After development was confirmed for “Animal Crossing Switch” (as we’ve affectionately called it) back in September 2018, we finally got our first look at it during Nintendo’s E3 Direct and Treehouse game footage this year! Plus, a release date: March 20, 2020! Since it’s such exciting news, I thought I’d write a post about my thoughts and reactions, but feel free to not read further if you’re not interested in any spoilers for the next game. *image heavy* as well, might be best viewed off mobile.
The trailer began with a generic-sounding (non-Animalese!) female flight attendant’s voice, so I don’t think many of the Animal Crossing fans sitting at the edge of their seats expected this to be what they were waiting for! But I saw the word “Nook” in this shot right away, so my anticipation soared 😀
In this game, Tom Nook has considerably expanded his horizons beyond Retail and Real Estate, starting a new company called Nook Inc. Through this company, Nook & Co. offer a ‘Deserted Island Getaway Package,’ which will bring each of us to a deserted island, where we’ll have the unique opportunity of being able to build a town from the ground up!
I admit, I was one of the people hoping for different biome options in this game, so my very first thought was “oh, just an island?” But this is merely the danger of expectations, because I do like this concept a lot!! In past games, we always arrived in an existing town, albeit quite undeveloped. It would have been easy to continue doing that, along with the popular mayor concept, but I admire that they’re trying something quite different this time around.
It’s also interesting phrasing that this is offered as a “package” from Nook Inc. It brings to mind that there might be other “packages.” 😛 It’s just a thought, and might not happen, but I could see another package being offered through Nook Inc. in the distant future to extend the life of the game, similar to what the Welcome Amiibo update did for New Leaf. Since the Welcome Amiibo update encouraged the option of rebuilding your town by selling it to Nook and keeping your catalog, I feel like that opens the door for similar updates in the future… and I think a new package from Nook Inc. would have a similar feel to that, giving you the chance to start a new adventure.
We start off in a tent again, which feels even more earned than before, since we’re on a deserted island instead of the new mayor of an existing town. 😛 They pointed out that this time, you can choose to stay in a tent forever, if you like. As mayor in New Leaf, technically you needed to own a house in order to earn your mayor permit and get the game started.
Also, check out how close that tent is to the river. 👀
Another great detail that adds to the deserted island theme is that you start off with zero bridges, which creates the need for a new tool, a vaulting pole! I assume that once you build a few bridges around town, you could choose to put your pole away to save another slot in your inventory, or you could keep using it for convenience in getting around.
Speaking of which, there are 20 inventory slots now, and also auto-stacking of more like-items than just fruit!
At the end of the trailer, we got a title and release date: Animal Crossing: New Horizons coming to the Switch on March 20, 2020! It got pushed back from the initial release year given, of 2019. They explained that while the game might look close to completion, there’s still a lot they need to work on, and they’re working hard to make the best possible game that will keep us playing for a long time. I can definitely appreciate that, as someone who likes to play in and work on Animal Crossing towns for years. 🙂
Honestly, imagining the game was coming out in 2019 was starting to feel really strange to me, anyway, since half the year went by without us knowing anything about it. Early next year just feels like a much more natural time! And I have plenty of projects to keep me busy, so I’m not bothered at all, personally.
With five of those branches and one stone, you can craft your own flimsy axe!
Crafting is a big new feature of this game, in which you can collect materials — like branches, wood, stones, flowers, even weeds — and use them to craft your own items, tools, and more! But you can also continue to buy such items, so you have that freedom to choose. I said “new feature,” but crafting also appeared in Pocket Camp. Unlike in the mobile game, crafting is instantaneous (no wait-time!) and the materials seem more easily attainable.
Putting that flimsy axe to work in gathering more materials! 😀 You can kind of see how this process can work; first you’ll gather materials found around the island to make tools, then you can use those tools to collect more materials, which can craft more items, which will probably unlock more items to craft, and so on…
Something I find interesting is that whenever the players were using the flimsy axe to collect wood and branches from trees, they whacked the tree 3 times. It makes me wonder if the tree would be axed down in 4-5 times with the flimsy axe, and maybe in fewer times with stronger axes? In that case, maybe the flimsy axe is better for collecting materials than the other axes…? Either that, or maybe the strong axes knock down all the materials from the tree at once, and you don’t have to whack three times.
