Tips for the Newbie Islander
The cute islanders and rolling green hills of Animal Crossing: New Horizons could not have been released at a better time. Being a newbie to the franchise myself, this game posed a great way to pass the time in quarantine. As I learned the basic tools and stared paying off my first house loan (strange thing to say, I know right?), there were a few things that I found to be helpful during the first couple weeks of gameplay.
Progression and Unlocking Items
Similar to other open-concept games, Animal Crossing: New Horizons encourages the player to progress through the game by completing tasks and unlocking items. At the start of the game, Tom Nook gives you the starter recipes to create your own flimsy fishing pole and net 🎣 From here, it is up to you to complete tasks provided by the villagers to gain the core starting equipment. Items can also be unlocked by discovering bottled messages on the shore or purchasing the recipes from Timmy Nook.
This game has an intuitive narrative system for multiple players on the same island. Instead of both players needing to go through the same quests, if one person has already completed the task to unlock an item–the other players can simply purchase the recipe from Timmy Nook. However, if there is more than one player living on the island and one person plays significantly more than the other, this may cause a bit of a challenge.
The players’ progression relies heavily on the activity of the main player who initially created the island. Due to this, certain items and opportunities can only be unlocked by the main player. Unfortunately, this creates a type of barrier for other island residents and can hinder them from progressing farther into the game. For example, I ran into this problem when trying to figure out how to unlock the flimsy axe. After doing a bit of research, I found out that the flimsy axe must be unlocked by the player who first started the game (which unfortunately was not me). This is definitely something to think about if you share a Nintendo Switch with your friend or significant other.
Being new to the Animal Crossing franchise, I was absolutely ecstatic when the in-game weather changed with the actual weather outside my window. This brings the possibility of finding different insects and fish depending on the weather or time of year. This facet of the game definitely shows the great amount of influence that Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing had on Stardew Valley.
GameWith provides a good look at the effects of different seasons, times of day, and weather changes. For example, flowers do not need to be watered when it rains and the weather/time changes the types of insects you can find. So make sure to switch-up your play times once in awhile to get the full experience of the game.
Another tip would be to take full advantage of the seasonal activities. One of the most recent seasonal activities started on May 1st. Up until May 7th, players are able to take advantage of a free ticket to a specific island–compliments of Tom Nook. With this ticket you could visit a special island with a unique challenge and opportunity to earn some bells 💰
Beware the Wasps
As you go about your daily gathering of sticks and stones, once in a while you might shake a tree the wrong way. Cut scene to your poor character running around from one side of the island to the other with a swarm of wasps at their tail. One of the biggest aspects of gathering that stumped me for the longest time was how to dodge these swarms of angry wasps 🐝
During the first week of playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I could not figure out how to defeat these little dastardly insects. However, after perusing Polygon, I found that the best way to defeat this angry swarm of wasps is to catch them with your net as soon as possible. While you go about your daily gathering, try to keep your net equipped as you go around shakin’ trees. Then, as soon as the wasp nest falls, catch the swarm with your net. Polygon recommends running and then catching them, but I personally prefer catching them before they move. Your little cute character will thank you in the long run.
Importance of Dialogue
After playing games that have journals or quest guides to provide direction, I was left a little lost at the beginning of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. A lot of my problems normally involved “How do I do this?” or “What do I do now?”. This feeling of confusion was due to the importance of reading the NPC dialogue and my failure to do so in the beginning.
While many games have a log of quests or things to do, Animal Crossing does not. But, this is in no way a bad thing. As a matter of fact, it prompts you to become invested and knowledgeable of the conversations you have with fellow NPC islanders. For any island newbies, I would definitely recommend taking the time to read the dialogue, or else you may find yourself running around in circles and resorting to online guides for additional help/direction.
Redeeming Nook Miles
One of the first perks that is unlocked at the beginning of the game is the Nook Miles incentive. Nook Miles are earned by completing the goals provided in your Nook Miles app. These goals include paying off your first house loan, picking weeds, gathering wood, or catching fish. After the Nook Miles shop is unlocked, a bunch of new hairstyles, tools, and activities become available.
Out of everything in the Nook Miles shop, I would recommend purchasing the Pretty Good Tools Recipes, Pocket Organization, and Tool Ring–roughly in that order first. These are all items/gameplay luxuries that will help you progress through the starting stages of the game. But, there are plenty of Nook Miles to go around, so don’t feel limited as to what you can purchase with your hard-earned Nook Miles. Nook Miles tickets are also great to purchase whenever you can.
Planting Flowers and Trees
Planting flowers and trees in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is an absolute joy. I was especially excited to hear that side-by-side flowers have a chance of cross-pollinating and creating hybrid flowers. GameWith covers the art of planting both flowers and trees pretty well. Not only will rain water your plants for you, but fruit can also be planted to grow fruit trees. And–you can plant money trees 🌳
One of the more interesting things about planting is that not everything can grow in the sand. Being extra, I decided to place my house on the beach. Ocean views 24/7–what could be better? Well, a couple days into the game I tried to plant a few flowers in the sand next to my little house. I was left puzzled because they never seemed to grow past seedlings. But, relocating them to a more grassy area seemed to fix the problem. Alternatively, palm trees can only grow in sand and need to be planted in a hole.
That’s a Wrap!
There you are–6 tips for the newbie islander. Of course, this only covers the beginning portion of the game, but the beginning is often the most important. I hope these tips will help all you gamers out there as you create virtual towns and communities in the world of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. This game is definitely a great distraction from the chaos and is great for anyone who prefers to play for small amounts of time throughout the day. If there are other tips or tricks that you found helpful while playing, feel free to comment and share!