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How you've been playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons all wrong

So, you've had enough of city life and have decided to invest in the Nook Inc. Deserted Island Getaway package. Now, you can escape to a tropical island and craft your own version of paradise. But no one ever said starting a new life on a previously uninhabited island was going to be easy; far from it. Though you may be able to get by on your lonesome, why rough it when you could stock up on some tips and tricks for the newest installment of the Animal Crossing series?

Animal Crossing: New Horizons hits all of the familiar series notes, keeping the same relaxed tone of previous games but with plenty of new additions to keep the concept feeling fresh. Instead of living in a pre-built town where your primary worry is customizing your home, New Horizons, thrusts you into the role of your island's Resident Representative. In this position, you get to work with Tom Nook to grow your island into a thriving community. 

With so many important decisions about island development resting on your shoulders, it's easy to make a few missteps along the way. With that in mind, here are the most common mistakes players make in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, along with tips on how to turn it all around.

Walking around with a small pocket size

A key part of any Animal Crossing game is collecting items so you can upgrade tools or craft furniture, and New Horizons is no different. With this in mind, your inventory space is going to be very limited and highly valuable. When you first start out, you might find that all of the weed pulling, tree shaking, and bug catching is taking up quite a bit of pocket space. 

Having to continually juggle inventory and make trips back and forth to sell excess items or drop off donations can quickly become a chore. Instead of making a million unnecessary trips and packing your house with tons of unsightly raw materials, make sure you save up for the pocket upgrade. For the low cost of only 5,000 Nook Miles, you can upgrade your bag space to hold 30 slots of inventory. With that much pocket space, you should be able to complete daily tasks with ease. 

One of the other notable benefits can be seen when going to a new island with your Nook Miles Ticket. Suddenly, plundering each island for all of its natural beauty is a lot more feasible. Yet another upgrade is available later on in the game, which will end up giving you a total of 40 inventory slots. This ultimate pocket upgrade will set you back 8,000 miles though, so you may need to start saving up after you get the first upgrade.

Keeping your flimsy tools and never upgrading them

While developing and improving your lovely new home, you're going to need a wide variety of tools. From chopping wood to catching insects for the museum, your tools are going to see a lot of use. Unfortunately, the first tools you're able to build are inevitably going to break after a few uses. Though you can keep rebuilding your flimsy tools, you're going to want to get your hands on the Pretty Good Tools Recipes sooner than later to avoid repeated trips to the DIY Station. 

After saving up enough Nook Miles, the Pretty Good Tools Recipes can be bought from the Automatic Bell Dispenser for 3,000 Nook Miles. With this recipe, you will now be able to upgrade to some of the most useful tools, including the shovel, fishing rod, axe, watering can, and shovel. While these upgraded tools require more materials to craft and will eventually break after extended use, it's ultimately worth it to avoid running back to the DIY Station every few minutes to rebuild yet another broken tool.

Swapping tools without the Tool Ring

One of the more annoying aspects of New Horizons is switching between tools. When you first begin your island adventure, switching between tools is one of the worst aspects of the game. To do this, you have to open up your pockets each time you want to swap your equipped item. This system becomes particularly irritating when you need to switch out tools quickly. Luckily, you won't have to deal with this cumbersome tool selection process for very long. 

Something you'll want to invest in quickly is the Tool Ring, a reward that can be bought from the Nook Stop terminal for 800 Nook Miles. After purchasing the Tool Ring, you can push up on the Joy Con's D-pad to bring up a menu that makes switching between tools much faster. Alternatively, you can cycle between your many tools using the D-pad until you find the specific tool you need. Considering how often you'll likely be switching between tools, as well as this feature's low cost, this is a must-have for players looking to minimize even the most minor of annoyances.

Not racking up Nook Miles

In New Horizons, the Nook Miles system serves as a rewards program where you can accumulate points by completing challenges such as catching fish, finishing DIY projects, and so forth. The importance of Nook Miles is evident from the beginning of the game when Tom Nook informs you that you can pay off your initial move-in fees with Nook Miles instead of bells. Nook Miles can also be redeemed at the Nook Stop at Member Services for increasingly valuable rewards, so every possible Nook Mile is important for players who want to get ahead. 