New ore! The brown one is clay, the black one is an iron nugget, and the gray one is a stone. I bet that the gems we’re familiar with from New Leaf are still available, but maybe they’re more rare, or require non-flimsy tools to obtain.
A look at more of the flimsy tools, along with other DIY Recipes that you can craft:
It’s mentioned that you will acquire DIY Recipes through animals or stores, or they’ll be unlocked when you acquire a new item. I like that you don’t have to rely solely on your animal villagers for public works requests — or in this case, DIY Recipes — but it sounds like they might still have that community involvement of suggesting things they’d like to see in town.
Something interesting is the small text that says Inventory: 0, Wardrobe: 0. It seems to tell the quantity you have of the item, and where it’s located! Useful for knowing what you need to craft!
This is probably how you collect flowers as materials for crafting! You don’t have to leave the spot empty; you can just pick the flowers and they’ll grow back in a day or so. (It makes me wonder how you move flowers, then… maybe a shovel will pick up the entire plant, and not destroy it?)
The clams found on the beach can also be used as materials for crafting — they’re used to make fishing bait! I got the impression bait is helpful in attracting certain types of fish.
Here’s a list of the DIY Recipes the player’s unlocked so far in Nintendo Treehouse:
|Flimsy Axe:||5 branches, 1 stone|
|Flimsy Shovel:||5 hardwood|
|Flimsy Net:||5 tree branches|
|Vaulting Pole:||5 softwood|
|Flimsy Fishing Rod:||5 tree branches|
|Flimsy Watering Can:||5 softwood|
|Campfire:||3 tree branches|
|Bonfire:||1 campfire, 10 wood|
|Signpost:||2 hardwood, 3 softwood|
|Tiny library:||5 wood, 3 books|
|Classic Pitcher:||4 clay|
|Log Bench:||7 hardwood|
|Wooden Washtub:||3 softwood|
|Frying Pan:||2 iron nuggets|
|Oil-Barrel Bathtub:||1 oil barrel, 1 campfire, 2 stones|
|Tulip Crown:||2 red tulips, 2 yellow tulips, 1 white tulip|
|Coconut Juice:||1 coconut|
|Stone Stool:||3 stones|
|Log Stool:||4 hardwood|
Similar to the one that appears in Happy Home Designer, there’s a sorting system for DIY recipes:
How I interpret the symbols:
Tools, Furniture, Food/Drink, Wall-Hangings, Wallpaper & Flooring, Hair Accessories, …
The last three are kinda tricky, I don’t really know. That third-to-last symbol could be a tent or pouch? The pick-axe ⛏ could represent larger outdoor structures than furniture, and the star ⭐ could represent special items or DLC.
Edit: I really like Angie’s theories for what the last 3 symbols could be in the comments. The third-to-last symbol could be a backpack, or representing some sort of item contained in a pouch, like cross-pollination for flowers. The last two symbols might not represent recipes. The pick-axe ⛏ could be materials that you’ve collected, and the star ⭐ is likely items that you’ve favorited/starred.
Resident Service Area
This dirt plaza is the “Resident Service Area” by Nook Inc., where they support all the residents with their lives on the island. The plaza starts off with a megaphone for announcements, a bulletin board, and a single green tent where you can craft on the worktable inside, sell materials to Timmy/Tommy, and buy from their selection that day.
As someone who likes to establish a consistent theme/feel in a town, I’m often on the look out for potential “eyesores,” things outside your control that can detract from your theme/feel. In my AC:WW town Suncombe, I consider Nookington’s an eyesore (I’d prefer Nook’s Cranny), and in mysterious AC:NL forest towns, the pink Re-Tail building can be considered an eyesore. It also looks like this dirt plaza in AC:NH could be considered one, if you’re going to go for a modern or elegant theme eventually.
Though it will be interesting to see how this area changes over time! As the island becomes less deserted and more like a thriving town, the nooklings’ shop may expand to an actual building, and it looks like there’s enough room for other buildings on the plaza. The Able Sisters might set up shop eventually; maybe Reese and Cyrus will come to the island to offer refurbishing services or elaborate DIY recipes for sale; and we definitely need a post office at some point. It’s also possible that the dirt could be upgraded in the future to a different style of paving, or that the plaza could be decorated in some way…maybe even with a town tree? I don’t like the idea of the town tree in front of the main shop in town, though.
