I've been an Animal Crossing fan for 19 years, so you can say things are pretty serious. New Horizons for the Nintendo Switch is, in my opinion, the best version of the game yet.
With my extensive (OK, obsessive) knowledge of the series, I'm always fielding questions about the newest game. So I decided to compile tips (some from my colleagues too!) and answers to questions even I had to look up. Here's how to make the most of your island vacation.
Updated November 2020: We've removed some outdated seasonal tips and added advice on kicking out villagers.
If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED.
1. Craft Faster
When you're making DIY recipes, it can get annoying to wait through the animations every time you create something new. Speed the process up drastically by pressing the A button a few times in quick succession once your character starts crafting. (In case you didn't know, repeatedly pressing B will make animals talk faster too.)
2. Optimize Your Inventory
Use your Nook Miles and the NookStop to unlock the maximum inventory capacity of 40 item slots to get more room in your pockets. I like to keep certain crafting items on me at all times so I can make a new bug-catching net or fishing rod at a moment's notice. Aside from tools, I always have iron nuggets, wood, softwood, hardwood, stones, and tree branches on hand. Several items stack, but once you get 30 pieces of something like wood, it will automatically start using a new inventory slot.
3. Move Carefully
Pressing B while you move will make you run. This scares off bugs and fish, and it can ruin freshly planted flowers, so be careful. Pressing A while you move with a net in hand will make you sneak. Letting go of A while sneaking immediately swings the net down. This is the best way to creep up on skittish insects like moths, and it's the only way to efficiently catch tarantulas and scorpions. Slowly walk toward them with your net up and stop as soon as their legs start shaking. When they stop, proceed, and rinse and repeat.
>4. Shake Every Tree on Mystery Island Tours
When you head to a mystery island, shake every single tree. There's always a piece of furniture hiding in one of them. You'll want to make sure you have your net out though, as there's at least one wasp nest that will fall too. Oh yeah, you can catch those wasps before they attack. Just quickly tap A as soon as they pop out (facing them).
5. Wish Upon a Star
Sometimes, during the morning announcements, Isabelle will let you know that a Meteor Shower is on the way that night. The timing, it seems, is completely random. With more than 170 hours in the game, I haven't had an official Meteor Shower yet, though I have met Celeste. She's Blathers' sister, and she'll occasionally hook you up with a special zodiac-themed DIY recipe. (Looking around various forums, it appears this may be a bug; some players haven't seen Celeste but have had Meteor Showers, and others have seen Celeste but not a shooting star, and so on.)
Either way, shooting stars appear at random between 7 pm and 4 am on clear, cloudless nights. They sound like a shimmery sort of bell. The noise is kind of quiet—headphones might be a good idea to hear them. Make sure your hands are empty, use the right joystick to look up, and press A when a star is overhead to make a wish. Shooting stars usually appear in bursts, so keep staring at the sky after wishing in case another one or three shoot by. The next day, your beaches will have Star Fragments you can use to craft certain DIY recipes.
6. Use Fruits for Super Powers
You've probably already figured out that eating a piece of fruit and then hitting a rock with your shovel or stone axe will break a rock, but did you know that the same action can help you move trees around? Gone are the days of chopping and replanting. As WIRED writer Louise Matsakis pointed out, once your fruit-eating powers have been activated, you can use your shovel to dig up a tree. It'll get stashed inside your pocket for easy planting.
7. Make Your Money Trees Better
Once per day, there'll be a shiny spot on the ground that contains 1,000 Bells. Reburying the bag of Bells will sprout a Bell tree that grows cash every few days. However, if you plant even more Bells, you have a chance of growing a tree that sprouts heftier Bell bags. This trick has led to me growing multiple 10,000-Bell trees. To plant a larger quantity of Bells, go to your pockets and click on the Bell counter in the bottom left-hand corner. From there, you can choose how many Bells to separate, and then select Bury in Hole to plant them.
