It is not yet clear how exactly starting the game will play out, however, this is what we know so far:
- You will be able to design your character, with a variety of choices for faces and hairstyles, all not gender locked, unlike previous games where you were given a different starting look depending on your answers to a quiz
- If another user has already made a town on your Switch system, you must join that town. It has been directly stated that it will only allow 1 town per system, and since the Switch supports up to 8 users, up to 8 characters can move into that town.
However, it may be possible to get around this if different regions are considered different games on the eShop, potentially allowing the player to buy other region versions to make additional towns on the same system (i.e. own NA and JP versions of the game to have 2 separate towns, 1 NA and 1 JP). This works different for various Switch games, but different Splatoon 2 region versions have separate save data, so this may indicate it will be possible with New Horizons as they are made by the same studio.
- Two villagers (Jock and Sisterly) will move in to the town you end up at.
- You and the villagers will start without any home, and will select where you want to put your tents.
- The player can choose any location to put the tent, including the beach.
- The player can choose spots for villager houses, and ask the villagers to move their tent or house later on.
- You will arrive at the town via airplane, run by Dodo Airlines.
- The only package directly shown so far is "Deserted Island Getaway."