After what felt like forever, Animal Crossing is finally coming to the Nintendo Switch. The franchises resident business tycoon, Tom Nook, announced that a new entry would come to the console sometime in 2019 in a recent Nintendo Direct.
I know we’ve only just received news that the series is finally coming to Nintendo’s newest system after years of nothing on the Wii U (and two mediocre offshoots in Happy Home Designer and Pocket Camp) but consider this– VR would be a fantastic addition to Animal Crossing if Nintendo finally wanted to jump outside consoles, handhelds, and mobile.
Getting it right would be tricky since you can’t just copy what makes Animal Crossing great from one platform to the next. We’ve already seen the series stutter between Nintendo DS and Wii with Wild World and City Folk. But we’ve thought of a few ideas that could smooth the transition.
Keep it Simple
Animal Crossing is all about the simplicity of small-village life. No matter how advanced the technology gets, playing it should always feel like a blissful breeze through a cartoony countryside town filled with a handful of talking animals. Keep the vibe, as well as the mechanics for fishing, fossil hunting, bug catching, and decorating easy to approach (although don’t be afraid to add a new thing or two).
Take Advantage of Rumble
HD rumble is a huge part of tight game feel on Switch, it makes all sorts of movements pop out more than regular rumble. VR motion controllers, or some sort of additional accessory, should be able to add a similar effect. Everything from the feeling after a fish takes the bait or when your ax slaps the side of a tree could be enhanced by a little bit of extra rumble.
Bring Back Constellation Creation
Animal Crossing Wild World originally introduced a constellation creation mechanic where you could go to a conservatory above the museum and create your own designs in the sky. Combine this with the many festive events that lead to fireworks and shooting stars, along with a gorgeous first person view in VR (and better visuals overall), to make for a perfect night under the stars.
Build on Happy Home Designer Mechanics
Animal Crossing New Leaf’s spin-off, Happy Home Designer, introduced new and efficient ways to organize furniture and other decorations around your house and yard. A VR installment should include these improvements while adding additional functionality for first person viewing. Mechanics like the ability to hot switch between tools and an easier way to manage inventories without looking at a plain menu would be welcome additions.
Focus on Relationships Over Scale
Bigger isn’t always better, even as console generations and technology advance making more things possible. While a lot of Animal Crossing fans want a bigger space to explore and more villagers to keep the company, the true nature of the series remains humble at it’s core. New areas should be added, like the downtown section after City Folk, but it shouldn’t compromise the rustic aesthetic the series has tried so hard to maintain.
Instead, focus on expanding the personalities and conversation mechanics that help people feel like Animal Crossing is an escape, and not some lifeless relaxation sim. Build out more seasons and events for the town to take part in and make Animal Crossing VR something players can return to again and again.
Aron Garst is a freelance gaming journalist. You can follow him on Twitter for more of his work.