Finally, after years of anticipation, E3 2019 gave Animal Crossing fans the announcement they’ve been waiting for. Nintendo announced Animal Crossing: New Horizon for the Nintendo Switch, the first console addition since the beloved GameCube release and it’s easy to see that this franchise entry will be worth the wait.
Here’s everything we know so far.
What’s new in Animal Crossing: New Horizons?
Update January 30th, 2020: Animal Crossing: New Horizon custom Nintendo Switch, dock and case
Aloha! to the newest Nintendo Switch design. Nintendo of America tweeted the lastest design for a brand new custom Nintendo Switch, and it’s all about Animal Crossings: New Horizons. Featuring unique Joy-Con controllers, Animal Crossing-inspired embossed details, a Tom Nook and family designed dock, and a leaf-printed protective case, it’s the perfect package for any Animal Crossing enthusiast.
The new Nintendo Switch design is available for pre-order and the accessories will be available on March 13, 2020, just in time for Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Update January 24, 2020: Target releases Animal Crossing: New Horizons pre-order bundle
If you haven’t already pre-ordered Animal Crossing: New Horizons and you love getting bonuses, you’re in luck. Target tweeted out a pre-order bundle that includes a free, and exclusive, Animal Crossings: New Horizons journal. When you pre-order the game, you get access to this cute, matching notebook. The pre-order bundle is currenlty available only through Target.
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Update January 10, 2020: Officially-licensed Animal Crossing: New Horizons Accessories from Hori
Animal Crossing fans rejoice! It looks like Nintendo and Hori have joined to bring us some great Animal Crossing: New Horizon-inspired accessories for the Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Switch Lite. Though they are currently only available through Amazon Japan, and fans can purchase these adorable extras. The collection includes a storage case, a shoulder bag, a patterned pouch, a Switch Lite semi-hard cover, a super cute Switch stand, and a charming tote bag. At this time, they are not available for purchase, but you can pre-order them! The entire collection will ship internationally, but not until March 31, 2020. Unfortunately, they are not included as part of the New Horizon Getaway Package.
Update January 2, 2020: New trailer for Animal Crossing: New Horizon
It’s finally 2020, and that means only a few short months until Animal Crossing: New Horizon. With the new year came a new trailer tweeted by ACPocketNews. This trailer acts like a timeshare presentation to some of our favorite animal NPCs, including Isabella! Included with the 30-second trailer was a release date of March 20, 2020.
What is Animal Crossing: New Horizons?
Animal Crossing is a simulator game series where players control a taciturn avatar starting a new life in a new town filled with quirky inhabitants and fun seasonal changes. The goal is to explore, gather, chat with townsfolk, clean up weeds, and really deck out your living quarters.
With the help of resident retailer and business raccoon, Tom Nook, you start small and work your way up to a bigger house with more additions. To do this, you’ll need to earn Bells (money) doing odd jobs for your neighbors, collecting and selling all manner of creatures, or just getting rid of your junk.
To top things off, you don’t actually need to be in the game for things to happen. That’s right; the town will go about its daily business without you. There’s no shortage of things to do in these casual, yet fun games.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a brand-new unexplored world, and everything about the franchise may be changing for the better.
New Horizons: What’s new with gameplay?
Compared to the previous entries in the franchise, to say it’s a lot is putting it mildly. Animal Crossing games typically present players with a random map design whenever a new town is created. While there is no word specifically about how much control you will have in selecting your remote island setting, you will be able to customize it. You can dig paths, place your home anywhere you want (even the beach!), and move trees!
From the trailers, it appears that everyone starts from scratch, even Nook, by receiving the “Nook Inc. The Deserted Island Getaway Package.” Players have a tent, a NookPhone, and a pocket full of dreams. With this blank canvas, or “empty map,” you can really set to work making this island according to your vision. And that is exciting!
The game’s focus is still similar, but it comes with some new mechanics. The goal is still to collect, explore, and shape your town, but there are a few enhancement to really take customization to the next level.
Getting crafty and hunting for materials
Originally incorporated in the Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp mobile game, players will have the chance to get crafty and create their own items using materials found in their own backyard. From the game footage, it appears that you won’t have a personal bench to start, but that’s OK. Tom Nook has a workbench for you to craft whatever you need, for free!
