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Animal Crossing: New Horizons: The beginner’s guide

by on March 20, 2020

Given the popularity of Nintendo Switch, it’s fair to say people are picking up exclusive titles in droves. Cult favourite series like Luigi’s Mansion are becoming best sellers on the new console, which means that Animal Crossing: New Horizons might well be your first-ever foray into the delightful, relaxed world of Nintendo’s second-life sim. And here’s the thing, that’s okay! You may be bemused, baffled even, by the game, and not be entirely sure what you should be doing with your time. You’ll likely have plenty of questions. Why does it run in real-time? How do I earn money? What’s this museum stuff? Just what should I be doing? All this and more can be answered below with our Animal Crossing: New Horizons beginner’s guide.

The economy: What are Bells and Miles?

A beginner's guide to Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Making money and the economy

The first point of our Animal Crossing: New Horizons beginner’s guide is all about currency. With New Horizons, there are now two of these in Animal Crossing. Returning “favourite” Bells is back, but you pay your initial debt with Miles and can buy lots of different things with them, too. Miles are awarded for “milestones” within the game. Made your first tool? That’ll likely get you a stamp and some Miles. Caught 10 fish without one getting away? Miles. Picked up and sold 50 weeds? Miles! As you progress through your time with the game, Nook Miles+ will be unlocked and these are repeatable mini-goals such as “cut down 3 trees”, “sell 5 fruit”, or “assess 3 fossils”. These are repeated ad-nauseam but are often given multipliers of 2x, and eventually 5x, so are a very quick and easy way to earn extra miles. Bells are the main currency, though, and are used to pay off your loans for increasing your house size, buying goods, and making public projects such as building new homes or adding bridges and inclines to your island.

Min/Max: Get the most out of day one and two

A beginner's guide to Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Get the most done early

If you’re looking to get ahead quickly in New Horizons, you should be looking to have paid your first loan off by day two. Doing so is quite simple, really, and is core to understanding how to move forwards in Animal Crossing, generally. Pick weeds, catch fish, chop wood: do anything and everything — clear your island out on day one and two, and you should easily have enough Miles to pay the 5000 Miles loan. Doing so will mean by day three you have a house instead of a tent.

Blathers & the Museum: a quick guide

How to unlock the museum, quick

On your first day on the Island, you should have at least a fishing rod and/or net. Using these tools will let you find insects, fish, and other animals. Go to the Residential Services tent and donate these to Tom Nook. After a while, he’ll tell you his friend Blathers wants to come and visit. A bit of chat and some freebies later, and you can put Blathers’ tent down. On day two, go and visit him to find out about the museum and learn some vital DIY recipes that can help you get him his 15 required donations in order to make the full museum.

Weed out the bad = profit!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons beginners guide: Even weeds net you coin

While it may not be the most interesting thing to do, clearing up your island’s weed-problem is easy, but time-consuming, yet also a very simple source of Miles and Bells early on. You’d be forgiven for thinking they’d be worthless, but even a simple stack of 50 weeds can yield 500 Bells, and on top of that you’ll be adding to your cumulative Miles awards. 50 weeds sold gets you some Miles, then 200, and so on. Simplicity is key, and there will be time to make your house look amazing later. Get bank, son! Later on, DIY recipes will require weeds, anyway, so it’s never a bad thing to pick them up rather than passing them by.

Rocks are very important, mine them!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons beginners guide: Find the money rock every day

Rocks seem like they’re just sat there doing nothing, right? But you can net tens of thousands of Bells from the money rock each day, and gain important crafting material in Iron, Steel, and Clay as well – even gold if you’re lucky! Each rock can throw out 8 resources. Think of the rock as a grid, 3×3, so 9 squares with the main rock as the middle one. Dig two holes diagonally behind you so you are “blocked in”, and start hitting the rock with your shovel. As you hit it, you’ll be pushed backwards and off-balance, but the pre-dug holes you made will keep you lined up so you can get the full reward of 8 items. Why is this important? Well, if you find a money rock (one that spits money out instead of rocks/iron/clay) the final one is the most expensive giving a bag of 8000 bells, so don’t ever forget those safety holes behind you!

Visit other islands regularly

A beginner's guide to Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Dodo Travel

While you can visit your friends to get some off-Island fruit which is worth more back home — and indeed you should, but always plant some so it grows on your island too! — you can also visit a randomly generated Island to discover solo. 2000 Nook Miles buys you a ticket you can use at the Dodo Airlines, and you should rinse this island completely dry because once you leave, it’s gone.

Go with your tools (though you can make tools and rent them there), but have as empty an inventory as you can manage. Pick up every weed, grab every fossil, shake every tree, grab the exotic off-Island fish, and just don’t go home until every single slot in your inventory is full. There are even cross-pollinated plants you can find on these islands, so don’t rush, and fill your pockets.

Talk to the residents daily, check their houses too

Social networking

New Horizons, like all previous Animal Crossing games, is a social game. Speak to your residents, give them gifts, be kind, and they’ll reward you. Check their houses regularly because after a few days of playing, almost every day you’ll find one of them crafting at a DIY bench. Speak to them and they’ll tell you what they’re building, then give you the recipe so you can craft it yourself. They will give you clothing, presents, and sometimes just plain old money in the form of Bells. Never forget to speak to them all, every day.

Understand there are daily limits

A beginner's guide to Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing isn’t a game that you can “do everything” in a day. If a shop needs building, it won’t get done while you’re watching it. Tom Nook will be very useful in the early days of New Horizons telling you fairly explicitly what to do. But there will be downtime. Complete your tasks and then allow the passage of time to happen in the real world. If you want to carry on, hit up the random-Islands, and clear out your own Island of goodies for the day.

That concludes our Animal Crossing: New Horizons beginner’s guide. If you’ve any specific questions, feel free to drop them in the comments below, and we’ll do our best to help you out. Welcome to the Island, you’ll never leave!