Animal Crossing: New Horizons Guide – Tips and Tricks

After stepping foot on your new deserted island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you may quickly find yourself feeling lost and unsure of what you should do. The game introduces a multitude of new features for the series, including a DIY crafting system, Nook Miles rewards, and island terraforming. Whether you’re an Animal Crossing newcomer or an expert Bell collector, we’re here to highlight the essential tips and tricks for adjusting to island life.

Most of these suggestions focus on what to do during the first few hours of the game when you’re just getting started. We’ll also be sharing some best practices for maintaining your island and its inhabitants as well as racking up Bells and Nook Miles quickly. With a little hard work and some loan payments, your deserted island will become a thriving village in no time.

Don’t stress over every decision

Animal Crossing

Considering New Horizons is a lot more forgiving than previous Animal Crossing games, you should try to go into the game with an open mind and trust your instincts. Outside of choosing your island’s name and starting layout, just about everything else can be adjusted later on.

  • Tools – They’re designed to be crafted repeatedly, so don’t worry if you accidentally make an extra shovel or fishing rod.
  • Shop Items – These are rotated daily and will eventually reappear if you happen to miss them the first time around.
  • Mirrors – Can be crafted using materials. Allow you to change your character’s appearance whenever you want.
  • Houses and Facilities – Later on, you’ll unlock the option to relocate houses and facilities for a small fee.

You even have the option to modify your island’s layout to some degree, with terraforming tools made available to you much later in the game. This allows you to reshape cliffs, block off or extend rivers, and basically restructure your island to your liking.  With this much flexibility, there’s really no reason to get yourself obsessing about every decision.

Decide whether or not you want to time travel

Animal Crossing Tools

How you approach an Animal Crossing game says a lot about you as a player. For some, that means playing New Horizons the way it was intended, with your in-game clock synced up with the real-world. This makes for a more immersive experience where your island’s season and time of day matches that of your own. While progress is limited to how much you can achieve in a single day, it also makes the entire experience a lot more laidback.

What the game doesn’t want you to know is that this system can easily be exploited by changing the date and time in your Switch’s system settings. Doing so basically turns you into a time-traveling god who no longer has to wait days for big construction projects to reach completion or shop items to refresh. Both approaches have their own benefits and flaws, so it’s up to you to decide how you wish to experience the game.

Pay off your moving costs

Animal Crossing Shop Items

At the start of your first full day on your island, Tom Nook will hit you with a massive bill for 49,800 Bells that covers all of the moving costs associated with your new journey.  Lucky for you, he decides to make an exception regarding payment, offering you the option to pay it off with 5,000 Nook Miles. This is a separate currency you’re awarded for completing objectives or reaching a particular milestone.

We recommend paying off this first loan as soon as possible, as it’ll unlock a whole bunch of new content, such as new DIY recipes. In the process, you’ll get a better understanding of how Nook Miles work, what goals count towards them, and how they can be spent.  Doing so also allows you to take out a bigger loan for 98,000 Bells to upgrade your flimsy tent to a much more sturdy house (You can even pick the color of your roof) as well as unlock Nook Miles+.

Earn Nook Miles

Animal Crossing Tools Nook Miles

This brings us to our next tip, which is to try to rack up plenty of Nook Miles as soon as you can to unlock essential upgrades and DIY Recipes via the Nook Stop kiosk. Once you’ve upgraded to Nook Miles+ by paying off your initial moving costs, you’ll receive a set of rotating tasks to complete each day for extra miles. Additionally, there’s a fixed list of goals that will award you miles for reaching different milestones.

Earning miles also happens to be pretty straightforward, especially when you’re first starting out. You can earn some quick miles simply by setting up your Passport using your Nook Phone or introducing yourself to your new neighbors. As things progress and you find yourself developing your own routine, it becomes easier to earn miles without even trying.

Unlock the Tool Ring and inventory upgrades

Animal Crossing Tool Ring

One of the first things you’ll want to spend your Nook Miles on is the Tool Ring, a handy upgrade that allows you to swap between all of your tools on the fly via your controller’s D-pad. This is much quicker than having to open your bag and select each tool individually. The Tool Ring can be unlocked at the Nook Stop kiosk for 800 Miles.

Another upgrade we recommend getting early on is the Pocket Organization Guide, which costs 5,000 Miles and increases the number of items you can carry. Since Animal Crossing is a game primarily about collecting stuff, this can help you avoid having to constantly drop items or sell things for the sake of storage space. There’s a second inventory upgrade called Ultimate Pocket Stuffing for 8,000 Miles, however, that one doesn’t become available until later on in the game.

Learn DIY Recipes

Animal Crossing DIY Recipes

While you can easily purchase tools and cool items to furnish your island with, to progress in New Horizons, you’re going to have to visit a workbench and get to crafting. But before you can make something, you have to have first learned its associated DIY Recipe. There are a variety of ways to acquire new recipes:

  • Talking to Tom Nook.
  • Talking to your neighbors.
  • Opening presents and bottles on the beach.
  • Purchasing them from the Nook Stop kiosk in Resident Services using miles.
  • Purchasing them from Nook’s Cranny using Bells.
  • Giving an Amiibo visitor their requested item.

Every recipe requires varying amounts of different materials from your island, which can be collected by harvesting your resources such as rocks and trees. Some recipes allow you to customize the item’s appearance by using Customization Kits. But, this feature isn’t available until later in the game.

