The launch of Animal Crossing: New Horizons is just a couple days away, but you may need to wait just a bit longer to start your deserted island life if you're getting a physical copy. Yesterday, Nintendo announced that a 1.1.0 update for Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be released at 6 p.m. PT today, March 18, and that people who have prepurchased the game digitally will be able to preload the patch as well.
Presumably, this means that all the New Horizons cartridges that are on their way to stores, sitting idle on shelves, or that are already en route to your home, will have the 1.0 version of the game and will require an update, at least will need it before you're able to go online. So far, reviewers have been unable to access any online multiplayer features, but that may change with the update's release.
[Announcement] The Ver 1.1.0 update for #AnimalCrossing: New Horizons will be available ahead of launch, starting at 6pm PT, 3/18. Customers who have preloaded the game after purchasing from Nintendo eShop will be able to download the update data at this time. #ACNH— Tom Nook (@animalcrossing) March 17, 2020
In response to the tweet announcing the prerelease update, many Animal Crossing fans asked Nintendo to release New Horizons early. There probably would've been some begging and pleading regardless—just look at how much people are obsessed with Animal Crossing's froggy chair—but with millions of people preparing to self-isolate or quarantine in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, there's a pretty good argument to be made for why Nintendo should release it early.
If you are waiting on a physical copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, hopefully the update won't take too long to download once you've got the game. Also, if you're going out to a store to pick it up, please don't be in such a rush to start that you forget to wash your hands before settling in with your Switch.
For those who haven't yet purchased New Horizons, it's probably a good idea to skip the physical copy altogether. Yesterday, GameStop announced that it's stopping all nighttime release events for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic, and even if you could go to a not-so-busy store or have your copy delivered, that's still risking unnecessary exposure. The base download for New Horizons is only 6.2 gigabytes, so it'll probably be easy to make room on your Switch and it shouldn't take too long to download—and who knows, if Nintendo does surprise us all with an early digital launch, you'll be happy you skipped the cartridge.