Choose Your Island Layout & Hemisphere
One of the first things you’re going to have to do in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is choose the layout of your island.
Timmy and Tommy will give you four different layouts to choose from. Things like the river and building positions will vary between each of the four. There’s no right or wrong choice here, though, so just pick whichever one you’re happiest with.
After that, you’ll need to select what hemisphere your island is in. The north hemisphere will mean your island has more traditional seasons, so sunny hot summers and cold winters. Choosing the southern hemisphere will switch that so you’ll be having a toasty Christmas on the beach, just like Australia.
Again, this is a personal preference, but as someone who lives in the north hemisphere, I can’t imagine having a Christmas without snow!
Customize Your Character
It’s not just the look of your island you’ll have to choose during the opening stages of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. You’ll also need to customize your character.
You’ve got a ton more options to do so this time compared to past titles, with hair and skin color both things you can change, on top of all the hairstyles you can choose from, too.
Whether you’re wanting to make a lookalike avatar, or just get creative with your character customization, it’s completely possible.
Get Your Tent Set Up
So you’ve been dumped onto this mess of an island and… you have no home. Wonderful. Well, it turns out that the entrepreneurial raccoon that brought you here in the first place has a genius way of sorting you out.
That’s right, you’ll be able to live in a tent for a little while. It’s a necessary step in your Animal Crossing: New Horizons journey.
Fear not, though, as once you’ve been in it for just a night or two, you’ll be able to take on the bigger loan to get your house.
Clear Out Some Weeds
One thing you’re going to need to sort out when you first arrive is the state of the island. After all, this was a deserted island and it’s down to you to transform it into an island paradise.
The first thing we’d advise you doing is go about and pick up any weeds you immediately see. Not only does it help make your island look that bit more presentable and visually appealing, but you can also sell all the weeds you pick up to Timmy and Tommy.
Is it a lot of Bells? No, but it’s Bells all the same and every little helps during these opening stages. Plus, an island devoid of weeds is the perfect blank canvas for your wildest creations.
Get Used to the Nook Phone & Check Nook Miles Challenges
That capitalism-loving raccoon never stops, as he’s given you a Nook Phone to help you on your adventure. While it offers a ton of features such as the game’s Photo Mode, the map, and the ability to call up the rescue service, it also has the Nook Miles feature.
Opening up this option on your phone will allow you to check out the various challenges you can complete to earn Nook Miles. These can be spent on a ton of different rewards, such as visiting other nearby randomly-generated islands, getting new hairstyles or items, and more.
It’s good to get accustomed to the Nook Miles system sooner rather than later, as it’ll give you a ton more things you can unlock as you rack up more miles. Additionally, it ensures you’ve always got something to do in the game. If you’ve got one more challenge to catch five fish, you know you’re probably gonna go fishing.
Get ALL the Tools
Unfortunately, getting all the tools in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is just as drawn-out and slow as it has been in previous games. In fact, some might argue that it feels even slower, with you acquiring them over a number of days.
While it is possible to skip forward a few days and time travel to get through this rather slow start to New Horizons, there is something fun about unlocking them one by one.
It gives you time to master each one, to dabble in how you can use it. It’s something long-term fans could probably do without, but newcomers may well appreciate.
Still, your tools really do open up a ton of options for what you can do in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, so we really do suggest making obtaining these your top priority.
Once you have them all, you’ll be leaping over rivers fishing in them, hitting rocks with shovels, catching bugs, shooting down presents from the sky, and making waterfalls with your terrain-transforming skills.
Invite Your Friends Over… Get Them to Bring Fruit
There’s nothing better than enjoying island life than having a few friends around to keep you company. Whether they’re just here to check out how your island compares to theirs, or you’re all gonna take part in some games together, it’s just nice having friends around.
It’s worth noting that you won’t be able to invite friends to your island for the first 24 hours that you’re on the island. After that, it’s open permanently for all your multiplayer needs.
Now, before your friends even step foot into their island’s Airport, make sure that their inventory is stocked up with all that sweet, sweet foreign fruit.
We know, we sound a little insane here, but it’s the key to a money-making empire in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Plant all the foreign fruit that they bring, and each piece will turn into a tree. Give it time to grow, and that’ll sprout three of the fruit which will continue to regrow every time you harvest it.
Considering foreign fruit sells for 500 Bells each, that’s 1500 Bells per tree. If they bring you 10 pieces of fruit, and you return the favor, you’ve just helped each other make a near-consistent 15,000 Bells every couple days as long as they all grow.
Talk about magic money trees, foreign fruit is the way forward! Oh, and yeah, friends are fun, too.
Meet Your Two Neighbors
In previous Animal Crossing games, you’d find yourself moving into a bustling, albeit growing community. You’d have a fair few villagers walking around, doing their day-to-day chores, visiting shops, and generally going about life.
In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, things are a little different. As previously mentioned, this is more or less a deserted island and it’s down to you to seemingly stimulate the stagnant economy and get Tom Nook to pull his finger out and get to work.
Until then — it only takes a few days you’ll be pleased to know — you’ll only have a couple of neighbors to talk to. So you should get to know them. Figure out what kind of things they like, write them a letter, see if there are any chores you can help with. Just be a good neighbor!
Your animal neighbors are a huge part of the Animal Crossing experience, so speaking to them should be a key part of your daily AC routine.
Plan Out Future Improvements to Your Town
Just because you don’t have the tools and items to improve your town the way you want to right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning out future improvements now.
Want to make a waterfall in the cliff behind your house, earmark it for later. Got ideas for a little outdoor gym for you and all your pals? Go and find the perfect spot for it.
The ability to place furniture and customize the island however you want really does let you put your own take on island life and decorations. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by. Get planning now for a perfect island in the future.
Go Hit Some Rocks
While crafting materials makes hitting rocks and shaking trees more important in New Horizons than it has been in previous Animal Crossing games, there’s still another way we’d advise you do it.
Hitting rocks with your shovel or axe will see it drop some crafting materials like stone, clay or iron nuggets. If you’re really lucky though, you’ll find the rock that spits out increasing denominations of Bells out each time it’s hit.
It only does this for a short period of time, so you’ve got to be quick, but it’s well worth finding this rock every day. Hit it the optimal amount of times and you can be looking at upwards of 7,000 Bells.
Plus, hitting rocks every day helps ensure you’ll always have the crafting materials you need to make new tools or furniture.
Bonus: Take Some Photos to Remember Your Humble Beginnings
Your Nook Phone has a camera on it, and it seems like a crying shame, if you ask us, to not take a photo to remember your humble beginnings.
In a few months time, your island will likely have dramatically changed, unrecognizable from the weed-covered mess you first arrived on.
Snap a quick pic or two of your lowly tent, the deserted landscape, and maybe one of Tom Nook so you can keep it by your bed… or throw darts at. Depends how you feel about the crafty racoon. Don’t worry, we won’t judge.
What else would you recommend players do first in Animal Crossing: New Horizons? Let us know in the comments below.