Craft and upgrade tools

Animal Crossing Upgrade Tools

On your first full day in New Horizons, Tom Nook will give you recipes for the Flimsy Fishing Rod and Flimsy Bug Net; try to make them both as soon as you can so you can get a start on catching local wildlife, a prerequisite for unlocking Blathers and the museum. Once the scholarly owl gets through his lengthy intro, he’ll give you recipes for two game-changing tools—the Flimsy Shovel and Vaulting Pole. Here’s how to obtain the remaining tools:

  • Slingshot – Purchased from Timmy for 300 Bells. (Used to pop floating balloons)
  • Flimsy Axe – Give Tom Nook two wildlife specimens. (Used for chopping trees for wood)
  • Flimsy Watering Can – Give Tom Nook four additional wildlife specimens. (Used for gardening)

Considering how quickly flimsy tools break, we recommend upgrading to stone tools as soon as possible. To do so, you’ll have to purchase the Pretty Good Tools Recipes from the Nook Stop kiosk. They have higher durability but require iron nuggets to craft.

Get the most out of rocks

Animal Crossing Rocks

How exactly does one find iron nuggets? We’re happy you asked! They can be found by striking rocks with either a shovel or ax. The amount you’ll receive is dependent on how quickly you strike the rock, so you’re going to want to mash that A button. This can be tricky since your character gets slowly pushed back with each hit; however, there are a couple of workarounds:

  • Place an item directly behind you that cannot be moved, such as some fencing, a DIY workbench, really anything that can be placed outdoors.
  • Stand at the corner of the rock and dig two holes on both sides of your character to prevent you from moving.

Use the Stone Axe for wood

Animal Crossing Stone Axe

In addition to those sweet iron nugs, striking rocks will award you stones used to craft one of the most valuable tools in the game—the Stone Axe. Unlike the regular ax, which chops trees in half on the third swing.

 The Stone Axe also allows you to harvest three pieces of wood from each tree without producing a stump. However, if you are hell-bent on using the regular ax, just know you can still strike trees up to two times before they fall.

Watch Out for Wasps

Animal Crossing Wasps

At some point on your island, you’re going to shake a tree and find yourself face-to-face with an angry pack of wasps. If you want to avoid looking like you just lost a fight with, well, a wasp nest, we recommend keeping your Bug Net in hand during your tree-shaking shenanigans. This will allow you to quickly scoop up any wasp nests that fall before they have a chance to attack.

If you ever forget to take out your net or it breaks, remember that you can run into the museum to avoid getting stung. This will only work if you’re fast enough since it’s one of the only facilities with a door-less entrance.

Sell, sell, sell

Animal Crossing Sell

At the start of the game, Tommy will tell you to come to him if you have anything to sell. Later on, he’ll relocate to Nook’s Cranny and inform you of the Drop Box, which is a wooden box located outside the entrance of the shop that can be used to sell items without going inside. However, there are some caveats to using the box:

  • Items deposited will only yield 80% of their full Bell value.
  • You won’t get the total amount owed until the following day.

What items should you be selling? Really anything you feel you won’t need in the future. It’s typically smart to keep materials like wood, stone, and iron nuggets since you’ll constantly be crafting tools. Remember that clothing and items you’ve purchased to decorate your home can also be sold along with gifts received by your neighbors.

Lastly, Nook’s Cranny will pay twice the valued amount for a featured Hot Item, which changes daily. Craft and sell multiples of whatever the Hot Item of the day is to watch the Bells pile up. You can use them to pay off loans or purchase that fancy new wallpaper you’ve been eyeing. 

Talk to your neighbors

Animal Crossing Neighbours

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in your daily routine that you forget to check in with the nonessential NPCs on your island. Aside from providing some enlightening conversations, talking to your villagers will sometimes yield gifts, DIY Recipes, and new expressions.

Neglect your villagers too long, and there’s a chance they’ll consider moving off the island. There are other ways to let villagers know you care about them, such as sending letters, fulfilling their requests, and presenting them with the occasional gift. 

Search your island for Special Visitors

Animal Crossing Special Visitors

As you progress in the game, new visitors will appear on your island peddling special goods and services. If you’re don’t take the time to give your island a once over each day, there’s a chance you may miss them. Here’s a breakdown of every special visitor and what they have to offer:

  • Sahara – A camel that comes to your island every Monday selling rugs, wallpaper, and flooring. For every purchase, she’ll give you a certain amount of tickets that can be cashed in for “mysterious” wallpapers and flooring.
  • Daisy Mae – A cute little boar who appears on Sunday mornings between 10am and 12pm. Her specialty is turnips, which can be bought in bundles of 10 and essentially serve as New Horizons’ stock market. Turnips can be sold at Nooks Cranny for a differing price each day, allowing you to make a quick profit.
  • CJ – A beaver that spawns every third Saturday of the month. He will challenge you to catch as many fish as possible within three minutes for a reward.
  • Flick – A chameleon that shows up randomly and will buy insects from you at a higher price than shops. If you give him three of the same insect species, he’ll reward you with a statuette.
  • Harvey – A dog who will visit your island after you’ve built Nook’s Cranny. He’ll invite you to visit his island whenever you wish to take pictures with your Amiibos.
  • Kicks – A skunk that appears once a week in your island’s main square after unlocking the Able Sisters tailor shop. He has shoes, socks, tights, backpacks, and handbags for sale.
  • Label – A hedgehog that randomly appears in your island’s main square after unlocking the Able Sisters tailor shop. She’ll request you to put on a special outfit in exchange for sewing workshop tickets.

You Might Like These Too

Justin Fernandez
Justin Fernandez

As a fan of both indie and triple-A games, Justin finds joy in discovering and sharing hidden gems with other passionate gamers. In addition to reporting on the latest and greatest titles, he manages GamingScan’s social media channels.