With Nintendo’s latest laid-back life simulation finally available today, players all over the world will be picking up Animal Crossing: New Horizons and escaping to an idyllic island paradise. The game is excellent (read our review), but it is also a slow burn that takes a while to introduce all of its systems. If you want a little guidance to help point you in the right direction – especially if this is your first Animal Crossing – these spoiler-free tips will give you a nudge without ruining any of the wonder.
Rocks are ridiculously important
If you haven’t played Animal Crossing before (which I hadn’t), you may not know that large rocks on the ground are far more than decorative scenery. They are part of your regular routine; every day, you can whack each rock several times with a shovel or axe to shake loose some goodies. This process is your major source of clay, stone, and iron (and occasionally gold), which are important ingredients in crafting. Plus, one rock per day is hiding a few thousand bells, so you should definitely prioritize this chore early on.
No major penalty for clock skipping
One of the few thing I knew about Animal Crossing going in was that the horrible Mr. Resetti was supposed to yell at me for using my system clock to manipulate the passage of time. Well, that doesn’t happen in New Horizons. No one makes you feel bad for jumping around. Want a bridge today that is supposed to be finished tomorrow? Is an important structure closed for a day of renovations? Just exit the game and change the date on your Switch. You can skip all over the place – forward and backward – with essentially no consequences apart from potentially spoiling any turnips you’re carrying.
The Resident Representative has special options
Multiple users on the same system can share the same island, but only one of them is the designated Resident Representative. If this is the way you play with your friends and family, be aware that the Resident Representative (the first person to move to the island) has special privileges, like placing bridges and designating plots of land for other structures. As such, you should make sure that the Resident Representative is someone in your household who will be regularly engaged with the game and not leave everyone else in the lurch.
Reorganize your pockets
This is a small thing, but it’s also not clearly communicated as you learn the ropes: You can manually reorganize your items. As you gather, buy, sell, and break various things on the island, your pockets can get a bit haphazard. Just hold the A button on an item to move it around to a new slot. This allows you to fill gaps and keep certain types of items together.
The shop has another extra page of inventory
Tommy and Timmy Nook run a shop that satisfies an array of basic needs. However, it’s easy to miss the fact that their inventory has a second page; scroll to the right to see additional products and expand your selection of essentials.
You can catch wasps
Trees are an important part of the economy in New Horizons. They produce fruit, branches, wood, insects, money, and even furniture. Unfortunately, some of them are also home to wasps that drop down and sting you when you disturb the tree. At first, it may seem like you are doomed to get stung (and get a puffy eye) when this happens. However, if you time it carefully, you can swing your bug-catching net and intercept the wasps, saving yourself some pain.
Be careful what gifts you give
New Horizons is refreshingly positive, and all of the villagers generally love the presents you give them. Because you don’t need to worry about optimizing with “ideal” gifts, you may be tempted to offload all kinds of junk on your residents. That would be a mistake, because your neighbors will wear/use/display almost everything they receive from you. So if you don’t want to see your friends wearing garish garments, don’t give them away in the first place.
Keep wood, clay, stone, and metal
You can generally sell the stuff you gather for a profit, but it would be smart to keep a healthy supply of crafting components in storage. That doesn’t mean you need to jealously hoard every piece of wood, clay, stone, and metal that you see – but keep at least a stack or two of each on hand to help you undertake unexpected crafting and construction projects. After that, sell away.
Fruit trees are the priority
When you arrive on your island, you will have a mix of three types trees: Fruit-bearing, cedar, and normal. From an economic perspective, fruit trees are the only useful trees. Cedar trees are evergreens, so they can help establish an aesthetic flair (and may also drop coins when shaken), but normal trees just look like fruit trees without the fruit. Consider going on a logging spree to chop down the space-wasting trees and planting fruit trees in their place.
Plant new kinds of fruit ASAP
Your island has a native fruit, which means all of your fruit trees will initially be only oranges, apples, cherries, pears, or peaches. Your native fruit sells to Tommy and Timmy Nook for 100 bells each … but non-native fruit sells for 500 each. That means that, as soon as you get your hands on a different kind of fruit (either as a gift or through visiting other islands), you should plant it so you can start producing more. Soon, you may even want to start chopping down your native fruit trees to make room for the more lucrative.
For more about Animal Crossing: New Horizons, check out our money-making guide, or read about how the game is remarkably pleasant and welcoming.