Animal Crossing: New Horizons: Here are all the juicy details

It took a few years longer than some fans may have hoped, but an Animal Crossing game is finally coming to Nintendo Switch.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons takes the relaxing and eccentric gameplay players love and moves it to a deserted island for a dream vacation. Tom Nook is organizing your getaway package, so you’ll probably want to start stocking up on Bells. You’ll also have plenty of time to build your dream home on your Nintendo Switch and meet new friends during your stay. Here’s everything we know about Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Own a slice of paradise

As usual, Tom Nook’s proposal for your vacation in Animal Crossing: New Horizons seems a little bit sketchy — and this time it takes the form of a pseudo-timeshare. A trailer released in January 2020 features Nook and his staff pitching a Deserted Island Getaway Package to the game’s characters that shows the available customization and creation options. It also gives us a look at the game’s box art, which you can see at the very end of the video above.

A Nintendo Direct presentation from February 2020 also revealed that players will be able to choose from several different island configurations. They feature different paths and options, and players can also decide whether to live in the northern or southern hemisphere regardless of their actual location. Once the island is chosen, players can still use the NookPhone to change up topography as they see fit, including adding or removing cliffs and rivers. Bridges and slopes are buildable, too, to make it easier to get across the island.

That customization also extends to the gameplay options. The camera can be adjusted to a top-down angle similar to the first game on GameCube, which could be more enjoyable to those playing on the Switch Lite or with their system in handheld mode. The NookPhone is customizable, too, so everyone can express themselves with their own case designs.

Put your feet up

Animal Crossing: New Horizons exists as the product of Tom Nook’s Nook Inc., which has created The Deserted Island Getaway Package as your latest vacation destination. You’ll be able to go camping, complete with a tent and fire, grow plants, scavenge resources from trees and rocks, or just relax on the beach after a particularly long day. When you begin, all you will have inside your tent is a foldable cot, a lamp, and a radio. As in Happy Home Designer, you will be able to move things in your home in half-units.

The deserted island is yours to decorate and customize as you see fit, and you can create your dream home on the property. If you want to put furniture outside, that is also an option, as no city ordinance can stop you. Of course, as this vacation package is Tom Nook’s idea, you can expect him to come knocking before too long and demand you repay any loans you’ve taken out. However, you’ll also get rewarded with Nook Miles for milestones you complete in the game, which can be spent on items and activities.

According to an interview with the development team at E3 2019, the decision to set the game on the island was rooted in offering players a new experience — one in which they don’t start at a preexisting village.

DIY Recipes

The crafting system has been significantly expanded in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Called “DIY Recipes,” the new system allows you to create a variety of items using scavenged materials such as tree branches, clay, hardwood, and stone. You can make tools to assist you in your adventuring, signs, water jugs, benches, and even beverages.

The recipes are conveniently located in an app on your in-game phone. Because there are so many to choose from and because there is such a wide variety of materials to use for crafting, the weeds or other “junk” items you discover while exploring can actually be used for making new goodies. You can visit Tom Nook’s workbench to then turn them into new tools for free. If you eat an apple from a tree, it can even energize you to garden more quickly.

To get new DIY Recipes, you’ll have three main options. Certain other animals will give you recipes for free, and you can learn recipes by finding items on the island. If you really need a specific recipe and can’t figure out another option, you can also buy them from stores.

There are customization options for furniture, too. The color can be changed, and special designs are available to add extra flair. These can be combined, such as with a bed, so the bedding is one design and the frame’s color is changed separately.

The four seasons

The clock plays a big role in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, as it is connected to your own clock in the real world. There is both a northern hemisphere area and southern hemisphere option to better match your own location, and the season will change throughout the year. This brings new activities, such as rolling snowballs in the winter, and completely changes the look of your island. If you’re playing in June in the northern hemisphere, it will be sunny, but those who choose the southern hemisphere option will be in the middle of winter. The wind can change speeds on the island, and this will be expressed by how the leaves are moving on trees.

The wildlife you find will vary depending on the season. If you fish in the winter, you could end up finding many different varieties than you did during the warmer seasons. In the summer, more bugs will be encountered, and cicadas can be heard making loud noise in the February 2020 Nintendo Direct presentation.

Because Nintendo wants players to avoid rewinding or otherwise changing time, Animal Crossing: New Horizons will not be compatible with cloud saves.

Play together

One of the apps you’ll spot on your mobile phone inside New Horizons is called “Call an Islander.” Using this app, you can choose to play with another person in local cooperative mode. Those who also have a house on the island — the game has one island per Switch system, so you will share — are eligible to join.

You only need one Joy-Con controller per player, so two people can enjoy the game together without any other equipment. Up to eight players can share an island, and up to four can play together at the same time. Any player can be made the “leader” in a party, which is denoted by a flag over their head. This player will be in control of where you and the camera are moving while you play together.

There will also be local wireless and online multiplayer options. When playing this way, up to eight players can gather on one player’s island and complete activities together. To invite someone else from a separate island, players must go to the airport. It opens up the day after arriving on the island, and it’s also available for traveling to someone else’s island, and for sending messages via the postal service.

Once players have earned enough Nook Miles, they can purchase Nook Miles Tickets to travel to separate islands and collect rewards. These will differ each time, and are effectively “mysteries” until arriving. Anything found can be taken home, including materials and animals.

But keep save data safe

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is launching alongside a special-edition Switch console, but players interested in purchasing it will want to pick it up before they start the game on a separate console. The game’s box art states that it does not support save transfers, meaning the island you start on one console will only be compatible with that console — sort of.

After launch, players will be able to transfer their save data to a second system via a special service. This will only be possible in the case of a defective or lost system, and it can only be done once. If problems happen a second time, that data will be gone forever.

A gorgeous new Nintendo Switch

For those who are getting their first Nintendo Switch system or a second one for their home, Nintendo has made an Animal Crossing: New Horizons special-edition console. The console is releasing on March 13, just ahead of the game’s launch, and includes the series’ emblems and icons all along the system’s casing. The console comes with a special Animal Crossing dock, as well as light blue and light green Joy-Con controllers.

Getting even better

Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be getting further updates to improve the game after launch, including seasonal events. A special “Bunny Day” event comes in April, and those who play Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp can get special items in the two games. The game also supports Amiibo figures and cards, and characters you scan using the Joy-Con controller will appear on your island.

When can we play it?

Animal Crossing: New Horizons will release for Nintendo Switch on March 20, 2020.

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