Animal Crossing tips: Our guide to getting started in New Horizons

The things to think - and not think about - as you settle into island life.

After what feels like an eternity - okay, it's only been eight years but we've been counting every day - a new Animal Crossing is upon us. And as our review explains, it's a pretty good one too.

Those first few days in Animal Crossing can be a bit bewildering - especially if you're new to this most eccentric of series - so here's a few handy Animal Crossing New Horizons tips to help you make the most of your first few days as an islander.

And, once you're fully settled on the island, check out our list of other guides at the end of this page - which includes various money making opportunities and material sources - and will be expanded upon in the days and weeks after release.

Don't fret too much about those first big decisions

New Horizons offers a much more flexible take on the Animal Crossing, and many elements are there to be crafted - and re-crafted - by you. So when you're picking out your first pitch for your home, don't worry if it's not perfect - soon enough you'll be able to relocate (for a small fee, of course).

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The same goes with big facilities, which can be relocated by simply talking to Tom Nook at Resident Services. Oh, and you don't even need to worry about your appearance - you can now change your features, or indeed your gender, at any point after you acquire or build a mirror.

And in this new Animal Crossing, I wouldn't even be bothered if your first island layout isn't quite how you want it. Terraforming is an option that won't come until you're quite some way into your new island life, but it does mean you can resculpture cliffs or reroute rivers with ease at some point down the line.

So there's no need to spend your first few hours with Animal Crossing: New Horizons worrying about getting things just right - there's plenty of room for adjustment here.

Double down on that inventory

Stuffing your pockets full of what you'll find around the island is your way to riches - and to paying off your loan and getting a bigger house - so you'll want your pockets to be as big as possible.

In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, your inventory is upgradeable, granting you access to greater storage space when you're out and about (it's also worth noting that your storage space at home is pretty much unlimited, so you'll always have somewhere to offload any excess items you may have).

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When it comes to your own personal storage, you'll want to head to the ATM machine in Resident Services where you'll be able to upgrade your inventory space. There are a couple of upgrades available, both paid for in Nook Miles - and it makes sense for this to be the first thing you spend your Nook Miles on, as bigger pockets means a bigger cashflow. It's all about bells, bells, bells.

Tool up!

You won't start Animal Crossing: New Horizons with everything you need, and some tasks will prove infuriatingly impossible over your first few days as you lack the resources or crafting items to make key tools.

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There's a way around that, though - if you go to the airport and head to a mystery island (something which is possible shortly after the tutorial), Wilbur will be waiting for you when you disembark and he'll have every tool you'll need available for purchase.

They're not free - and for repeated trips back you'll need a Nook Miles ticket too - but they are cheap, and a quick and easy way to get all the tools you need in your arsenal early on in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Start planing a fruit farm

There are plenty of ways to make money in Animal Crossing - selling shells, fish and bugs, playing the stalk market by picking up a batch on Sundays and then trying to spin a profit during the week, or even selling the 'hot item' in Nook's Cranny for a nice injection of cash - but early on it's wise to build a decent fruit farm.

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You'll only have one type of fruit to start with, though you can quickly attain more - either head to a mystery island where you should be able to pick up coconuts and another type of fruit, or visit other friend's islands to see what they have.

And when you've got a new and exotic fruit, don't sell it straight away! Instead plant it, and maybe even set up an orchard so that you've got a healthy source of cash ready to be picked and sold every few days.

It's a bit of forward planning that will pay dividends as you keep coming back to your Animal Crossing: New Horizons island.

Talk to other islanders!

It's easy to get lost in your routine, running around to find the four fossils that appear every day or trying to find that one rock that gives out bells every time you strike it with a shovel, but while you're running your errands don't forget to stop and chat to other villagers every once in a while!

If you're ever lost for something to do, speak to Tom Nook and he'll make it perfectly clear what's needed to progress further, or simply talk to other islanders as you come across them.

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They'll give you DIY designs, clothes and items to help you pretty up your island, all for nothing but a few seconds of your time. You might even end up becoming friendly with a few - and they might have a few surprises in store as they set you off on some challenges of their own.

Don't rush things

Animal Crossing games are designed to be played over weeks, months and years - and not to be binged over a weekend (although it's tempting to try). Sometimes the best way forward is to simply call it a day and see what tomorrow brings.

You can always, if you're really desperate, time skip so that you can access the bugs, fish and other items that are season specific and complete your collections.

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Or you could just sink into Animal Crossing's laidback vibe and watch the seasons unfold in-game as they unfold out your window - which is certainly our preferred way of playing the game.

Our other Animal Crossing: New Horizons guides

Looking for more help with Animal Crossing? These guides can help:

Getting started in New Horizons:

Tools and item storage in New Horizons:

Resources and materials in New Horizons:

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Fishing in New Horizons:

Bug catching in New Horizons:

Sea creatures in New Horizons:

New features to learn in New Horizons:

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Special island visitors and events in New Horizons:

Holiday events in Animal Crossing: New Horizons:

And familiar Animal Crossing staples:

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About the author

Martin Robinson

Martin Robinson

Features and Reviews Editor

Martin is Eurogamer's features and reviews editor. He has a Gradius 2 arcade board and likes to play racing games with special boots and gloves on.

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