No, the sky isn’t falling — a new Animal Crossing game for the Nintendo Switch is on its way. Finally, after almost six years since Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the Nintendo 3DS, fans are getting a new mainline entry in the Animal Crossing series. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was teased during a September 2018 Nintendo Direct, with an official reveal (along with the game’s title) coming during E3 2019.
Want to know everything you possibly can about this upcoming game? Of course you do! We’ve done all the legwork in creating this ultimate resource of everything we know about Animal Crossing: New Horizons so far — and it’ll be updated as new information arises! Sections are sorted… somewhat alphabetically, and there’s an additional resources section at the bottom if you want to peruse some more great Animal Crossing: New Horizons content done by the Nintendo Wire team!
What’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons about?
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a real-time life simulation game. Like past entries in the series, players will live among anthropomorphic animals in a small town setting, enjoying various activities like fishing, catching insects, decorating their home, and doing favors for their neighbors. As a real-time game, it uses the Nintendo Switch’s internal clock to simulate the passing of time in-game. When it’s day in real life, it’s daytime in the game, too; when it’s winter in real life, it’s winter in the game, too. We know, at its core, the game will play similarly to past mainline games in the series (Animal Crossing for Nintendo GameCube, Animal Crossing: Wild World, Animal Crossing: City Folk, and Animal Crossing: New Leaf), but there are some big changes.
What’s new in Animal Crossing: New Horizons?
It’s set on a deserted island
Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be set on a deserted island, on which players will build a town from the ground up. Players will travel to this island courtesy of the “Nook Inc. Deserted Island Getaway Package” with two other (random) animals. They’ll arrive via a “Dodo Airlines” seaplane; a branded dock appears to act as a replacement for the train station, town gates, and bus stop of past Animal Crossing games.
Together, the player and these two animals will be the founding members of this island settlement. Due to this, the relationship the player will have with these two animals will be very different to those of past games: you’re all on the same standing ground rather than the player alone being a newbie to town.
The player and their two neighbors will start the game living in tents. Tommy Nook will give the player their tent, which they can place anywhere they want on the island. The player will owe a debt to Nook Inc. owner and raccoon Tom Nook in the form of 49,800 Bells (the currency in the Animal Crossing universe), which they’ll need to pay off through obtaining money through various means (like selling fish and doing favors for animals).
As the player pays off their debts, the town will grow from a quaint island full of weeds and bare land thanks to Tom Nook’s reinvesting into the island. However, the player can decide how big they want their village to grow: If you want to remain in a tent for the game, you can do so. However, if you upgrade your tent into a house, Tom Nook will see the need for new town facilities.
How the town develops will be “something that will probably seem familiar to existing fans.” The developers say they have not lost “what is familiar with the Animal Crossing franchise” while at the same time providing a “new experience.”
There’s a new crafting mechanic
Crafting is a new mechanic in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, although it appears to differ from the gameplay found in mobile spin-off title Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. Players can collect resources by hitting trees and rocks (to get wood and rocks, respectively), and use these materials to craft new items like tools and furniture. Players can also dig up clams on the beach to use them as fishing bait or as crafting materials.
Crafting “recipes” can be found in the “DIY Recipes” section on a player’s NookPhone. Players can craft items by using Tom Nook’s workbench inside his workshop, although alternative workbenches have been seen outdoors and in animals’ houses (specifically, Fuchsia’s). Animals can also teach the player new DIY Recipes.
The following are all items that can be crafted, although with required materials in parentheses. Italics denote items with no official name known yet.
- Flimsy axe (5 tree branches, 1 stone)
- Flimsy shovel (5 hardwood)
- Flimsy net (5 tree branches)
- Flimsy fishing rod (5 tree branches)
- Flimsy watering can (5 softwood)
- Vaulting pole (5 softwood)
- Campfire (3 tree branches)
- Bonfire (1 campfire, 10 wood)
- Log stool (4 hardwood)
- Log bench (7 hardwood)
- Wooden washtub (3 softwood)
- Clothesline (6 softwood)
- Signpost (2 hardwood, 3 softwood)
- Tiny library (5 wood, 3 books)
- Classic pitcher (4 clay)
- Stone stool (3 stones)
- Birdbath (4 stones)
- Oil-barrel bathtub (1 oil barrel, 1 campfire, 2 stones)
- Frying pan (2 iron nuggets)
- Coconut juice (1 coconut)
- Leaf (5 weeds)
- Leaf umbrella (unknown number of weeds)
- Tulip crown (2 red tulips, 2 yellow tulips, 1 white tulip)
There are several categories at the top of the “DIY Recipes” menu, with the “L” and “R” buttons used to move through them. The following crafting categories can be seen, with icon descriptions for categories without known names:
- A shovel icon, probably for tools
- A table icon, probably for furniture
- A mug icon, probably for small objects
- A sign icon, probably for outdoor decoration
- A wallpaper and floor icon, probably for (you guessed it) wallpaper and flooring
- A flower crown icon, probably for hats and other wearables
- A backpack icon, probably for accessories
- A hammer icon
- A star icon
Item management has been tweaked
There’s a redesigned inventory screen, with 20 inventory slots.