Tom Nook’s shop looks like it’ll be the place to go if you want to buy or sell materials or anything else you’re carrying around, including weeds. (Yes, weeds!) Of course, if you’re a hoarder (like me), you’ll want to hold on to those materials. From what we’ve gathered from the trailer, those materials will be useful for building all sorts of items, like the “flimsy ax” used to chop down trees. Of course, getting a new item can help you gather even more materials, and sometimes some rare components may just pop up.
You can use just about anything to build new items, from wood to weeds. Players can uncover recipes to craft items using the NookPhone under the DYI Recipes app, which has tons of recipes for tools, furniture, clothes, bait, and more. All the information you’ll need to build will be right in the recipe, down to the number of resources.
When it comes to gathering sources, you can find what you need right on the island. Weeds, rocks, wood — pretty much anything is useful for crafting. You can also buy what you need from Tom Nook, which may come in handy for rarer components. From the looks of it, crafting may be the key to upgrading your equipment. With an example like “flimsy ax,” one can only hope that better things are ready to get built.
Frequent flyer: What are NookPhone and Nook Miles?
One of the fancy new additions and key items in New Horizons is the NookPhone. This handy little device has a bunch of useful apps that will help as you play.
- DIY Recipe App: Contains recipes and materials needed for crafting
- Camera: For snapping handy photos
- Map: Check out your island’s layout
- Nook Miles: Rewards program
- Call an Islander: Call a friend to join you.
The NookPhone is pretty much your connection to everything. While most of the apps are self-explanatory, the Nook Miles is a nifty new feature that rewards players as they complete objectives, much like airline miles. Simple tasks like crafting a certain number of items or catching a certain amount of bugs can earn Nook Miles. If you accumulate enough miles, you can complete the ‘Nook Mile’ card and exchange it for rewards. This addition is pretty great; we can finally be rewarded for our hard work.
If you want to capture every moment, the camera app comes in handy. You can snap photos, zoom, and add graphics; you can even pose if you’d like. This feature is even better when you have some friends along for the fun.
Phone a friend: Call an Islander and New Horizons multi-player
Playing together with your friends has always been a staple feature of Animal Crossing games, and New Horizons looks no different. At the end of the trailer, there are a total of eight villagers seen together gathering at some rocks next to the water.
It’s confirmed that up to eight islanders can be living together on the same island. Up to four of them can play together at the same time using two pairs of Joy-Cons. There are online and local multiplayer, and more details will be revealed later.
During each multiplayer session, a leader can be designated for the group. The leader can use the Call an Islander app to bring in additional islanders. The leader will have a yellow flag marker shown above their head, so it’s easy to distinguish who is currently leading the group. If at any time you want to switch the leader so they can share in the ‘material’ wealth, you can easily move the flag around from player to player. Plus, each player can emote, which is a fun little detail.
During co-op play, the other islanders will teleport near the leader if they stray too far. It should be noted, to engage in the four-player co-op, every player needs to have a house on the island. For eight-islander multi-player, you can travel to one player’s island and explore there.
Other twists on the New Horizons
While the game has a very familiar look, there are so many new details that are exciting about New Horizons. We’ve only received a glimpse of the possibilities, and this was before the game was delayed. Who knows what could have been added?
In addition to crafting, the NookPhone, and multi-player, some new gameplay elements are being introduced. From the trailer and gameplay demos, we can tell there’s going to be customization options galore. Items no longer have to be placed inside the home; you can set up a nice bonfire and hammock right outside your house.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons will also feature multiple hemispheres, so no matter where you are, your island will experience similar seasons and weather. Fishing, bug catching, fossil finding, and planting are all still staple activities, but now you can pick flowers instead of crushing them. Players can craft bait, make a garland, use weeds to craft, and move trees! Plus, the fruit will no longer be a novelty. Eating a piece of fruit seems to give your islander strength to perform more strenuous tasks, like pulling up and moving a tree.
What’s more exciting about this update is the variety it brings. Weeds, plants, and growth will change, as the trailer shows plant life cycles and even mushrooms in fall. The island itself will just be much bigger.
When does Animal Crossings: New Horizons release?
Originally, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was supposed to come out sometime in 2019, but the release has been delayed. Nintendo said the reason for the delay is that they want to “ensure the game is the best it can be.” That’s fine with me since it seems the game will be worth the wait.
The new release date is March 20, 2020, which isn’t too far from now, and it will be available exclusively on the Nintendo Switch.