‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ Promises a Bigger, Better Social Sim Experience

5 min readFeb 21, 2020

I haven’t yet had a chance to get any proper hands-on time with the upcoming Nintendo Switch title Animal Crossing: New Horizons — and, for the record, I plan to die mad about it — but like a lot of fans, I did tune in yesterday morning for the game’s long-awaited Nintendo Direct presentation. If you, however, managed to miss it, I’ve embedded the video in its entirety below. Go and sin no more.

There’s a lot of information packed into the above 28ish minutes, including new characters, new features, and lots of returning favorites. While I’ll try not to belabor the point or bore you with my own hot takes, there are a few items of particular note, so let’s dive right in.

Fantasy Island

Since it’s initial reveal, New Horizons has obviously been focused on not just island living but on how you as a player will work to grow, change, and customize said island to your liking. This begins by choosing your island destination from a number of available layouts — similar to the “Is this your town?” lead-in of previous games, though this time you can even specify your preferred hemisphere so that the in-game seasons match that of your own locality.

After an initial orientation from the team at Nook, Inc., you’ll be left to roam your island and erect your starter tent, and you’ll help existing island residents do the same. Early on this promises to be a fairly spartan existence, as Animal Crossing: New Horizons has an emphasis on crafting (a la the mobile phone iteration, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp) that puts the creative onus directly on the player.

While this challenge to explore and gather resources promises to break up the incessant fetch-quests that typify the traditional early Animal Crossing experience, it also hints at this new chapter’s subtle evolution, as your island will slowly transform from a modest paradise with few occupants to a developed tourist hotspot complete with additional amenities, custom homes, and, in a fascinating new development, the ability to sculpt the very landscape to your liking!


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