×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons release date, multiplayer, story and trailer

Over seven years have passed since the last main entry in the Animal Crossing franchise. The gaming scene has changed a lot since then. The 3DS, home to Animal Crossing: New Leaf, has been replaced by the Nintendo Switch, a console-handheld hybrid. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp upended the Animal Crossing formula by introducing crafting and making your mobile devices a key part of the experience.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons will incorporate all of these new elements, as well as many more. The Switch game remains Animal Crossing at its heart — you're still building up a village by doing chores, celebrating special events, playing minigames, and befriending your quirky animal neighbors — but it's not the same Animal Crossing you remember. It's a fresh, modern take on Nintendo's most laid-back franchise. 

Here's what you can expect from Animal Crossing: New Horizons when the game arrives in spring 2020.

What is the Animal Crossing: New Horizons release date?

Animal Crossing: New Horizons isn't the type of game you play all at once. It's designed for you to boot up for a few minutes once or twice a day. Do some chores, visit your neighbors, rearrange your furniture, and then get on with your life. 

Good thing, too, because Animal Crossing: New Horizons is coming out just before some of the most anticipated game releases in years. Animal Crossing arrives on your Switch on March 20, 2020. That's less than a month before Final Fantasy 7 Remake, with The Last of Us 2 slated to follow in the spring, and both Marvel's Avengers and Cyberpunk 2077 dropping in September.

Those aren't just popular games, they're big games. They're going to take a while to get through. Thankfully, Animal Crossing is perfect for bite-sized gaming sessions. But be careful: Animal Crossing can be remarkably addictive, too. If you don't manage your schedule correctly, you might find that you'll run out of time to play anything else.

Is there a trailer for Animal Crossing: New Horizons?

Fans have known the next Animal Crossing game was coming to the Switch for a while, but E3 2019 was the first time that they really got to see it in action. The Animal Crossing: New Horizons trailer that dropped during Nintendo's E3 Direct stream was packed full of details, leaving fans eager to learn more.

The brief video is set up like an advertisement for Nook Inc.'s Deserted Island Getaway Package and offers a glimpse at new features like crafting, outdoor decorating, and eight-player co-op, as well as tried and true Animal Crossing standbys like fishing, bug catching, and gardening. Naturally, the trailer ends with Tom Nook giving the player character an exorbitant bill. Some things never change.

Fans didn't have to wait very long for more information. Nintendo followed the Animal Crossing: New Horizons trailer with an in-depth look at the game on Nintendo's E3 livestream, and then another as part of the September Nintendo Direct. There's a lot going on in the videos, but they made one thing very clear: Animal Crossing: New Horizons is going to be the biggest, most detailed Animal Crossing yet.

Is Animal Crossing: New Horizons multiplayer?

In the past, Animal Crossing let multiple people live in the same village. While you could trade letters and leave messages for each other, you couldn't actually play together. That will change in 2020. In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, not only can a bunch of people help settle a single village, but by using local multiplayer, up to four people will be able to join up on a single Switch and enjoy island life together.

You can enlist your friends and family for help clearing weeds and gathering crafting materials, or you can turn on New Horizons to celebrate birthdays and special events. Naturally, you can play in your shared village when your real life housemates aren't around, too, although what you do will affect others' experiences. Catch all of the town's fish when your roommate is off at work? The rivers will still be empty when they return home. 

If you don't know any other Animal Crossing fans who live nearby, don't panic. In addition to couch-based co-op, you can venture online and invite up to seven other people to join you in your village. Nintendo hasn't said if you'll need to subscribe to the Nintendo Switch Online service for internet-based multiplayer to work, but given past precedent, it seems awfully likely.

Is Animal Crossing: New Horizons split-screen?

It seems like the days of split-screen gaming and couch co-op are behind us. Most multiplayer games these days feature online worlds where you can meet up with friends and strangers alike, making it rare to find games that utilize split-screen. Animal Crossing: New Horizons will feature multiplayer functions that allow you to play with friends locally. Nintendo has even gone so far as to call this "couch co-op", but it's not exactly couch co-op like you remember it from the days of the Super Nintendo.

Gamers will be able to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons locally with other friends who have their own Nintendo accounts. You can have up to four players play together on one Switch console and max out at 8 players on two consoles. As long as you have enough controllers to go around, you can all play together on the same screen, just not in a split-screen format.

How much will Animal Crossing: New Horizons cost?

