Animal Crossing: New Horizons Is Especially Popular Right Now — Here’s What You Need To Know

Photo: Courtesy of Nintendo.
It's cold and dreary in Massachusetts, where I'm social distancing, but my deserted island is warm and inviting. It has an ever-going campfire, plenty of fish, an island-equivalent of credit card miles, and a kangaroo neighbor named Sylvia. And no, I'm not dreaming, I'm simply immersing myself in a very timely-released Nintendo Switch game. As the world moves indoors, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has become not only a source of entertainment but a beautiful moment of escapism.

What Is Animal Crossing: New Horizons?

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the newest edition of the Animal Crossing franchise from Nintendo. Made for the Nintendo Switch, this is the fifth game in the series and takes place on a deserted island. The game places you, a human character with customizable features, on a deserted island with animal neighbors, apple trees, and a starter tent. There is no one specific objective and there are no monsters to fight, the game simply allows you to exist. You can spend your time fishing, bug-catching, building Flimsy Axes, searching for iron nuggets, or decorating your home. As you explore the island, you earn miles and bells (the island's currency) that allow you to expand your Animal Crossing world and try new things like planting a garden and building a house (with a customizable roof color!).
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What Do You Need To Play?

To play Animal Crossing: New Horizons with all the bells and whistles, you'll need a Nintendo Switch, the Animal Crossing: New Horizons game, an internet connection, and a Nintendo Switch Online subscription (there's a seven-day free trial, so you can test before you buy. The game is playable without internet and a Nintendo subscription, but you'll miss some of the key features. You can play the game both on your handheld Switch or Switch Lite or connected to your TV.

Can You Play With Friends?

Yes! And this is the best part! As long as you have an internet connection and a Nintendo Switch Online subscription you can travel via the airport to your friends' islands. You can also send mail to your friends if you're feeling like staying put. As many people continue to social distance or quarantine as a result of COVID-19, players have gotten creative with their Animal Crossing gatherings — I went fishing with a coworker living in another state and one couple held a wedding ceremony on their island after they had to postpone their IRL gathering.

Where Can You Get Animal Crossing: New Horizons?

You can get the game in the Nintendo eShop for $59.99 or if you want the actual physical game (though it might take a minute to get to you) you can purchase both the physical and digital versions from Amazon, Best Buy, or Gamestop.
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