Animal Crossing games don’t come around all that often – at least not mainline games – so it’s hardly an understatement to say that hype surrounding Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been a touch feverish recently. Well, we were lucky enough to get our hands on it for a short time at Nintendo’s UK offices, and the gossip is just too juicy not to share, so strap yourselves in for a time of goodness.
We played three different save files so that we could see the game in various different stages, one when you’ve just started out on your island, one a fair ways down the line, and a final one where even the supremely exciting terraforming systems are unlocked; and yes, we terraformed, baby.
The first thing that hit us is just how pretty the game is. Yes we’ve seen screenshots and video footage in various different areas, but none of that really managed to do it justice. Seeing it in person showed just how sharp the whole game is, despite all the rounded corners on just about everything. Colours pop out at you, details as fine as Timmy and Tommy’s face fur are crisp and refined, the various lighting effects cast a wonderful array of different feels across your character and the surrounding environment, the entire thing is nothing short of drop-dead gorgeous.
This trend also carries over to how the characters behave and move; you’ll see villagers milling around as they usually do, but everyone seems to be living their own lives as well, rather than just waiting for you to interact with them and give their existence some semblance of meaning. Tom Nook can be found reading a book as you walk into Resident Services, Isabelle was diligently dusting her work area, they’re much more real, at least as real as giant anthropomorphic animals can be.
The animations have also had an upgrade, albeit less obviously. Running now carries real weight as your character snaps their arms back and forth rather than doing that strange ‘floaty’ sprint in New Leaf and pole vaulting over rivers feels substantial; it all aids in making your actions feel that much more true-to-life.
But what was most impressive was how in the earliest save file the island felt serene, calm, but properly isolated. You’re not walking in on an existing town and reigning over the occupants as the rightful dictator that you are; you’re hand-crafting this whole area from scratch, right down to the land and waters themselves (eventually). This is your island, your vision, and it’s more flexible than it has ever been before. Crafting is also an interesting addition; we didn’t fully realise just how much we’d need the resources found on the island to get by, so farming wood, stone, metal and other materials looks like it’s certainly going to bulk out your daily endeavours significantly. No more playing the game for an hour and feeling like you’ve done all you can do, yahoo!
Moving further on to the second save file, we started seeing a slightly more ‘traditional’ Animal Crossing layout to some degree. More houses, more villagers, fewer structures made of canvas, but absolutely littered with objects on the outside. This really felt like the island we were playing had a lot more personality to it, a far more personal endeavour than just having the Museum in the top left-hand corner rather than the bottom right.
Oh and the Museum, the Museum. We don’t want to gush about the visuals too much but we can’t let this slide by without a mention. Having perused through the halls we were utterly floored at just how atmospheric, original, and downright real the museum felt. Vents on the walls, small gratings where you might expect them, ants surreptitiously stealing sugar from an unattended cup of coffee; it is without a doubt one of the most wonderful visual experiences we’ve had in a game.
And now we get onto the most exciting reveal of the past Direct, terraforming – we’re not sure if that’s what it’s called in-game, but that’s what we’re calling it and we make the rules around here. We were only able to play around for a short time with all this, but suffice it to say our curiosity has been sufficiently tickled. The whole notion of your choice of town in past games being an unshakeable, unchangeable decision has come crashing down, and we were able to not only build or carve out whatever we wanted, but we could at long last place flooring down without fearing that someone’s going to kick it into dust.
It seems almost too much freedom coming at it afresh, but considering how developed the island was when we were playing, we’re fairly certain you’ll be introduced to the concept slowly and gracefully rather than being dropped into it like we were. The scope is borderline endless, and when combined with the whole fruit-eating to move entire trees about the place, we can only imagine what wondrous creations fans will be crafting.
All in all, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is shaping up to completely and utterly usurp its predecessors. There seems to be almost no reason we can think of why we’d return to the other games once we own this proper, it’s improved upon every single aspect from past titles, and thrown in a whole host of new lovely little quality of life features to boot. If when it comes out it can hold our attention even half as well as it managed to in our short time playing it, we’re all going to be in for a treat like no other.
What’s the word on framerate?
@mist 30fps, seems really stable to my eye.
Dang, this is amazing, Nintendo is the best. It's not even a contest nowadays. How can one company develop so many godly games.
"We played three different save files so that we could see the game in various different stages"
How to do it ?? 🤨
I thought we just only get 1 Save data for 1 cartridge.
@Anti-Matter Why would you think that? That would make it unsalable.
"we didn’t sully realise"
I assume that should be 'fully'?
So excited to start playing!
What is that place, in the last screenshot ? It looks like a doctor's office or a laboratory. The sign at the bottom left-hand corner makes it look like it belongs in the museum but I don't understand the purpose of that room. That villager looks like she's taking a coffee break...
I was thinking 3 different Save files = 3 different islands with their different animals on it.
Multiple systems for testing purposes, probably.
Looks like no one's going to see me that weekend, I'll be too busy collecting stones.
Well, that told me absolutely nothing that hasn't been shown or covered elsewhere.
People have a ton of questions about this game, so either you haven't thought to address them, don't know, or can't say i suppose.
God I can;t wait!
@echoplex it's a lab inside of the Museum, I don't know what it's there for though
@Folkloner You're welcome
Two weeks has never felt so far away.
Never played these games before but I think it will be good to play with my 3 year old. He's been liking Sonic Mania but I think a game where you can't lose would be better for him as he gets game over in under a minute every time.
It's so purty. I decided last week that I will pick this up. seems like a good break from all the other action I've been playing.
@Folkloner Or maybe you should just ask him a question.
Did you use 3 Nintendo Switch to play Animal Crossing New Horizons so you can have 3 different Save files in each machine ?