Trying to save up for Animal Crossing: New Horizons before it comes out but aren't sure how much it'll cost? Here's what you need to know. At most retailers, Animal Crossing: New Horizons will cost $59.99. This is, of course, not taking into account any sales or special offers that individual retailers may offer. You can do a bit of cyber sleuthing to try to find a better price, but generally a brand new release will have a standard cost across the board.

Will Animal Crossing: New Horizons have a special edition?

While Animal Crossing: New Horizons won't have a special version of the game on offer, Nintendo has created a special edition of the Switch to honor this new release. Fans of Animal Crossing can purchase a special edition version of the console with mint green and pastel blue controllers. The white dock will also feature a sweet illustration of Tom Nook and friends on the front. Likewise, the back of the dock sports a black design with islands and characters etched across it.

Select regions where the special edition console is sold will include a physical or digital copy of the new Animal Crossing game, but North America is not one of those regions, so plan accordingly. The console will be available for purchase in the U.S. on March 13, 2020, a week before the game is released. The console will cost $299.99 in North America and it looks like pre-orders have already sold out.

Will Animal Crossing: New Horizons have microtransactions?

Microtransactions in games are something of a touchy subject, especially where "kid-friendly" titles are concerned. This is why Nintendo raised a few eyebrows when the ESRB rating for Animal Crossing: New Horizons released, revealing the inclusion of "in-game purchases." Of course, this simple phrase doesn't fully indicate what to expect from the new game. While some have speculated the rating means Animal Crossing: New Horizons will have microtransactions, others feel this could be  similar to the setup of past Nintendo games like Pokemon Sword and Shield.

Some Nintendo titles have had ESRB ratings that mention "in-game purchases" simply because you have the option to sign up for a Nintendo Online subscription. This is a different idea than pushing loot boxes and their ilk to get your full enjoyment out of the game. The fact that Nintendo also removed the "in-game purchase" tag from its website for Animal Crossing: New Horizons suggests there's no sinister microtransaction ploy going on here. Likely, the ESRB rating is simply referring to your ability to join Nintendo Online if you choose.

Will Animal Crossing: New Horizons have Amiibo support?

Animal Crossing: New Horizons will take up about 6.2GB of space on your Nintendo Switch. While this may seem like a lot, it's for a good reason. The new Animal Crossing title will support Amiibo. Not many details have been given about how this Amiibo support will work out with the new game, other than that the capability will be there. So if you've been holding onto your cute Animal Crossing Amiibos with the hope they may unlock some perks in the new title, your foresight may yet be rewarded.

Will Animal Crossing: New Horizons have a museum?

The fact that Animal Crossing: New Horizons is set on a deserted island caused a lot of fans to wonder if one of their favorite features would still be available in this new entry: the museum. Luckily, Animal Crossing museum enthusiasts can rest easy knowing their beloved monument to their hard work will be alive and well in the new game. While there isn't any official confirmation on who will be running the museum, you'll need to fill it up with your own findings, just as in other titles. Get ready to culturally enrich the community once more.

Starting from scratch in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

In most Animal Crossing games, your village is already up and running when you arrive. Animals have already built their houses and formed a close-knit community. Services and landmarks like the town hall or the museum are already waiting for you.

Not so in New Horizons. When Tom Nook says he's sending you to a desert island, he means it. Instead of occupying a house on a pre-existing plot of land, you'll be able to pitch your meager tent wherever you want. The island will be mostly uninhabited when you arrive, and when new villagers move in, you'll help place their houses. In a first for a main Animal Crossing title, you can put furniture and other accouterments outside, decorating your new surroundings as you see fit.

In other words, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is doubling down on customization, letting you build the tropical paradise of your dreams. An empty island may not seem too hospitable at first, but once you tailor it to your particular whims, you'll be grateful for New Horizons' freedom. That's the idea, at least.

Tom Nook's new gig in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing games don't really have stories; structurally, they're more like Stardew Valley than The Last of Us or God of War. But New Horizons does have a premise that's brand new to the series, and it's all thanks to Animal Crossing's money-loving racoon, the irascible Tom Nook. 

In addition to serving as Animal Crossing's resident shopkeeper, real estate broker, and mortgage lender, Tom runs a travel agency now, too. In past Animal Crossing games, you moved into a pre-built village in the middle of the woods. In New Horizons, your journey begins with a trip to an empty tropical paradise courtesy of Nook Inc.'s Deserted Island Getaway Package, which isn't quite as luxurious as Nook makes it sound.

