Our biggest takeaways from the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Nintendo Direct

Just a month shy of its release, Nintendo unveiled an Animal Crossing: New Horizons Direct packed with new gameplay details. The presentation did not disappoint if the chatter online is any indication. The latest Nintendo Direct, and the first since September 2019, answered multiple questions on how island life in the new sequel will play out. It even gave fans features they didn’t even know they wanted.

These are the key details from Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons Direct from February 20.

Returning characters and buildings

Animal Crossing favorites like Blathers, who runs the museum, and the Able sisters, who own a tailor shop of the same name, were nowhere to be seen in previous videos of the game. Fans grew concerned that living on a deserted island might also mean abandoning the collecting and displaying of fossils, fish, insects, and art, or the ability to buy a stylish wardrobe.

However, the latest Direct revealed that players can unlock these characters and buildings as the island develops. They’ll even get to dictate where on the island they’re placed. The previous installment, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, let players wield this power over public works projects in their role as mayor. But that was limited to minor items, like decorations.

Characters like Gulliver, who frequently finds himself washed ashore and lost, and the wandering ghost Wisp, make appearances as well. The island encourages tourism, and will allow familiar traveling merchants like Sahara, famous for her wallpaper and carpet combos.

You can change island terrain

For the first time in the Animal Crossing franchise, it’s possible to change where cliffs and ramps start and end. Players can also chip away at the land itself, extending a river to add more water, or narrowing it to make room for more buildings.

Ramps can consist of wooden or brick stairs, or simple planks. In a nod to a popular fan activity, New Horizons will let players shape natural paths with different materials. It seems like a simple feature, but many players have asked for this, or created workarounds in previous games. Villagers can also build bridges across rivers with multiple designs.

You get a home, and a new loan

When Nintendo first showed off New Horizons, it promised players tents to live in. That very generous giveaway wasn’t enough for those who enjoy remodeling and decorating full houses, however.

The Direct showed it’s possible to build a home with plenty of renovations and expansions to boot. The new game overhauls the design mechanics, and will allow players to move multiple objects at once. The more precise controls offer freedom and specificity, even letting players change the direction of a carpet’s pattern.

In true Animal Crossing fashion, this comes with a loan from Tom Nook, which was prefaced with a note saying there is no interest or approval process. Still, Animal Crossing die-hards will recognize it as the familiar loan process of CEO, and overlord, Tom Nook. 

You can recover Animal Crossing: New Horizons save data

The biggest controversy to hit the beloved franchise came when Nintendo announced New Horizons would not support cloud saving. Fans worried that if anyone loses or damages their Switch, where game data is saved, they’ll lose it forever.

The Nintendo Direct noted that players can, in fact, recover save data. The feature, which comes with a vague “sometimes after launch” timeline, carries some fine print, however.

Players can only retrieve the save data once, and they must be Nintendo Online members. Nintendo Online is the company’s subscription service that offers online play and cloud saving for certain games.

Release date

The release date was known before this Nintendo Direct. In case you’ve forgotten, though, Animal Crossing: New Horizons will arrive on March 20, 2020 for Nintendo Switch.

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