It’s only one more month until the launch of the long-awaited Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the Nintendo Switch. On the 20th of February Nintendo held a Direct showing off a lengthy presentation with plenty of new details about the game. That includes everything from the structure of the game to the multiplayer aspect and your new virtual smartphone. There was a lot packed into the 25-minute-long presentation. But if you weren’t able to catch the whole thing, here are the highlights.
As you may know by now the setting of New Horizons takes place on an island that you’ve just purchased from Nook Inc. Like New Leaf, you’ll be able to choose your map layout and pick your desired hemisphere. From there you can choose where everyone’s tents should go. At first, it’s only you and two other residents in this fairly deserted island. There’s only Resident Services as well as an airport to access the multiplayer features. In time new residents will join and you’ll unlock other facilities as well. Like the museum, general store, tailor etc.
Wasps and scorpions make their return, as expected on a deserted island. Medicine cures your ills, should you get stung or are otherwise incapacitated. It’s also recommended you mind yourself when wandering around. At night, ghosts might make themselves known, and you’ll likely come across the hapless traveller Gulliver at some point.
Resident Services is a new feature in the game. It’s a place where you can buy daily necessities, craft items, sell junk and get advice should you need it. It’s open 24/7 as well. Resident Services can expand into a town hall, but there’s no word yet how this development will take place. Isabelle herself will be handling all development needs.
Resident Services is also where you’ll be building things like stairs, bridges, and more. You’ll need to develop the island more fully before you can get access to some of these, though, including the path-building feature. After you get to that point, you can even modify the town’s very layout, building or destroying cliffs, making new rivers and waterfalls, and really making the island your own.
The airport is the second major facility for arrival, staffed by Orville the Dodo. It’s like the train station from the original Animal Crossing; where you welcome others to your island or set off for another. You can have up to eight people playing on an island at one time. Each of your friends can have one character per account and will get their own tent/house on the island. There’s a new “party play” feature lets up to four players visit the same space online. But there are some restrictions. You’ll need an island code to visit other players and to prevent griefing, axes and shovels are banned so that you can’t chop down every single tree on someone else’s island.
The airport is also the port for you to take mystery tours to deserted islands by redeeming your Nook Miles for a ticket. The destination is never the same, depending on the pilot’s mood, and you’ll find all kinds of crafting materials, plants, and even villagers on your travels. Additionally, you can also use the airport like a post office, sending letters and gifts to others on the island.
Just like your own smartphone, this Nook Phone is full of mobile applications that will help you improve your life in New Horizons. There’s an app for the in-game map, one that collects crafting recipes, one to track your inventory and more. Most notably is an app called Nook Miles which is a key feature to your Animal Crossing island experience. Nook Miles is essentially a collection of quests. These range from things like catching certain fish, picking up a number of twigs etc. Once you rack up enough Nook Miles, you can redeem them for rewards like clothes and other helpful items. From what Nintendo has shown, it looks like the goals will all be tied to things you do in the game anyway, making it a fairly natural progression system.
Nintendo didn’t mention anything about paid DLC or expansions, but the developer did say that there will be multiple free updates coming in the future. These will primarily revolve around seasonal events, and you won’t have to wait long for them. Nintendo says that the first free update will be out on launch day, priming the game for an event later in April.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is scheduled for release on March 20th for the Nintendo Switch. It’s available for pre-purchase right now for USD $59.99. Purchase the digital version before the 30th of April 2020 and you’ll receive a 7-day free trial for Nintendo Switch Online.