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11 Things You Should Know Before Playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons

11 Mins read

If you got Animal Crossing: New Horizons for Christmas, or you recently purchased it, then you are in the right place, because in this article we’ll discuss the most important things you should know before you start playing the game.

There are a few different aspects of the game that we’ll discuss in this article, one of which includes actual game mechanics and then we’ll cover some decorating techniques and also just some useful things to know about the game. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

1. Choosing a map for your island

When you first start the new game in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you have to choose a map for your island. For this process it’s quite useful to know that even though you only get four to choose from at the time, there’s actually a lot more possibilities. What you can do if none of those are to your liking is you can just close the game and start fresh. Now, admittedly, you have to put your name in again and do your character customization but just know that there are many more possibilities to choose from, which is you should definitely know before playing the game.

There are also a few important things you should pay attention to when choosing a map because there is a couple of things on an island map that you cannot change later on. First of all, the location of your resident services or your airport location. They can be very much in the center. They can be off to the left or right, and the resin services can be either very close to the airport or further back into the land. Now, this is pretty much just depends on what you have planned for the island and kind of you are your own preferences, but this is definitely something to take into consideration

Another thing is the peninsula and the pier. They can be either on the left or the right hand side, and peninsula can have a lot of different shapes starting from a very narrow shape to such a wide peninsula that you can even place the entire house on top of which can be quite fun. For the pier there is usually like two different sizes. There is either a shorter or a longer one. Also, the secret beach location, which is that tiny little bit of beach at the back of your island can be very different and it can also be accessible from the starter map.

You can also change the entire flow of the river as well as the cliff. However, points where the river meets the ocean cannot be changed, and there is like three different options you have here. The river mouth can either be in the east and south, in the west and south, or they can both be in the south. Again, all of those are actually fine to work with. It just comes down to your preference and quite a good thing to know at the beginning.

2. Placing houses on the beach

Right from the start you have to start placing houses and structures on the beach, which include your own house and villager houses, Nooks, and the museum. One thing that you wish to know form the start is that it can be super handy to just put them on the beach. That doesn’t always work. Of course, sometimes the structures are too big, or the beach is just not wide enough, but this way when you start decorating and landscaping, they don’t block any of the land and they are out of the way for now, so you can then easily implement them. However, with the new 2.0 update moving houses is not as expensive anymore.

3. Villager hunting

The next thing is something about villager hunting. So let us quickly explain to you what that even means. At some point during the tutorial phase, you will get a so-called Nook Mile Ticket from Nook, with which you can go to the airport and then fly into the Nook Mile Islands. If you have an open plot on your island you can have up to 10 villagers. If you have an open plot you can meet villagers on those islands and invite them to live on your island and that essentially is called villager hunting. It’s a very big thing in the community. People do it for hundreds and hundreds of tickets.

One thing we really recommend, which many players don’t know right from the start, is to get wasps and furniture on every single island. So, take your Nook with you, and shake the trees because each island usually has one wasp and one furniture piece. We would recommend to collect the wasps and either put them in your house, storage, or also just put them down on your island and then wait for the NPC Flick to come along, because he will purchase all of your bugs for a lot more money than the Nooklings would.

For the furniture, just to put it on your island. There doesn’t need to be any structure with this and it doesn’t matter how weird it looks just put it down so that you can collect some points in order to get those three stars so you can unlock the landscaping and waterscaping features.

4. Campsite villager

Also, during the tutorial phase, you will have to craft a campsite which will then in the following days actually have a campsite villager. This first ever campsite villager can always only be a Smug. Keep that in mind, because we’ll discuss about villager personalities a bit later. It is important to remember that you have to take this villager. Don’t make the same mistake as most players and wait for a bunch of days for this villager to leave because unfortunately they won’t. The game wants to teach you how it works taking someone from the campsite, so you have to invite this person in. But, don’t worry, no matter how weird this villager is looking you can move them out later and find a cute one instead.

