When every Direct became announced, a hope of mine was always Animal Crossing. With the last Direct in September, it finally became a thing. Throughout the past year, I’ve been building up ideas of what I’d like to see, and with the end of Future of Mario Kart I felt it was time to get those ideas out into the world.
One of the things I’d also done was create a map that would prove to be the largest of any Animal Crossing game, and while nothing is final about it, it did give me a platform to talk about many of the ideas I have. And what better way to start than to take a look at that map.
As you can see, it has been divided into acres and spaces. New Leaf did away with acres but still used them for world building. I have done the same here. The town centre features a large lake, which would be used for certain events. To the south of it is the town shopping district. To the north is the train station, which as you can see is larger than the normal need. The why will be revealed later, though we will start with it.
You’ll already have met Isabelle away from the town to start the game, as told in first person. You’ll meet her at the station, ready to embark on a journey to the new town you’ll help manage. You’ll name the town at that point. Once on the train, Isabelle will show you the map of the town – where if you want you can edit the paths of the rivers. Isabelle then starts talking about her hopes for the town, and a bit about her past, and your responses will formulate what sort of character you’ll be.
The train pulls into the station, and you’ll see it as empty. That’s okay, though, as the entire town will be built up over time to be as good as it once was. This used to be a holiday resort, after all, but is now going to be home to your new town. Deciding to go either to the left or to the right, you’ll mark where the town hall and your house will be, then another train arrives with Reese and Cyrus, along with three villagers. You’ll mark the positions for the villager houses along with Re-Tail.
I had at this point put down that 80,000 bells needed to be raised to progress, but that’s a very high cost when you’re only just starting out. Instead Isabelle will say she’s got enough to pay for the start of the town, and says that everything will be ready for tomorrow [yes, there’s no escaping that from happening]. Temporary services for the town hall and Re-Tail are available. All villagers will be living in tents for that first day, but you’ll be free to explore the town.
When the next day arrives, everything will be set up, and you’ll be introduced to Tom Nook, who did all the building work. He’s set up shop, hoping to do good business with the town, along with his nephews who run the general store. You’ll then be able to visit each store and get the details of what they do. Then, there’s work to be done.
You will need to start buying, finding, and selling things to bring in new trade - the first of which being the post office, Able Sisters, and the museum, which will all arrive at once. Eventually, all of the shopping district will be full, giving a range of shopping facilities for use.
One specific area of interest in the town is the campsite, which is like a combination of the campsite from New Leaf and a smaller version of what Pocket Camp provides. The site comes in three sizes – small, medium, and large. With it, you’ll be able to attract new villagers to stay for a short while, which boosts the number of total villagers in the town. The maximum in the town is twenty, with a large campsite providing a maximum of fifteen more. Those on the campsite will roam the town like villagers, taking part in events that are happening, and even interacting with villagers.
The key to making those campers stay for longer is investing in the town itself. Public Works Projects bring a lot more options to customise the town. Paths no longer have to be patterns placed on the ground with the PWP of several choice of paving. And placing PWPs will no longer be a hassle, as complete control is given as to where they will be placed. Though you can’t be placing anything over something else, obviously.
Public Works Projects are only unlocked once the campsite opens, as the campsite is how you unlock new options. There’s also more ways to decorate the town and give it a unique feel with more themes. And custom colours, but that’s for another time.
One thing you might have noticed is that small island down at the bottom of the map. That island has a chance to provide some rare items, and perhaps even a certain shipwrecked seagull. You’ll get to it by swimming, which returns to the game from New Leaf along with diving.
Now… The station. What services does it provide that it needs to be that big? At first it would just be Porter the monkey holding the fort. But later on, once The Roost has been built in town, a secondary coffee shop will be built in the station. Also in the station would be the trading post. This allows players to rent out a space to place items in. Those items then have a chance to appear at any other person’s station for them to look at and pick from. Special characters might also appear at a space with some special items.
This serves as just one way to connect with random people from all over the world. Connecting with others has always been a big part of these games, and for the Switch game I am hoping it opens out to include a lot of ways to connect – with both friends and randoms.
When I talk about the shopping district in more detail in next months Crossing to the New Life, you’ll be hearing more about those ways to connect.