In the days of the GameCube, great titles could be hard to come by. Although there is undoubtedly a great selection of some of the best Nintendo games to date on the GameCube, Animal Crossing stuck out as something special. So special that in March 2020, almost 19 years later, we’re getting yet another mainline release. Although it’s been a while since we’ve seen a major Animal Crossing release, there’s a ton of stuff to get excited about with New Horizons, and in this article we’ll take a look at everything we know so far.
New Horizons, unlike all other Animal Crossing games we’ve seen so far, will take place on a deserted island. Good ‘ol Tom Nook is selling tickets for an experience to get away to a deserted island and live a more simple version of life. From all the footage we’ve seen of the game so far, though, although the location is much different from before, the way everything is laid out looks pretty familiar. A big point to note, too, is that because this is a deserted island, there is no pre-existing village that you’re moving into. We’ll get into that later in the article, though. For now we can definitely say that the new setting of New Horizons looks like it’ll be a blast, and seems like a great way for the game to be refreshed while still holding true to all of the great aspects of the originals. An area that’s still unconfirmed as of right now is whether or not you’ll get to choose the layout of your island upon starting a new game. While we’ve seen the option of several town layouts given in previous games when starting out, there’s no village to start out with in New Horizons. Perhaps we’ll still be allowed to choose the geographical layout of the island, but as of now this hasn’t been shown yet.
While we haven’t gotten to see too much of this aspect of New Horizons in the gameplay that Nintendo has shown off, there’s enough information out there to get a general feel for how things will work. As you’re starting out on a deserted island, you’ll start off your home-building experience earlier in the process than previous games, and so will your fellow villagers. In addition to this yourself and your villagers will be crafting all of the furniture and decor that you want, likely increasing the time that takes as well. Basically it seems like this game will eventually turn into a fairly straightforward Animal Crossing title, but it’ll take a while to get to the point where you and a handful of villagers are in houses with shops and things like that. It’s important to note, too, that while there has been word that we’ll have shops and various buildings eventually scattered around our little islands, we haven’t been told just what this will involve. It’s likely that as you progress through the game you’ll have various options depending on your individual game choices to build particular buildings or shops with specific characters.
We’ve been fortunate enough that while Nintendo has delayed this title until March of next year, they’ve been showing us plenty of game footage. From everything we’ve seen so far, it looks like New Horizons will play pretty similarly to previous Animal Crossing games, with two big notable differences. The first change we’ve been able to see is the addition of a smartphone to your character. Rather than just the typical inventory we’ve seen in games past, you’ve now got a smartphone, called the NookPhone, that adds features such as Nook Miles, and your crafting recipes. The phone also allows the player in the game to take selfies and add filters to your little character’s photos! The Nook Miles program seems so far to be one of the two biggest features of the phone, allowing players to complete various tasks for Nook and some sort of reward. The second main feature is your DIY recipes which allow crafting in the game, a new mechanic that plays into the deserted island feel. The other big difference to gameplay are that you’re now able to place furniture outside and move all items in half-increments rather than one block at a time. This is definitely a welcome feature as it adds a lot to the customization of homes and towns.
From the footage that Nintendo has shown, it appears that the characters in New Horizons will be a familiar part of the game. They look and talk just like the classic villagers we’re used to, although it remains to be seen how much they’ll contribute to your island. Because these villagers are seemingly also starting their home from scratch, it’s likely that you’ll be helping them along with tasks such as collecting resources, moving them towards more permanent homes and eventually a whole village. Another thing that we’re not sure about yet is how many villagers will start on the island with you, or how many will join later, but we do know that there will at least be some other islanders with you when you start out.
Although this has been a staple of all the previous Animal Crossing games, we were happy to see that Nintendo brought over multiplayer to New Horizons. You can have up to eight players share one island on your Switch, and can visit friends online, just like the olden days. Nintendo hasn’t announced yet how online play will work with (or maybe without) their online app, but hopefully this won’t effect visiting your friend’s island too much. In addition to online play, through your NookPhone, you’re able to call another local player on your Switch to appear and immediately start helping you out!
Everything we’ve seen so far of New Horizons looks incredible, as you’d imagine. It looks like the style is most similar to New Leaf, which makes sense as it’s the most recent game in the series, but all the graphics definitely look much more refined. Colors pop and all of the characters and items look fantastic, and on the Switch’s screen in handheld mode, or on the Switch Lite, this game will no doubt look amazing. While this is probably the least exciting or surprising part of the new title, the fact that it looks good, it’s definitely nice to see that Nintendo has put a lot of work into keeping New Horizons just as adorable and visually satisfying as the previous games.
It’s worth mentioning, too, that the release date for this title was updated to March 2020. It’s likely if you’re just looking into New Horizons you might have only been aware of this date, but previously Nintendo had announced that the game was being released in 2019. Nintendo made a statement to fans explaining that this delay was due to not wanting to overwork their development team, and wanting to deliver a product that was more polished overall rather than an earlier release with worse performance.
What features are you looking forward to most in Animal Crossing New Horizons? Let us know in the comments below!