13 New Things We Saw in the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Nintendo Direct Trailer (Analysis)

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A new gameplay trailer for Animal Crossing: New Horizons dropped in the September 4th Nintendo Direct, so now it’s time to pore over every second of the new footage looking for new details to discover!

While the trailer was a general recap of most features revealed at E3, it turns out there’s plenty of new things hidden under the surface in the background of shots like new items, apps, villagers, graphic changes, and more. So without further ado, here’s 12 new things we spotted in the new Animal Crossing: New Horizons Nintendo Direct trailer!

We’re Flying on Dodo Airlines

Right at the beginning of the trailer, it’s revealed officially that we’ll be using a seaplane to get around between other players’ towns and potentially other destinations. We spotted this in the E3 trailer back in June on the map and a shadow of the plane, but now it’s confirmed.

If you weren’t looking closely though, you might have missed that we have a name for this transportation revealed on the building sign — Dodo Airlines! We can see a Dodo icon on the seaplane’s tail and the letters DAL as well, presumably standing for Dodo AirLines.

Might there be a new Dodo special character running the business and arranging our flights to other islands then? It certainly seems likely given the prominent Dodo imagery! And what will happen to Porter then? As always, this trailer ends up asking more questions than it answers.

One more thing — that flagpole with the green Animal Crossing leaf flag on it is probably the new location for our customizable town flag! In New Leaf it was found at the Town Hall. and in City Folk it was found at the Town Gate.

New NookPhone Apps: Patterns and Collections or Friends?

The NookPhone was revealed back at E3 in June and will feature a number of in-game ‘apps’ as a gateway to various features in New Horizons like crafting and local multiplayer. Specifically we saw apps for Camera, Nook Miles, DIY Recipes, Map, and Call Islander at E3.

But now in the latest footage from the Nintendo Direct, we can see two brand new apps on the NookPhone previously unseen! Most obvious of the two, there’s a new Patterns app where presumably we’ll be able to design our own patterns and manage pattern storage like in past Animal Crossing games.

The second new app resembles a handbook of some kind, which we’re guessing might be the Collections menu we haven’t yet seen in New Horizons! That’s the interface where you can view all of the fish and bugs you’ve caught so far and information about them, including sizes. Unfortunately, the name of this app is never shown so we can’t say for sure but it seems likely.

If it’s not the Collections menu, another possibility is a friends book like the best friends menu in Animal Crossing: New Leaf used for sending messages and checking their player info cards. This is because the book does feature a person’s head on it, which seems a little odd for Collections. Let us know if you have a better idea!

NookPhone Cases

Speaking of the NookPhone, here’s another small yet exciting addition found in the Nintendo Direct! Notice anything else in that last screenshot, particularly in the player’s hand? That’s a different looking NookPhone than we’ve seen before!

In the beginning of the trailer, we can see the player is given the standard issue NookPhone with a green case, just like at E3. But then later, it’s been swapped out for a far more complex case possibly resembling the Sheikah Slate from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild!

If you can customize everything else about your character down to each individual clothing item, it makes a lot of sense to have swappable cases for your NookPhone too. We’re super excited about this feature as minor as it may be. Imagine all of the possibilities for phone cases resembling various Nintendo franchises.

Fish Bait

At the very end of the new Nintendo Direct trailer, the player is standing at the end of a dock looking to fish. You might have missed it, but just before she throws her fishing rod in the ocean for a catch, she throws something else out into the water.

That’s actually some fresh new fishing bait, a new feature in New Horizons! Nintendo actually mentioned this during the E3 Treehouse Live gameplay demo and showed digging some up clams on the beach with a shovel, which can be crafted into fishing bait.

This is our first time actually seeing the fish bait feature in action though. We’re not really sure exactly what the bait will do, but it’s worth noting that there’s no fish shadow in the water yet when she throws the bait in. After she does though, a fish shadow appears!

That seems to indicate that fishing bait will be more about spawning a fish to begin with, rather than about helping you catch fish easier. Perhaps different kinds of bait could be used to spawn a particular type of rare fish you need in a moment? We want some Red Snapper bait!

Build A Pier?

On the same note as the fish bait, we couldn’t help but notice that pier the player walked down is new and hasn’t been shown before. While we’ve seen a dock or pier before, that was the now-revealed seaplane dock that runs south and the new one runs to the east with nothing else attached at the end.

Since this dock was never seen on the in-game map at E3 2019 and hasn’t been shown until now, we’re guessing this might be a project you can build later on in New Horizons as part of the many island development activities.

Of course, this just brings more questions too. Will this dock serve an actual purpose, like a boat to an island from Kapp’n in past games, or is it just for aesthetics? We just don’t know yet but it’s new!

The Giant Mushroom

Towards the end of the Nintendo Direct trailer where we see the autumn season with Peewee, there’s a very suspicious new giant mushroom in the middle of the grass! So many questions…

In our view, there’s two main possibilities here for what this is. For one, it could be part of an autumn seasonal event where possibly we use a tool to break it apart into more small mushroom items.

On the other hand, it could just be a rather odd outdoors furniture item to decorate the island during autumn. That’d fit in well with crafting too as it could be crafted using a bunch of small mushroom items to make the one large furniture piece.

Either way, Peewee sure seems to be in love with this giant mushroom!

Villagers with Baskets and Books

In previous Animal Crossing games, it’s quite common for your villagers to walk around carrying basic tools like a fishing rod, net, or watering can. Notably, they always carry the same items we can carry as players too.