5. DIYs

It’s also worth mentioning DIYs. Essentially, you have to find and learn DIYs in order to build or craft certain items and furniture pieces that you can then use for decorating your island. There’s actually a lot of different ways how you can find the DIYs. First of all, over the course of the day you can find three different villagers crafting an item and if you go into their house and talk to them and they’ll give you the DIY recipe. You can also always find at least one message bottle on the beach containing a DIY.

If you go and fly to those Nook Mile Islands, a lot of those will also hold a message bottle, so keep an eye out for those. There’re also balloons flying over the island, which we definitely recommend to shoot down, especially seasonal items. And last but not least, with the 2.0 update, they also included the Captain Islands, which also always include a message bottle, so make sure to check all of those different locations so you can pick up as many DIYs as you can.

6. Villager personalities

Next up we have villager personalities. There are eight different personalities in the game. Four of them for female characters and for of them for male characters. The female ones are Normal, Sisterly, Peppy as well as Snooty and the male ones are Lazy, Cranky, Smug and Jock.

With the way the game starts you will always have six of those personalities already on your island because the two villagers that you start the game with will always be a Sisterly and a Jock. The first three that move in after you have to craft all those furniture pieces for will be Normal, Peppy and Lazy. And then the one from your campsite will always be a Smug villager. So only ones you still have to find are Snooty and Cranky villagers.

These personalities determine a couple of different things, starting with the dialogue that they have, so what they say to you, and what they say to each other, but also what reactions they teach you. There are certain reactions in the game that your villagers teach you depending on your friendship level with them. There are four basic reactions for each personality as well as a so-called Best Friend Reaction. In order to be able to get all of the different reactions in the game, you have to have all the personalities on your island. Plus, the different personalities also determine what type of recipes they’ll craft in their houses. So it definitely makes sense to have all of the different eight personalities on your island and befriend those villagers, because they are tied to all those things that you can unlock and collect.

7. Hobbies

On top of the different personalities that a villager can have there are also different hobbies. Hobbies are very important because they determine the type of activities that villager will do on your island. There are six different hobbies in total: Education, Fashion, Fitness, Music, Nature, and Play. With the Education hobby, villagers will actually go around and inspect artwork, bugs, fossils and other kinds of stuff and will also oftentimes sit underneath the tree and read a book.

The Fashion hobby will just kind of make them stroll around your island and with a fancy outfit and a pink bag. The Fitness hobby might be our least favorite, because villagers will oftentimes just stand around and work out, and more often than not they will have questionable outfits.

The Music hobby makes them stand around and sing and dance anywhere and everywhere. It’s absolutely adorable.

Villagers with the Nature hobby will chase butterflies, examine different flowers and trees and fossils while reading a book about those. They will also water your flowers more often than others. Last but not least, there is the Play hobby. With Play hobby villagers will actually do those adorable zoomies and just run around everywhere on your island, whereas villagers that don’t have the Play hobby can only run around in the Plaza.

8. Decorating techniques

Let’s talk about some decorating techniques. Let’s start with how to stunt a tree. So, as you might have already noticed, trees have four different growth stages. After you plant them, they grow into a small, young, medium and large tree, before they’re finally fully grown. If they all have enough space and you just let them be, they all grow to the maximum height.

Now for decorating, however, it can be quite nice to have trees at different stages and different heights, because, let’s say you have an entire forest, it can add a lot of depth and detail. You can easily achieve these different heights by stunting a tree. This works by planting a fruit sampling in any of the eight surrounding tiles. It can be directly in front or behind, it can be to the side or, of course, in a diagonal way. It just needs to be in one of those eight surrounding tiles and it can only be the five different fruit that grow on land, so coconuts do not count. You can only use apples, cherries, oranges, peaches and pears for this, but if you do succeed, you can travel as many days as you want and this tree will always stay in this growth stage.