After upgrading to a house, you will be enrolled in the Nook Miles+ program. The Miles+ program allows you to complete an infinite amount of tasks to earn Nook Miles. Each day, a set of five tasks will feature double the Nook Miles as a reward, so you want to be sure to take advantage of these bonuses. But that's not the only way to get extra Nook Miles on a daily basis.

Once per day, visiting the Nook Stop will yield a small amount of free Nook Miles. While the first day's reward of 50 miles may not seem like much, visiting the Nook Stop for seven days in a row will net you 1,130 Nook Miles total. After reaching the seventh day, the reward hits its upper limit, giving you 300 miles each day afterward.

Not performing this set of daily tasks

If New Horizons is your first foray into the Animal Crossing series, you may find yourself wondering what exactly you should be doing. In general, Animal Crossing is about doing whatever you want at whatever pace you want, but if you find yourself in a position where you don't know what to do next, you can always find Tom Nook and ask for some advice on how to best use your time. 

However, there are some daily tasks that you can perform that will help you build the most productive routine. Notably, talking to villagers, looking for message bottles on the beaches, hitting rocks for ore, claiming your daily Nook Miles at the Resident Services terminal, completing your daily Nook+ Miles tasks, checking the stores for exciting new items, and checking for glowing spots on the ground. Finding the time to do these tasks may seem daunting, but these are some of the best ways to get the most out of every day on your new island home.

Neglecting your villagers

When you first move to your deserted island, only you and a pair of villagers will be taking up residence in the previously uninhabited area. Though you could have a great time living out life as a lone wolf fishing, planting flowers, and capturing native bugs, if you neglect your island's other inhabitants then you are missing out on the benefits that come along with being a good neighbor. 

Talking with neighbors is one of the best ways to get new DIY recipes and can even result in receiving items like furniture or clothing. After consistently talking to the other inhabitants on your home island, you will become friends. This allows you to give a gift to another villager, and they may give you a gift in return. By avoiding the other residents, you miss out on a ton of DIY recipes, valuable resources, and cool decorations and clothing items. So, if you want to complete your collection with less of a hassle, be sure to spend some time making friends with your fellow island dwellers.

Staying on your island

Home is where the heart is, but if you want to find new fruit, exotic flowers, and even recruit some new villagers, you're going to want to get your hands on a Nook Miles Ticket so you can fly to a randomly generated island. 

Visiting islands allows you to gather an abundance of resources you can bring back to your own island. In many cases, this is a good way to stock up on materials to help you progress in developing your island, especially if you've tapped out your island's resources for the day. If you're lucky, you may even come across rarer spawns like foreign fruit trees or hybrid flowers.

Another benefit of visiting these randomly-generated islands is running into a new villager. You're guaranteed to have one villager on each island you visit, and if you talk to them twice, you'll have the option to invite them to live on your island as a permanent resident.

Selling leftover crafting materials

After a long day of shaking trees, swinging axes, and hitting every rock in sight, you may be tempted to empty your inventory at Nook's Cranny. That way, you don't have to carry around all those branches, logs, or clay pieces, and you even get a few bells for your troubles. Don't give into temptation. Instead, store some of these valuable building materials for later.

During your first week on the island, you'll gather a large assortment of branches, rocks, wood, and other natural resources that may seem like junk, but they actually serve as essential crafting resources. As you progress in the game, you'll collect dozens of DIY recipes from a laundry list of activities like shooting down balloons, talking to villagers, and finding message bottles on the beach. The catch? You need a ton of materials to use these recipes.

New Horizons requires players to spend a lot of time and resources crafting, especially since tools break rather quickly. To save yourself from having to constantly seek out more iron, hardwood, or bamboo, create a cache in your home for when you need to craft a specific piece of furniture or your tools inevitably break. With this strategy, you'll only need to make a quick trip home to create a replacement.

Using the Nook's Cranny Drop-Off Box under any circumstances

Because New Horizons syncs with your local time, selling items can be a bit of a pain after 10 p.m. Nook's Cranny has a dedicated Drop-Off Box where you can sell your wares after hours; however, you pay a considerable price for convenience. if you sell through the Drop-Off Box, there's a 20% handling fee.

With debts still left to pay, why would you even consider settling for anything less than the full price of your hard-won loot? If you're playing past closing time and have items you want to sell, forgo the Drop-Off Box and simply hang onto your haul until Nook's Cranny opens for business the next day. This way you won't have to settle for only 80% profit.

