I went on a magical walking tour of my Animal Crossing: New Horizons island in first-person

Animal Crossing: New Horizons
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Walking along the sandy shores of my island has never been quite as immersive as this. From a first-person perspective, I'm able to move along pathways I put down months ago and marvel at the shiny texture of a seashell stool that has decorated the beachfront for as long as I can remember. Suddenly, I'm seeing everything in a new light and I have a renewed appreciation for this virtual place I've come to know so well. Then, as I make back through an archway I crafted to a nearby flowerbed, I encounter Hamphrey, my dear hamster villager. There's absolutely no stopping the inevitable photoshoot now. I spend a lot of time getting the perfect close up shot and setting up selfies with my long-time pal, and I have a blast doing it. 

Animal Crossing: New Horizons update 2.0 has introduced a wealth of exciting new features and items that have breathed new life into my island life. But nothing is arguably as game-changing as the Pro Camera App for our little Nook Phones. The excellent handheld camera feature will let you change the perspective to first-person, and I can't get enough of it. The first time I used it, I was overwhelmed by the way it really made me feel like I was truly in Animal Crossing: New Horizons myself. Shifting to my villager's perspective has been bringing me closer to my island and my fuzzy companions in a very literal sense, and it's easily one of my favorite new features.  

A new perspective

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The first chance I get, I have to go on what I end up dubbing 'The Magical Walking Tour' of my island. With the handheld camera's eye-level view and the zoom functionality, I can now hone in on furniture, items, and areas like never before. I start noticing small details that previously passed me by, and get to appreciate the designs of little objects now that can now get a closer picture of my surroundings. 

The latest update, coupled with the Happy Home Paradise DLC, introduced a variety of exciting new items that are perfect for giving your island a fresh new look. Some of these new furniture additions feature delightful animations that really bring them to life, and with my first-person perspective, I can truly appreciate them. I recently created my own fairground using some of the new Plaza items and I couldn't wait to see it during my magic walking tour. I delight in all of the little details of the attractions, from the Ferris wheel to the game stand with little ducks moving along in a row. I also zoom right in on the balloon stand and watch as the inflatable dog bobs up and down with the wind. 

The variety of different gyroids are also a treat to watch using the handheld camera. Each gyroid type has a different design and movement that makes each decorative friend unique, and each time I dig up another one to add to my collection, I whip the camera straight out to get a close up look. I've also taken to going to a spot on my island where I can use this perspective to look out over the ocean and listen to the soothing sounds of the waves.  

When you're outside using the camera app, your movement is somewhat restricted – you can only move side-to-side or backwards and forwards. Inside, though, you can spin right around with the camera to take in a 360 view of each room for an extra magical view. Naturally, no tour would be complete without stepping into the place I call home on Iced Tea Island and I can hardly wait to see my home like I've never seen it before. As soon as I enter my front door, I take out the handheld camera to take in all the decorations at eye-level. Suddenly, I to feel as if I'm actually walking around the house I designed, and I spend some time taking in each room. Once again, this first-person perspective is letting me see a place I've seen so many times before with a renewed sense of appreciation. 

Making memories

When I'm not touring my island or soaking up the sights of someone else's island with my camera, I'm spending all of my time taking up close up shots of my villagers and setting up the perfect selfie with my favourite faces. Yes, Animal Crossing has well and truly really entered the smartphone generation now with the Pro Camera app functionality. Who wouldn't want to take a selfie with Blathers or Brewster? Or get an adorable group shot of your villagers as they wander around the plaza? In all honesty, I fear for the memory space of my Switch now more than ever. How can I possibly stop taking screenshots when the camera is this good? 

Part of what makes the series so special is the characters who inhabit your island or town right alongside you. As someone who grew up playing Animal Crossing, there are certain villagers who are akin to childhood friends – like my dear cat pal Punchy – and I really appreciate the fact that New Horizons gives us a way to capture memories with them. The update has now made it possible for me to take photos that are worthy of hanging on my wall in reality. If only I could tell my kid self I will someday be able to take a close up shot of Punchy cooking, or snap a photo of us together as we both beam at the lens. My library of screenshots is now full of hilarious and adorable closeups, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  

Using the Pro Camera app really does make it feel like I'm being transported directly into the shoes of my villager. I never expected the shift to a first-person perspective would make it feel like I'm actually in Animal Crossing, or give me a renewed sense of appreciation for the animations and smaller details of my island, but it did just that and more. It's opened up the world of New Horizons to me like never before, and it's the kind of feature I never knew I needed until now.  

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Heather Wald
Senior staff writer

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good.