be true, as confirmed in the February Direct broadcast. It's run by Dodo Airlines and serves as the entry point to your town in a similar way the train stations on your mainland-based villages. It also serves as your island's post office.
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 and go on Island Tours
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. One way to spend your miles is to go on Island Tours that give you the chance to catch exotic bugs, pick new fruit and even meet new people.
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.
You can bring custom designs from New Leaf and Happy Home Designer via NookLink in the NintendoSwitch Online app
NookLink is a real-world smartphone app inside the Nintendo Switch Online app. By heading to the NookLink portion of the Switch Online app, you'll be able to can scan a Custom Design QR Code pattern from previous games Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer with your smartphone. From there, you can download your favourite patterns to New Horizons and use them in-game. You'll also be able to send instant messages with friends playing New Horizons and Voice Chat via the app.
This won't be available at launch, but is coming soon after in 'March 2020'. No more than 11 days post-launch, then.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons has 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. You choose your hemisphere at the start of the game.
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 easily 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.
Each island can contain up to 8 separate players on one Switch (although only 4 will be able to play together at any one time).
... and up to 8 players can play together online
With local wireless or an internet connection, up to eight players can visit a single island at once. Only visitors labelled as 'Best Friends' will be permitted to use axes and shovels while visiting your island paradise.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons 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.
However, Nintendo is going to implement a special system for people who lose their Switch or have it stolen - you'll be able to recover your save data direct from Nintendo in a one-time-only deal that be available at an unspecified time after launch. We imagine that Nintendo will simply keep the save data private on its end and only make it available to your account on request or on production of an official document of some variety, but who knows.
You won't be able to transfer Animal Crossing: New Horizons save data to another Switch
Yep, while it's possible (if unnecessarily convoluted) to transfer save data between multiple Switches in your household, that will not be the case for Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Not only that, but once you've started the game the island created will be forever tied to that Switch and - with the exception of the one-time-only recovery detailed above - your save data WILL NOT BE TRANSFERABLE to any other Switch, ever, even if you do a system transfer. Sheesh.
It doesn't take a genius to realise that is a rather silly situation to be in and, as stated above, Nintendo has way of backing up and returning your save data in an emergency - it just doesn't want to make life too easy for cheaters.
New characters will be joined by returning favourites
Through analysis of peripheral materials and branded goodies, it has been determined that many of our old favourites will be returning alongside the new animal cast. Returners include Saharah, Celeste, Wisp, Sable and Labelle, Gulliver, Kicks and Harvey. With over 200 characters confirmed so far, and the vast majority of those being returners, we've taken a look at each and every character confirmed in a handy article on the subject.
Angus is confirmed, so we're happy, macmoo.
The museum returns
Obviously. Still, it seems Blathers has been hard at work since New Leaf as the museum is looking better than ever. Well, the whole game is looking more shiny and lovely than the series ever has, but check out our gallery for pics of the new museum facilities.
It will be compatible with amiibo
New Horizons will be compatible with all Animal Crossing amiibo eventually, cards and figures. They can be used to invite your favourite characters to your island campsite or to an exotic island named Photopia for your very own photoshoot where you'll be able to dress them up and pose them to your heart's content.
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.
Clams can be dug up for bait
Digging clams on the beach will enable you to craft fish bait. Yarp.
Trees, houses and amenities can by uprooted and transplanted
Yep, you can arrange and rearrange most fixtures of your island - including services - by simply relocating them around. It looks like you have to eat some fruit to gain the strength to dig up and transport trees - see below:
You can also help new residents choose a spot for their home and reserve land for future homes, so new arrivals won't carelessly set up shop on your precious rhododendron patch.
You can remodel the terrain of your island
In a series first, possession of a Island Designer Construction Permit grants you the ability to modify rivers and cliffs on a whim. Want to widen the riverbank? Go right ahead. Fancy knocking through a cliff and laying a path to the north shore of the island? No problem. Always wanted a waterfall outside your front door? Ooo, the possibilities!
The extent to which this transforms the village experience shouldn't be underestimated. For years we've wanted the option to do some landscaping and New Horizons is letting us do just that.
You can pole vault over rivers and jump over streams
You can now do your best Luke Skywalker impression and vault over the water with a pole, which should save time getting around the island. Blue milk and submerged X-Wing unconfirmed.
Smaller gaps can be traversed with a simple hop and a skip. How far we've come!
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.
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.
In addition to giving a daily island-wide broadcast, he'll also buy any unwanted items off you at the Resident Services building, which includes weeds as part of his Island Cleanup Plan. While that sounds like he's doing you a favour, we can't imagine you're going to get much for a bunch of weeds. We reckon he just wants backbreaking work done for pennies. Clean your own weeds, Nook.
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’ which you'll get in both the mobile and Switch game.
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 which can house up to 8 permanent residents).
It will feature some series-first customisation options
Animals can wear long sleeves
Yes, the unrivalled power of Switch has enabled a true next-gen leap in render technology which means your animal chums can now wear long-sleeved garments.
Free updates will bring new special and seasonal events
More content will be added via free updates for seasonal events. The fact that they're not already part of the game suggests that compared to previous Animal Crossing games at launch New Horizons isn't actually finished yet. As you can see in the picture above, it appears that Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas based events won't be present in the base game at launch. Then again, it may be a cunning ploy to prevent players fiddling with their game clock to get a sneak peak at future events.
Bunny Day - the game's Easter event - is the first of the free updates to drop and will be ready for launch day (20th March).
It features headstones
Whether this signifies that Tortimer has shuffled off this mortal coil or that you can decorate your town to turn it into one big cemetery, it appears that headstones feature in the game.
The game looks absolutely lovely
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 seen 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 very 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 particularly lovely. The lighting also looks great - 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 veterans will notice myriad enhancements and visual touches.
Loads, probably, but we'll have to wait. We know there are no new villager personality types. The Switch entry in the series appears to be a gentle evolution of the winning formula. Some veterans who were hoping forexpanded horizons might find New Horizons to be playing things a little ‘safe’ and the lack of cloud saves is disappointing.
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 issue that doesn’t penalise players for real-world scenarios where you might have to change your system clock, though.
There are still 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 weeks until release, so we’ve got our fingers crossed for more, more, more!
Where can I pre-order Animal Crossing: New Horizons?
All the usual places, although several outlets are throwing in pre-order bonuses that you might want to check out. There's also a ton of related merchandise available that we've found exceptionally hard to resist.
Are you excited at what's been shown of Animal Crossing: New Horizons? 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. Not long now!