It’s probably not the Nintendo Direct a lot of people were waiting for but Animal Crossing got a dedicated showcase this afternoon. Love it or hate it, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is probably in with a shout of being the best selling game for the first half of 2020 (only The Last Of Us: Part II and Final Fantasy VII Remake can reasonably come close).

The Animal Crossing: New Horizons Nintendo Direct showcased a full 25 minutes of gameplay from the cutesy crippling debt simulator.

As a man who has lightly dabbled in Animal Crossing over the years, including importing a pesky Free Loader so I could play an import copy of GameCube, but who hasn’t paid it the greatest deal of attention in a while, it doesn’t sound actually sound as if a whole lot has changed. I definitely don’t remember Tom Nook giving a dictatorial speech every morning, so there’s that, plus there are now dangerous creatures like bees and scorpions to add a bit of danger to island life.

But, I am assured that it definitely has changed. Probably the biggest alteration is Animal Crossing going all Minecraft-lite with the ability to sculpt the terrain, build bridges and stairs, and generally just make your island unique to yourself.

Talking of islands, players will have several to choose from, as well as the option for either Northern or Southern Hemisphere so the seasons match up with the region you're in - unless you happen to be equatorial, enjoy the eternal sunshine!

When it comes to multiplayer, up to eight players can play simultaneously on any given island, using the island airport to hop to your friends’ locations. This can be done either online or local wireless.

You can also visit some small deserted islands by redeeming Nook Miles Tickets which can be earned by completing challenges. On these islands you may find rare creatures or materials, capturing or digging them up to take them back home. Importing strange creatures, nothing could possibly go wrong...

There is now crafting in New Horizons. Falling under the twee banner of DIY, crafting recipes can be used for building tools and furniture, as well as customising the looks or even applying your own pixel art designs.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons comes to the Nintendo Switch on March 20th. That’s the same day as Doom Eternal so the Venn diagram of folks into both collecting shiny ripe apples and hacking off limbs face a tough decision.