Animal Crossing: New Horizons: Everything we know so far

Animal Crossing: New Horizons launches for Nintendo Switch March 20, but up until last week, we still didn’t really know that much about what to expect from our new island life. An Animal Crossing Direct and tidbits of information trickling out of the New Horizons PAX East demo changed that in a big way, though.

From how much control you have over your island to which seasonal visitors you can expect to see, we suddenly know a lot more about New Horizons.

It’s a lot to keep up with in a short span of time, so we’ve put together a list of everything we know about Animal Crossing: New Horizons to help get you up to speed.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons character customization
Source: Nintendo of America

Everything we know about Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ customization

Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ customization is the most extensive and wide-ranging we’ve seen yet in the series. From your own character to the very island itself, it seems there’s very little you won’t be able to change to your liking in New Horizons.

New Horizons character creator

The most notable part of New Horizons’ character creator is getting to choose your looks. It looks very much like the majority of features aren’t gender locked, including eyes, mouths, hair styles, and more. One screenshot out of PAX East showed a face painting feature, and there were two icons at the bottom with a “Male” setting and a “Female” setting.

It’s not clear whether this just determines the overall shape of the player character’s face, but pretty much everything else is open for you to do what makes you feel the most comfortable. The same goes for clothing and accessories as well. Like in New Leaf, you can dress your islander however you see fit.

And you can change that look whenever you like too. If you’ve got a piece of furniture with a mirror, like a vanity, you can change your character’s look just by interacting with it.

New Horizons island layout

Like in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you can pick the map layout you want the most. So far, we don’t know how many island layouts you’ll get to choose from in New Horizons. However, considering you can also alter the island’s structure, river flow, cliff formations, and more once you reach a certain point, the initial layout shouldn’t feel too restrictive.

The Direct mentions you’ll get access to Tom Nook’s construction consultation and your Construction Permit after the island gets “all decked out.” Construction consultation looks like public works projects, with lots of bridge and stair designs to help make getting around the island easier, while the Construction Permit is what lets you terraform the island.

It’s not confirmed, but it seems safe to assume the island’s development and satisfaction rating — like in New Leaf — will get you access to new features and facilities as it goes up. Like always, you’ll be speaking with Isabelle at the Town Hall to find out what you can do to improve your island even more.

Neighbors’ houses and other buildings in New Horizons

For the first time, you get to pick where your neighbors live in New Horizons. No more shall Hazel take the perfect spot for your lighthouse with her abode — unless you don’t really mind. When neighbors move in, you get the chance to “advise” them where their houses should go if you want, where “advise” means “dictate where they’ll live.” Or you can just let them do whatever if you prefer a more hands-off approach.

Footage from the Direct suggests you’ll be doing the same for other buildings in your town as well, like the Museum and the Nooklings’ store. Previously, you could only pick where your house and some public works projects would go, so it’s a nice change in favor of increased control over how your home away from home will look.

New Horizons furniture customization

New Leaf introduced limited customization to some furniture lines, and New Horizons takes that to a whole new level. Apart from crafting some furniture using items you find scattered about, you’ll have the chance to design aspects of the furniture itself, including sheets, cushions, and other previously fixed aspects of the furniture.

You can even change the theme with certain items, like using fruit to turn a chair into an orange chair (assuming you used, y’know… an orange). Whether this has implications for other collectibles like fish, we don’t know, but we somehow doubt you’ll be merging innocent animals into furniture to create that lovely new Froggy Chair.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Nook Miles Program
Source: Nintendo of America

Everything we know about Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ item crafting

Animal Crossing: New Horizons will place a heavy emphasis on item crafting. We mentioned crafting your furniture already, and that’s a big part. But you’ll also be using sticks, stones, and other items known for bone-breaking to create your tools, old and new.

Old would be things like the shovel and axe, which apparently have different grades now. The flimsy level is the first one you have access to, and those will break after use — just like the axe usually does in previous Animal Crossing games. New will be things like ladders to get up cliffs before you can afford to build stairs and the pole for pole vaulting over rivers where there isn’t a bridge (or even where there is because it’s just fun).

We learned about DIY recipes for item crafting during Nintendo’s E3 2019 presentation and about how you’ll get items such as sticks and grasses from daily activities like shaking weeds and pulling trees. Now, you’ll also get DIY recipes from messages in bottles, and you can use the airport — New Horizons’ version of the train station — to visit random islands with craftable materials galore.

Nook Miles, Rewards, and Store

Those cat stamp challenges from New Leaf got a makeover in New Horizons as well. Now, you’ll complete tasks to earn Nook Miles — which you can redeem for new recipes — access to new islands, or the chance to snag some new gear. The way you get tools and items might have changed in New Horizons, but it doesn’t seem like there will be any shortage of ways to get the materials and recipes you need for your dream home.

Some of these are pretty darned convenient rewards too, like the tool wheel for easy access to your equippable items and expanded inventory space — something almost everyone who’s played Animal Crossing has felt a keen lack of at some point or another.

Resident Services is your go-to place for all this and anything you need to buy. It initially takes the place of a regular Nook store, though you can eventually have the Nooklings open up shop later on. What’s more, Resident Services is open 24/7 for all you night owls.

Hanging out with Animal Crossing: New Horizons villagers
Source: Nintendo of America

Everything we know about Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ characters

Lots of familiar friends are coming back to New Horizons, and there are plenty of new friends to make as well.