If inventory space is an issue, you can stack items outside of Nook's Cranny or inside of your home, freeing up your pockets for fresh new hauls to sell in the morning. You owe it to yourself to get the full value of what you're selling.

Running from aggressive bugs

Sometimes shaking trees can yield unexpected consequences: a swarm of angry wasps that will sting your villager in the face. A successful attack will leave your villager with an eye swollen shut, an unpleasant aesthetic that will be remarked upon by other villagers until the negative effects wear off or you craft some medicine. 

Though the angry wasps are a heart-attack-inducing occurrence when they first appear, instead of panicking, a safer and more lucrative approach is to catch them with your net. A good way to avoid being taken by surprise is to come prepared when shaking trees. Have your net equipped so you're ready to catch the wasps as soon as you see the wasp's nest drop. When the nest hits the ground, simply use your net to capture the wasps.

Surprisingly, wasps aren't the only insects in New Horizons that pose a threat. At night, arachnids like tarantulas and scorpions can spawn on the island. Unlike the usual bugs, they need to be handled carefully, or else they will rush you and potentially knock you out. 

If you stumble upon one of the dangerous creatures, you should slowly approach it, but completely stop moving when it rears up and begins to shake aggressively. When it calms down, you can start creeping again. Repeat the process until you are close enough to capture it, and let your trusty net do its thing. Just make sure you don't miss.

Pocketing the money you dig up instead of planting it

When walking around your island, you may have noticed a strange glowing spot on the ground. If you use your shovel and dig up this spot, you'll be rewarded with 1,000 bells. While players may be tempted to pocket the prize and move on, if you're looking for a smart investment, you'll want to put some money back in the ground.

These bright, glowing spots indicate a space where a money tree can sprout. Essentially, the bells you plant in the glowing hole will triple in value once the tree matures. So, if you plant 10,000 bells here, you will get a return of 30,000 bells. Before filling in the hole, bring up your inventory and select up to 10,000 bells. An option asking how many bells you want to withdraw will pop up on the screen. Select your desired amount and the bells will be moved into your inventory. Now, bury your bells the hole and fill it with your shovel. A little sprout will appear, confirming that everything was done correctly, and soon your villager will be rolling in bells!

Not taking advantage of foreign fruit

Right off the bat, collecting fruit is a surefire way to make island living just a little bit easier. Each island starts with its own native fruit you can either eat, plant for more fruit trees, or sell for 100 bells. However, before you sell your island's collection of native fruit, see if you can visit a friend's island with your fruit harvest in tow using the game's multiplayer modes. Selling your native fruit on another player's island will bump up the value to 500 bells so long as their island started out with a different fruit. 

While you can certainly decide to run an island of just cherries or peaches, you'll probably want to introduce foreign fruit into your island's ecosystem so you can rake in more bells. To accomplish this, you'll want to find many friends with a variety of fruit types so you can plant new fruit trees on your island. Another option is to buy a Nook Miles Ticket and explore one of the randomly generated islands for a chance at finding one of the varieties of fruit trees you don't have already.

Discounting the benefits of fish bait

Fishing is a pretty straightforward task: Simply find a silhouette in a body of water, toss your line, and wait for a bite. However, sometimes you might find yourself wanting to fish where there isn't a fish visibly swimming around. That's where fish bait comes in.

To make fish bait, you're going to need to dig up some Manila Clams. These happy little mollusks can be found along the shores of your island by digging in the spots where water seems to squirt out of the sand. Take your freshly excavated clams to a crafting table, and you'll be able to make some bait. 

You can scatter the bait in any body of water to make a fish appear instantly. This is particularly useful if you're hunting for a specific type of fish that only spawns in a certain location, so you can continue to trigger new fish in one spot without having to wait for a shadow to generate in the water.

Only selling bugs and fish to Timmy and Tommy Nook

A good way to quickly obtain bells is to simply head outside with your net or fishing rod and catch some of the local wildlife available on your island. After filling your pockets full of buzzing bugs and slippery fish, your first instinct may be to head straight over to Timmy and Tommy Nook with your most valuable catches. Not so fast! If you're looking to make the most out of that hard-to-catch sturgeon or tarantula, you'll want to wait for C.J. and Flick to come to your island. 

