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Animal Crossing: New Horizons owners surprised to find island progress tied to first resident

Leaf it out.

By now, it should be common knowledge Animal Crossing: New Horizons only features one island per Nintendo Switch console. Multiple users can each have their own character, but all inhabit the same shared location.

This opens up the possibility of seeing your mutual home flourish when you're not around (other users can share the load when it comes to daily chores, for example, or leave messages and gifts for you to come back to).

But it also, as players are finding out, results in the situation of the first person who plays - who becomes the game's primary user - then being relied upon to keep the game progressing.

Decisions such as where to open and place buildings such as the island's Museum and Nook's Cranny shop are the work of the primary player, or "island representative".

That title is bestowed on the first person to play the game - which has led to reddit threads popping up warning players not to let siblings/partners/housemates/pets have a quick go first.

"This might not seem like a big deal, until your first resident happens to be your kid, who will grow tired of it after a month or two," one Eurogamer reader explained to me in an email. "[It seems like the] only workaround is to restart your whole island."

The Animal Crossing franchise has frequently kept to the formula of having a single player act as a settlement's primary resident - the mayor, or campsite manager. With the game's design formed around all players on a single console sharing a singular town, this limitation appears to be Nintendo's workaround.

There's plenty to celebrate in New Horizons, however - with players already putting on cosplay shows and finding devious ways to get rich quick.

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons

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Tom Phillips avatar

Tom Phillips


Tom is Eurogamer's Editor-in-Chief. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and makes sure we put the accent on Pokémon. Tom joined Eurogamer in 2010 following a stint running a Nintendo fansite, and still owns two GameCubes. He also still plays Pokémon Go every day.