8. Fish and Bugs Can Be Evasive
There are a few creatures that only stick around for the duration of any given month. They vary depending on what hemisphere you live in, and in the effort to not spoil things, I'm going to leave you with this: Bugs and fish can be trickier than you think. Some of the fish I've caught only spawn for a few hours in locations like the uppermost cliff river, the mouth of a river, or in a pond. The same goes for bugs. Certain types will only spawn on rotten vegetables, trash, or villagers. Be creative and diligent in your search! If you're trying to spawn fish in a certain spot, use fish bait to speed up the process. You might get a few Nook Miles for your troubles.
9. Maximize Your Nook Miles
You're probably visiting the NookStop inside your Resident Services Center once per day to rack up those sweet, sweet bonus miles. Here's another trick: Redeem your Nook Miles from the NookPhone app as soon as you earn them. Once you redeem bonus miles, you'll receive a new task, and it might be for something you were about to do anyway. It's a simple step that'll help you accrue more efficiently.
10. Spend Bells Liberally
There's no deadline for paying off your home, so while it can be smart to put your Bells toward your loan, be sure to spend them graciously at various vendors across your island after paying off your first remodel or two. Spending Bells is typically a prerequisite for certain upgrades. Check out what the general store has to offer each day (and press R to check out the entirety of what's inside the cabinet). The same goes for the fitting room at the tailor's shop—you never know what you might find.
That being said, if you want to save up, keep Bells in your ABD savings account rather than in your pockets. You'll accrue some interest over time (though Nintendo slashed the interest rate a bit).
11. Customize Your Clothing
While New Horizons undeniably has the best fashion items and dressing interface of the franchise, there are plenty of customizable patterns that'll help you tweak how your character looks. WIRED's own Cecilia D'Anastasio used face paint and custom patterns to give her character cool eyebrows and crop tops. If you aren't particularly pattern-savvy, you can use the kiosk in the tailor's shop to download designs for clothing and paths. Check out Instagram for a huge collection of accounts that post cute designs every day. You can also use AC Patterns to find cool designs or create your own.
12. Play the Stalk Market
On Sundays, Daisy Mae will visit your island. She's an adorable boar and the granddaughter of Sow Joan, who you may have met in previous iterations of Animal Crossing. Daisy Mae sells turnips, which vary in price. You can buy in bundles of 10. You can then flip those turnips later on in the week for serious cash.
If you want to buy low and sell high, look to Reddit to find islands with high buying prices. You might have to wait in a virtual line for a while, but if you're determined, this is the best way to turn a profit. Just keep in mind that turnips rot after a week, and if you fiddle with the game settings and travel back in time, your turnips will immediately go bad.
13. Time-Travel Carefully
There's some contention around time-hopping, which is basically a method of manipulating the Nintendo Switch's time and date settings to cheat time in the game. I like to play New Horizons for hours on end, so I'm pro-hopping, but some people prefer the natural unhurried pace of the game. Time-hopping helps you quickly finish building upgrades and bridges, gives you more fossils to find, and generally resets your daily tasks.
But if you time-travel recklessly, there are some risks. Your relationships with your villagers can deteriorate, your island might get overrun with weeds, and you might mess up your ability to participate in special events since they won't begin unless you're synced up to the internet.
To time-hop with lower risks, here's what I do:
- Save your game by pressing the minus button on your left Joy-Con. Close the software by pressing the Home button and then pressing X.
- Navigate to the system settings menu, scroll down to System, and scroll to Date & Time.
- Uncheck the box that syncs your Switch's internal clock to the internet. Move the date forward exactly one day.
- Reopen Animal Crossing, start the game, and then save again.
- Repeat steps 1 to 3, but this time check the box that syncs your in-game clock to the internet.
Your game will have advanced one day, but you won't travel so far ahead that you risk messing up your island. Keep in mind that time-hopping rots turnips.
14. Improve Your Island Rating
To eventually reach a five-star island rating, it'll take time and effort. You can check your island rating by speaking with Isabelle in Resident Services. Take her advice literally: If she says you need more fencing, you need more fencing. The same goes for decor. Does she say you need more decorations or more items you've crafted yourself? Pay close attention to the hints she gives.