Flick and C.J. are new characters in the Animal Crossing series, and both are very welcome additions. When they visit your island, you can sell bugs to Flick and fish to C.J. for 1.5x more bells than the usual price. Additionally, if you bring Flick three of the same bug species or C.J. three of the same fish species, you will receive a sculpture of your catch to place in your home or around your island.

Forgetting to decorate or tidy up your island

While home decorating can be quite addicting, it's important not to neglect your island's aesthetic as well. Eventually, Resident Services will upgrade from a dinky tent into a state-of-the-art operation at the center of town. Then Tom Nook will task you with building a campsite to attract more villagers to the island. When that's done, your island can be evaluated by Isabelle for ratings. By talking to Isabelle, she will tell reveal your island's rating out of five stars and what you can do to improve the evaluation.This mainly includes sprucing up your island's look by placing decorations, fences, planting flowers, trees, and so forth around the town. 

Once your island reaches three stars, K.K. Slider will come to your island, which then unlocks one of the more exciting tools in the game: The Island Designer app. So if you want to have the creative freedom to alter your island's core foundations, you're going to have to first put in the work for a solid rating.

At first glance, your island may seem a bit bare-bones and overrun with trees and weeds, which can make the rating system feel like a huge challenge. However, with the power of the DIY kit, a bit of landscaping, and a few decorations tastefully placed around town, you can turn your desolate island around in no time at all!

Watching shooting stars go by

In New Horizons, shooting stars are more than just set-dressing for the night sky, and wishing on one can land you a whimsical tool. If you witness a Meteor Shower at night, make sure you have your tools unequipped. Then, as you see a light passing across the sky, press the A button and your villager will make a wish. The next day, look around the beaches of your island, and you will find Star Fragments scattered along the shore.

While your first impulse may be to sell your newly obtained Star Fragments, you're going to want to hang on to them to use as crating materials for later. Wait until you run into Celeste, a friendly owl who will occasionally appear in your town at night. Once you introduce yourself, she'll give you a DIY recipe for a Magic Wand, a new tool introduced in New Horizons that can be crafted using three Star Fragments and one Large Star Fragment. With the Magic Wand, you can instantly change your clothing without having to go home to your closet.

Choosing the debt free life

In New Horizons, you start out with a cramped tent, a few essentials, and that's about it. The good news is, your first house upgrade isn't too far off, but first, you'll have to pay Tom Nook for that snazzy tent set-up.

Once you've given Tom Nook your first payment, you can look into getting your first home upgrade. If you speak to him again, he'll inform you that for the cost of 98,000 Bells, you can move out of your tent and into an actual home. Now, the price may be off-putting at first, but the home upgrade comes with some handy benefits, most notably 80 slots of extra storage space. You will also be able to start customizing your space with wallpaper, flooring, and more decorations, so if you're looking for a bit more creative flair, you'll want to upgrade sooner rather than later. 

Once you've decided to upgrade, there is no pressure from Tom Nook to make payments. You won't need to worry about paying your debt off in a hurry unless you want to upgrade your home again, which you won't be able to do until your prior project is fully paid off. When you are ready to make a payment, you just head over to the Nook Stop and deposit bells into the ABD. With all this in mind, don't think too hard about taking Tom Nook up on his offer to upgrade your home.

Messing with time travel too much

Though Animal Crossing games were intended to be played little by little every day, some players prefer instant gratification. Time traveling has been a staple in the Animal Crossing community since the series' inception. While there is nothing inherently wrong with how you choose to get the most enjoyment out of your game, there are some notable consequences for players that travel too far in time. If you alter the time settings drastically, your villager will emerge from their house with bed head, but the consequences only grow from there.

For example, if you jump too far ahead or back in time at all, your precious turnips may go bad, robbing you of any potential profit and spoiling your investment. Considering how valuable turnips are in New Horizons, you need to be mindful of the turnips you bought each week before you time travel and plan accordingly.

However, while losing bells is certainly not fun, a more significant concern is making your neighbors unhappy and destroying your island's ranking. If you jump too far into the future, your island will become overrun with weeds, and even worse, you may notice some of your villagers have vacated the island. If you're trying to net yourself a five-star ranking, this is a big deal, as some of the criteria involves keeping your island at full capacity.