There are only 2 furniture items available each day, which is similar to the first-stage shops in previous games. The quality & amount of goods might increase as the shop expands. Also of note is that we don’t have to go up to each item on display and press A — we can just quickly browse what’s for sale all at once! This is great beccause honestly, in older games I often find shopping too tedious if my catalog is large enough, so I just don’t bother.
The shop also sells 3 tools, 1 medicine, 3 flower seed bags, 1 sapling, and 1 cedar sapling. And it looks like there’s an ATM in the corner for depositing and withdrawing money. ^^
Landscaping is really going to be taken to the next level with this much hoped-for feature originating from Happy Home Designer, the ability to place furniture outside! 😀 Think back to the 91 public works in New Leaf, of which you can only place 30 in your town. Now imagine what the catalog of furniture is going to be like in New Horizons, and there’s seemingly no limit on how many items you can place, or on how close you can put items near each other! It’s also so much less of a production compared to public works, with the donations, construction, ceremonies, and demolishing fees for every little bench you place. Just plop your item down wherever you want, then move it or pick it back up!
Also, take a look at those shoes on the ground, displaying the actual item and not just an inventory icon! Imagine the cozy details you can add with items that used to be displayed as generic icons on the ground, like a watering can nestled under a tree in your garden. ❤
Showing the option between dropping an item on the ground as a leaf icon, versus placing an item outside for display.
It’s confirmed that you can place items indoors using half spaces(❗), but I’m unsure whether the same is possible outdoors as well. Doesn’t it look like there’s only one space between the bonfire and the tent, and she’s moving the log bench around in half spaces? I could be wrong, it’s hard to tell… But in any case, even if you can move items outside using half spaces, I bet that trees, flowers, weeds, etc. are still tied to full/single spaces on the invisible grid around town.
- Look at how easily the paths intersect between 2-space wide paths and 1-space-wide paths, and how it seems like you can choose to create a rounded edge to the path — useful for when a path ends, or for creating natural curves in a diagonal path.
- Look at those two varieties of fences, white picket & wooden peg, and how it’s clear that the fences were specifically placed there, not just automatically wrapped around the villager’s home!
- And look at the personality outdoor furniture adds to the yards, like the little telescope pointing at the sky near the bonfire. ;_;
This is the mechanism for creating paths around town! She’s using something like a cement spreading tool, or trowel:
I wonder, since she’s not pouring dirt on the ground using a shovel & wheelbarrow, maybe the cement-spreading tool speaks to dirt paths not being the only pathing option. Similar to how different fence options were provided, maybe we’ll also get different paving options, like brick and cobblestone.
I sure hope path patterns return, though, since they add such personal charm and customization to a town, and path-making is a hobby within Animal Crossing that I’ve enjoyed over the years. If you can still make your own path patterns, it’s possible they would need to increase the canvas size of pixels, because the 32×32 pixel resolution of the tiles might be too much of a mismatch with New Horizon’s HD graphics. (Or could they apply a sort of anti-aliasing/smoothing filter to your patterns?) Sharing patterns is another question to consider, since the Switch can’t scan QR Codes. An official app would likely need to be used to share and browse patterns this time around, instead of social media.
She just casually digs up this tree with a shovel and puts it in her pockets! 😛 Maybe once a tree is fully grown, you can quickly and conveniently dig it up and move it somewhere else (or even sell it or use it for crafting?) if you don’t like where it is. Hopefully the same with flowers, too. Moving rocks might be too much to hope for, since they’re important for collecting ore. 😥
Map of the island in the Treehouse footage! Immediately obvious is that split rivers are possible again, after being absent in AC:NL. We’ll have to stop calling the split rivers “islands” now, since we live on an actual island. 😛 The fact that we live on an island might not feel all that different from usual, because it looks like the north side of the island is bordered by rocks, so it’s simply 3 beaches compared to AC:NL’s 2 beaches. Plus, the seasons change to Autumn & Winter like usual; it’s not summery & tropical year ’round.
This is how I interpret the map:
Tiered towns added a lot of unique geography to City Folk & the GameCube version, so I hope we see some of those charming features, like ridges and valleys, in New Horizons! ^_^
My first thought when looking at the map was, “so the island is 4×4 acres, and if you count the ocean acres, it’s 6×6.” That might seem small, but the “acres” — if they even are acres — are misleading and different than how they used to be!
