Nintendo’s whacky life sim series comes to the Switch- here’s why we’re excited.
In spite of being a game about catching bugs, talking to animals, and paying off house loans – or perhaps because of it – there’s just something irresistible about Animal Crossing. It sinks its claws into you and refuses to let go, immersing you in what it has to offer so thoroughly, it’s hard to think about anything else.
Soon, it’ll be doing so yet again when Animal Crossing: New Horizons launches on the Switch. And as has been the case with almost all major Nintendo franchises’ Switch debuts, it’s looking like this is probably going to be the best Animal Crossing to date.
In this feature, as we build up to the game’s launch, we’ll be taking a look at fifteen key talking points on the game that you should know about. So without further ado, let’s dive in.
Animal Crossing has always put players in the middle of quaint little towns, that serve as the backdrop of a peaceful virtual life. This time though, things are different. In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, courtesy of the Nook Inc. Deserted Island Getaway Package, you will be going to – you guessed it – a deserted island, which is where you’ll live and build up your life.
BUILDING UP YOUR ISLAND
Building up your life on the island and the island itself won’t be a quick process. When the game begins, the island will be sparsely populated, and you’ll have little more than a tent and some camping gear. Slowly, overtime, you will unlock more stuff, allowing more residents to move in, new buildings and structures (such as a shop and a museum) will open up, existing buildings will improve, and more.
TRANSFORMING YOUR ISLAND
You’ll have much greater control over your island and its physical features in New Horizons than past Animal Crossing games. Right at the get go, the game will randomly produce four island templates for you to choose from. Going from there, anytime a new resident moves in, you’ll be allowed to pick where their house will be built. Other, more major new features include things such as basic terraforming, or being able to pave roads and paths yourself.
EXPANDING YOUR HOUSE
You will, of course, also be expanding your own house, as you do in every Animal Crossing game. As we mentioned, you’ll start out with just a tent, but will eventually be able to purchase a house. As always, you’ll be able to expand this house further and further, adding new rooms and increasing the sizes of older ones while paying off loans for each new expansion. One nifty new feature will allow you free camera control while editing stuff – like moving around and rotating furniture – in your house. In New Horizons, your house will also come with in-built storage, and as Animal Crossing players will know, that will become vital as the game progresses.
One of the biggest new features being introduced in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is crafting. Using resources like wood and rocks that you find and gather all over the island, you’ll be able to craft items and objects at the crafting workbench in Tom Nook’s office. From spades and fishing rods and axes to chairs and tables and more, you’ll be able to craft quite a bit. Additionally, crafted material will also have tiers that will determine the quality and durability of the item, which means getting better at crafting is something else you’ll be working on constantly. All of this will be done through crafting recipes, which you will acquire through various means, such as by discovering new items on the island or talking to fellow villagers. Both recipes and the objects themselves can also be directly purchased from the store.
Upon your arrival on the deserted island, Tom Nook will hand you a device that will stay with you throughout the game- the Nook Phone. The phone will have various apps, such as a map of the island, or an app to store all the crafting recipes you’ve acquired, or a camera to snap photographs, which you can then edit with various filters and facial expressions. Nintendo have said that more apps will be added to the game following launch.
One more thing that you’ll be accessing through your Nook Phone is Nook Miles. What exactly are Nook Miles? They’re an optional progression system of sorts that can make the usually leisurely ad open-ended Animal Crossing experience into a more focused one. Essentially, you get Nook Miles for every activity imaginable, from talking to NPCs and finding items to crafting new stuff or expanding your house. Nook Miles can then be used to purchase tickets to other deserted islands, where you can find unique bugs, flowers, crafting material, and more. Nook Miles can also be exchanged for in-game rewards (like Nook Inc. merch that your character can wear), while they’re also used to pay off your initial loan at the beginning of the game for the getaway package (though all loans after that are still paid off with bells).
As with everything else, New Horizons also offers players over the appearance and customization of their own characters. While Animal Crossing has in the past simply given players various character templates to choose from, New Horizons will let you create your character from scratch. Hairstyles, the colour of your eyes, hair, and skin, the shape of your nose, eyes, and mouth are all options that will be customizable. What’s more you will be able to change the gender and appearance of your character whenever you want.
VARIOUS OTHER IMPROVEMENTS
There are plenty of other more granular quality-of-life improvements New Horizons is making as well. For instance, you can now set up furniture outdoors, trees can be uprooted and then replanted in different locations, and players can vault over rivers with a pole. Weather mechanics have also been adjusted and the game now reads whether you’re playing in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere, and in-game seasons changes based on that.
EVEN MORE IMPROVEMENTS
There’s a lot of other finer improvements as well. Items in your inventory will now stack (about freaking time), and you can sell things you want to discard at the shop for some extra handy bells, while you can also get stung by scorpions, after which you’ll have to take medicine. Windy weather has also been introduced, while the recent Direct showed some interesting sights as nighttime, such as a ghost, or northern lights.
NEW AND RETURNING CHARACTERS
A big part of the charm in any Animal Crossing game is the anthropomorphized animals that become your virtual neighbours, each with their own quirky and unique personality. Many new characters will be introduced in New Horizons, of course, but quite a few older ones will be returning as well. Some that have been confirmed are Tom Nook (of course), Isabella (who will help you with expanding your home), Mr. Resetti (who, due to the game now having autosave, will play a different role), Gulliver, Kicks, Wisp, Labelle, Angus, and more.
NO CLOUD SAVES
Nintendo made cloud saves a standard feature in their game with the introduction of Nintendo Switch Online, but a few of their major releases, like Pokemon and Splatoon 2, don’t support this feature. Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Meanwhile, the game will only allow one island (or one save) per a single Switch console, regardless of how many copies of the game or how many different Switch accounts you use.
Online is also going to be a big deal in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Local co-op will allow up to four players to live on an island on a single Switch together. During local co-op, one player will be selected the leader of the group, which means all the other players will have to follow. However, the leader of the group can be changed at any time.
Online co-op is supported as well. When playing online, up to 8 players can be on a single island at any given time. During online play, when other players come to your island, any items they can use to destroy the environment (such as shovels or axes) will be automatically disabled, so if you’re playing with randoms, you won’t run the risk of them ruining your island. If, however, someone on your in-game Best Friends list is playing with you, they will be able to use any items they want.
Over the last few years, Nintendo have taken a liking to supporting their games with continue new updates and content following their releases, and they will be doing so with Animal Crossing: New Horizons as well. Though they haven’t gone into gone too much detail, they have said that they’ll be adding seasonal events to the game for free at regular intervals, such as some that will coincide with real-world holidays and festivals.