With no news since E3 2019 and its March release date rapidly approaching, fans of the Animal Crossing series were desperate for any sort of information regarding the newest installment to the series, Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Finally, Nintendo broke the silence claiming there would be a Nintendo Direct centered around the newest Animal Crossing game airing on the morning of February 20. The Direct was almost 30 minutes of new information on the game, ranging from the simplest of details to the most complex new features the game has to offer.
The Direct was divided into three parts: an overview of island life, an explanation of planned additional features, and a FAQ. The first part is an overview of the game and what has been shared so far: Animal Crossing: New Horizons is set on a deserted island, chock full of nature. You can choose the layout of your island from four different options, and even choose if your island is in the north or south hemisphere, which changes when the game experiences each season. Each of the seasons on the island brings about a different change to the island’s scenery and activities: in spring, the island is covered in blooming cherry blossoms; in summer, the island is plentiful with bugs and fish to catch; in autumn, the leaves on the trees will change and the ground is full of seeds, mushrooms, and leaves to harvest; and in winter, snow blankets the landscape and becomes a perfect place to build snowmen or gaze at the northern lights.
When you arrive on the island, you are not alone: several other animal residents arrive with you. Your first task is an orientation, where each of you will receive a tent and choose a place to put it. If you ask, the other animals will let you choose where their tents go, in case there’s any specific layout you have in mind.
The island has two facilities for ease of life. The first is Nook Inc.’s Resident Services, which is open 24 hours a day. Here, you can buy and sell items, as well as learn how to craft your own items with DIY sessions at the workspace, a feature new to the main games of the Animal Crossing series. You can learn how to make new items, as well as customize the color or patterns on your existing furniture. The second facility is the Airport, where you first arrive on the island. This is where you can use communication features to invite people to your island or travel to other people’s islands. It also includes a postal service to send letters to other residents.
Nook Inc. offers some other services to support your new island life. You will receive a NookPhone, that has the basics like a camera and map, but also will unlock other helpful features over time. Also, at the start of each day, Tom Nook will announce an Island-Wide Broadcast that contains information about any news or events happening that day on the island. Finally, you can add some structure to your island life through the Nook Mileage Program. If you’re unsure what to do next or need something to do, you can follow the Nook Mileage tasks to earn Nook Miles. These Miles are used to pay off the cost of living on the island as well as be exchanged for in-game Nook Inc merchandise, helpful quality-of-life improvements, or Nook Miles Tickets.
The island does have a few dangers residents should be worried about. Nasty insects like wasps and scorpions make their home on the island and can attack you. Medicine can be used as a cure for these stings. Insects aren’t the only thing to worry about—there is also a chance you may run into ghosts on late-night strolls!
Castaways are also a somewhat-frequent occurrence on the island. If you find one, make sure to chat with them to see if they’re alright, and stay with them until they are fully recovered.
If you get stuck somewhere and cannot, or are unable to, find your way back home, the island also offers a rescue service you can call on your NookPhone. They will transport you back to your house.
The island also has a few optional extras that residents can choose to enroll in. The first of these is upgrading your tent to a house. You will have to pay off the construction, but a house has some perks. First off, it has a lot more space than a tent. Additionally, it has a storage space where you can put any furniture or decoration items you are not currently using. You can customize your house to your liking, choosing how the walls and floors look with wallpaper and carpets. It is also easy to redecorate the room. Now, house redecoration offers you a bird’s eye 3D look at the arrangement, so choosing how you want your house to look is easier than ever. Once you have a house, you can, of course, expand it and add additional rooms for additional fees.
Another gameplay addition offered is Nook Miles Tickets. These can be received in exchange for your Nook Miles and redeemed at the airport. These tickets will let you tour other deserted islands, with the location changing each time. These islands may offer resources and wildlife not found on your own island, and you can take things you find back with you. You may also find other animals with you on the island tours.
The last is extra residents. Up to eight people can live on the same island, and if you have other residents you can use Party Play. Party Play lets up to four residents explore the island altogether, using multiple Joy-Cons. The person hosting the party play is the leader, while the others are followers. The leader chooses what activities the group does, but the followers can also catch fish and bugs or pick up items, which get sent to the Recycle Box in Resident Services.
The final extra is a real-world extra, an app for your smartphone called NookLink. This app will let you use your camera to scan QR codes for design patterns from previous Animal Crossing titles (Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer) to send into Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The app also lets players communicate with each other while connected online, through a text or voice chat. The app is slated to launch sometime this March, after the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
The second part of the Direct focuses on planned developments. Nook Inc’s goal is that the island will attract more residents and develop into a real community. New animals will be invited to live on the island. You can section off the land for construction to choose where these new residents will live. You can even invite residents to the island yourself on island tours or if you build the campsite facility. The campsite is one of many additional facilities planned for the island, such as a museum, general store, and tailor.
Resident Services can be expanded from a tent into a building. Doing this will expand the building services offered to you. You will be able to change the color and exterior of your house, as well as move your house or facilities. The most important feature of this expansion is, of course, the addition of Isabelle to help assist with remodeling.
The island will accept not only new residents but also guests and tourists. Some of these visitors are merchants, who will sell exotic items not found on the island. Some visitors will also host events for the island’s residents, like Fishing and Bug-Catching Tournaments. You can find these events at the Plaza where Resident Services is located. The game also has planned free updates for seasonal guests and events.
The most drastic new feature offered to players is the ability to customize their island’s landscape. You can not only build bridges and ramps, but also add paths, expand rivers, and reshape cliffs.
The Direct ends with a FAQ section to answer the most-asked questions.
The first question is whether or not a family can play the game on a single Nintendo Switch. The answer is yes, up to 8 players can share one system to live on the same island, each account getting to create a resident and choosing a place to live.
The next question is about amiibo support. The game supports both figure and card amiibo, which will let you call new potential residents to the campsite. You can also use amiibos to invite characters to Photopia, a far-off island where you can stage photoshoots. Not all characters are currently supported, with more (like DJ KK) planned to be added in future updates.
Another question is more information on visitors. You can invite friends or even non-friends using a generated code. If you are not friends with someone, use of some tools, like axes or shovels, are restricted, as to not let strangers potentially destroy others’ islands. However, you can mark users as Best Friends, which will let them use any tool freely while visiting.
The FAQ reveals that while Animal Crossing: New Horizons data is currently not supported with Nintendo’s Cloud Data Storage, the team is planning its service that will let players recover save data from the server in case of a lost or damaged console.
Of course, the Direct has to show off the Animal Crossing-themed Nintendo Switch console. It also shows a separate Animal Crossing-themed Switch or Switch Lite carrying case. Both items release on March 13.
Finally, the FAQ presents more information on the free updates to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. These will be to add seasonal events to the game. The first is planned for March 20, launch day, and will add the Bunny Day event to the game for April. The game also plans to have a crossover event for Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Details will come later on the Pocket Camp Twitter.
The Direct ends by saying more information on Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be posted to the Animal Crossing Official Twitter up until launch day, which is March 20.
What is your favorite new feature coming to Animal Crossing: New Horizons? Let us know in the comments below!