Look closely at the acres: how they aren’t even square, and how the edges/borders of the acres seem to cut right through the middle/edge of the river, or cuts through the top of the dirt plaza! This isn’t how acres worked in past games. Usually, the river always runs through the middle of the acre in the same spot. That way, various river acres can connect together and form different shapes in everyone’s towns. Also, default buildings and landmarks were always contained in one acre. This makes me wonder if the lines don’t designate acres at all, but are merely there to help visually divide up the map.
I can’t take credit at all for this, here’s the source!
Using measurements of the number of spaces in the dirt plaza as a scale, someone did the math to roughly calculate how many total spaces are on your island in New Horizons. The result was over 7,100 spaces — second only to the GameCube version in size! If you’d like another visual, check out this comparison with AC:NL’s map by the same user on twitter.
We will have very few neighbors at first, just two or so other animals who, like us, bought into the Deserted Island Getaway Package. They’ll start off in a tent just like us, with their own loan to pay off to Tom Nook! 😮 That’ll be fun to see, because I remember feeling like the villagers were really showing me up with their interior design at the beginning of New Leaf.
Some couldn’t help but notice how convenient it was for the two villagers to be living in tents lined up right next to each other… 🤔 IGN confirmed in an interview that we do have control over villager house placement now! Villagers will approach you to ask if a spot’s okay before they settle down 😀
Just as bridges aren’t natural formations to be found on a deserted island, neither are the ramps that allowed travel up and down cliffs in previous games. It will be a really new experience to have an entire area of town that we won’t get to explore right away! 😯
A brief glance at what’s shown as an airplane icon on the map: the landing dock for the plane that takes us to the island, and which will also take us to friends’ islands during multiplayer!
I bet the Resident Service Area is always fairly close to the landing dock because it needs to be easily accessible at the beginning of the game, when we don’t have bridges and ramps.
Up to eight accounts can be made on the Switch, but there can only be one island per Switch system. The way all accounts can participate in New Horizons is that eight players can live on the island, each with their own home. Four of those players can play together at the same time using joy-con controllers! This style of multiplayer was highlighted during the Treehouse footage:
You can choose who the “leader” is during play, and here you can tell it’s Aya in charge because she has the flag above her head. Since Aya’s in charge, when she equips a flimsy axe, Hisashi equips the same tool. Later on they both equip a shovel at the same time, too. I think the idea is that you can work together on the same activity, whether it’s pulling weeds, fishing, bug catching, or collecting materials.
This form of multiplayer isn’t total freedom to each do whatever you want, because if the leader enters a building, or if the other players get too far away from the leader for too long, they pop right back up next to the leader. (It reminds me of baby Mario coming back to you in Yoshi’s Island, lol 😛 ) So it’s not like each player can be off doing their own thing with a split screen view. You have to be somewhat coordinating your play together, and staying close.
Eight seems to be the magic number, because it’s also the number of players who can WiFi together in online multiplayer! 😯 There’s been confirmation that you can voice chat through the Nintendo Online App.
Something I’m interested in finding out about multiplayer is whether or not there’s going to be a way to have visitors over in a “non-edit” capacity, in case you’ve just met them (and especially now that shovels can do wild stuff like dig up trees). But I feel like the non-editing condition should be a setting that you choose to enact, because some players do like having over friends to help with landscaping.
As part of the Island Getaway Package, and part of your loan to Nook, you get a new smartphone to help with life on the island!
Its apps so far include: Camera, Nook Miles, DIY Recipes, Map, and Call an Islander.
It also looks like there’s room for plenty more apps, and they’ve confirmed that one of them will be a design app for making patterns using the Switch’s touch screen.
Do you have ideas for other apps? I wonder if the Dream Suite could be an app this time around, to cut back on adding another building to the island. It could be similar to how you visit homes via the Happy Home Network in AC:HHD.
The camera app on the Nook phone allows you to zoom in and select filters for taking more unique photos.