We’ve spotted two new items in the hands of villagers in New Horizons, both a book and a basket of some kind. These could be simply for aesthetics and serve no purpose, or they could be a hint at new items we’ll be able to use and carry ourselves.

Given that villagers in previous games carried the same tools and items as we do, we think it’s definitely possible these are new items.

14 Newly Seen Returning Villagers

From the E3 gameplay back in June, we spotted 6 villagers confirmed returning to New Horizons in their newly upgraded HD glory. Now in the new footage from the Nintendo Direct, we can see 14 more villagers making their New Horizons debut!

Some of those villagers include popular favorites like Wolfgang and Fauna, while others are lesser-known villagers like Lopez and Tammy. For the full list of newly revealed villagers, check out our separate Every Villager We’ve Seen So Far in Animal Crossing: New Horizons article. We have photos of every one too!

We still haven’t seen any brand new original villagers shown yet, but hopefully we’ll see some in the next New Horizons trailer now that more returning ones are confirmed.

Fruit Energy and Replanting Trees

One of the most interesting new features fully confirmed (we spotted it at E3!) in the Nintendo Direct trailer is the new ability to simply dig up an entire tree with a shovel and place it in your pockets. Once it’s in your pockets, you can simply plant it again in its complete form without waiting days to grow it.

The tree replanting feature itself was pretty obvious from watching the footage, but another interesting detail is that this feature uses a new sort of energy or stamina system.

We can see in the trailer that when the player eats an Apple, a number in a special new red bar in the top left goes up by one. When the player later digs up the tree into their pockets, the number goes back down by one. So clearly eating fruit gives you energy and digging up a tree takes away energy.

We’ve got to wonder though — what other activities or abilities might this ‘Fruit Energy’ be used for? It’s hard to think that this entire system of an energy counter was created solely for this one small matter. We’re not sure exactly what but there’s got to be something more to this.

More New Door Decorations

New Horizons is full of new customization features and one of the first discovered at E3 was the addition of wreath decorations for our doors. With the new Nintendo Direct trailer, we’ve spotted even more door decorations beyond what was shown at E3!

Complimenting the holiday wreath shown previously, we can see a new snowflake door decoration — it looks pretty shiny too! And just barely seen behind the group of 8 players playing online is some kind of fossil door decoration. Or at least, it’s very similar to the imagery of an Animal Crossing fossil!

More New Backpacks, Purses, and Bags

We originally covered the new back items feature in our E3 analysis and following up on the new door decorations, there are a few new back items to check out in the Nintendo Direct trailer too!

In this trailer we can spot four new items, although one is just a re-color of the previous red backpack we saw at E3. The three brand new back items are what we believe to be a fishing cooler bag, a red duffel bag, and a fish themed purse.

Grass Pattern Changes

In the E3 version of New Horizons, the grass of the game world was mostly plain green with some spots of the classic Animal Crossing grass shape pattern sprinkled about. With the updated Nintendo Direct trailer, Nintendo has made some major adjustments to this making it closer to the classic games. Check out a comparison below:

You’ll notice the grass shape pattern is far more plentiful than before. We’re loving this new look! For more comparisons and details, check out our in-depth article on the grass changes here.

Fossils, Money Rock, Snowflakes, Ponds, and Christmas Cedar Trees Return

We’ll close this analysis out with a summary of returning features from previous games that were missing in the E3 gameplay and we’re now seeing for the first time in the Nintendo Direct trailer! Most of these are pretty obvious, but with so many changes in New Horizons, we’re happy to see features confirmed in the new game.

The iconic dig spots in the ground with fossils and other buried items are shown multiple times in the trailer, including the player actually digging up a fossil once. Just in case there was any doubt, this essentially confirms the return of the Museum… somewhere. We’ve yet to see where it is.

Some were wondering if we would still have money rocks since you can now destroy some rocks with your axe for material, and the answer is yes!

The floating Snowflakes in the air during winter from New Leaf are returning in New Horizons, likely alongside the Ice Series and possibly the rest of the snowman family!

We never saw a pond anywhere in the E3 gameplay, but we’re seeing one now for the first time in the Nintendo Direct trailer!

And last but not least, the Christmas lights on cedar trees near the holiday season have returned! It’s worth noting that in the trailer, we see all five single cedar trees on-screen lit up in lights, which doesn’t actually happen in most Animal Crossing games.

There’s typically only a scattering of random cedar trees lit up during the season. This may have been for performance reasons in the past and is no longer a barrier on the Nintendo Switch.

That’s Everything!

Whew! That just about covers everything new and notable we could find in the Nintendo Direct trailer for Animal Crossing: New Horizons compared to the initial reveal at E3. If you found anything else you think is interesting, let us know in the comments below!

UPDATE: We’ve learned even more about New Horizons after publishing this! Read our follow-up article 7 More New Things We Missed in the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Nintendo Direct Trailer here.

And if you haven’t been following New Horizons too closely and want to know even more about the game, check out our previous 20 Great New Features in Animal Crossing: New Horizons from E3 2019 analysis article. You’ll find a number of speculative items from that article have now been confirmed in the new trailer!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons releases next year on March 20th, 2020 for Nintendo Switch! You can pre-order the game at AmazonGameStop, and Best Buy. Stay tuned to Animal Crossing World for more on Animal Crossing: New Horizons as we approach the release date next year.

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