You'll need well-balanced furniture and deco items scattered throughout your island, as well as a certain amount of flowers, fencing, and trees. Be sure to pick up tree branches and weeds as soon as you see them—they drag your island rating down.
15. How to Get Rid of a Villager
If you have a full island with 10 residents and a villager visiting your campsite, you can talk to the visitor over and over again to convince them to move to your island. This is key: They'll randomly choose a villager to evict. You can accept their initial offer if they're trying to trade places with the critter you dislike. If they don't choose the right villager, you'll need to re-roll by completely exiting the software and going through the process again.
If you're trying to get rid of a villager and you have a visitor at the campsite, I recommend immediately running to the site when you first load up the game. That way you won't lose any progress if you need to restart. If that process seems like too much work, your next-best bet is ignoring your future evictee completely. Don't speak to them unless they have a bubble over their head, which may indicate that they're thinking about moving (though sometimes bubbles over their head might mean they want to give you something). That's when you can enthusiastically encourage them to do so.
For a foolproof way to kick out a villager, you'll need to use an amiibo figure or card. Bring the amiibo villager to your campsite using the ABD Machine on three different days. Each time they visit, ask them to move to your island. On the third visit, they'll agree to move in and will ask who you'd like them to replace. Choose your least favorite NPC and the process will be complete. This method is how I successfully bid farewell to Rodney, my blue hamster archnemesis.
16. Visit With Visitors
Each day, there's a chance you'll have a special visitor. They'll either be hanging out in your plaza, wandering around your island, or passed out somewhere along the beach. Make sure to interact with them. You might get a new DIY recipe, a donation for your museum, some deco for your island, or a special opportunity to sell items like bugs and fish. Visitors can also help you plan out your daily activities; for instance, when Flick is around, I make sure to catch every bug I see so that I can sell them for 1.5 times the usual price.
17. Use a Real-Life App to Make Your Gameplay Better
If you're trying to chat with your friends, the in-game keyboard is tedious. Install the Nintendo Switch Online app on your real-life phone and you'll be able to type whatever you want to say using your device's keyboard. The text then appears above your character's head in-game. It can be cumbersome to use two different devices, but this is the best way I've found to speak with people without going crazy trying to navigate the Switch's virtual keyboard.
Note: To link the app to your game, you'll need to press the minus symbol on the game's loading screen and choose NookLink Settings.
18. Change Your Rivers and Cliffs
Eventually, you'll be able to use the Island Designer app to terraform your island. It lets you lay down paths, alter your rivers, and edit your cliffs. Let's say you want to build a bridge somewhere, but the river isn't suitable. You can open up the app and use the corresponding permit to reshape the waterway. These permits and designs are unlockable within the NookStop.
19. Make Your Town Tune Catchy
Want to use a certain song as your town tune, but not sure how to make it sound right? Check out this subreddit. If you can't find what you want, you can request that someone else help you out. You can also give this site a try.
20. Grow Hybrid Flowers
Your island's general store only sells a few types of flowers. Other islands may sell different types, or you can purchase those when Leif is in town. Hybrid flowers grow when certain types of flowers are blooming near one another, and you water them using a watering can.
There are all sorts of guides out there for growing specific kinds of hybrid flowers, but my best advice is to plant flowers of the same type near one another, with room around those flowers for more to grow. Then water them every day. The more flowers you plant, and the more you water them, the more likely you are to grow special hybrids.
21. Send Letters
Want to send a letter? Head to the airport and check out the card stand next to the main service counter. You can send a letter to a current resident, your future self, or a friend you've marked as a Best Friend in the NookPhone app. You can attach a present before sending the letter off—and if you want to wrap that present, be sure to do it beforehand with wrapping paper purchased from your island's general store. Sending a card costs 200 Bells.
22. How to Use Amiibo
If your favorite villager is proving elusive, you can use their Amiibo card or figurine to bring them to your island. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, finding Amiibo online is trickier than usual. You can try your local game store, but if you don't want to take the risk, your best bet is searching for the villager you want on eBay. Cards tend to be cheaper and easier to find than figures. We have a handy guide for shopping smartly on eBay that you should check out before getting started.
