Animal Crossing New Horizons adds cooking and island design in major update and paid DLC


If you thought Animal Crossing: New Horizons was effectively dead lately, you’re not alone: The updates for the last six months were unhappy times even for those of us who’d stuck with the game long after the initial hype faded. There was a glimmer of hope when Nintendo casually mentioned and teased a certain beloved character’s return, though it felt like it would be more of a return to series normalcy than something new and different.

Well, today’s Animal Crossing Direct went far beyond our constant questioning for Brewster and Gyroids. There’s an update launching on November 5th, as well as paid DLC, Happy Home Paradise. It’s essentially an updated form of Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer within a main series game. And the free update? New Leaf fans should have much less to complain about, as this not only brings back nearly all of their favorite features but enhances even more.

The update seems to be a “who’s who” of missing release personalities, with Brewster obviously being the character many players had been missing from their island lives. The coffee serving owl will be in his own cafe in the museum, allowing players (and friends) to sit for a spell and share a cup. Players can also use the cafe’s phone to invite amiibo characters, some of which may bring additional islanders. No word on the barista part-time job returning though. Nintendo is releasing more amiibo cards on November 5th, though, if players feel like shelling out $5.99 for a random assortment of villagers.

Kapp’n the Kappa is back, ferrying players to new islands from your dock. He’ll take you to new islands with different weather, seasons, or times of day. The islands also have some new things, such as glowing flowers and climbable vines that the demo character packed into their bag. Yes, we can bring them to our island. The vines are super cool, but not totally unique, as we’ll also have the option to create permanent ladders to set on cliffside via a new DIY recipe from the Nookling boys.

Harv the photography dog’s island is getting a massive upgrade. Players will be able to pay for construction to allow other NPCs, such as Kicks the shoe vendor or Harriet the hairstylist (who will teach you new styles), to set up shop. Even Redd, the (fake) art salesfox can have a shop from the looks of it, and Katrina the fortune teller is bringing back daily fortunes.

Cyrus and Reese are back here too, allowing you to customize some furniture that you couldn’t previously customize (like the Lighthouse that previously forced players to trade in order to get the variant they wanted). Even KK Slider is getting an update, including a few new songs, but he’ll be sticking to your main island. Don’t worry, KK fans, as the old music box option is returning to the game!

For those of us looking to shed some COVID weight, the game’s also adding a minigame of daily stretches that can be done with motions controls (or just the regular controller buttons if you want). Good timing too, as villagers will want to hang out with you more, even coming over unannounced.

Ordinances make their return, allowing you to change up the general functions of your island. For example, “Early Bird” or “Night Owl” will change the hours NPCs are active to better fit your personal schedule. There was also a “Bell Boom” and “Beautiful Island” option, so there may be some catch up mechanics as well.

For my fellow hoarders, storage expansion is climbing up to 5,000 items, and you’re going to want it. Nook Miles will be redeemable for new items, such as new fences (some of which can be customized), and cooking is coming to the series. It’s essentially the DIY crafting system with new farming options (such as sugar cane and potatoes), but it does give players new decorating options. Or you can eat them like other foods, though naturally, a whole pizza is more filling than just eating an apple.

If this sounds like a lot, don’t worry. A new app, Island Life 101″ should help ease you (back) into things. And all that new decor? A new shed is coming that will connect to your personal storage. Set it up wherever you like so you can empty your pockets at will. Bells more of an issue? Set up an ABD (AC’s ATMs) so you don’t always have to go back to your town hall to make a deposit.

Speaking of decor, players will be able to get a “Pro Decorating License” to unlock ceiling decorations (such as lighting) and accent walls. It should go nicely with the new Pro Camera App, allowing the player to take pictures from first-person POV, which sounds like it can add a lot of immersion to the series. The new camera mode can also allow players to set up a tripod, helping to make more intimate photos.

As previously mentioned, gyroids are back, and with a vengeance. Now players will find a gyroid fragment, which needs to be planted and watered in order to become a full gyroid the next day. Yes, rain will mean more gyroids the next day, as has been the habit of all previous main-game entries since the start. Not only has Nintendo made new gyroids, but they’re also customizable.

And that’s just the free content. As mentioned, the DLC is essentially a new Happy Home Designer, a previous AC entry that focused entirely on decorating. Players will be filling out a new archipelago of characters who want vacation homes. Players will be granted unlimited decorating supplies to fill out the requests of their customers, who can also be main NPCs (such as Isabel) or their own island residents. Amiibo can be used to help pick who lives on the island as well.

In fact, you can pair some villagers up as roommates! Shippers, prepare to pair up your dreamies! Or, um, maybe get new ones, as we spotted at least one new villager, Shino the white deer. Players not only design island residents but the main work island as well, which can be utilized by the islanders. Yes, Ribbot can be working in the restaurant while Diva teaches, and they can come home at night to be with each other. Hardcore headcanons can play out in a much more official way now.

While HHD allowed for yard design, players get island design, including season, weather, and time of day. Inside, players will have new options added. Walls and pillars can be added, lighting color can be modified, background sound can be added, and you can even get some affects from polishing furniture. And the best part? All of these features can be used in your own home on your personal island! As usual, the mundane reality of life gets a new shine in Animal Crossing, even work.

Don’t worry though, as unlike another company, your strictly virtual job is both on-point for the series and gives good rewards. More designing unlocks more furniture to use, and good work pays off in Poki, a currency used to buy rare items you can take back home, including souvenirs, which seem to be key to getting your islanders to want vacation homes. In fact, after a certain amount of remodels, you’ll be allowed to remodel your islanders’ main homes! Much like HHD, you can share your designed islands online and follow your favorite designers.

Fortunately, $25 for the DLC is a much better price point than HHD‘s 3DS release, and the game is directly attached to a main series game. While we didn’t get Desert Island Escape, the 100% best Animal Crossing mini-game of all time, nor the old NES games, the amount of content is still staggering. We are well past the time frame that Brewster and gyroids would bring players back to the game, but for all this? There’s a reason Animal Crossing may be filling up your social media feed again.

Massively OP’s Andrew Ross is an admitted Pokemon geek and expert ARG-watcher. Nobody knows Niantic and Nintendo like he does! His Massively on the Go column covers Pokemon Go as well as other mobile MMOs and augmented reality titles!
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