Nintendo’s E3 Presentation included a trailer for the long-awaited new entry in the Animal Crossing franchise, titled Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I could barely process the trailer as it was airing because of all the things I wanted to look at in each shot, so why not break down the trailer and examine as many details as we can? You know, since we have to wait till March for the game. You can watch the full trailer here, then come along with me as I point out all the details that jump out from each shot!
The trailer opens with a black screen and white subtitles, with voice-over from someone speaking English, and not the Animalese we’re used to hearing from the series’ babbling villagers:
We’re then treated to a couple shots of a player character walking along the beach:
What’s immediately noticeable is the wind blowing through the leaves of the coconut trees! We haven’t seen wind like this in past games and it really helps enhance the natural beauty of the game’s environment. In the second shot, we also see the player character standing on some outcropping rocks, which the player has never been able to walk on before in past games.
The next shot shows the player character at the tent that will serve as their residence in the game:
The weeds at the player character’s feet are much more detailed than they have been and actually look a lot nicer than in past games. Players may even want to leave some of them around to add to the island’s aesthetic beauty. In the background to the right of the tent, we see a piece of lumber on the ground that will serve as one of the materials players can collect to craft items and furniture.
Next, we see a player shaking a tree for lumber:
Tools will break in this game, so you’ll need to gather lumber this way to build new ones as well as any furniture that will require wood to construct. It looks like you can shake bare trees for this wood, making even fruitless trees serve a more functional purpose than in past games.
The camera then cuts to the inside of the Resident Services building:
Here we see the player crafting something at the workbench, where players can make the DIY Recipes they learn into decorations and tools. What’s also interesting, is the machine in the right corner of this shot. Could this be an ATM for bell storage? A catalogue machine for ordering furniture and items you’ve acquired? Those capitalist icons, the family Nook, look pleased as punch, but for once, it isn’t because of wealth acquisition! The workbench will be free to use, so they’re just happy to see you being productive.
Next we get three quick shots of material gathering and some decorating:
It looks like we’ll be using the axe to get better quality wood from trees rather than shaking them for the smaller wood materials shown earlier. Rocks will provide a variety of minerals to craft from, which will likely be random. It’s unclear if the rocks eventually break or simply stop producing materials for a time after harvesting. The third shot has quite a lot more to unpack, with decorations and furniture being placed outside. We haven’t seen this feature in a mainline Animal Crossing game, though in Happy Home Designer, players had the ability to decorate the front yard of buildings they designed. On the beach, we see a towel, radio, and coconut beverage item, as well as a pair of shoes. It’s likely that the shoes are a clothing item being displayed here as decor. The player character sits on the stump after placing it, showing the ability to set up a little campfire wherever you like. There’s a seashell close to the water, which means we’ll be able to collect those for bells once again, as well as a dragonfly fluttering by, as players will be able to capture fish and bugs.
The next five images are taken from one shot of a quick time-lapse showing how a campsite can develop over time:
We see the player tidy up the weeds around their camp, layout some furniture (including a large pot of water over fire which I don’t recall from past games), and water some plants, fish at the river, and take their clothesline decoration away into their pockets. The gardening plot is interesting, as we later learn from the trailer that these are flowers and tree. Trees have always taken time to grow, but in past games, flowers were planted fully grown from a packet of seeds. I’m curious to know if the bucket of water placed next to the tent on the left by the river is connected to fishing in some way. Maybe a place you can store the fish you catch so they aren’t cluttering up your inventory? The fishing pole looks very low-budget being just a stick and is likely the most basic version of the tool you can build in the game.
The last image also features my favorite umbrella from past games, the Leaf Umbrella, as well as rain that visibly impacts the water in the river as the drops land. This is another small detail not featured in past games that add to the natural beauty of the game.
Whoa! The next shot shows the player character vaulting across a river! Are bridges a thing of the past or will we be able to construct them by gathering tons of materials? Either way, this tool adds a ton of convenience, as in past games, it could sometimes be a chore to walk all the way to wherever your bridge was placed to get from one side of town to the other. We also see a waterfall and cliff, meaning we are back to having a portion of our play-space raised higher than the rest, which was absent from New Leaf aside from going down a cliff slope to reach the beach.
The next two images show a change in season!
It looks like though we are on an island, seasons will still be present in the game as it appears to be autumn in these images. There’s mushrooms, longer grass, orange leaves and the ability to just dig up trees and put them in your pocket?! In past games, if you wanted to be particular about tree placement in your town, you had to cut down trees and regrow them over time where you wanted them. Here, it looks like once a tree is grown, you can move it around with ease, which is a huge quality of life improvement with regards to customization. We can also see Olivia chilling near the water in the background. Hey, girl!
We’re now treated to a shot in the winter! The snow is piling on those trees higher than it would in past games and it looks like there are fewer weeds about, but that could be due to this player character being more diligent about picking them. Freya, a wolf villager, and Eunice, a sheep are chatting outside of what looks like a villager’s house. Will we eventually graduate out of our tent into a house of our own after paying our debts to Tom Nook? We see the villager rolling a big snowball and another one appears to be visible in the bottom right, suggesting we’ll be making snowmen as we have in past games! Maybe we can even recreate the whole snowman family as in New Leaf.
