A few days ago, I dug up a fossil in Animal Crossing: New Horizons that was buried along the bank of a river. Once I grabbed the fossil from the ground, I noticed a rare butterfly swooping by on the other side. I pulled out my vaulting pole and chased after it. Once I’d pocketed it, I vaulted back to the other side of the river to fill in the hole. Unbeknownst to me, I was vaulting right into the hole I’d just dug — my character landed straight inside. After a short — and adorable — struggle, she front flipped out of it and went on her way.
Of course, it makes sense that this would happen. If you vault into a hole, you’re going to fall into it. And yet, I was surprised that Nintendo had accounted for this scenario in New Horizons. I realized then that there were so many of tiny moments in the game, things that delight me in the moment but that I may have otherwise overlooked. Since I’ve started noticing these tiny moments, I’ve spent a little more time lingering in the New Horizons world.
And I’m not alone. I’ve asked the Polygon staff to share their favorite small details in New Horizons. They’re all equally delightful. Share your own favorites in the comments!
I noticed early on that there are different sorts of footsteps depending on what surface you’re walking on in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. You can hear the crunch of grass underfoot while walking (or running!) on the game’s green spaces. Footsteps are a little more muted on sand, and there’s a distinct clack clack clack on bridges and on the town square’s bricks. But my favorite little detail is that all of these sounds change again when you’re walking around barefoot. I love that you can hear the slap of bare feet on the different surfaces. — Nicole Carpenter, deputy news editor
THE LIL’ PAW PADS ON SOME CHARACTERS’ FEETS. The other morning I came out of my house to find Axel, Lucky, and Leopold sitting on stools in the plaza, drinking tea. Leopold has little pink paw pads on the bottom of his feet! In early footage of the game, people lost their minds about Tom Nook having similar paw pads. It’s truly thrilling to see tiny, tiny paw pads rendered in this game. Also, the mere fact that my villagers sometimes drink tea in the plaza on little stools! Incredible work, Nintendo. — Simone de Rochefort, senior video producer
While all the weather in New Horizons is lovely, thunderstorms are particularly beautiful. I love watching lightning streak across the horizon and hearing a thunder crash shortly after. The way the sky turns that sickly thunderstorm yellow during large lightning strikes reminds me of living in Texas. I used to love watching the sky turn yellow or green while sheltered safely indoors, while the storm raged outside. But – unlike real life – it’s safe to walk around in New Horizon’s storms, and I can happily fish away as the sky quakes and lights up behind me. — Chelsea Stark, managing editor
Umbrellas in New Horizons are little more than accessories, and certainly not as “useful” as the game’s tools. And yet, I feel the need to keep one on my character at all times — I don’t want to get caught in a rainstorm without one! I was delighted to discover that the umbrella has a minor function: it spins! When I push A, my character twirls the umbrella and it makes a satisfying whoosh sound. The joy I get from the umbrella doesn’t end there, either; I also love how, when I’m entering a building, my character closes the umbrella before stuffing it away in a pocket. — NC
Fishing has always been my activity of choice in the Animal Crossing series, and I’ve already caught over 1,500 fish in New Horizons. It’s such a small touch, but the Joycon HD rumble makes the entire process feel so satisfying. When you have something like an Oarfish on the line, the controllers start rumbling as if they’re about to explode. It feels like a genuine struggle to reel one of those suckers in, which makes those moments where you think you have a big catch even more tense and exciting. And it makes every Sea Bass all the more infuriating. — Giovanni Colantonio, Speedrun by Polygon segment producer
I like it when I’m bursting into the homes of my villagers to see who is crafting DIY recipes for me to have, and when I notice they’re not crafting, I leave without saying anything. When I do this, they’ll turn around or stop whatever they’re doing, look up, and do the “confused” reaction with the question mark. They’re wondering why the island representative just ran in and out of their homes without saying anything. I, too, would be confused as to why somebody did this. I would probably be frightened, to be honest. Anyway, I like that they do that. It’s cute. — Julia Lee, news writer
One time my villager, Phoebe, ran up to me all excited and I accidentally bopped her on the head with my net and stopped her in her tracks. I’ve never forgiven myself for injuring her or for missing out (however temporarily) on whatever reaction she was going to teach me. Reactions are my favorite part of Animal Crossing because they’re so flavorful — from the kinda-creepy Shyness to the crisp bow of Apologetic, to the adorable way nearby villagers yawn with you when you use Sleepy. Mostly I love that these sweet animal friends have, finally, taught me how to express emotion. — Jenna Stoeber, video producer
There is nothing more magical to me, a music nerd, than the fact that the instruments you can play are not only in tune with each other (just try standing next to a friend, equipping ocarinas or pan flutes, and just going HAM pressing A), but automatically in tune with whatever K.K. Slider jam is playing. It doesn’t matter how erratically you’re playing along or if you have no sense of rhythm; somehow, what you’re playing will fit in perfectly. Your villagers will also come by and sing on their own, but if you put instruments near any given speaker, they’ll start using those to jam, too. — Karen Han, entertainment reporter
Like most queer millennials, I’m very into astrology, but I never expected it to show up in Animal Crossing! I already loved the way the night sky in Animal Crossing: New Horizons shimmers with iridescent blue and purple. When Celeste appeared on my island to tell me about star fragments, I was intrigued. But as soon as I picked up an “Aries star fragment,” I was hooked. Collecting astrology-themed furniture is going to be so much fun, I don’t even care that it doesn’t match my home’s cottagecore aesthetic. Now I check my island every night, looking for Celeste, just so she can talk to me about the stars. — Emily Heller, commerce writer
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