Animal Crossing: New Horizons Release Time -- When The Game Unlocks

Nintendo's support FAQ provides a time for when we can expect New Horizons to unlock on Switch.

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Nintendo's cutesy life-sim Animal Crossing: New Horizons launches this Friday, March 20 on Nintendo Switch. If you're wondering when Tom Nook will invite you to hang out on the game's new deserted island, Switch owners only need to check Nintendo's support FAQ to see when New Horizons unlocks--we're just hours away from the release time.

[Update: Animal Crossing: New Horizons is now available on the Eshop worldwide, as well as at retail. If you're waiting on a physical copy, be aware that Amazon has warned customers about potential shipments delays on both New Horizons and Doom Eternal, which also releases today.]

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Now Playing: Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Island Decorating Trailer

According to Nintendo, certain games available for pre-purchase will become playable at 9 PM PT / 12 AM ET on the day the game is scheduled to go live. This is a policy instated across the entirety of the Eshop and not specific to New Horizons. However, Nintendo does make it clear that "some third-party titles are not available until 12 PM PT" on the day the game is supposed to come out. Being a first-party game, however, we can expect New Horizons to be available at 9 PM PT on Thursday, March 19.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is available to pre-load right now after you pre-order it on Nintendo Switch. You can check out our New Horizons pre-order guide to learn about the available bonuses. An update for New Horizons is now live, and installing it will grant you a free in-game Switch to decorate your home or island.

Reviews for Animal Crossing: New Horizons are popping up and the reception has been largely positive, with critics praising it for combining new survival-inspired mechanics with the franchise's familiar low-key gameplay. We awarded the game an 8/10 in our New Horizons review-in-progress, with reviews editor Kallie Plagge saying she's "excited to see what random events await [her] each morning."

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