18 best Animal Crossing: New Horizons tips for Nintendo Switch to learn now

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Tom Nook, Blathers and all the other denizens of your island community celebrate all your major milestones. Here’s how to get to those milestones even faster.

Screenshot by David Priest/CNET

Bunny Day is coming in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the wildly popular island life simulator for the Nintendo Switch. Yes, Animal Crossing’s analogue for Easter is arriving on April 12, and the next week and a half will basically be a giant egg hunt for most of us, adding to our existing obsessions with finding the rare fish, bugs and plants that populate the beloved franchise. It turns out unearthing colorful eggs is sort of the perfect antidote to the realities of social distancing and quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic — especially if you do it online with friends.

Along with the eggs, I’ve dug up a few nuggets of wisdom to make the game smoother and more rewarding as you build your life on the island, and I’ve added more each day as I’ve explored. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, a little direction can help you navigate the game so you’re not just collecting everything you see — there’s more structure than meets the eye. 

So here are a few tips and tricks for players of all kinds, whether you’re already hard at work finding eggs for Zipper T. Bunny or buying the game is still on your personal horizon. I’ll update this post as more tips come along.

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Maximize your time in Animal Crossing: New Horizons


Travel back in time before you move forward

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Time travel is a major topic of conversation in the Animal Crossing community, and it’s a controversial one. Since the game takes place in real time, you actually have to wait a real day for buildings to get built and plants to grow. And Animal Crossing: New Horizons starts slow. So if you suspect you’ll want a quicker start, consider setting your Nintendo Switch’s clock back seven to 10 days. That way, as you play, you can bump it up a day every few hours to cover some of the early, slower-developing portions of the game more quickly.

By setting the clock back before you start rather than zooming forward afterward, you also give yourself the chance to get back on real time. That way you can pretend you never cheated (and you don’t have to have a wonky clock forevermore).

Don’t put off paying your debts

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Tom Nook, the wealthy businessraccoon funding your adventure and constantly pressuring you to spend more money than you have, puts you in what feels like deep debt on your first day. It takes a little time to build up Nook Miles — an achievement-based currency — early in the game, but work to earn them quickly and pay off that first debt ASAP. The faster you pay back your first loan, the faster Tom will build you a home and, most crucially, give you the extra storage you need for everything you’re about to start collecting.

Find every type of fruit

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The first fruit you find on your island — I found pears — sells for 100 bells a piece. But as you get more “foreign” fruit, you can sell it for as much as 500 bells each. The problem is, finding those pesky fruit trees can be a challenge, even if you spend all your Nook Miles traveling to other islands in pursuit.

Since every player starts with different fruit on their island, though, one of the easiest ways to get all six types of trees growing at home is by sharing. If you have friends playing the game, you can travel to their island. If not, you can always look on Reddit for strangers sharing public codes so you can get a few new fruits to grow. And remember, if you don’t have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, you can always get a 7-day free trial to find what you need, then cancel before you get charged.

Collect all six types of eggs

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On April 1, you might have been surprised (or creeped out) by the yellow bunny hopping outside your house in Animal Crossing. He asks players to search out six types of eggs, which are scattered across the island. Those eggs can be a little tough to hunt down, but we’ve got you covered. Here are the six types of eggs and how to find them:

  • Earth Eggs: Dig up cracked patches of ground, like the ones where you find fossils.
  • Leaf Eggs: Shake the pink trees with eggs in their branches.
  • Stone Eggs: Strike rocks around the island as you would when searching for iron or clay.
  • Wood Eggs: Chop trees with your ax.
  • Sky Eggs: Shoot down the rainbow colored balloons with your slingshot.
  • Water Eggs: Go fishing!

Invite new townspeople to your island

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There are hundreds of potential villagers — all with their own personalities and unique design — who can move to your island, but your little swatch of land can only accommodate 10 at a time. As you build the barren island of the beginning of the game, hand-picking your cohabitants adds richness to your personal utopia.

To attract the first three townspeople, just buy Nook Miles Tickets to other islands from the Nook Stop machine in Resident Services. The first three islands you visit will feature a character excited to join your community. But once you’ve welcomed the first three newbies, Tom Nook will ask you to build a campsite, where tourists will stay for one day at a time. Invite campers, and they’ll also move to your island.

As a bonus, you can buy collectible Amiibo figurines or cards of your favorite Nintendo characters online, and they allow you to invite unique villagers with special attributes to your island. As those who have used Amiibo in other Nintendo games know, they’re not essential for the core game, but they add small elements to further personalize your experience, and sometimes even cross over characters between Nintendo properties.

Plant plenty of fruit (and even money)

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Fruit trees are a great way to get income early in the game, and once you get a shovel, planting a pear or apple tree is easy and pays off quickly. Another semisecret form of income: money trees! 

Around the island, golden beams occasionally shine up from the ground. Dig them up and you’ll find a bag of bells (the island’s primary currency). Instead of pocketing the bells and covering the hole, you can plant the bag to grow a money tree. In fact, if you select the bells in your inventory and portion out a bag of 10,000, you can grow a tree that drops bags of 10,000 bells when it grows up. Be careful, though. I’ve tested planting as many as 50,000 bells at a time, and the return is still only three bags of 10,000.

Take advantage of special visitors

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Within the first few days of your island adventure, you’ll likely come across a unique visitor — such as Gulliver, the sea gull asleep on the beach, or Wisp, the easily frightened ghost. Each of these visitors will teach you something, sell you something or send you on a short mission. These missions will earn you unique item rewards.

My personal favorite visitor so far is C.J., a beaver-blogger who loves to fish. He’ll ask you to catch special fish for him, order fish decorations for you (from another unique visitor) and pay you extra for any fish you sell him. In a single day with C.J., I ordered a handful of fish decorations to hang on my walls and made nearly 60,000 bells just angling. It was a good day.