This time around, Nintendo claims Tom Nook will share his wealth instead of keeping all of his money for himself. He'll invest in the community as you spend cash, adding more services to the island. Of course, Tom will also squeeze you for every bell you're worth when you stop by the Resident Services building to shop or craft. He's changed, but he hasn't changed that much.

Crafting makes everything useful

Want a new tool or piece of furniture, but don't have enough bells to buy it at the store? In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you have another option: go ahead and make it yourself. While the mobile title Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp was the first Animal Crossing to introduce crafting, New Horizons will be the first main game in the series in which you can build your own stuff. It looks like it'll change everything.

While past Animal Crossing games let you pick up almost anything that wasn't nailed down, New Horizons will let you put it to good use. Right away, you'll be able to pick up rocks and stray pieces of wood to build basic tools, as well as wooden furniture. From there, you'll be able to chop down trees to get better lumber, dig up rare materials, and more. The more you make, the more options you'll unlock, and if hunting and gathering isn't your thing, you can always buy crafting components from the store.

It looks like New Horizons will have some kind of Stardew Valley-esque farming system, too. It may not be a fully fledged survival sim, but if you like games like Ark or Don't Starve, Animal Crossing: New Horizons might be right up your alley.

An Animal Crossing for everybody

Despite all the different types of animals that live in your villages, Animal Crossing isn't traditionally a very diverse game. Given how important personal expression is to the entire Animal Crossing experience, that was a shame. In 2020, Animal Crossing: New Horizons will become the first game in the series that will let you make a character that looks like you, no matter what your skin tone or gender identity is.

Previously, people who wanted dark-skinned Animal Crossing avatars had to get tans or wear Mii masks. It wasn't ideal. In New Horizons, however, you'll be able to choose your character's skin tone. That's not all: while past Animal Crossing titles assigned you facial features based on the answers you gave to an early-game questionnaire, you can customize your New Horizon character however you like. Even better, all of the available facial features and hairstyle options are gender-neutral. Boy or a girl? It doesn't matter. Look like you want to look

Finally, New Horizons lets you change your character design whenever you want. "If you feel like a certain way one day," director Aya Kyogoku says, "then you can make that change pretty easily."

Who needs an iPhone when you have a Nook Phone?

For better or worse, mobile devices are an integral part of modern life. They're going to be a major factor in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, too. One of the new features that Nintendo is adding to the latest Animal Crossing is the Nook Phone. Just like your real-life smartphone, you're going to find it very hard to put down.

Want to see a map of your New Horizons village? You'll need to check your phone. Want to look up a crafting recipe? There's an app for that. You'll need to whip out your Nook Phone to set up online co-op, too, as well as some other currently unknown features.

Most importantly, you'll also use your Nook Phone to accumulate Nook Miles, which you'll earn by completing achievement-like tasks. Nook Miles aren't just for fun. When you have enough Nook Miles, you can redeem them for crafting recipes, exclusive items, and "various services." Nook Miles tasks, which are designed to make menial chores more rewarding, are expected to be repeatable, too, so get ready for the grind. Tom Nook doesn't just give anything away.

Take a picture, it'll last longer

Aside from Nook Miles, the other big feature that you can access via your Nook Phone is Animal Crossing: New Horizons's Photo Mode, which will let you take screenshots of your villager in various situations. These days, that's hardly a revelation. Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, in addition to non-Nintendo games like Marvel's Spider-Man and God of War, all have photo modes, too.

Still, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is all about self-expression, and people are undoubtedly going to want to share what they've made with others. New Horizons makes that easy. Not only will you be able to use your Nook Phone to grab pics of your village, your furry friends, and your cutest outfits, but you'll be able to apply Instagram-like filters and other decorations to your snaps, too.

You can even use your Nook Phone to upload your pictures to social media, but be wary: New Horizons uses your real social media accounts, not some kind of in-game equivalent. If you use Animal Crossing to create something off-color — c'mon, we know you've done it before — it might be best to keep it to yourself.

Your house in New Horizons is more than just a home

From the sound of things, Animal Crossing: New Horizons won't just be the most customizable Animal Crossing yet. It'll also be the most reactive, and your experience will change based on how you like to play. For example, your house is no longer just a place to store furniture, receive visitors, and take a nap. What you decide to do with your house will affect the entire village, including which services are available.