Once you have your Amiibo card, you can visit the NookStop, select Invite a Camper, and follow the on-screen instructions.
23. How to Acquire Coveted Items
Maybe you really want to finish that Cute furniture set, or you're struggling to grow the right hybrid flowers. Enter Nookazon, a massive DIY Amazon-style marketplace dedicated to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Run mainly through Discord, the site is full of users selling everything from fashion items to furniture. Exchange Bells for the goods you just have to have. Be ready to haggle, and read through the rules to ensure that your trades are safe. Check out this guide to getting started for more.
24. How to Capture Photos and Videos
You might already know that pressing the square button on the left Joy-Con will take a screenshot, but you can use the NookPhone Camera app to take some stylized shots. Traveling to Harvey's island via your airport also provides a great environment for staging photos. Additionally, if you're filming a TikTok or want to capture footage of you finally catching that elusive scorpion, you can long-press the square button to save a file of the last 30 seconds of gameplay.
Photos and videos are saved in your Nintendo Albums. There's no elegant solution for saving the photos, but you can link your Twitter and Facebook accounts to post them directly from the console. I edited my Facebook privacy settings to ensure that Nintendo Switch Share photos are only visible to me, so I can save them to my computer after sharing. The Albums software lets you share up to four photos at once if you opt to "Post Batch."
25. Avoid Getting Scammed by Redd
An update brought the nefarious trickster Jolly Redd to ACNH. He'll show up occasionally on his boat, parked at the private beach on the very back of your island, and he's got both art and furniture up for grabs. Be wary, though. During each visit, you'll only be able to buy one of the available pieces of art, and all of them but one are fakes. Blathers won't accept counterfeit paintings, so you need to be careful before committing to buy.
When you're in Redd's boat and checking out a piece of art, be sure to tell him that you want a closer look. This will shine a spotlight on the piece in question. You'll be able to zoom in to check out the details. Sometimes they're easy to spot—like a scowling Mona Lisa—but other times you'll need to look closely to spot any forgery details. To save time and Bells, I use this guide to tell whether or not a piece of art is genuine.
26. Customize Your Nintendo Switch
This isn't a gameplay tip, but if you can't nab the limited-edition Animal Crossing: New Horizons Nintendo Switch Console, you're in luck. Popular custom skin manufacturer Dbrand has nearly identical skins available that'll make your Switch console look like the real deal. A move Jolly Redd would be proud of, indeed.
For other ways to trick out your console, you can turn to Amazon for Animal Crossing Nintendo Switch accessories. I'm a fan of this adorable outdoor pattern skin, and these custom thumbgrips are another nice option. You don't need to drop several hundred dollars on a new console to show off your love for the island life.
27. How to Dive for Sea Creatures
A summer update added the ability to dive deep for sea creatures, including elusive scallops that you can then trade to Pascal for mermaid-themed DIY recipes and pearls (a necessary component of those recipes). To dive, you'll need a wet suit. You can get one from the general store or from the Nook Shopping ABD option. You can use your tools while wearing a wet suit, so feel free to put it on over your outfit.
To dive, empty your hands (and your pockets, if you want to save time). Then head to the shoreline and press A. You'll hop in the water. Press A repeatedly to swim around. (You don't need to press the button quickly to swim.) Once you spot bubbles, press Y to dive. You're looking for a shadow underwater. Swimming above the shadow will automatically make your character dive and catch the critter. You can hold your breath for only a few moments, so try to get close to the bubbles before you take the plunge. You'll fill up your Critterpedia, find some new donations for Blathers, and rack up the Bells—some of the underwater pals sell for up to 12,000 Bells a pop.
More Helpful Tips
I hope you learned something new with these tips. Check our guide on things you can do with your Nintendo Switch for more. We also have a roundup of the Best Nintendo Switch games if you're looking for something new to play, as well as a roundup of the Best Nintendo Switch accessories to make your gaming experience better. Have an Animal Crossing question this guide didn't answer? Tweet me and I'll do my best to help!