We’ve waited for months and it’s finally here, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is finally here. Well, in another 9 months. But that’s okay! Nintendo know better than to leave fans in the dark so we were treated to 27 minutes of gameplay that reveals so much that it deserved its own article separate to the general Nintendo E3 Rundown.
What did we learn from the Direct & Treehouse Live?
In the Nintendo Direct itself, a 1:45 minute trailer premiered for the first time worldwide and we got our first glimpse into what would eventually be titled Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Following the Direct was an uncut gameplay stream featuring Ms. Kyogoku & Mr. Nogami of Nintendo talking about new features as they played. We learned the basics of gameplay: we live on a deserted island (soon to be inhabited by villagers), you pay off a traditional Nook loan and you after all these years you can finally live on the beach!
We can now place furniture outside
For reader who aren’t fans of the series, this might seem like a very minor addition but this changes everything we know about designing the world. Unlike New Leaf, our new canvas is not that of a city or village, but a deserted island. As part of the “Nook Inc. Deserted Island Getaway Package”, we start our lives pitching a tent in a camping endeavor similar to Pocket Camp.
As shown in the beautiful timelapse above, we seem to have full control of how the world around us will look – even placing furniture outside of our homes. Log benches and campfires seem to be the theme so far to fit in with the rustic feel of the trailer. I’m assuming that the “public works projects” may have some place in the new game but it clearly isn’t the primary method of designing the island. Also as a side note, no Isabelle was not shown in either of these trailers.
We can now be more precise in organising furniture
As someone who never got around to playing Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, apparently this was available in that game but now it’s no longer reserved for spin-offs! As shown in the Treehouse Live segment, we are now able to move furniture in half steps as opposed to the full steps of New Leaf and prior. Again, this isn’t going to blow away someone who is unsure about buying the game, but this opens up so many new opportunities for those of us who spend most of the time designing our homes.
We can now use a “NookPhone”
One of the more “out there” additions to the franchise is the mention of a “NookPhone”. While more of this was developed in the full Treehouse Live segment, this was only touched upon in the trailer. In the Treehouse Live gameplay, the smartphone consists of five apps:
- Nook Miles
- DIY Recipes
- Call Islander.
The Camera app functions as you would expect, taking photos with the option to use filters and (presumably) post them to social media linked to your Nintendo account. The Nook Miles app is a re-brand of the achievements system in New Leaf: you are given Nook Miles that can be redeemed for prizes if you complete specific tasks. This was presented as a method to reward players undertaking chore-like tasks akin to picking weeds.
The DIY Recipes gives you a list of “craftable” recipes that I will go into detail later on in the article. From what I could find, there wasn’t any demonstration of the Map functionality but I assume it functions as you would expect. We’ll have use of a full-screen map as opposed to just the overlay that pops up upon inactivity.
We can play multiplayer like never before
Finally, the Call Islander app is how you access the multiplayer functionality. As shown on Treehouse Live, the Switch allows smooth local co-op making use of the Joy Cons. This means players with only the two Joy Cons that come with the console will still have the chance to play with friends! There seems to be a leader-follower system not unlike that of the Pokemon Let’s Go games where one player controls the game with another tagging along. The major difference from this system is the use of “host flags”, this means that the “leader” can be switched to the “follower” whenever convenient to the players.
Although local co-op is neat, there is a lot more available to us in New Horizons that was hinted at in the trailer and confirmed in the live gameplay. Online simultaneous 8-player co-op! The opportunity for eight players to all come together on one island is a huge step in terms of multiplayer functionality that simply hasn’t been possible in earlier titles!
We can now use a crafting system
Unlike any game before it, New Horizons has a fully fleshed-out crafting system. Using the trees, rocks and vegetation around us, we can now craft a plethora of items and tools.
Whether that be an axe to speed-up harvest time or accessories to pimp out your pad, it seems that the Nooks have closed down shop and given us the reigns of creation. Again, the Treehouse segment really made sure to show off the capabilities of this new system. In the trailer however, we were able to see two implementations which are presumably available as a result of crafting.
First, a flower crown: a result of picking flower heads and combining them. Second, a paving tool to create pathways across the island. This second one is super exciting to me, fans of New Leaf will more than likely have experience using the godforsaken pattern tool to replicate the look of paths. Now we finally have a tool to simplify the process (and actually make paths look nice).
We can (still) make use of the emote system
I feel like this was skimmed over pretty quickly in the gameplay stream but I felt it needed at least a mention here. At around 21 minutes into the stream, Mr. Nogami (whether intentional or not) revealed a new system for displaying the unlockable emotion animations. Without the easily accessed touchscreen from the 3DS, Nintendo have opted for a wheel layout where you choose from selected favourites you can unlock.
We will have access to new tools
The one that comes to mind immediately is that pole vaulting tool used to get over those pesky rivers that block your path. This might have just been something I missed but I couldn’t see any bridges so perhaps these are required to maneuver the island.
Another aspect is using tools we recognise in new and exciting ways. Unlike chopping it down and removing the stump, we saw a player dig up a tree entirely with a shovel. This gave the player a tree icon instead of just discarding the stump; eluding to some new crafting materials. (We also got to see that villagers can sit down now which is minor but neat).
We can wait knowing this will be the best Animal Crossing to date
Nine months certainly sounds like a long time, but I’m sure it’ll fly by. With the hypetrain now officially out of the station, people are talking about this game constantly and new interviews are being published every day. I’m sure that small tidbits will be scattered around between now and that March 20th release date and we can rest assured knowing that Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be the game we’ve been waiting years for.