Items can also be purchased from Timmy inside Tom Nook’s workshop, as well as sold like in past games. It appears crafting items is simply an optional mechanic. As part of the Nook family’s “island clean-up plan,” players can also now sell weeds and other unwanted items to the Nooklings.
Here are all the items that are known to be available for purchase from Timmy, sorted by how they are categorized in-game, with prices in parentheses. Items appear to change each day. Italics denote items with no official name known yet.
- Flimsy rod (300 Bells)
- Flimsy net (300 Bells)
- Flimsy watering can (1,200 Bells)
- Medicine (400 Bells)
- Red-rose bag (360 Bells)
- White-pansy bag (360 Bells)
- Yellow-tulip bag (360 Bells)
- Cedar sapling (640 Bells)
- Cardboard box (100 bells)
- Camp stove (1,200 bells)
- Campfire cookware (800 Bells)
- Reclining lawn chair (1,720 Bells)
Some items have also been seen around the island or in the player’s inventory. Here are the additional items confirmed in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Italics denote items with no official name known yet.
- Camping cot
- Portable radio
- Beach towel
- Garden gnome
- Stone oven
- Lawn chair
- Camping table
- Camping bench
- Plastic drink dispenser
- Outdoor grill
- Outdoor swingset
- Outdoor sink
You can now fully customize your character at any point in the game
Animal Crossing: New Horizons will feature full character customization at the game’s start, as well as throughout the game. All facial features, hairstyles, skin tones, and eye colors can be selected from the beginning and can be changed at any time. This marks the first time in the mainline series that a character can change their skin tone freely.
Additionally, every customization feature is completely gender-neutral. Options that were previously exclusive to boy characters can now be used on girls and vice versa.
There’s a new item called a “NookPhone”
The player comes equipped with a new item called a “NookPhone,” which functions like a smartphone with various apps. There is a “Camera” app, which players can take screenshots with (with a bevy of filters), a “Nook Miles” app, a “DIY Recipes” app, a “Map” app, and a “Call Islander” app. The NookPhone can be pulled up using the “ZL” button.
Other apps planned include the “My Design” feature from Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Two unknown apps are shown in footage: one with an icon of a shirt with a pencil, and one with an icon of a book with a face on it. It’s likely the former is the planned “My Design” app.
The NookPhone is received from Tom Nook quite soon (but not immediately) after the player sets up their tent.
Players can use the new “Camera” app to take filtered screenshots of the game. They can also use Emotions while taking a photo, and can also zoom in and out by using the “UP” and “DOWN” buttons. Players can press “RIGHT” while in the “Camera” app to take a screenshot, which will save it to their Nintendo Switch gallery. The following filters have been confirmed to be in the game:
There’s a new achievement system involving “Nook Miles”
There’s a brand-new rewards system involving a new currency called “Nook Miles.” By achieving certain goals, players can accumulate Nook Miles and trade them in for rewards. Nook Miles can be checked by opening its respective app on the NookPhone. They are displayed as cards, with the “A” button being used to claim Miles. When Nook Miles are claimed, a stamp is placed on the card with the date printed on it. Confirmed goals (along with descriptions and known requirements) include:
- Treehouse Miles! (this was likely just for the Nintendo Treehouse: Live at E3 2019 gameplay demonstration)
- Ninten Miles! (this was likely just for the September 3rd, 2019 Nintendo Direct’s “Welcome to Island Life!” footage)
- DIY Tools
- “If your tools break, just make more! And to take away the sting, you’ll earn Nook Miles based on the number of tools you craft. Sweet deal!”
- Achieved by crafting 5 tools.
- Angling for Perfection!
