- Animal Crossing villagers are a crucial part of the game’s charm, with their distinct personalities and designs contributing to the overall experience.
- The current limitation of 10 villagers in New Horizons seems unnecessary, especially considering the game’s vast array of 413 potential villager options.
- With a more powerful console, future Animal Crossing games could potentially increase the number of villagers, as well as enhance their animations, activities, and impact on the game world.
Villagers have always been central to the Animal Crossing experience, and the next game in the series can take steps to further flesh them out. These changes could build off the way villagers functioned in New Horizons, which expanded upon the series formula while retaining some of the more frustrating aspects of Animal Crossing.
In some ways, villagers are what make Animal Crossing what it is. After all, they are the titular “animals” of the franchise, and their adorable anthropomorphized designs, unique personalities, and relaxed, low-stakes quest lines help make them a central, inextricable part of the Animal Crossing experience. Nowhere is their influence more clear than in New Horizons, which includes a dizzying 413 total potential animal villagers, each with their own distinct traits and appearances. This breadth and diversity lead to a number of unexpected moments in New Horizons, further heightening its charm and variability. It seems strange, then, that the game only allows players to retain a maximum of 10 villagers at a time, which some might view as an unnecessary limitation. In addition to this, while the villagers are varied visually, they are somewhat limited in their capabilities.
Animal Crossing May Need to Take One Note From Breath of the Wild After New Horizons
After Animal Crossing: New Horizons set a high bar for the series, Nintendo could learn from Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s success for its next game.
What the Next Animal Crossing Can Do with Villagers
While the behavior, scope, and quantity of Animal Crossing villagers can be mostly explained as creative choices by the developers, it’s also likely that technical restrictions have played a role. It would be hard for Animal Crossing on the Switch to feature a bustling town square with dozens of fully modeled and interactive NPCs, for example. With the Nintendo Switch 2 possibly on the way, a future Animal Crossing game might be free from the restrictions of its predecessors.
Using the Switch 2 to Improve Animal Crossing Villagers
For one thing, the power of a Switch successor could mean a higher concurrent villager count. There is an argument to be made in favor of keeping a relatively strict cap on the number of villagers a town has at any given point, as this encourages trading and increases longevity, but perhaps the cap could be bumped up to 15 or 20. After all, if the next Animal Crossing attempts to match or exceed the number of total NPCs included in New Horizons, a substantial increase in the population maximum wouldn’t necessarily eliminate the benefits of a limited population.
The changes to villagers wouldn’t have to end with sheer quantity. The next Animal Crossing could have more dynamic NPCs, with more distinct animations, activities, and specific events or interactions that could vary in complexity based on a number of factors, including concurrent villager count. This could allow for additional personality types as well, as there could be outdoorsy or adventurous villagers that are more active and interactive, moving throughout the game world and having a generally greater impact.
Since small-town scale and charm have always been central to Animal Crossing, these hypothetically updated villagers could be relegated to a different part of the next game’s map. If the next Animal Crossing allowed players to travel to different single-player locations, like bustling city centers, for instance, then these locales could host a wide array of ambitiously detailed villagers. The next game could even retain the 10-villager restriction, allowing players to swap out NPCs from a pool of dozens, or perhaps even more, in this theoretical alternate location. This would let the game provide players with something fresh that doesn’t infringe on the series’ identity.
The limited scope of Animal Crossing‘s villagers certainly has its benefits. If players could, at any time, interact with a huge assortment of NPCs, it might detract from the sense of intimacy that the series excels at invoking. That said, there are ways that Animal Crossing can get a bit more ambitious with villagers in terms of scale, scope, and detail, especially on more powerful hardware.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the fifth major game in the Animal Crossing series. This slice-of-life simulation game tasks the player with developing an abandoned island into a small town for its resident villagers. The game was released at the start of worldwide lockdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which catapulted it into massive success. It’s currently the best selling game of all time in Japan.
- March 20, 2020
- Nintendo EPD
- Online Multiplayer , Local Multiplayer
- E for Everyone: Comic Mischief
- Animal Crossing: New Horizons — Happy Home Paradise
- How Long To Beat
- 61 Hours