We’re getting pretty close to the Animal Crossing: New Horizons launch date of March 20 on Nintendo Switch, yet we still know so little about it. So, instead of ruminating on how desperate we are to learn more news about the game, we decided to compile a short list of some major features we do actually know about.
Maybe you’ve forgotten them, maybe you remember. Maybe between the second and 300th time of reading about them, we’ll actually get some more official news as well.
In the meantime, let’s get started on some of the most exciting features we know about in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Animal Crossing seems to limit its relationships with tiered village layouts to console outings only. The original and City Folk both had them, but Wild World and New Leaf put us back in flat, single-layer towns. Early looks at New Horizons suggested we’d probably be getting multi-level villages again, and a Taiwanese billboard ad confirmed it.
Not only are we getting levels again, but we’ve got honest-to-goodness stairs as well! There’s anything wrong with flat villages, of course. However, even just the one additional tier adds a sense of expansiveness not there in the flat layouts, not to mention the added visual interest as well. Hopefully, we don’t have to push basketballs and snowballs up these stairs though.
The option to literally carve — or pave, I guess — your own path is one I didn’t realize I wanted so much. Fortunately, New Horizons provides it. It’s not clear from trailers whether you’ll need a specific shovel, though it looks like you will. But it is clear you can make walkways, little clearings, or whatever else you take a notion to making that involves not having grass.
City Folk tried this with that bizarre “walk on the grass and it disappears” mechanic, but I greatly prefer New Horizons’ method of giving you more control (and less dead-looking ground). Surely, we’ll still be able to plunk down paving squares of our own design as well, but the option to take the natural route is much appreciated.
With New Horizons, Animal Crossing finally throws off the design shackles and lets us put whatever we want wherever we want — at least, that’s how it seems. Following on from Happy Home Designer’s introduction of outdoor decor, we see players putting all kinds of furniture and accessories throughout the village. It doesn’t look like these are tied to specific real estate plots either.
New Leaf toyed with the idea, what with public works projects and all. But I’m much happier with the idea of creating a little log sitting ring around a bonfire in some quiet clearing dug by my own hands than I am the idea of a jungle gym for Hazel to climb around on.
Another feature we’ve known about for a while is pole vaulting. It’s pretty simple on the surface: get a pole, find water, alley-oop, and there you go. Only… that’s what bridges are for. Whether pole vaulting is something that’s just for fun or that you (maybe everyone?) have to do until you can afford a bridge remains to be seen.
What would be interesting is if you can use it to get to places you couldn’t normally, like a hidden fruit oasis or something like that. Really, though, it looks fun enough to exist without some grander purpose. Plus, as the above image shows, HD water is confirmed.
Item crafting is one of the features first shown off for New Horizons, but it’s easy to forget it exists because, well… we’ve heard absolutely nothing about New Horizons gameplay since September.
Anyhow, it seems reasonable to think this feature’s getting borrowed from Pocket Camp, the “gather X to get Y” setup and all that. And that’s perfectly fine by me. Not only will it hopefully provide an even greater sense of progression, but it’s an excuse to forage, explore, and shake those trees even more.
Not that we needed an excuse, but still.
Finally, a way to move trees around that doesn’t involve hacking them to death, digging up the roots, and just planting a new one. For years now, that’s been the only way to deal with overly forested areas or that time when you got a big excited with all the saplings Nook had on sale.
In New Horizons, though, you’ll just pop the tree into your pocket, and put it somewhere better. No, you shouldn’t be able to put full-grown trees in your pocket, but you probably also shouldn’t take part in a vacation-and-real estate scheme run by a raccoon either, and yet here we are.
Whether we get a February Nintendo Direct or not, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is out soon. If nothing else, we don't have too long to wait either way to find out more about how our island life will play out.
*Early looks at New Horizons suggested we’d probably be getting multi-level villages again, and a Taiwanese billboard ad confirmed it.*
*However, even just the one additional tier adds a sense of expansiveness not there in the flat layouts, not to mention the added visual interest as well. Hopefully, we don’t have to push basketballs and snowballs up these stairs though.*
Tiers add visual interest, of course, but the really, incredibly exciting thing here is that you can terraform your village eventually. Want more cliffs? Build ‘em. Hate the rock face blocking your view? Tear it down! It’s a huge step forward in customization and literally turning the island into your personal paradise.
Make Your Own Path
It’s not clear from trailers whether you’ll need a specific shovel, though it looks like you will. But it is clear you can make walkways, little clearings, or whatever else you take a notion to making that involves not having grass.
The Animal Crossing Direct showed us you’ll get the option to create multiple different paths later in the game, once you get a construction permit. It’s not clear how you actually get that, though, since the Direct just said “once the island is fully decked out.” Maybe there’s a development level for the island, like your town ratings of old?
Either way, it’s welcome. City Folk…
*Whether pole vaulting is something that’s just for fun or that you (maybe everyone?) have to do until you can afford a bridge remains to be seen.*
We know now you’ll be using the pole vault to get across water until you can afford Nook’s construction consultation services. It’s one of the basic tools you’ll craft to get started on your island adventure, but really, there’s plenty of appeal in keeping the pole forever. Why spend thousands of Bells when you can just hop over the river?
What’s more, you can even customize your furniture with what you find, like using fruit to make fruit furniture, and apparently there are different grades of tools you can make too. How expanded this particular aspect of crafting will be, we still don’t know of course. But here’s hoping you can craft almost everything you use.