'Animal Crossing: New Horizons' release date, trailer, multiplayer modes for Switch life-sim

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Animal Crossing is one of the most notable Nintendo franchises, alongside Metroid, that has yet to receive a Nintendo Switch title. But that's about to change. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is set to hit shelves worldwide in the first couple months of 2020, after being pushed back from its original 2019 release window.

Players will play as a customizable villager who has recently moved to a deserted island alongside a township of adorable, anthropomorphic animals. Like the game's previous installments, New Horizons will be a non-linear life simulator gamers can shape however they like.

It'll include many of the same mechanics featured in the 2017 mobile spinoff Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, like a crafting system. But New Horizons aims to take customization to the next level.

Here's everything to expect from the first Animal Crossingtitle on the Switch:

When is the New Horizons release date?

Animal Crossing: New Horizons will release on March 20 exclusively for the Switch, Nintendo announced at E3 2019in June. The game was originally slated to come out last year.

Nintendo's deputy general manager Yoshiaki Koizumi said the delay was to "ensure the game is the best it can be." Following that announcement, Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser added that the company also wanted to avoid putting its developers under a stressful crunch schedule, which has seen employees elsewhere in the industry working 100-hour weeks to meet a game's release date.

"For us, one of our key tenets is that we bring smiles to people's faces, and we talk about that all the time," said Bowser. "For us, that applies to our own employees. We need to make sure that our employees have good work-life balance."

What's the story and setting of New Horizons?

The new adventure kicks off when players move to a sparsely inhabited tropical island after purchasing a vacation package from raccoon business tycoon Tom Nook. Everything we've seen from the trailers suggest players will only start with a tent, a NookPhone, and sheer will to thrive.

There will be no shortage of jobs and errands in New Horizon's budding island village. Gamers will need to earn Bells, the in-game currency, to buy supplies and tools to slowly transform their humble encampment into a beach-side paradise. But don't think you'll get rich quick.

Raking in those sweet, sweet Bells will require newcomers to befriend their neighbors by helping them with errands for payment or a trade. New Horizonsaims to give players more control over their environment than ever before.

What will the gameplay of New Horizonsbe like?

Nintendo hasn't confirmed any specifics, but trailers suggest that players will have complete control over the New Horizon's landscaping. The game features the ability to set up shop anywhere on the island, a tool to clear paths, and relocate plants. Crafting will be a major part of improving your new crib.

Mr. Nook will provide new villagers with a crafting bench where they can take materials found on the island to create simple tools, like a stone axe. As the game progresses, players will gain access to better materials and more complex crafting recipes.

Realistic day-to-night and weather cycles will also impact the island's inhabitants and environments. Incidents will occur when users aren't playing, so it's possible to sign off for the night and come back to find structures toppled by strong gusts of winds. Players need to be prepared for everything, including unforeseen weather.

The game's clock will be connected to the real world, which means there will be four seasons. Each brings new activities, like snowball fights and harvesting crops. Gamers can choose to reside in the northern or southern hemisphere of the island to better reflect the season of their actual hometown.

It seems New Horizons will have some elements reminiscent of Minecraft, at least in the beginning. Players will need to clear patches of land to make space for construction and gather supplies. There's one major difference though: the NookPhone.

What is the NookPhone in New Horizons?

The NookPhone is one of the major new features coming to New Horizons. It'll give gamers access to five important apps:

  • Map:Gives you a bird's-eye view of the island for planning and exploration.
  • DIY Recipe App: Contains crafting recipes so you know what supplies you'll need.
  • Call App: Lets you hit up your friends for the game's co-op and multiplayer modes.
  • Camera: To snap pictures of your hard work.
  • Nook Miles: By completing specific challenges and objectives, players can earn rewards. It's unclear at present if the rewards will be daily, weekly, monthly, or timed at all.

What will the co-op and multiplayer modes be like in New Horizons?

A total of eight players can live together on one island, and up to four can play at the same time using two pairs of Switch Joy-Cons. That means there will be both online and local multiplayer, but Nintendo has yet to reveal all of the details.

For online multiplayer sessions, one player can be assigned to be the leader and use the Call app on their Nook Phone to invite more players to the game. For this mode, players will travel to one villager's island and can go off on their own.

Local co-op is slightly more limited. It requires players to have their own house on the island and they can't wander too far from the leader or they'll be teleported back. This mode is better suited to working together to achieve tedious tasks, since everyone will be in the same room together and can talk through activities.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be released on the Nintendo Switch March 20.