@Anti-Matter It was simply 3 different systems provided by Nintendo that we used during our visit, I'm assuming it was done that way for simplicity's sake.
Oh, thank you for the clarification. 😀
Wasn’t going to read this, too much hype already but of course couldn’t resist
Can’t wait to play this. Already planning on what kind of place I’d like to make...
I'm so excited to play this. I don't even need nintendo to tell me what else is coming this year, this game will be my year
This game repeatedly reminds me of Dragon Quest Builders. DQB you have more freedom and you fight and stuff, this doesn't offer that, just prettiness, and familiar charm.
I want to get cos it's purdy, but I also want it to have evolved a bit further - more mini-games (tennis, jet skiing, chess, ludo etc) and deeper AI for the NPCs..
The sensible me will play more DQB and New Leaf and get New Horizons in a few years. But the sensible me does have a habit of wandering off..
I finally bought a pro controller for this and if my 7yo doesn't think it's cooler than any tablet game she's played there's gonna be a disownin' Itellyouwhat.
Thanks for the update on the game and I am incredibly jealous that others are playing it 😂. I can't wait 😁
@AlexOlney "and we were able to not only build or carve out whatever we wanted"
Can you be a little more specific on what you wanted? I've seen a lot of comments on here since the Direct asking about hills, mountains, caves and trenches but all it looks like to me is you can change ground level to water or add or take away a hill 1 level high, which sounds extremely limited. Sure it's a first for the game and great for people who want to do that, but to say you could do whatever you wanted makes it sound like more than that.
Care to elaborate on terraforming? That would be a nice word if you can do a lot - ever build a track in "Modnation Racers?", now that's some serious terraforming - but I've seen most people refer to it as "landscaping" and that might fit better if it's extremely limited.
Oh, and for those people asking about the save files, nice of you to answer them, I think most of us just assumed they handed you 3 different Switch w/ an island on each thanks to Nintendo's screwed up 1 save file per Switch way of handling this.
Glad you enjoyed yourself, better than not.
Glad to hear the game meets expectations! But the side I'm interested in is the music and sound. How's the soundtrack and noises in the game?
@jcvandan Just wait until you're targetted by a tarantula or scorpion - you're opinion may change! At least in this game you can jump over something to avoid them - no such luck in previous entries. You don't know the meaning of panic until you get sighted by one of those bad boys!! Not to mention the bees/wasps...!
I really need something chill to play...I just went from wait a few months to getting this day one.
Why is Isabelle so darn cute?
I hope Nintendo puts some Animal Crossing's-type gameplay in Breath of the Wild 2. I really want to live in Hyrule.
2 Weeks seems far away though.
can't wait to play it.
With so much stress in the world right now, I think Nintendo should release this game early. They’d be doing a service to humanity.
I have the amiibo cards for my favourite villagers. Just trying to decide who I should invite to my campsite first.. Rooney, Ozzie and Eugene are at the top of my list.. I would like to know how many villagers you can have in your town, as I have quite a few favourites from previous games in the series. Would be good to have as many of them as I can get living in my town again. Also eager to find out if there are any new villagers and who they / what species they are.
I’m going to give this one a pass. Crafting? The only 2 games to ever make this an interesting mechanic are Minecraft and Final Fantasy VIII. No thanks. Having to play it for more than 1 hour a day sounds terrible. I like Animal Crossing because I need to play it daily but not for that long; it’s a nice game to play during breakfast for example. The Switch isn’t really that portable either so getting it out for a quick 10 mins on the bus is a no-no, a shame given how easily New Leaf could be loaded up in similar situations.
All the new features like terraforming sound great but after new leaf I can’t go back to having to play it at home again.
Excellent video thumnail/screengrab, Alex. Excellent
For some reason I've been finding it hard to muster much enthusiasm for this game even though I love Animal Crossing, but reading this has made me more excited to play it, so thanks Alex
@Anti-Matter One island per console, up to 8 players per island.
Can't wait for this. I put hundreds and hundreds of hours into New Leaf, and Horizons looks like a step up in every possible way. Really digging the new features like the crafting and terraforming. Other features like placing where new animal villagers homes go was always something that most folks wanted in New Leaf so that's cool too.
It's been almost 7 years since New Leaf, but man, it looks the they made it well worth the wait.
"There seems to be almost no reason we can think of why we’d return to the other games once we own this proper, "
Going to be a lot of lonely digital animals left watching. wondering. Waiting.
@Mana_Knight Not mine, I will be moving them into my new town. Should be much easier this time, having their amiibo cards will bring them straight to the campsite. 😃
You're telling me the game isn't out yet? I think we need to alter space time itself so we can play the game sooner!
@jcvandan my 3 year old is slowly gaining interest in games. I cant wait until we can hang out and play something from beginning to end. Definitely going to try with AC. Have you tried Mario Kart with the auto drive and steering on? My kid loves it
This is another spoiler for me
@christ15 Then why on earth did you open and read the article? And it’s not exactly like Animal Crossing has ever been heavy on plot...
@PacificNorthBC no I haven't actually that's a good call. It's just been 2d platformers so far. NSMB is good as they have the little rabbit character that can't be hurt by enemies. Hollow Knight was something else he really liked. Any game where you have to control the camera is a no as he just immediately points it at the floor and needs me to move it. I agree though it's going to be great when we can properly play something together (I don't think I was finishing games till I was almost 10 though so will be a while).
Really looking forward to this. Most curious at moment about multiplayer - wish it was splitscreen. Not sure my kids will share one screen as nicely as they do in the trailers!
Anyone else notice Nat, the old bug-off guy, on the sign in the break room screenshot?
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