Animal Crossing: New Horizons, preview from E3 2019

Animal Crossing will return to Nintendo Switch with the biggest and most innovative chapter ever: we saw it at E3 2019.

Animal Crossing is back. How many years have passed, in the hope of being able to pronounce this sentence as soon as possible? In Europe exactly six, considering that Animal Crossing: New Leaf for Nintendo 3DS was published in the now distant June 2013. Every Direct lived with the hope of an announcement from Nintendo promptly led to the most total disappointment and despair: it almost seemed that , a perfectly forgettable spin-off aside, the Kyoto House had forgotten about Tom Nook, Fuffi and company, of a series that had promptly saved Nintendo 3DS hardware from the brink. But now Animal Crossing is back. Or rather, it will return exclusively to Nintendo Switch on March 20, 2020, with the title Animal Crossing: New Horizons. True, it was originally scheduled for late 2019, but the company needs more time to refine it, and most importantly, it doesn’t want the employees working on it to be too stressed. Peace of mind and attention to the smallest details are the underlying philosophy of the Animal Crossing series, and therefore we do not feel it is right to comment on the slip. We can instead comment on everything that was shown on Animal Crossing: New Horizons during theE3 2019, both during the official presentation (the Nintendo Direct) and during the Nintendo Treehouse. If from birth you keep repeating that “Animal Crossing is always the same”, this time you will change your mind.

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Tom Nook is one of the main protagonists of the Animal Crossing franchise, known among fans both for his sympathy and for his irrepressible greed. It is he who in the main moments of the adventure provides a home to the player, clearly in installments and against particularly large mortgages, payable in millions of stars. In the last few chapters of the series he has saved up so much money that he can directly buy an island, the same one where the new adventure of Animal Crossing: New Horizons begins. We already know that this is where the protagonist will land, here he will set up his tent and begin to manage relations with the neighborhood: in short, a completely canonical beginning, we simply pass by the small village of Animal Crossing: Let’s Go To The City and Animal Crossing: New Leaf to life on the island.

A’Island which, we immediately noticed, seems too small: it is not clear whether it will be part of a larger archipelago or whether new areas will be accessible on neighboring atolls. Instead, it is known that slowly it will be possible to “furnish” it, build new buildings, invite new pets to live nearby. After a few minutes from the official presentation of the Nintendo Direct of E3 2019, anxiety has hit the fans of the series: where has it gone Fuffi? Where is Tortimer? And Alpaca and Merino? Why does the island seem so narrow and, above all, inhabited only by Tom Nook’s NPCs with grandchildren Marco and Mirco? The developers have confirmed some details: it seems that new activities, new services and new buildings will arrive only after completing some main missions on the island and – above all – only if the player wants it. Basically it seems it will be possible to simply live in a tent, with only Tom Nook’s workshop nearby, and nothing else.

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Fuffi, Alpaca, Ago and Filo should all be available (Fuffi has already been confirmed) at a later time, and with different procedures. For the moment Nintendo has decided not to declare anything else, especially considering that the title is still in the works and that many things could still change in the coming months. For these doubts about the presence of the most famous characters in the series, therefore, we will have to update ourselves later.

Before Animal Crossing: New Horizons Nintendo proposed two very specific and different experiences: Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (Nintendo 3DS) e Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (android and iOS mobile devices). We had already guessed that these titles would prove to be very important in the next official chapter of the Nintendo Switch series, and we talked about them in Animal Crossing: five things that cannot be missing on Nintendo Switch. The future has proved us right: Animal Crossing: New Horizons, according to what has been seen so far, appears as an enhanced hybrid between Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, where management has been recovered via the editor of Happy Home Designer. Let’s start with the main novelty: it is possible to embellish your home, and this is certainly not a novelty; but it is allowed also furnish any outdoor place of the small island that we are going to live in, moving objects exactly as it happens in Happy Home Designer and Pocket Camp.

We are practically sure that at a later time Nintendo will show an editor available with the Nintendo Switch touch screen in portable mode: a few, simple taps on the screen to move objects and simplify the customization of internal and external environments. In any case, New Horizons already represents a significant enhancement compared to the “public works” of Animal Crossing: New Leaf: it is possible to place any object in the game world, in any position (except for due limitations that will certainly be clarified later). But the main novelty of Animal Crossing: New Horizon is the direction light RPG undertaken by the production, enriched by a remarkable crafting component (“remarkable” at least by Animal Crossing standards). Anyone who has played Animal Crossing Pocket Camp in this year and a half already knows what we are talking about, but a practical example will clarify everything even better: hitting a tree with the ax will release different types of wood.

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This must be brought to Toom Nook’s workshop and here, choosing from a catalog of various projects, it will be possible to use wood (and some stars) to create a piece of furniture, such as a bench, stool or table. At the moment, only the wood-related crafting mechanic has been shown, but clearly that won’t be the only resource available. It is possible (indeed, we almost take it for granted) that in other areas it will be possible to extract minerals or different species of rocks with the pickaxe. Other components for creations they will probably be invented from scratch: what matters is that Animal Crossing has recovered the crafting of Pocket Camp, making its supporting structure more solid, varied and satisfying. The initial moments of the adventure already show a slightly more technical direction than in the past, but without losing along the way the immediacy and accessibility that have always distinguished the franchise.

A few minutes were also dedicated to Animal Crossing: New Horizons multiplayer which, we already know, will be both online and locally. For the first time ever you will be able to play, for example, together with your mother physically present in the same room, and above all without the annoying split screen. When the two characters stray too far from each other, the guest villager disappears and teleports back alongside the island leader; the flag of the leader, that is of the player who commands at a precise moment, can be freely moved from one player to the other at any time. It is thus possible to play together, interact with the game world, decorate the island. In the presentation trailer they were active approx eight players at the same time: probably not only the most full-bodied Animal Crossing ever is coming, but also the one that will give more space to interaction and sharing of content between players.

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