- You’ve Got the Bug
- First-Time Buyer
- Pick of the Bunch
- First-Time Seller
- “Selling things you don’t need is a great way to keep down the clutter and earn a few extra Bells. And, in this case, a few extra miles!”
- Gives player 300 Nook Miles.
- Weed Eater
- “Nook Inc. salutes you for beautification efforts. Nook Inc. rewards you with Nook Miles for pulling weeds. Nook Inc.!”
- Achieved by pulling 50 weeds.
- Have a Nice DIY!
- “Nook Inc. will award Nook Miles for the number of DIY recipes you’ve collected. Think about that. You’re earning…for learning! Yes, yes!”
- Social Islander
- “One of the goals of Nook Inc. is islander togetherness. Our gregarious-greetings initiative aims to reward you with Nook Miles based on the number of times you greet all residents in a single day.”
- NookPhone Life
- “Gotten used to using your NookPhone? Keep using it for various island needs and enjoy some Nook Miles just for getting familiar with it.”
- Cast Master
- “Cast your line carefully if you want to reel in this reward–you’ll need to nab a bunch of fish in a row without a single one getting away to earn these miles.”
- Exterior Decorator
There’s now a native way to place paths
Players can now pave actual paths in their town without using patterns like in past games. Both square and round paths have been seen, both of which can be applied to the ground using a paving tool. Paths can also be placed around areas like the front doors of houses.
You can now vault over rivers
A new “vaulting pole” item allows players to pole vault over rivers.
Multi-leveled towns are returning
Multi-leveled towns, separated by cliffs/ramps, have been seen to return. These haven’t been possible since Animal Crossing: City Folk for the Wii.
Buried items and fossils are returning
The ability to bury and dig up items is returning, although there was little doubt this wouldn’t. Fossils are also known to be returning, with a player seen digging up an unidentified fossil, although the museum (and, by association, Blathers) has yet to be confirmed.
Outdoor gardening has been revamped
Players can now put full-grown trees, flower blossoms, and weeds in their inventories. Players can pick up trees and replant them elsewhere; this requires gathering strength by eating fruit. The number of fruits a player has consumed is indicated by a new counter in the upper-left corner of the inventory screen, which appears to only be visible when eating a fruit. When picking up a tree, the counter ticks down by one.
Players can also harvest flower blossoms instead of uprooting entire plants. Flowers also don’t immediately sprout — they must be grown from seeds and develop over time, like trees.
Cedar trees can also be placed wherever you want. In previous games, cedar trees could only be grown north of a town’s river (in Wild World and New Leaf), on the upper level of a town (in City Folk), and in the top two acres of a village (in the GameCube version).
Strange, new mushroom “bundles” can seen growing in the fall alongside regular mushroom spawns. However, it isn’t known if these are spawns or simply decorations placed outdoors.
You can place items outdoors
Items can now be placed outdoors, like in Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, meaning players can make the yards of their dreams. Outdoor decorations like white-picket fences and wood-log fences have been seen.
Dialogue has been tweaked
There’s a new text box and font for dialogue and other text. The “animalese” language animals speak has also been upped in pitch.
There are tons of graphical changes and new details
Player characters’ hair now has a visible shine on it, which changes as they move around the world. Leaves in trees can now be seen blowing in the wind, rather than being static like in past games.
Animal Crossing’s signature grass patterns return, too. Initial footage shown during E3 2019 indicated the patterns would be more subtle than in past games, only appearing in certain spots while the majority of grass has a flat texture. However, the “Welcome to Island Life!” video showed that this changed during development, and patterns now appear throughout grass instead of just in certain areas.
There’s an all-new soundtrack
Aside from the Animal Crossing: New Horizons theme song heard during the game’s debut trailer, there’s an entirely-new soundtrack launching with the game. All the hourly music is new (not taken from previous games, like City Folk did with Wild World), and some of it can be heard in the September 3rd, 2019 “Welcome to Island Life!” video.
Emotions are returning
Emotions, learned through the character Dr. Shrunk in past titles Wild World, City Folk, and New Leaf (and by Frillard in City Folk), will be returning in New Horizons. However, it isn’t known if Dr. Shrunk or Frillard will be returning. Emotions appear through a wheel interface, with eight slots for Emotions available. These can be seen while using the “Camera” app on the NookPhone. The following Emotions have been confirmed so far. Italics denote Emotions with no confirmed names yet.
