In the daily hustle and bustle of life, sometimes it’s easy to forget that one of the simplest pleasures is to just stand still, with everything else going on around you, and take a deep breath. It can be quite relaxing.
If there was ever such a video game equivalent to experiencing the relaxation and calm that comes with those paused moments, it’s Animal Crossing. Released originally for the Nintendo GameCube back in 2001, Animal Crossing focuses on a human villager who has arrived in a town comprised entirely of talking animals to begin a new life.
Every version of the game since then has been based around this simple concept, with slight variations added every time (a new fruit here, a new tool there), and at E3 this year, Nintendo dropped the first major trailer for the latest entry in the series, Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Let’s dissect, shall we?
The biggest change: you can seemingly build the entire town yourself! In the first iteration, the player was just another citizen of the town; in later games, the player was the town’s new mayor (thanks to a paperwork mishap, the game claims). In both of those experiences, the town was prebuilt for you – later editions let you ‘shuffle’ the layout of the town until you were satisfied, but this is taking things to a whole new level.
Story-wise, the player is arriving on this island thanks to Nook Inc.’s Deserted Island Getaway Package – everyone’s favourite raccoon Tom Nook has expanded quite a bit from his small operation back in 2001. You, the player, must explore and carefully create every part of the new area from scratch, preparing it for new inhabitants. Don’t forget: the Animal Crossing series also takes place in real time, so it will take more than a few sessions to get everything up and running.
In Nintendo’s Treehouse Live broadcast, the game developers took some time to sit down with a special E3 game build to show off some of the new features. Some of the items they showcased included:
- Being able to move furniture half a ‘square’ at a time
- Furniture can be placed outside
- Players are able to gather materials (clay, stone, weeds, flowers, etc.) to sell as well
- Players can also use these materials to build tools (‘flimsy axe’, ‘flimsy fishing rod’, etc.)
- The crafting system looks incredibly deep – players can build anything from tools to furniture in varying degrees
- Tents can be pitched on the beach (previously this was disallowed)
- Tom Nook provides the player with ‘Nook Miles’, a reward miles system that can be redeemed for various items
- Players can grow items, including flowers and other consumables
- Separate Joy-Cons can be used for same console play (caveat is that players must both be on the screen at all times)
- Players can share the town with up to eight (8) different other players
It really does give off a Harvest Moon vibe, which is kind of cool, considering the old farming series has not seen a huge comeback on Nintendo systems (Stardew Valley is Harvest Moon on steroids, anyway). No complaints here, as the HM series is perhaps the only series that could rival Animal Crossing in the relaxation factor.
Another notable change: players can now change their skin tone, which has never been allowed before. Hair colour/style, eye colour, and facial features can all be changed, but skin tone/colour is a new – and welcome – one.
Perhaps the only downside from the conference was the release date: once expected to hit shelves later this year, the official release date has now been revealed to be March 20, 2020. While that’s closer to a year away, the good news is that it’ll be given more time to be polished before it arrives.
I, for one, have already begun the layout planning of my new island, so it can’t arrive any sooner.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be released for the Nintendo Switch on March 20, 2020.
You can find Sho on Twitter (@SNSAlli), where he’d love to chat with you about movies, video games, sports, and more!