Play the Stalk Market (once it’s worth the time)

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Playing the Stalk Market is a pretty reliable way to increase your weekly revenue. You can buy turnips on Sundays from Daisy Mae for prices that usually hover around 100 bells. For the rest of the week, you can check in the morning and the afternoon at the Nook’s Cranny store to see the rates for turnips. The goal is to buy low and sell high.

A few important notes: Turnips rot after a week, so you can’t just hoard them waiting for a giant payday. And checking prices twice a day takes time, so you probably don’t want to start investing in turnips until the time is worth the payoff. I don’t invest unless I have at least 50,000 bells. Then, even a small rise in prices can lead to a significant return. And I’ve seen reports of selling prices up to 600 bells.

Organize your island

While you’re settling into island life, you’ll start developing a daily routine: exploring, collecting and building. But your routine can be much easier — and require fewer trips back and forth from your house to store what you find — if you organize efficiently from the start. The easiest way to do this is by planting your fruit trees in clear-cut orchards. You can even label those orchards with custom signs, made using the design app on your Nook Phone, as one reader pointed out in the comments below. Once you organize, harvesting fruit in the mornings will be quick and profitable, and you can spend all the saved time exploring, fishing and collecting shells like you really want to.

Use a stone ax, not an iron one

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If we’ve learned anything over the past few millennia, it’s that iron cuts down trees better than stone does, right? Well, in Animal Crossing, you might not actually want to cut down your trees; you might just want wood, soft wood or hard wood for crafting. Luckily, the stone ax extracts those types of wood without chopping down the tree.

Make and use fish bait

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As you go for long, peaceful walks on the beach, you might notice little jets of water spraying up from the sand. When you see them, get out your shovel and dig! Manila clams are hiding under the sand, and you can craft them into fish bait. When you’re angling for rare fish, you can use that bait to give yourself better odds, luring in more fish in specific spots like mountain streams and at the end of the pier.

Catch all the fish and bugs

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Another early tip: catch every animal you see — which pretty much consists of fish and bugs. Keep an eye on flowers for stinkbugs and mantises, snag butterflies in the groves and shake trees and rocks to find pill bugs and spiders. Here’s how my colleague caught the elusive stringfish.

As soon as you craft your first bug net and fishing pole, start handing over your collected critters to Tom Nook. Sure, you could sell these creatures to Timmy and Tommy, the island’s resident traders, but Tom Nook will send each unique discovery to his friend Blathers the owl, who lives off-island.

Long story short, after enough donations, Blathers the owl will come build a museum on the island and set you on to a much larger collection project, opening up the game considerably. 

Learn to creep

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Catching fish takes a little practice, but I didn’t realize I was catching bugs wrong until a few days into the game. Instead of rushing up and swinging the net wildly, you can creep forward by holding down the A button when the net is in hand. As you approach, some bugs — such as tarantulas and mantises — will take a defensive stance. Wait a few moments for them to calm down, then keep creeping forward. This will get you close enough to snatch up a bug before it even tries to escape.

Always hold a net while you’re shaking trees

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During your first day or two on the island, when you’re running around shaking trees to get sticks (how else are you going to build that ax?), wasp nests will occasionally fall from the branches. Find yourself on the wrong side of a stinger without medicine and you’ll pass out. Once you build the bug net, though, it’s a good rule of thumb to always hold it while you’re shaking trees. Not only can you catch vengeful wasps, but you can also snag spiders and other creepy-crawlers dislodged from their homes overhead.

Fruit gives you superpowers

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If you eat fruit, you’ll notice a counter in the upper left corner of the screen. This indicator shows how many pieces of fruit you’ve eaten (up to 10), and for each one, you can perform a super feat, such as breaking a stone or digging up a full tree. Digging up trees helps make groves easy to pick, and when you visit other islands, it helps transplant new fruit trees without having to wait for them to regrow. All that said, DO NOT BREAK ROCKS! In fact…


Screenshot by David Priest/CNET

Iron, clay and stone are all useful resources early in the game, but they’re hard to come by. When you hit a rock with an ax or shovel, it spits out one of these three resources. But you only get a handful. “So,” you’re thinking, “let me eat some fruit and hit a rock. Then I’ll get ALL the resources, right?” WRONG! When you break a rock, you will get a single resource, and you’ll have to wait for another rock to spawn elsewhere on the island (which, remember, takes real-time days). The two exceptions are if you’re trying to make space for another construction, or if you’re destroying rocks to get them to spawn closer to your home for easier harvesting.

Keep your eye on the sky

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At night, shooting stars will occasionally flash across the sky. If you look up and catch sight of one, you can press the A button to wish upon it. Wishing on stars makes star fragments wash onto the beach the following day, which can help you craft unique items, like wands.

Shooting stars seem to move in packs, so if you see one in the sky, keep looking up for a few seconds — you might get another handful of free wishes. In addition, on nights when Blathers’ sister Celeste visits the island, more meteor showers than usual will take place.

Crafting is king (especially on the go)

Crafting tools and items out of the refuse you discover around the island is a huge element early in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and you’ll often want to craft while you’re roaming far from home. If you keep a workbench in your inventory at all times, you can just plop it down anywhere and get your craft on without the inconvenient trek back to your tent or house.

Once you put these tricks into action, Animal Crossing: New Horizons will truly begin to open up to you. Keep discovering and crafting, keep chatting with your island friends and most of all, keep destressing while you do it.

Now that you know how to jump-start your island getaway in Animal Crossing, check out some other tips for getting the most out of your Nintendo Switch and the seven other Switch games you need to play.

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