- Surprise (the icon for this is different from past games; this being “Surprise” is only a guess)
Changes to animals
Animals can now sit on the ground outside, as well as move their eyes to look at characters or objects. Sheep villagers have been given coats as opposed to the scarves they were limited to in previous games. Animals can also wear a wider variety of clothing types, like spring dresses, and their tops are no longer sleeveless. Special characters, like Tommy, can be seen wandering around town outside.
Villagers can also hold a variety of items instead of just tools as seen in previous games. Filbert has been seen holding a picnic basket, Antonio has been seen holding a book, and Rosie has been seen holding a bundle of wood.
Players can now decide where villagers place their houses. Animals will consult with the player over where they want to place their home. If the player does not like the placement, they can move it wherever they see fit.
There will be a system to invite animals to players’ islands, but there won’t necessarily be one to “seek out” a particular animal. Animals cannot be forced off the island, but can leave if they wish. There are also new ways to build friendships with animals, including gifting them crafted items.
There are no new personality types introduced in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Changes to bug-catching and fishing
The humorous text that appears on-screen when a bug or fish is caught will make a return in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. In a feature brand-new to the mainline series of Animal Crossing games, players can now toss bait into water to attract (and then catch) fish.
New clothing options
There are new clothing options for players, as well, like spring dresses, long sweater dresses, backpacks, suspenders, and purses.
A brand-new female hairstyle in a purple color can be seen in the September 3rd, 2019 “Welcome to Island Life!” video.
Changes to seasons
Seasons make a return in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, with all four being confirmed in-game. Autumn leaves will now fall from the sky during the fall season. Pink leaves have been confirmed for at least part of the spring season. Snowballs and snowmen have also been confirmed to return in the winter, as well as the ability to catch snowflakes with the net.
Players can now select which hemisphere they live in, so in-game seasons will more accurately reflect real-life seasons than in past games.
Decorations can now be placed on front doors of homes. Both a winter ornamental wreath and a spring flower wreath have been seen. Additionally, it appears there are customizable or new types of blinds inside houses, but this has yet to be officially confirmed by Nintendo or Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ developers.
Placing/arranging furniture in half-fractions of the grid has also been confirmed to return, a feature that made its debut in Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer.
The bulletin board makes a return
The bulletin board, a staple of the series, makes a return outside Tom Nook and the Nookings’ tent. This time, though, we can see four yellow birds sitting atop it. In past games, a single yellow bird (or owl at night, at least in New Leaf) is indicative of a new bulletin posting. With four yellow birds here, could that mean there are four new postings to read?
There’s a new UI in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Overall, the user interface in Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been simplified with a minimalist approach. The series’ staple clock, appearing in the bottom-left corner of the screen, is now digital in white text, with the date and time appearing under it. There’s also a pop-up map, which appears alongside the digital clock when movement is stopped or the player presses “UP” on their controller. The map shows the location of the player, as well as the location of tents and Tom Nook’s workshop.
A NookPhone icon appears in the upper-left corner, reminding players how to access it (with “ZL”). The inventory screen, now with 20 slots, can now be pulled up without taking up the whole screen (like in prior home console versions). A Bell count is shown under the inventory screen’s bottom-left corner, while an option to change clothes (presumably) is right next to the Bell count.
Multiplayer functionality has been upgraded
An island can support up to eight players, and for the first time in the series, four players can play at the same time on a single system. Players can use the “Call Islander” app on their NookPhone to immediately begin playing with another person. The “lead” character will have a flag icon over their head, and the “lead” can be changed during gameplay. It appears selecting a tool for the “lead” character will also select the same tool for others playing. When a secondary player is off-screen, an icon with their head will appear on the side of the screen indicating their location. If they get too far from the “lead,” they can “pop” back to the side of the “lead.”
Eight players, meanwhile, can play together through online multiplayer or local wireless. In order to play online, players have have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Voice chat has been confirmed, but will be done through the Nintendo Switch Online application for mobile phones. “Other things” are also planned through the Nintendo Switch Online app.
Players can have up to eight playable accounts on one Nintendo Switch system and they will be able to live on the same island. Players cannot have multiple islands on one Nintendo Switch. To put it simply, you can only have one island per Switch — all Switch user accounts will use the same island. Players also cannot set up a tent on another player’s island.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons will support both docked and portable play
Animal Crossing: New Horizons will take advantage of both the Nintendo Switch’s docked and portable capabilities. There will be “elements designed for touch,” but gameplay was designed for a “classic grip” in docked mode.