It’s fun seeing this version of Animal Crossing take inspiration from both simple life, living in a tent on a deserted island; and modern life, taking Instagram-style filtered photos and getting everything you need from your smartphone. 😛
Which one’s your favorite? Mine’s probably Film 😛
What it looks like getting ready to pose for a photo with your emotion wheel 🙂
Nook Miles is a new rewards system in New Horizons, and it’s based on an airline mileage program. You earn miles by taking the flight to the island, and you also earn miles in your daily activies on the island (weeding, crafting…). You’ll be able to exchange these miles for items and other activities. It’s designed to reward you for doing things that, in the past, might not have been valuable in earning bells or any other sort of reward. 🙂
How the Nook Miles screen looks in phone app.
Getting 300 Nook Miles for simply selling something for the first time 🙂
You can sort of see Nook Inc.’s motivation for having this mileage program! They have a vested interest in helping to make sure your experience in developing the island is a success, because then more villagers may move to the island, which means more loans to Nook, more growth in his company, and more growth in the services he can offer to island residents.
Nook Miles reminds me of the CAT machine from the Welcome Amiibo update, as far as earning a different sort of currency for completing tasks, but it also reminds me of the Badge system because it looks like there are various stages of accomplishment to meet within each category.
I admit that when I *first* saw the trailer for New Horizons, I was a little disappointed in the graphics because — again, the dangers of expectations — I had a mental image in my head of what I thought it was going to look like. I was thinking and hoping that it would have a similar look & feel to the Animal Crossing Mario Kart level. I also hoped for new points of view: like a more immersive third-person perspective instead of the usual top-down, and ability to rotate the camera so that you could see the other sides of buildings, and look out to the ocean, seeing only the ocean’s horizon.
Though you can kind of see why Animal Crossing isn’t ideal, or ready yet, for a full rotating camera. The classic Animal Crossing tree made up of three spheres, with a fruit in each sphere, looks kind of awkward from other angles. And while the Mario Kart level appears grand and pristine, if you start to look really closely, it’s less detailed than it seems because you can kind of see where the various textures are wrapped around the models.
Meanwhile, the New Horizons graphics grew on me the more I looked at them. I noticed more and more details that really show how much care, love, and detail has already gone into this game:
- Moving clouds cast shadows on the ground
- No more generic round shadows — every item casts a unique shadow shape
- The shadows lengthen and darken based on the time of day
- Wind affects the way everything moves: weeds, flowers, tree leaves, a clothesline pole, the clothes you’re wearing, even the little tufts of grass at the base of trees. And it varies depending on how windy of a day it is!
- The grass still has the classic triangle (and presumably square+circle) shapes, but in patches instead of spread all over. This creates a unique layered look, especially when combined with the gorgeous variety of weeds
- No more permanent dirt patches
- River water is rendered in a really gorgeous way: no more of this moving texture , but you can still see how the river gently moves along by the subtle shading, and by little dots of light dancing on the water
- Your eyes have pupils now, and follow the direction that you’re looking
- Your hair has shine, and moves as you move
- Realistic sound effects were created by recording walking across actual grass, sand, etc.
- Background and foreground blur
- No more waiting for 6pm for streetlights to come on, you can turn items on yourself!
And the graphics still have time to improve even more, just like New Leaf improved after it was first shown in 2011!
This was my favorite part of the trailer! It really gives a great idea of what your daily play will be like on your island, and shows off how the weather and time of day affect the mood and lighting around town. This is one of my absolute favorite aspects of the Animal Crossing games, and it’s especially impressive and beautiful this time around!
From morning to the golden hours of late afternoon:
Rain:I love how the slightly golden tinges of late afternoon are maintained, even though it’s raining. (In AC:NL, I felt the atmosphere became generically gloomy and gray when it rained, no matter what time of day it was.) Also, the rain drops don’t just plop with a little splash in the water; they create detailed ripples this time, too. ;_;
From sunset to nightfall:I love so many things, like the huge contrast in light & shadow at sunset, with the bright highlight on one side of the tent, the deep shadows of the passing clouds on the ground, and rosy sunset colors reflected in the river.
The glow of the tent and fireflies at night, and the deep blue of the river, with tiny moonlit highlights gleaming on the gently moving water…
In Autumn, leaves fall from the trees for the first time! 🍂
Winter seems to look more gorgeous than ever — can’t wait to see how the aurora looks! I just hope that they color the oak trees right this time… I wasn’t a fan of the orange leaves for oak trees during Winter in AC:NL. Dark purple leaves, like in the older games, would look better.
