Most Animal Crossing games start right away. You, a cherubian, are moving to a picturesque city full of talking animals. In some games you are just a resident. in others you are the mayor In the latest version, Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the Nintendo Switch, it looks different. You first reach an almost completely deserted island; There is an airport, a small service tent and two animals that are ready to start a new life next to you. The aim is to turn an uninhabited piece of land into a thriving community.
According to Aya Kyogoku, director of New Horizons, the change was designed to shake things up for the longstanding franchise. In particular, she wanted to change the way players interact with the world. "When we thought about changing this relationship between the user and the animals, we thought," What if we take the village away? "The solution is to take the player to a desert island," she says to The Verge.
The latest game in the series is filled with such changes. The basics of Animal Crossing remain largely unchanged – you live a rustic life, sell beetles and fish to repay your mortgage – but the details are different. And, according to Kyogoku, most of these changes were designed to both attract new players and interest existing ones. It is a difficult balancing act.
One of the biggest changes is a new target system called Nook Miles. The idea is that practically everything you do in the game, from removing weeds to chatting with neighbors, can earn you points called miles that can be redeemed for in-game items. It is a structure reminiscent of many cell phone games – and this is no accident. According to Kyogoku, the system was partially developed for fans whose first animal crossing game was the mobile spin-off. "We realized that many fans who played Pocket Camp Animal Crossing for the first time may have difficulty jumping into titles like New Horizons," she explains. "Nook Miles is just one way to make it easier to discover opportunities to play."
However, she also believes the structure will help longtime players who are already set up in their own way. It can add a new dynamic to familiar actions. "It's always about repaying the loans, so I want to try to make as many bells as possible. That's why I tend to buy more expensive insects and ignore ordinary butterflies," she says as an example. With the Nook Miles- There are rewards for catching a certain number of insects regardless of type. "Suddenly, creatures like ordinary butterflies have a different added value," she says.
The same applies to the new craft system. Instead of just buying tools or furniture, players can now make their own. With the right recipe and the right materials, you can turn a few twigs into a fishing rod or combine wood and iron into a kitchen table. Crafting has become a key component in a variety of games, from Fallout to Minecraft, but Kyogoku says his inclusion in Animal Crossing is tied to the new theme as players are forced to spend more time with nature. “We thought users might have a new relationship with nature,” she explains.
"I love putting cool sneakers in my games."
The other major shift from New Horizons is an increased focus on customization. You could always customize Animal Crossing to your liking, but the level of customization has increased significantly. Players can put furniture outside, wear all sorts of detailed, multi-part outfits, and even customize the style and color of their smartphone case in-game. Fashion in particular has been upgraded for a very specific reason: Since New Horizons is increasingly concentrating on co-op play, it makes sense for players to want to show off for their friends.
"It's natural for people to dress up for this occasion or to buy new clothes," said Hisashi Nogami, a producer at New Horizons. "It is something that also applies to real life." Fashion became a trademark for Nogami, who also worked on the Splatoon series, which was inspired by hip-hop and skate culture. "I love putting cool sneakers in my games," he admits.
All in all, these changes create an animal crossing that feels familiar and refreshing. The charm and freedom that longtime fans love is still there, but with a structure and attention to detail that are new to the series. "We wanted to create an experience that both old and new fans can enjoy," says Kyogoku.