10. A Return to form
Although the mobile game Pocket Camp was a fun spinoff, the game didn’t hold many players attention for too long, and the traditional fishing, bug catching, and fossil hunting was missed greatly. This begs the question, should more ‘activities be added to the core 3? For example, cooking? The diving mechanic made an appearance in New Leaf, and gardening is somewhat of a core activity already with watering plants and breeding new ones. Either way, this return to form will be welcomed by many fans, whether this expands on existing elements or not.
9. A city/town/marketplace
Some entries to the series, such as the appropriately titled ‘City Folk’/‘Let’s Go to the City’ included a city/marketplace. Arguably, New Leaf’s town was an improvement, although less interesting in that its design was less exciting. City Folk’s plaza included a central fountain surrounded by shops which was much more interesting than New Leaf’s narrow horizontal street which at the beginning of the game is quite bare.
Journeying by bus to the town also made the trip more exciting – similar to Kapp’n’s boat ride to the island. However, the novelty of the bus wears off and having a town in close proximity is much more convenient for Animal Crossing’s intended daily short play sessions.
8. More random town layouts
Picking a town layout traditionally occurs at the beginning of each new save, and we’d like to see these templates become more varied. New Leaf already has a bunch of these, though it’d be nice to really see unique differences in these world templates. Waterfalls and other features were always nice to have in a town so we’d like to see other elements that make towns a bit more special – without removing their function as a blank canvas. Striking a balance here is essential to ensure the world is overcrowded by stuff at the very beginning.
7. A deeper level of town customisation
Placing patterns on the ground to create suggested pathways and representations of roads/ponds etc. became popular among fans of Animal Crossing New Leaf. The number of slots for these patterns was limited in that, players had to re-import these patterns via the 3DS camera each time another pattern was needed. This meant that only one designs featuring ten or fewer patterns could be easily implemented.
A way around this was to add more players to your village. Although this solution is hardly convenient – yet it allows for around 4 times as many patterns. In the coming entry, the Able sisters could allow the player to have many more pattern slots even if they unlocked with progression such as shop upgrades or talking to Sable regularly.
Another feature of this could be the ability to build outside. Similarly to in Pocket Camp, players should be able to build outdoors perhaps in a dedicated ‘garden’ section. This could differentiate from the dedicated spaces in Pocket Camp and instead give players more freedom. Understandably not right outside other villagers houses – despite how fun that would be.
This would remove some of the need for public works projects which does complicate things if you still act as mayor. Although PWPs could be more permanent and exciting builds such as the police station, fountains, bridges etc. whereas benches would be available as garden/outdoor furniture.
6. More character customisation
Animal crossing already has a pretty deep level of customisation that is somewhat randomised (unless you just google the hairstyles and makeup charts), however, there is a lack of choice when it comes to ethnicity and complexion. This simple ability to choose your skin colour upon beginning a save/creating a character locally will make the game more inclusive and is presumably on its way thanks to Pocket Camp’s example.
Deeper levels of customisation, especially relative to diversity and inclusion, are widely encouraged in games and other mediums. Plus, who doesn’t love to make a really weird character just for the fun of it?
5. Even more shop expansions and house expansions
In the beginning, shop upgrades in Animal Crossing were really exciting, and have existed as far back as the original Gamecube game. Shop progression is already quite extensive. However rewarding this progression is, it is still lengthy and tedious – like a lot of the intentional elements of Animal Crossing.
The same is true of house expansions. This daily grind is extensive yet rewarding. Some players commit to their saves and reach these end house expansions eventually, so there is always room to add more unlockables.
4. Better village customisation
In the previous game, acting as Mayor allowed the player to add new buildings and features to the town via public works projects. The main issue with these is that villagers did not donate very much at all to these projects – leaving it up to you, the mayor, to pay for it all.
This usually isn’t difficult as raising funds for most things is just simple progression, but seeing the villagers contribute a measly few hundred bells when you’re shelling out hundreds of thousands is just cruel. You’re already trying to work your way out of debt, improve your home, buy furniture, buy clothes, buy paintings etc. It would be nice if this element was altered or if the mayor role remains, villagers could contribute – or have the chance of contributing – a hefty sum of bells. This could work through RNG in that villagers have a random chance of donating a lot of bells or even have a bigger chance of donating a few thousand.
3. New villagers and different types of animals
New Leaf and Pocket Camp took big strides in terms of incorporating new and unique animals such as deer and hamsters, and other interesting species. Animal Crossing Switch should hopefully see this wide array of fun characters expand. The idea of new villager ‘types’ would add a deeper level of communication and some repetition around the games long span. There are currently 8 types of villagers, which makes bumping into the same presets of Jock, Lazy, Snooty etc. predictable and dated when playing daily/regularly over a course of months/years. New villager archetypes would expand on the existing range of villagers and make communication less tedious and repetitive.
2. better online trading
Trading with players in Animal Crossing currently could be much simpler. One good example to follow would be the trade platforms used in Astroneer which exchange materials for other materials based on an algorithm. This idea could be implemented and either set by the game or by the players who wish to trade. This creates an online trading marketplace of sorts – possibly visited by the player, similar to the dream suite. This could make trading more manageable and negate the need for external communication around trades.
1. Ability to Share a Village with Friends Online
Sharing villages with friends online could become a huge selling point. The Switch is all about co-operative play, with some of its biggest sellers being co-op sandbox games such as Minecraft and Stardew Valley. Taking care of a town with friends online could bring more players to the series, especially those familiar with the Switch’s other hits. For me, this idea of online multiplayer makes docking the Switch and playing at home more appealing, compared to preferred play in the mornings or when commuting.
As an example, Stardew Valley multiplayer allows players to build a cabin in their friend's world. This allows these visiting players to perform almost all the actions that the host can. Visiting players not being limited in their actions is where this multiplayer aspect would really differ from those prior in the series.
A few members of the Keen team are eager to see this addition, along with the return and addition of mini-games to play with friends. Tortimer island was great, but items available in the shop eventually stopped appealing to me and therefore so did the minigames – as tokens were no longer needed. I also found myself repeating the minigame that was easiest to grind tokens, even with friends rather than playing for fun. This issue could be solved by having more interesting and unique items available to win from minigames – as well as a bigger variety of minigames to play.
Nintendo Switch Online is acquiring more titles with time, Animal Crossing is a big DS/3DS seller which could include a bigger online element with the Switch's Nintendo Online subscription.
What are your biggest wants for Animal Crossing 2019 and how does our list stack up to yours? Let us know in the comments!