Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the first Animal Crossing game coming out for the Nintendo Switch. But the Animal Crossing gameplay has always been rather consistent. You move to a new area, build things and make friends. Are things going to be like that for New Horizons? For the most part, yes, but there are some interesting new mechanics that will make those classic experiences deeper.
In New Horizons you'll arrive at a completely uninhabited island as part of the Nook Inc. Deserted Island Getaway Package. This is different from New Leaf where you arrive in a mostly built town. On a deserted island, you're going to have to raise a town from scratch. This opens the door for some interesting possibilities.
The Island Grows the Way You Want
Animal Crossing: New Horizons project lead Aya Kyogoku spoke with IGN and revealed that Tom Nook observes the players to see how they're choosing to live. "If the player chooses to stay in the tent, Tom Nook may say 'Hey, actually, that guy likes living more of an outdoorsy, wild life," Kyogoku says. "So he may not see the necessity of adding new resident support services."
Funny enough, some of these support services may be required to get your old friend Isabelle to come to your new island. When asked if Isabelle returns in New Horizons, Kyogoku says that she may, but that's dependent on the state of your island and how upgraded it is.
Deeper Customization is Gender Free
Animal Crossing: New Horizons will also have a much deeper character customization menu this time around. In past games, a short personality quiz determined your villager's features. But in New Horizons you'll be able to control everything from facial parts to hairstyles and skintones. And all of it is gender-free and can be changed at any time Kyogoku says in an interview with Polygon. "So if you feel like a certain way one day, then you can make that change pretty easily," Kyogoku says.
The Economy is More Complex
In Animal Crossing, the fictional currency Bells rules everything around you. But with the new travel theme of New Horizons, Tom Nook introduced a new financial service: Nook Miles. Like credit card miles, Nook Miles can be earned by completing specific objectives and can be exchanged for Nook Inc. specific rewards. Kyogoku tells IGN that this will add value to less lucrative tasks that may end up rewarding the player with Miles.
Old Friends and New
Just like with Isabelle, you can invite or recruit old animal Villagers to join you on your new island. Kyogoku didn’t reveal how, but said there would be a system in the game to allow you to do so.
Instead, you’ll start on the island with Tom, Timmy, and Tommy Nook, as well as two other Villagers who also signed on for Nook’s getaway package. But even though you’re all equal on the island, you'll be able to decide where your new neighbors build their tents. Proving that some Villagers are more equal than others. Mr. Resetti won't be back though... at least not in his previous job.
A Reason for the Delay
Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been delayed until March 20, 2020. That will give the developers plenty of time to work on the game without crunching, according to Nintendo of America's new president Doug Bowser.
In an interview, Bowser revealed that Nintendo firmly believes in not bringing a game to market until it's ready. And rather than rushing the game out the door, they can delay Animal Crossing to get it right without burdening developers. "It's really important that we have that balance in our world. It's actually something we're proud of.”
For more on the newest Animal Crossing game from Nintendo, check out our Nintendo E3 recap for everything that was announced during Nintendo's Direct. Or check out our E3 2019 guide for all the latest new from the show.