Animal Crossing New Horizons – Nintendo Direct Update

animal crossing new horizons logo

While fans were hoping for a full-on Direct, Nintendo instead chose to focus on the upcoming Animal Crossing game. This morning, Nintendo provided a detailed overview of Animal Crossing New Horizons, which releases on March 20. While Nintendo likely kept much of the details a secret, the company had a shocking amount of announcements for fans of the series. Below is a detailed list of every new feature that Nintendo announced in the 25 minute Animal Crossing Direct:

Animal Crossing New Horizons – The Getaway Package

Nintendo opened the presentation by revealing the major gameplay mechanics for Animal Crossing New Horizons. While the video promised three separate pieces of information, the majority of news centered on New Horizons gameplay. Let’s dive in.

Beginning Your Adventure

The game begins by giving players the option to choose between one of four island designs, which are located in either the northern or southern hemisphere. Seasons for the two hemispheres are “polar” opposites, with spring in the north equating to fall in the south and vice-versa. As with prior Animal Crossing games, seasons will heavily influence the gameplay in New Horizons. Seasonal activities, such as collecting bugs in the summertime and harvesting crops in the fall, are familiar and appear to be vital to the overall gameplay.

Two New Facilities

New Horizons begins with a brief by the infamous Tom Nook, in which he provides players with a tent to establish a home on the island. Tom Nook will then take players on a tour of the resident services and airport services facilities. These appear to be critical to the overall gameplay and will act as a tutorial section of the main game. Here is a detailed description of the two new services:

  • Resident Services Tent – Allows players to sell and buy items, craft new equipment, and customize existing gear.
  • Airport Services Tent – Allows players to invite friends to their respective islands via a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Although this service begins the day after starting the game, up to eight people can participate on a main island at one time. In addition, Airport Services offers an in-game “postal” service to send and receive messages from other players.

Special Services

This would not be Animal Crossing if we did not have access to Special Services. While the game offers two primary facilities, here is a description of the special services that are specific to New Horizons:

  • “Nook Phone” – It is 2020, and everyone has a smartphone. Even the characters in Animal Crossing New Horizons! The “Nook Phone” appears to be the game’s primary menu option and offers the following apps:
    • Camera
    • Map
    • Nook Miles – Players can exchange for a variety of goods and services from the Airport
    • DIY Recipes – Appears to be a list of learned recipes
    • Passport – Seems to be a list of other visited islands
    • Custom Designs – While similar to “DIY Recipes”, appears to be a list of custom crafting items
    • Rescue Service – Players can use this feature to automatically be teleported back to their island residency
    • Call Resident – While the details are unknown, we assume this feature is used to leave notes for other players
    • Island Designer – This feature is used for tips and tricks on crafting your island home
  • Island Broadcast – Each morning, Tom Nook will give Island residents an update about upcoming events as well as tips and tricks. Paying attention to this information will likely be very important to building your island.
  • Nook Mileage Program – This feature appears to be a list of in-game activities or achievements. As players earn these goals, the game rewards your character with bonus “miles”. Players can use these “miles” to pay off their debt to Tom Nook as well as purchase in-game items. Completing a variety of goals should give players more opportunities to customize their island.

Tips & Tricks

No presentation would be complete without a short list of tips and tricks. Thankfully, Nintendo provided some “do’s and don’ts” for newcomers to the series:

  • Tools – Much like Minecraft, Animal Crossing New Horizons is all about farming and crafting. No simulator would be complete without a list of tools, and New Horizons comes fully equipped with the following:
    • Fishing Rod
    • Bug Net
    • Axe
    • Shovel
    • Slingshot
    • Umbrella
    • Ping-Pong Paddle?
  • Dangerous Creatures – As with prior games, bees and scorpions and other woodland creatures can inflict status ailments. While not as serious as other games, players can cure status ailments with medicine from Resident Services.
  • Night – The night brings new challenges and creatures in Animal Crossing New Horizons. While we do not know much, the Nintendo Direct featured a startled ghost in the night. Perhaps we will encounter even more mysterious creatures.
  • Rescued Castaways – Apparently, random NPCs will become shipwrecked on your island. At that time, players can rescue these castaways and help them create a life on island. This includes setting the location of their tent as well as other features. Who knows what skills these castaways will bring!
  • Rescue Service – Tom Nook is always looking to make a deal, and the “rescue service” is no different. If players get lost, they can call upon the Rescue Service to immediately be teleported back to their tent or home. The only catch is that it does comes with a fee.

