The Animal Crossing: New Horizons Direct aired today, and we got tons of new information for the Nook Inc. Island Getaway Package. New Horizons looks nothing short of stunning, and it seems to be the most in-depth game yet. In case you missed the Direct or want a recap, here are all the major points from Nintendo’s latest stream. There are 25 minutes of stuff to get through, so buckle up for a wealth of new information.
You Start on a Deserted Island
As we already knew, Animal Crossing: New Horizons starts you off on a deserted island. The game gives you a choice of four maps, which will appeal to the more reset-happy players looking to get the perfect island. As previously mentioned in a Nintendo Treehouse episode, you can choose if your island is on the Northern or Southern hemisphere. This affects what seasons occur during which months, making gameplay more realistic for our Australian friends.
You’ll arrive on your new island along with two randomly assigned villagers. Everyone gets handed a tent, and you can choose where yours and your villagers’ tents get placed on the island.
You Get an Airport and a Resident Services Tent
The game starts with two main services – the airport and a resident services tent. The airport allows you to travel to other islands, either locally or online. Players visiting you will also arrive via the airport. Visiting is done with an assigned Dodo Code, which seems a little more complicated than previous titles. New dodo character Orville operates the airport, with fellow dodo Wilbur piloting the plane.
The airport also utilizes a service that enables you to travel to smaller, randomized islands called Island Tours. These islands look to have a variety of flowers and trees with different fruits to your own islands. Villagers can also be recruited from these smaller islands to move in to your own. Island Tours require travel tickets, which can be obtained with Nook Miles (we’ll get to those shortly!)
The airport also offers postal service, allowing you to write letters to villagers. This seems to replace the Post Office of previous games, so, likely, we won’t be seeing Pelly and Phyllis return in New Horizons.
We’ve seen a fair bit of the resident services tent already, but the Direct goes more in-depth about its use. Tom Nook will give you advice and tips about everyday island life. You can also purchase tools, seeds, and medicine inside the tent. There’s also a crafting bench to build furniture and tools. The ATM is also in the resident services tent. The ATM can be used to redeem Nook Miles, pay off loans, as well as a ‘Nook Shopping’ option, which looks to use Nook Miles to purchase items and quality-of-life features.
You Have a Smartphone that Tracks Milestones
We’ve already seen the NookPhone, Animal Crossing: New Horizons answer to the modern smartphone, in a previous Direct. We’ve had a little more information on the apps within it, such as the new Rescue Service app. If you get lost or can’t return to your tent/house for some reason, the Rescue Service will pick you up and drop you off back at your little abode. We’re not sure who runs it yet, but judging by the music and the mysterious operator’s language, we bet Resetti might have something to do with it.
The Nook Miles app gets a little more information in this Direct, too. There’s a variety of challenges that players can do to obtain Nook Miles, the currency that can be used to purchase certain items as well as travel tickets (mentioned earlier). Nook Miles can also be used for more quality-of-life features, such as a tool ring, a much-requested feature in past games. Most of these challenges seem like they’ll occur through natural progression, those there’s bound to be a few more demanding milestones to hit along the way. There are milestones for fishing, bug-catching, and interacting with other villagers.
Customizations Return…in a HUGE Way
With the absence of Reese and Cyrus, the resident customization experts from New Leaf, it was uncertain if furniture customization would return. Fortunately, the crafting bench allows you to customize furniture in a variety of ways. The Direct shows a bed, with a variety of bed frame colors and the option to have custom patterns on the bedding. There are also tons of clothing and character customizations available.
There’s also a variety of bridges and ramps available, the latter of which is a brand-new feature. Both come in many different materials and styles. They aim to eventually replace the ladder and pole-vaulter, new tools in New Horizons designed to make traversing the island more accessible.
One of the most surprising and incredible new features, however, is the Island Designer tool. Unlocked further into the game, the Island Designer tool (located on the NookPhone) completely changes the way we’ve played Animal Crossing in past titles. We’ve already seen path customization, which resides within this app, in previous videos. There’s a variety of path types, including dirt, stone, and brick.
By far, the most significant new additions are the waterscaping and cliff-construction tools. These new features allow you to add and remove cliffs, ponds, rivers, and waterfalls. It’s a huge game-changer, and it makes Animal Crossing: New Horizons the most customizable game in the series to date. The Direct shows the player creating a pond that flows down into a waterfall off a cliff face.
Shops, the Campsite and the Museum Return
Classic staples such as Nook’s Cranny, Able Sisters, and the museum are all set to return in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The museum has had a gorgeous renovation, looking more stunning than ever. Able Sisters also looks to have upgraded a bit, with a larger shop space. It’s highly likely that Nook’s Cranny will have numerous upgrades, as is tradition with previous titles in the series. Shoe seller Kicks are also shown in the Direct.
The campsite also returns from New Leaf, allowing random villagers to set up camp for a short while and potentially be recruited. It means that Amiibo functionality is also back in full force, allowing you to scan in Amiibo cards if there’s a certain villager you want on your island.
There’s (IRL) Smartphone App Integration
As we speculated last week, there’s a full-blown integrated smartphone app service. Releasing shortly after New Horizons, the smartphone app contains a QR code scanner, as well as other features such as a Best Friend allocator. There’s also a text chat and voice chat feature for communicating with other islanders. Speaking of mobile, there’s an upcoming Pocket Camp cross-over event with New Horizons items.
When it comes to multiplayer in the sandbox and creations games, the threat of grief is always present. Thankfully, Animal Crossing: New Horizons automatically disables the use of axes and other destructive tools for your visitors. If you want them to have access to these features, you can use the Best Friends feature on the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app.
We’ve covered just about everything announced in the Direct. It’s a lot of new information, which is understandable considering we had had no major update since June last year. Animal Crossing: New Horizons looks to be the most in-depth, fully customizable game yet. We can’t wait to see what the game has in store.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons will release on Nintendo Switch on March 20, 2020. There’s also a stunning Animal Crossing-themed Switch available. Don’t have a Nintendo Switch but want an Animal Crossing experience? An upcoming PC game is aiming to do just that.
Studying Games Journalism & PR in the UK. When she isn’t studying hard (AKA crying in the library), Mollie is probably splatting squids in Splatoon 2 or playing God in The Sims 4.