What’s interesting about the house shown here is that there is a bit of building jutting out to the left of the door. This isn’t typical of villagers’ homes in past games, excepting the player’s house which would have exterior additions as you add rooms to your home. Will animal villagers also have more than one room in their homes in this game?
Look at Fuchia’s dress! In New Leaf, villagers simply wore sleeveless shirts, but here we see Fuschia in a dress with straps at the shoulders and a defined hemline. Most of the furniture here looks new to me, except for the couch which resembles the Simple Love Seat and plant which looks similar to the Pachira in New Leaf, but perhaps with a slightly altered model. The flooring is wood-panel, but we’ve never seen wood-panel flooring with a pattern on it like this. All the red furniture with hearts on it looks like a new set not found in New Leaf. The couch may even be a part of the new set rather than the Simple Love Seat from New Leaf. The windows have shutters on them, which shows we’ll be able to add window dressings like in Happy Home Designer!
WE CAN MAKE PATHWAYS!!! Gone are the days of filling up your custom design slots with pathways to meticulously lay down to make visible walkways as we can now use a tool to make pathways around the island. It looks like villagers will help water flowers as they did in New Leaf, as we see Hamlet doing in the top right. It looks like we can make signs to guide other players around our island like the one to Hamlet’s right. There’s also a cup of coffee resting on the wooden bench next to Hamlet, which I hope is an indicator that Brewster and his café will make an appearance in the game!
There’s a workbench item in the bottom right, which makes me wonder if we can make our own workbench on which we can craft items rather than hoofing it back to the Resident Service building each time we want to build anything. Also, oh wow there’s a house there! My earlier question about eventually moving out of the tent and into a building is answered.
This shot likely takes place in the spring, given the cherry blossoms in the trees, but more importantly, we see the player character picking flowers without removing the whole item from the ground! It appears flowers will regrow to be repeatedly harvested after the player plants and waters them over time. Perhaps it’s these flowers that allow the player to craft the cute arrangement adorning the door of the player’s house. We weren’t able to decorate our doors in past games, so I’m happy to see the developers adding even more customization options like this. There’s a hedge hugging the house, but it remains to be seen if we are adding a uniform hedge or fence to wrap around the house as in past games or if we can even further customize what surrounds our homes.
Peep Goldie in the top right corner! I can’t wait to see if all the villagers we know from past games are present and I really can’t wait to meet any new villagers added to the game!
These next two images show the player character running past what appears to be another player’s home to gather with a group of friends by the beach:
The placement of that fence makes me think we will, in fact, be able to greatly customize fences and hedges and we get a look at a handful of more items we can use to decorate outside including a stone oven and garden gnome that weren’t present in past mainline titles. There’s even two different types of fences shown here. We’ll also be able to customize the exteriors of the player houses, as the materials used to build the one shown here are different from the campsite shown earlier. It appears we can also add rooms to our home as in past games, based on the building jutting out a bit to the left.
The player character here is wearing a flower crown, a headpiece not seen in past games and even more notably, they have a bag slung across their shoulder! I’m excited to see more accessories like this and I hope we even get to see animal villagers wearing hats and glasses and such as we saw in Happy Home Designer.
As with Happy Home Designer and Pocket Camp, you can choose your skin tone! It would make no sense not to include this feature, so I’m happy to see it here. We also see another character wearing a backpack, another new type of accessory like the purse I mentioned earlier. It’s cute to see the most “default” looking villager sleeping on the lawn chair, as this is the default villager we know from Super Smash Bros. The pink-haired villager in the pink dress is another “default” character type seen in Smash Bros. I say “default” because when you created a character in past games, you could get these types of characters with these hairstyles and outfits from the outset of the game. One of the player characters looks absorbed in their Nook Phone on the top left, which will feature heavily in the game.
Here’s the title card with that accursed delayed release date. We can see other islands in the background, representing the places our friends will live and we can visit via multiplayer which supports up to eight players visiting an island at a time.
The villager who was absorbed in his phone in the other image also seems to be wearing a suspender, which may be a type of accessory. The villager to the left in the brimmed hat is also wearing a dress which pops out more than the dress the player we’ve been following is wearing. It’s nice to see more variety in the shape of the clothes, not just the patterns printed onto them.
Nintendo just had to get Tom Nook in with the debt you’ll owe him before the trailer ended. Funnily enough, this amount of 49,800 bells is the same amount of debt you begin with in Animal Crossing: New Leaf if you combine the initial house deposit and remaining debt in that game. In City Folk, the starting debt was 19,800 bells, which was also the starting debt of Wild World and Population: Growing! It’s neat that they keep the amount similar for each game. You know, just cute capitalism things.
That’s everything I caught from the trailer! Be sure to check out everything I noticed from the Treehouse Livestream demonstration of the game for even more Animal Crossing news!