If you decide to spend your time in New Horizons in a tent, director Aya Kyogoku says, then Tom Nook will react accordingly. "Tom Nook may say 'Hey, actually, that guy likes living more of an outdoorsy, wild life,'" Kyogoku told IGN. "He may not see the necessity of adding new resident support services." Yeah, living in a tent for months, if not years, on end may be weird, but it's your choice. If you want to, go ahead.

Just be prepared to face the consequences. Fan-favorite characters like Isabelle, Town Hall's plucky secretary, will only appear in New Horizons if Nook builds the right facilities. Is rural life really worth the trade-off? You decide.

The right weather for your hemisphere

One of Animal Crossing's signature features is how its world progresses in real time. When it's night in the real world, it's night in Animal Crossing, too. When you open Animal Crossing on holidays like Halloween and Christmas Eve (which Animal Crossing calls Toy Day), your villagers will also be celebrating. The weather matches the real-life seasons, too. When it's cold outside your house, you'll see snow in your Animal Crossing village. When it's summer, sunlight lasts longer and mosquitoes are everywhere.

Of course, in the past, that was only true if you were in the Northern Hemisphere. If you played Animal Crossing in locales like Australia or South America, the seasons were switched. In the Southern Hemisphere, it's cold during June. It's warm in December. Older Animal Crossing games didn't account for this. If it was winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it was winter in town, irregardless of your real-world location.

That's a game-changing mistake, and southern players had to deal with it for decades. No longer. In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you can select which hemisphere you're in, and the game will adjust accordingly. Normally celebrate New Year's with a barbecue? Now, you can do so in Animal Crossing, too.

A new game means new styles for your neighbors

In the past, your animal neighbors from Animal Crossing: New Leaf came with limited fashion choices. All animals wore short sleeves with similar silhouettes. While this may have made life easier on the game developers, it was always a bit disheartening to give one of your neighbors your favorite sweater, only to see that when they put it on, there was no difference in their appearance. This won't be a problem in the new game.

In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, your animal neighbors can wear long sleeves and varied fashions, and their silhouettes actually look like them. What a novel idea! Now, instead of an alligator and hamster being the same relative stature, silhouettes will show the difference in shapes and sizes of each animal. While this may seem like a small change to gamers who aren't fans of Animal Crossing, the fandom couldn't be happier. It's the little things that count.

Tons of New Horizons pre-order bonuses are available

What's a hotly anticipated video game release without a few pre-order bonuses? Don't worry, Animal Crossing: New Horizons doesn't disappoint in this department. For those die-hard fans who want a little extra bang for their buck, various pre-order bonuses are available depending on where you get your game from.

Target hopes to entice gamers to purchase their copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons in-store by offering a free exclusive journal. Several other stores and websites are offering their own pre-order bonuses to earn your business. Everything from keychains to tote bags are up for grabs as the companies compete for your cash. Your only job is to decide which bonus you want the most and go make your purchase.

New Switch accessories are available from Hori

Are you excited to play Animal Crossing: New Horizons but wish there was a way to show off your love of the game to all your friends? Well, you're in luck. Hori has come out with exclusive Animal Crossing Switch accessories to spice up your gaming life and show your Animal Crossing pride.

These accessories for the Switch and Switch Lite are officially licensed by Nintendo and are just as cute as you'd expect Animal Crossing merch to be. There's a charging stand, a tote bag, a backpack with multiple compartments, and hard cases for your Switch and Switch Lite. All the accessories are decked out in the mint green and yellow Animal Crossing color scheme, with some nature-friendly patterns thrown in. If your pre-order bonuses weren't enough for you to show your Animal Crossing love, these accessories are sure to do the trick.

Is Animal Crossing: New Horizons worth it?

Animal Crossing: New Horizons will likely be a staple for any Animal Crossing fan. Not only will the game have the crafting and social capabilities of the other games in the series, but it will add a ton of fun new features like character customization and local multiplayer. If you already own a Nintendo Switch, the decision to purchase this game is something of a no-brainer. 

The biggest question gamers will need to ask themselves is whether they enjoy playing cute social sims. If something like Stardew Valley isn't your idea of a good time, odds are you might not think Animal Crossing: New Horizons is worth it. But, for those who are already fans of the franchise or who enjoy social sims and are looking for a new game to dive into, this should be the perfect title for you.