Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a life simulation game released worldwide on March 20, 2020 for the Nintendo Switch. It is the sixth mainline Animal Crossing game. The main change for this game is the theme of a Deserted Island Getaway. Instead of moving into an existing town, the player helps develop their island from an uninhabited island to a modest town.
The main gameplay is similar to the previous entries in the series with the player controlling a single villager using tools and interacting with villagers on a real-time schedule. The crafting system expands on what things players can collect and customize. The Nook Miles program is similar to achievements that can help guide players into certain activities.
The game features new tools in the form of the vaulting pole which allows players to cross bodies of water and the ladder, which allows the player to scale cliffs. There are later tools that help the player manage and terraform the island. However, the tool system has been changed that the tools now degrade rapidly with use though higher tiers last longer and are more effective.
A new feature with New Horizons is the fact that the player can decorate the outside with furniture. This can be stacked like inside decorating with virtually no limitations. Created patterns can also be placed on the ground. Inside decorating keeps the decorating mode from Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer.
The new crafting system introduces a large variety of new mechanics. Most of the features on the island now produce materials for crafting on top of the normal fishing and bug catching. The trees now produce branches and pieces of wood while all the rocks can now be hit like money rocks to produce materials like stone and iron nuggets. Even trash can be converted into furniture or clothing.
Taking these materials to a workbench will allow the player to construct various tools and pieces of furniture. However, the player will need to learn DIY recipes to make them. Several are given to the player in initial days by various important characters while others can be bought with upgrade facilities. Most of them are learned randomly through villagers, messages in bottles and with presents in balloons.
The new facilities in towns are now unlocked by providing the proper materials and crafting the appropriate kits rather than supplying enough Bells. Rather than bringing Isabelle around, the player just goes to the spot and guidelines will show where it will be with an option to imagine it to show how it will actually look and what things it removes by being placed there. Any furniture or materials that gets removed will appear in the Town Hall Recycling Bin. The player also has control over where Villagers will move in. However, they need a much wider space than a simple facility for their outside furniture. Additionally, they will need pieces of furniture for both the inside and outside before their house can be built. These items of furniture can be crafted though.
The Nook Miles system is an achievement system built into the game similar to badges from previous entries. Players unlock Nook Miles as a reward for completing various challenges and goals with more earned as the player gets higher levels in challenges. The player also gets Nook Miles+ after purchasing a home which are simpler challenges that earn small amounts of Nook Miles. These refresh on a daily basis and change based on what the player has unlocked or caught.
Nook Miles can be spent at a Nook Spot terminal after paying off the initial loan for the getaway package. They can be exchanged for upgrades for the player, new hair options, Nook Miles tickets or Nook themed items. The selection expands as the player improves the island including an option to exchange Miles for Bells.
Dodo Airlines and Multiplayer
At the base of the island, the player can using their island's airport to travel to other islands or to send letters. They can also have the gates be opened for multiplayer. This can be chosen for local or online and can be restricted to a code or just people on the player's friends list. For players visiting another player's island, they need to choose the flying option and select the friend's island. Up to eight players can be on one player's island.
The Nook Miles ticket can also be redeemed at the airport. Using one will let the player travel to a random island with a bounty of resources and sometimes a villager. If tools break, the player can spend Nook Miles to replace them or craft them themselves. However, any items left on the island will be lost forever. These islands tend to have rarer resources including occasionally nonnative fruit.
There is an option for local multiplayer on the console for up to 4 residents of the island. These players have simplified control with no real inventory. Instead, their tools are used from their actual inventory and anything picked up gets sent to the recycling bin. They also cannot use the crafting bench, enter or exit buildings, or talk to villagers. The main player controls the screen movement with any players offscreen warping to the player. The leader can be changed when they shake the controller and another press a button. This changes the game to their profile with full access to their inventory and abilities. This mode of multiplayer cannot be used with online multiplayer.
The island is shared across the Switch with all 8 accounts capable of making a villager on the island. However, due to this, the game is not supported by Nintendo Switch Online cloud saving feature and the save data cannot be transferred normally. Later in 2020, a save data transfer tool will be available for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers that will also allow cloud saves.
The game was first revealed to be in development during a Nintendo Direct hosted on September 13, 2018, with an unspecified 2019 release date. Although the game was announced in 2018, director Aya Kyogoku confirmed that the game had begun development in 2012, shortly after the original release of Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the Nintendo 3DS in Japan; she stated how concepts for the game were forming long before ideas of the Switch had even existed. At E3 2019, the game's name, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, was revealed along with some basic gameplay. The release date was also pushed back to March 2020 during the presentation. On February 20, 2020, an Animal Crossing centered Direct was broadcasted and revealed among other things the function to terraform islands. The game then released on March 20 of the same year.
With about 3.32 million copies sold, particularly physical copies in Japan, it is the fastest-selling game on the Nintendo Switch system, and for the Animal Crossing series. In the United States, the game has sold tremendously well with physical sales being the third best launch sales for a Nintendo title, behind Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Super Smash Bros. Brawl (with Pokemon titles being counted separately). Within its launch month, it outsold the lifetime sales of every other Animal Crossing game. New Horizon reached 11.97 million unit sold worldwide ten days after release on the 31st of March 2020. This immediatly elevated it as the seventh best-selling Nintendo Switch game just behind Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! Nintendo later put out an update on those sales numbers that state that New Horizon sold 13.41 in its six first weeks on the market thus outselling every other Animal Crossing game's lifetime sales in that short amount of time and becoming the best selling game in the franchise. As of the end of June 2020, the game reached 22.40 million units sold making it the second Nintendo Switch game to do so and claiming the place of second best-selling Nintendo Switch game behind Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. By the end of September 2020, the game had sold 26.04 units worldwide. The game became the second game on the Nintendo Switch to pass the 30 million unit sold milestone just after Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It has reached 31.18 million units before December 31, 2020.
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- This is the first mainline Animal Crossing game on a home console entry since Animal Crossing: City Folk for the Wii in 2008.
- Co-developer 1-Up Studio's first involvement in the Animal Crossing franchise, and one of its few non-Mario games.
- It is also its first home-console game to run at 30 frames-per-second.
- On the controversial side, New Horizons has been banned in China due to it being used by activists as a virtual protesting act against the World Health Organization and secretary Xi Jinping, which included an image of him in a funeral-like environment.
- One of the series' original composers, Shinobu Nagata, has returned and is one of her few recent games.
- The first Animal Crossing game to use live-performed composition tracks, notably with the use of a horn, guitar, drums, and an accordion for the game's main theme.
- "FF7 Remake" is No. 1 with 703,000 copies! "...The cumulative sales volume has reached 3,325 thousand..." (Famitsu) (Japanese) Date: April 16, 2020.
- https://twitter.com/MatPiscatella/status/1252583372322271233 (NPD) Date: April 21, 2020. Author Mat Piscatella
- Chinese retailers ban popular Nintendo game Animal Crossing: New Horizons after players use it to organize virtual protests against Xi Jinping and the World Health Organization (Daily Mail) Date: April 13, 2020. Author: Michael Thomsen.