New Decade, New Horizons

The highly anticipated next installment of the Animal Crossing series releases this March.

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"Animal Crossing: New Horizons" allows more customization to the player character than ever before. Illustrations by Madi Steele.

This March marks the release of the first major title in the Animal Crossing series since “Animal Crossing: New Leaf” was released in 2012. Though there have been multiple spin-off titles since then, this is the first game since “New Leaf” to feature and expand upon the classic “Animal Crossing” gameplay. The latest entry, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons”, allows players to build their town from scratch on a deserted island.

What is Animal Crossing?
“Animal Crossing” is a series of life simulation games where you play as a human that has just moved into a village of anthropomorphic animals. You can interact and build friendships with the villagers who move in and out of town over time. You can also customize the appearance of your character and their house.
Tom Nook, a tanuki villager who takes on the role of a real estate broker, will give you a loan so that you can make your home in the village. Paying him back will require gathering enough bells which you can earn by digging up fossils, fishing, and catching bugs. You have no rush to do this, however, as the game’s open-ended nature allows you to enjoy playing at your own pace.
The games are played in real-time, with the time and date set on the system you are playing on. The environment and creatures will change based on the real-world season and the time of day you open the game.

Coco is a villager seen in multiple “Animal Crossing’ iterations. Illustrations by Madi Steele.

What’s new in New Horizons?
“New Horizons” begins with the player arriving on an island after purchasing the Nook Inc Deserted Island Getaway Package from Tom Nook. He then provides you with a tent and a Nookphone, where you can access a map, crafting recipes, and other useful features. From here, you are left to start exploring.
The game features an expanded version of the crafting system introduced in the mobile title “Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp.” You can gather materials from the environment as you explore the island. Sticks, rocks, and even weeds now act as ingredients for useful tools necessary for building the island community. You can craft at Nook’s workbench in the Resident Services building, where you can also buy and sell items. Nook Miles are a new currency for purchasing crafting recipes and special items.
You have a multitude of new customization options for clothing and hair, and you will now be able to freely decide your character’s facial features. “New Horizons” is the first mainline game to feature the ability to select your skin tone. You can change your appearance at any point in the game.
Homes have more customization options as well. You are no longer limited to placing furniture indoors; if you’ve ever wanted to put a couch on your front lawn, this is the game for you.
“New Horizons” brings many quality of life changes to the series. No longer will your garden be ruined by the unexpected placement of a new house, as you now have more control over where new villagers build their homes. The new vaulting pole item allows you to easily traverse rivers without the need of a bridge. Item stacking allows for more inventory space, and there is no longer a penalty to closing the game without saving, as “New Horizons” has an autosave feature.
The game will have several options for multiplayer. Two to four people can play at the same time on a single Nintendo Switch system where they will share one island. Up to eight people can play together with a local or wireless internet connection.
You can begin your deserted island life when “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” releases for the Nintendo Switch on March 20, 2020.