Missing seasonal events and holiday celebrations

Animal Crossing takes place in real-time, so you'll want to pay attention to all the seasonal events and holiday celebrations like Bunny Day or Nature Day that pop up. Not only do these occasions add extra dialogue and special characters, they include new activities and exclusive DIY recipes. Remain vigilant, as many of these items require materials only found during the corresponding LTE. 

In addition to annual events, competitions also occur with a little less pomp and circumstance. For example, both the Fishing Tournament and the Bug Off take place multiple times throughout the year. During these contests, you'll receive points for catching fish or bugs that you can exchange for a variety of exclusive rewards. 

The only other way to get the items, DIY recipes, and contest rewards is as a gift from a generous friend or buying them from another player on Nookazon. Unless you want to pay millions of bells for a rare DIY recipe or part with some Nook Miles Tickets, you'd best mark your calendar and keep track of important dates.

Talking to your friends without the Nintendo Switch Online app

Communicating with your friends on the Nintendo Switch is a bit awkward. Voice communication remains unavailable, and bringing up a keyboard can interrupt a gameplay session or result in awkward pauses while you type out phrases. 

In New Horizons, players can talk to each other using the NookLink app. However, using your Joy-Cons to shift between letters can make even simple phrases a pain, especially if you're experiencing some Joy-Con drift. Luckily, players have another option beyond the standard in-game NookLink to send messages to their friends.

Using the Nintendo Switch Online app, New Horizons players can access the NookLink app and send messages to a Switch directly from their phones. While it requires an additional download, the mobile app is much quicker and more efficient than the console's in-game keyboard. The NookLink app on mobile is also currently the only way to initiate a voice call with another player, so if you want to skip typing all-together, be sure to give the Nintendo Switch Online app a try.

Sticking with the default flowers

If you want to fill your island with a specific type of flower, you're probably going to have to find other players to trade seeds or buds with. Even after you manage to collect every flower available, you'll probably notice there are a ton of color combinations still missing. You'll have to take things a step further if you want to complete your collection.

By hybridizing your flowers, you can get an array of colors that will surely add to the ambiance of your island. Your flowers have to be next to each other, and flowers will only create hybrids with flowers of the same species. Additionally, if you're looking for a specific color, you'll probably want to refer to a chart. Placing colors next to each other at random likely will not give you the best results. 

There are a ton of small things to keep in mind when creating hybrids, but the payoff is worth it in the end. In addition to freshening up the aesthetic of your island, you might just attract valuable bugs. Peacock butterflies, for example, prefer hybrid flowers.

Ignoring the hard-working Sable

As you go about your day-to-day activities, you may notice that Mabel, a cute little blue hedgehog, has set up her clothing stall in your town square. After meeting a few requirements, Mabel will permanently move into town with her sister, Sable, and the Able Sisters tailor shop will open its doors. With the addition of the Able Sisters shop, your villager will now have access to tons of new clothing and accessories to try on at your leisure. 

Though the shop is named after both siblings, most players will interact primarily with Mabel since she is the sister you have to speak with to buy clothes. Meanwhile, Sable, the more introverted of the two, will toil away on her sewing machine in the corner.

While it may not seem important to talk to the shy hedgehog at first, you'll want to befriend Sable if you're interested in further customization options for your DIY creations. If you spend some time talking to Sable every day, she'll eventually open up to you, and then offer to sew you a variety of exclusive custom patterns for your furniture that are sure to liven up your home creations. 

Building expensive bridges and inclines before terraforming

The urge to place bridges and inclines around your island is tempting, especially given how often you have to use your ladder and vaulting pole. After you upgrade Resident Services to a building, new infrastructure like bridges and inclines become available for purchase. However, infrastructure doesn't come cheap, and once you pick a designated spot to place your new project, you won't have an option to relocate later. Before handing over more bells to Tom Nook, you should think carefully about your decision. 

It's probably best to wait until you get your hands on the Island Designer app and have an idea of how you want to terraform your island and organize your buildings before you commit to permanent infrastructure. This way, if you decide to create or destroy any cliffs or bodies of water, you won't have wasted so much money on bridges and inclines that you no longer need. If you really want a spiffy bridge or mountain incline before you have access to terraforming, consider picking one of the cheaper options on the off chance you need to tear it down later.