There’s a new auto-save feature
Animal Crossing: New Horizons has a new auto-save feature like mobile spin-off game Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp’s, replacing the methods of saving in past mainline games.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons will support amiibo
Amiibo functionality has been confirmed for Animal Crossing: New Horizons, although there haven’t been many details about it yet. The developers have hinted that previously-released Animal Crossing series amiibo figures and cards will be compatible, though.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons will not support cloud save back-ups
Cloud save back-ups will not be compatible with Animal Crossing: New Horizons. This was said by the developers to be done to avoid time manipulation (or “time traveling,” as the fanbase calls it).
Animal Crossing: New Horizons will not directly connect to Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
There will be no direct integration between Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp. This was done because the developers felt the two titles were so different, and they wanted to “separate the gameplay.”
When Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp was announced in 2016, integration with the mainline series of Animal Crossing games was touted as a feature. This never came to fruition with the main series game at the time, Animal Crossing: New Leaf.
Although the games won’t directly connect, there are collaboration items planned for both New Horizons and Pocket Camp.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons will support new languages
What characters are confirmed in Animal Crossing: New Horizons?
Lots of characters have been confirmed so far! Check out our full list of all the villagers and characters confirmed to be returning in New Horizons as well as all the brand-new villagers and characters in the game.
What fish, insects, fruit, flowers/trees, and sea shells are confirmed in Animal Crossing: New Horizons?
Here are the fish, insects, fruit, flowers, and sea shells we know for sure are in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Italics denote items with no official name known yet.
- Pond smelt
- Red snapper
- Common butterfly
- Darner dragonfly?
- Tiger butterfly
- Yellow butterfly
- Unknown water bug
- Raja Brooke butterfly?
- Red-and-green beetle
- Unknown butterfly
- Fruit beetle
- Unknown cicada
- Unknown dragonfly
- Monarch butterfly
Flowers and trees
- Cedar trees
- Pine trees
- Coconut trees
- Yellow tulips
- Pink tulips
- White tulips
- Red tulips
- White pansies
- Yellow pansies
- Red pansies
- Red roses
- Scallop shell
What can I play Animal Crossing: New Horizons on?
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a Nintendo Switch-exclusive game, meaning you can only play it on a Nintendo Switch system. You can play it on an original Nintendo Switch system or a Nintendo Switch Lite.
When does Animal Crossing: New Horizons come out?
Animal Crossing: New Horizons will release worldwide on March 20th, 2020. You’ll be able to purchase a physical copy at your favorite game retailer or a digital copy on the Nintendo Switch eShop.
Yo, hold up: I heard this game was coming out in 2019!
You heard right, friend, but unfortunately, Animal Crossing: New Horizons was delayed beyond its original release target of “2019.” While the original tease for the game during the September 2018 Nintendo Direct gave a “2019” date, a delay to March 20th, 2020 was revealed during the game’s E3 2019 debut trailer.
This was done to avoid rushing the game and “ensure everything was in place.” Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser weighed in, saying the decision was also due to wanting to avoid “crunch” and to ensure employees have a good work-life balance.
6/18/2019 (9:29 a.m. PST): Article launched!
9/11/2019 (2:36 p.m. PST): Article updated with information from the “Welcome to Island Life!” video shown during the September 3rd, 2019 Nintendo Direct.
12/31/2019 (3:44 p.m. PST): Article updated with information from the December 31st, 2019 game trailer and official box art.
1/27/2020 (9:25 a.m. PST): Article updated with information from the set of Japanese stickers that were revealed on this day.
Looking for more Animal Crossing: New Horizons content? Oh, boy, do we have some goodies for you. Check out the following for even more deserted island fun:
- Watch and read our analysis of the December 31st, 2019 game trailer and box art release.
- Check out our analysis of the September 3rd, 2019 “Welcome to Island Life!” video.
- Read our wishlist (and watch our video) about hypothetical Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Pocket Camp connectivity — even though the developers said it isn’t happening!)
- Watch our video about our thoughts on Animal Crossing: New Horizons, plus a rundown of everything we knew at the time and our analysis of the E3 2019 reveal trailer!
- Check out our article about the reveal trailer, where you can watch it as well as over 27 minutes of gameplay footage from E3 2019!
- Take a look through our 14 most-wanted things for Animal Crossing for Nintendo Switch, put together before the reveal of New Horizons. Guess what? A bunch of our wishes came true!
More Animal Crossing: New Horizons guides
Looking for more help with Animal Crossing: New Horizons? Check out our other guides!