Now let’s say a few things about the beach. The beach is kind of a piece of special land on your island, because not a lot of stuff grows on here. You can put all the different trees as a tiny little sapling on the beach, however, they won’t grow. This means you can put a bamboo sapling or cedar sapling, or any of those on the beach, but they won’t grow past the sapling stage, whereas coconut trees obviously will grow to any type of stage and you can also stunt those as previously described.

The same counts for any shrubs. You can put shrub saplings on the beach but they won’t actually grow into a bush. You can plan any type of flower. However, again, those won’t actually grow on the beach. So, if you go ahead and plant a flower bud, they will actually stay like that. You have to put them on the land and let them bloom, and then put them back on the beach. But this can also be super handy because even if you run through flowers or you plug flowers, they will stay exactly that way on the beach no matter how many days you travel. This can also be handy when it comes to decorating because you can use tons and tons of different types of greenery on the beach. It is also handy to just store your flowers on the beach and not have them breed and just completely clutter up your entire island.

Weeds, however, do grow normally on the beach. So, if you planted one, and you don’t have a lot of weeds on your island just yet, they can absolutely spawn a couple more and also grow to the highest kind of level. Please note also that you cannot put coconut trees on the regular land, but just on the grass.

9. Pathing & Custom Designs

Now let’s talk about custom designs and in-game pathing. Once you reach three stars and you’ve had that KK concert you can unlock the landscaping and waterscaping, as well as pathing licenses. Once you’ve done that you can place down the so-called in-game path. There is few different versions for this one, such as the dark, the light dirt, cobblestone, and all of that. It is good to know that you can also put custom designs on top of this in-game path. You can make custom designs by yourself, or if you have an internal online subscription, you can download them using either the creator code or the design code.

10. Nintendo Switch Online app

Lastly, there are free sources. First of all, let’s say a few things about the Nintendo Switch Online app which allows you to set up the so-called Nook Link from your starting screen. This app can be incredibly handy especially when you meet up with other people. This app allows you to use the keyboard as well as emotions right from your phone, which makes it so much easier than the features on the Nintendo’s Switch. You can check out the Cadillac that you have or the Island Newspaper that they added with the 2.0 update. Something we would recommend is to collect your Nook points every day because with those you can actually order in-game items You can also upload your island so that other people can visit it with the dream address. You can actually see how many people have visited your island which we think is just super interesting.

11. Web sources

Another app that will change your life even more is This should be available for the iOS as well as the Google Play store. The app includes the entire catalog of everything that you could have in Animal Crossing, including all the furniture pieces, all clothing, recipes, songs, all types of bugs, fish, sea creatures, fossils, anything that you can collect and find and get in the game. You can find entire lists of this in this app. It is great to just browse through and see what interests you and what you still have to get. But not only that, you can use this as your personal app because you can put in the villagers that currently live on your island, you can mark them off every single day after you talk to them, you can put in whether you collected all your fossils, or hit all the rocks. There is a visitor tracker, it also tells you your entire collection progress. If you catch a bug or something you can mark it as caught. Overall, it’s just a great app, and we strongly recommend to download this.

We should also mention the Animal Crossing Fandom. This is not an app, but an online page. It is incredibly helpful because it gives you all the different information about villagers, like their name what type of personality they have and what animal type they are. You can always click on these things and further explore, and you can also find out what their hobby.

You can also watch tons and tons of amazing YouTube videos out there that explain the mechanics of the game further and we would seriously recommend to get involved in different types of communities as well. This will keep your interest in the game, and engage with other people on Instagram, Twitter and stream communities like Twitch.


And that’s it. Here are all the most important things you should know before you start playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Make sure that you follow our tips and have lots of fun while playing the game. Here we provided you with a lot of information, so be sure to take this all slowly. We hope this guide was helpful to you. Feel free to post any comments if you have something to share with us!

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About author
Emma is an avid lover of cats, Japanese anime, deep existential works, and video games. She graduated with a master's degree in anthropology and occasionally writes articles for ViCadia.
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