Favorite NPCs make a return, but some familiar faces are getting replaced. Nook and the Nooklings, Isabelle, Sahara, Blathers, Kicks, and the Able Sisters are back. Wisp the midnight ghost is back as well, for those with a penchant for taking a late-night wander.

However, Joan is getting replaced with the adorable Daisy Mae, C.J. takes over for Chip, and we don’t really know the fate of our favorite starving wallpaper artist Wendell.

New Horizons tourists

Wandering NPCs like Sahara and Kicks visit as “tourists” and offer insight into cultures from around the world. It’s not too clear who all will be a tourist and what schedule they’ll visit on yet. Still, expect to run into Gulliver the hapless traveler on the beach every so often. We’ll likely be seeing Mr. Resetti make a comeback too, which should please a certain Brie Larson. New Horizons has a rescue feature, where the Rescue Team — with a logo suspiciously like Resetti’s face — instantly takes you back to your home.

Holiday characters like Frank and Jack are coming back, which means holidays are returning as well. However, these will be distributed as free content updates ahead of the actual event; for example, Bunny Day will be distributed for free shortly after New Horizons launches on March 20.

How you’ll interact with these NPCs has changed a fair bit, though. The Nooklings’ store and the museum, for example, aren’t there right away. We don’t know how you’ll open up Nook’s shop, but we do know Blathers sets up a humble tent until you give him a certain number of donations. From there, the museum opens up proper — and what a museum it is — and we can probably expect similar requirements for other stores in town.

New Horizons villagers

Speaking of characters, New Horizons’ total initial villager count is the highest it has ever been. At the start, New Horizons will have 383 villagers, ranging from favorites like Bob, Rosie, Stitches, and Truffles to brand new animals we’ll meet for the first time. New Leaf introduced more after launch with the “Welcome amiibo” update, so it’s possible we might see even more villagers in New Horizons beyond these 383.

It’s not known yet how many villagers you can have live in your town at once, but you can still use the campsite to invite newcomers to your island. Plus, you’ll have the chance to encounter new animals on the random islands we mentioned before.

In a small touch that introduces so much personality, your animal friends are actually living life on the island. They’ll sit and eat snacks, smell the flowers, dance along to some music, sweep leaves into piles during fall, and basically enjoy every day to its fullest.

Expanding your home in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Source: Nintendo of America

Everything we know about Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ design features

Lest ye forget from E3 last year, you can put furniture anywhere on the island — anywhere.

Want a secluded little sitting area overlooking the waterfall? Bring over your favorite chair, an umbrella for shade, and a table to put something icy and refreshing on. That beach looking a bit bare and boring? Spice things up with tiki torches and get the party started! It’s an excellent carryover from Happy Home Designer’s introduction of outside decor around houses.

Inside also leans on HHD’s design sensibilities. You don’t have to worry about dragging your furniture around anymore. Instead, you can move things around independently of your character, rearrange with ease, hang things on the walls, move items in groups, and get a fully rotate-able view of your room. You can even change the pattern directions on things like wallpaper and flooring.

Everything (else) we know about Animal Crossing: New Horizons

That’s everything we know so far about Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ gameplay, so it’s time for the practical information.

Source: Nintendo of America

How many islands and players in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

You might already know this, but you get one island per Switch with New Horizons, no matter which user accesses it. Up to eight people can live on one island, though, and you can invite others to play on your island as well if you have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Unless you set them to “Best Friends” status, you don’t have to worry about them going bonkers and chopping down all your trees or messing up your hard work either.

New Horizons is getting voice chat too, using Nintendo Switch Online’s smartphone app. If you don’t feel like actually talking, you can take advantage of the keyboard feature to chat instead.

New Horizons save data backup

New Horizons doesn’t support cloud backups for save data. However, Nintendo did say they will implement a way to recover save data should a console be lost, stolen, or damaged. There’s some confusion over how that works, though.

Originally, Nintendo said this could only happen once. Shortly after the Direct aired, though, Nintendo re-uploaded the Direct video with that comment removed. So, in short, we know New Horizons won’t have save data backup, but should disaster strike, Nintendo will probably have a feature in place to help recover lost data — probably.

New Horizons amiibo support

The game will support Animal Crossing amiibo and amiibo cards too. One of the functions includes accessing an island called Photopia, where you can take snapshots of your animal friends, get them to pose, and dress them up. You can also invite them to the campsite. As before, the campsite is where you can play games and hopefully get the chance to invite them back to your island for good.

New Horizons preorders

As for Animal Crossing: New Horizon preorders, a few offers are out there. Best Buy has a bundle that includes a plush Bell bag, while Target is offering a journal to go with your game preorder. The New Horizons edition Switch was sold out almost immediately after going live, sadly, but there is hope that it will be restocked in the future.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons‘ launch date isn’t that far off now, even if it seems like forever. It’s shaping up to be the most expansive and customizable entry in the series to date, with a huge variety of activities and friends to help you enjoy every minute on your island paradise.

Whether you’re wanting to plan every last detail of your village or are content to just smell the flowers and chow on ice cream with Bunnie, there’s literally something for everyone here. What are you most looking forward to in Animal Crossing: New Horizons? Let us know in the comments!

Nintendo Enthusiast Staff