Also! For the first time, players in the southern hemisphere can have their island match their seasons! So we may get to see the opposite season more, through WiFi 🙂
Look at the subtle detail of dappled sunlight filtering through foliage onto the player’s face! ❤ And I love the look of dropped items (like crafting materials) in this game. I was sometimes put off from using dropped items as landscaping in the past because I thought they had too much of an "inventory icon" look to them on the ground — but these dropped items look so cute!
Interiors are stunningly rendered as well, and so is Fuchsia! ^^ I like how the villagers each have their own custom background color for their name, like Fuchsia’s is bright pink, and Hamlet’s is yellow.
One of the only aesthetics I’m still iffy about is the look of the default player house:It looks more like a plastic toy than I’d like, with the smooth grooves and flat textures.
This aesthetic isn’t coming out of nowhere because I think player houses had a bit of a playful, toy-like look to them in AC:GC through AC:CF, but I love how they looked in AC:NL:
Hopefully I’ll warm up to the AC:NH player houses more once I get access to different house parts! 🙂
The villager house exteriors are back to being rectangular instead of square, which is a plus! I think part of why the AC:NL villager house exteriors were less popular is because the 3×3 square dimension with the door in the center doesn’t lend itself to very dynamic-looking house shapes. Also, AC:NL was very fixated on having the house exteriors exactly match their owners. >_> Like Pango is purple, pink, and green — so her house has gotta be purple, pink, and green! 😛 This log cabin villager house exterior looks a lot more natural!
I looove this house exterior! It reminds me of an elegant white beach villa ❤
I’m curious about how villager house exteriors will work… is a certain exterior still assigned to each animal, I wonder?
New house parts to place on your door! Steps leading up to the door are probably a new customizable house part, too.
New clothing types and accessories, and a new back accessory option for carrying things like backpacks and purses.
Villagers can wear dresses and long-sleeve shirts now! *_* Taking a look at how Fuchsia is carrying wood, and how Olivia is sitting by the waterfall, you can imagine that villagers are going to interact with the environment and the furniture you place around town in a very organic way!
The varied, layered look to the weeds is one of my top favorite details added to New Horizons! We used to only get clovers and variations on “Weed 1,” but take a look at the variety we have now, and how they change with the seasons:
I wonder if weeds 1-3 more commonly pop up if you have a very pruned, neat town; and perhaps if weeds 4-7 are more likely to pop up if you let things go wild. It could just be random, though!
I think these are more seasonal variations of “Weed 7.” The bottom looks a little different:
My first thought when seeing we could pocket weeds was that maybe we could place them with the same precision that we do with flowers! This would be wonderfully handy for forest towns.
But I’m not sure about that, because all the weeds she’s collecting automatically stack into a single pile that isn’t differentiated between the different weed styles:It’s possible that either:
- You can pick up and plant weeds, but you won’t know which one you’re planting if you picked up more than one variety at once.
- Or you can’t re-plant weeds again once you’ve picked them, because you’re only meant to pocket weeds to clean up your town, sell them, or craft with them.
Pansies have a more realistic look to them compared to AC:NL. It reminds me of how they’re designed in AC:CF.
Roses and other flowers aren’t featured very prominently.
Flowers grow in stages now, from sprouts to buds to fully bloomed! It’s a cute detail, but part of the reason flower-arranging was one of my favorite activities in the past was because of how convenient it was to experiment. 😛 I might want to think more before planting flowers xP
I’ve been surprised at how much hefty information we’ve gotten outside of the E3 Trailer and Treehouse footage, just in various articles coming out around the web! I’ll list some of the more major new information:
- You will be able to select your skintone from the beginning. (source)
- Facial features and hairstyles are now gender-neutral, and you can customize your facial appearance anytime.
- Isabelle is present in the game, but not at the start. Her appearance depends on whether or not you will choose to continue to upgrade and progress. (source)
- There is no direct connectivity between Pocket Camp and New Horizons, but there will be collaborative items. (source)
- New Horizons has one island per single system.
- Cloud saves won’t be an option for New Horizons in an effort to prevent cheating through time manipulation. (source)
- There will be amiibo compatibility, but they won’t necessarily have the same functions that they did in AC:NL.
- Auto-saving means that Resetti won’t be running the Reset Surveillance Center anymore, though he might pop up in another context. (source)