Nintendo has finally revealed details about Animal Crossing's mobile debut in a 15 minute Nintendo Direct broadcast and there's a lot to take in. What's promising, though, is that this looks as close to a fully-fledged Animal Crossing title as we dared to hope for mobile.
The first and most important thing to know is that the game is free-to-play and will be released in late November for iOS and Android devices. Anyone looking to pre-register and receive an alert as soon as the game is released can do so on Nintendo's website.
In Animal Crossing Pocket Camp you’re tasked with setting up and managing a holiday camp, rather than an entire town. It's an appropriately home-from-home setting for mobile.
In a mechanic that’s reminiscent of the cat collecting hit, Neko Atsume, it’s your job to fill this camp with furniture and items that’ll make it pleasant and draw in animals to come and visit you there.
From what was revealed in the Direct broadcast, we understand there's a crafting system whereby you gather resources, such as cotton and wood, to build furniture that's presented in a pre-set catalog. Once you have the right resources for the furniture you want to build you can craft it in an in-game menu and place it wherever you like in the camp.
One way to gather resources is by helping the various animals that populate the world. You can fulfil requests and receive rewards or simply trade items with them. Once a villager’s favourite kind of furniture is in the camp, they’ll hang around more and maybe become your friend. It’s a petty world but we understand the appeal of a nice cushion.
When animals start hanging around Camp Demanding a little more, you’ll have a friendship level with them and raising it is simply a matter of chatting with them or fulfilling requests.
There’s a wide range of items available to craft from benches and cacti to guitars. There are even larger amenities like pools to build, although these take a little longer to complete.
If you urgently want to add an item to your camp but you don’t have enough materials to craft if or you want to move the building process on a little faster, you can use something called Leaf Tickets.
Ah money, naturally this is where Tom Nook comes into play. Leaf Tickets can be earned simply by playing the game and levelling up, but you can also buy them with your real-world money.
It’s amazing what people will pay to impress an adorable squirrel in a neat shirt so Nintendo may have landed on the right combination of mainstream brand popularity and monetisation.
Free-to-play is a model that's proven far more successful for Nintendo's Fire Emblem mobile game than the one-off purchase price that was applied to Super Mario Run. Given the widespread popularity of Animal Crossing, the free-to-play with microstransactions approach was undoubtedly the right one from a business standpoint.
Bells are still the in-game currency of choice, though, and you can collect these in the usual way of shaking trees and selling items you don’t need.
To get all the crafting materials you need in the game you’ll need to travel between settings in your camper van. There’s a beach, an island, a forest, a river and more and each one will have items exclusive to that location.
Animal Crossing is played in real-time and the world will gradually change between day, evening and night just as it does around you. Different animals will appear at different times so it’ll be worth playing at night to meet some more nocturnal creatures.
There are activities to take part in other than crafting. Shopping in the marketplace is a great way to pick up some fancier furniture items you can't craft on your own or new clothes from familiar traders.
You can also decorate your camper van in the way you like both inside and outside (yes you can even add a second floor) and retreat in there for some quiet time.
In Animal Crossing mobile there’s a social element. This being Nintendo we’re not surprised. While you can just chat to the local animals, you can also invite your real-life friends to you camp by swapping your player IDs.
You can exchange items with your friends, get decorating ideas from them and just wander around their campsite. If you add someone to your friends list in the game you can return to visit them any time, no player ID required again.
The game will have seasonal events and limited-time items and outfits through game updates which will become available through free updates once the game has launched in November. We imagine this will make Christmas and New Year the first exciting events.