Optional Extras

In addition to the features listed above, Animal Crossing New Horizons will offer the following in-game services:

  • Home Owners – What do Skyrim and New Horizons have in common? Owning your own home! For the low price of 98,000 bells, Tom Nook will allow you to purchase a house. We have no idea how expensive 98K happens to be; however, we do now that the loan will come with no payment deadline or interest. After the loan is paid off, players can also expand and remodel their house with features such as wallpaper and fixtures.
  • Nook Miles – While players can use Nook Miles to pay off the getaway package, they can also be used for travel. Airport Services will transport gamers to a random island where they can collect random items and talk to NPCs. This features appears useful for players looking to farm specific items for crafting.
  • Online Play – Up to 8 people can live on the island at one time. Here is the disclaimer verbatim, “With one Nintendo Switch system and one game, up to four of those Nintendo Account holders can play on the same island at the same time. With additional systems & games, up to eight players can play on the same island at the same time via local wireless or online play. Nintendo Switch Online membership & Nintendo Accounts required for online features. Not available in all countries Internet access required for online features.”
  • Nintendo Switch Online Application – Finally, the Nintendo Switch iOS and Android App is getting a new feature, and it appears to be rather handy. The “Nook Link” will allow players to scan QR codes from New Leaf and Happy Home Designer in order to transfer designs into New Horizons. In addition, the app will allow for voice and in-game text chat. The anticipated launch date is just days after the main game in late March.

Future Development Plans

After nearly 20 minutes explaining the main game, Nintendo unveiled its plan for future updates. While the specifics are vague, Nintendo provided a small window into future updates.

New Residents

It appears as though players will be able to invite random NPCs to their islands. Players can choose where NPCs live, and the hope is that encounters in different forums allow players to invite NPCs to their islands.

New Services – Isabelle Returns

While vague, Nintendo announced many upcoming services. The Museum appears to be tied to achievements, “Nooks Cranny” is a shop for non-craftable goods, “Able Services” is a tailor for fashion items, and the “Tent” is a campsite for inviting guests to your island. Finally, players will be able to expand their home and remodel with the services offered by a series favorite: Isabelle.


While Nintendo is planning a series of year-long events, it appears as though NPCs will travel to players islands at random to sell new goods. Finally, players will be able to build bridges and other structures as well as modify the island’s topography to meet their needs. This level of customization is completely new to the series, and it will be interesting to see how the community uses these new features.


With all of the new information and future plans revealed, Nintendo finished its presentation with the following list of FAQs:

  • Can I play with my family on a single Nintendo Switch? Yes. One system and game can support up to eight players per island. The maximum number of island residents is eight, and families can assign a user ID to each of the eight allocations. Each user is able to build his or her own home. It does appear that families do not need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription so long as they are either (1) using the same console or (2) connected via local wireless.
  • Amiibo Support? Yes, but currently Nintendo supports only Animal Crossing Amiibo. Plans are in the future to support more characters.
  • Save Data? Nintendo is not supporting local cloud services; however, they will reveal a services in the future to restore data if your Nintendo console is lost or damaged.
  • Themed System? Yes, a special themed Nintendo Switch releases on March 13th along with an Animal Crossing carrying case.
  • Free Updates? Yes. Nintendo plans to release a series of free updates, which include new “seasonal events.” The first free update is available at launch and includes an invitation for a “Bunny Day” event in April. In addition, Pocket Camp and New Horizons will have future crossover events. These events will be updated via the official @Pocket_Camp twitter account.


There you have it: analysis of Animal Crossing New Horizons Direct. Overall, we are excited about the endless possibilities. But we want to know what you think. Are you planning on buying New Horizons on launch day? Will you play with friends? If so, are you choosing to play with local coop or do you plan to plan online? Let us know in the comment section below or the social media icons to the right.

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