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8 Best Animal Crossing: Tips on New Horizons, from Time Travel to Money Tree

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Tom Nook, Blathers and all the other islanders in your island community are celebrating all your major milestones. This is how you reach the milestones even faster.

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

Animal Crossing: New Horizons first arrived last week for Nintendo Switch ($ 300 on Best Buy) but the beloved gaming franchise is already topping the charts and winning the hearts and minds. The slow, anxiety-free island life simulator may just be the perfect antidote to the reality of self-quarantine during the coronavirus outbreak

But when you jump into Animal Crossing, a few nuggets of wisdom will go a long way toward leveling out the first few days. For those unfamiliar with the franchise, some direction can help you navigate a game with a little more structure than "gathering everything you see." So here are some tips and tricks for players of all kinds, whether Animal Crossing is already at home in your Switch or still on your horizon.

Travel back in time before moving forward

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

Time travel is a major theme in Animal Crossing, but a controversial theme. Because the game takes place in real time, you actually have to wait for a real day for buildings to be built and plants to grow. And Animal Crossing starts slowly . So if you suspect that you want a faster start, you should consider setting your Nintendo Switch watch 7-10 days back. That way, as you play, you may encounter it a day with a few hours to cover some of the early, slower development of the game faster.

By resetting the clock before you start rather than zooming forward afterwards, you give yourself the chance to come back in real time. That way you can pretend you've never cheated (and you don't have to have a beautiful watch forever).

Don't Relieve Paying Your Debts

David Priest / CNET Screenshot

Tom Nook, the wealthy business racer who finances your adventure and constantly persuades you to spend more money than you have, puts you in what feels like deep guilt on your first day. It takes some time to build up Nook Miles – a performance-based currency – early in the game, but work to earn them quickly and pay off the first debt ASAP. The faster you repay your first loan, the faster Tom will build you a home and, most importantly, give you the extra storage you need for everything you need to start collecting.

Catch all fish and bugs

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

The other thing you should do is catch every animal you see – which pretty much consists of fish and bugs. Watch the flowers for stink bugs and mantis, snap butterflies in the groves and shake trees and stones to find pills bugs and spiders. As soon as you create your first bug net and fishing rod, start handing your collected critters to Tom Nook. Sure, you can sell these creatures to Timmy and Tommy, the island's resident traders, but Tom Nook sends each unique discovery to his friend, Blathers the owl, who lives off the island.

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

Learn to crawl

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

Catching fish takes some practice, but I did not realize that I fell wrong until a few days into the game. Instead of rushing up and swinging the net wildly, you can crawl forward by holding down the A button when the net is in your hand. This will get you close enough to pick up a bug before they escape.

Always keep a net while shaking trees

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

During your first day or two on the island, when you run around shaking trees to get sticks (how else are you going to build that ax?) the wasps will sometimes fall from the branches. Find yourself on the wrong side of a stinger without medication and you walk away. However, once you build the fault network it is a good rule of thumb to always keep it while shaking trees. Not only can you catch vengeful wasps, but you can also keep spiders and other creepy crawlers that have come loose from their homes.

Plant lots of fruit (and even money)

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

Fruit trees are a great way to get income early in the game, and once you get a shovel, you plant a The pear or apple tree is super light and pays off quickly. Another semi-secret form of income: money trees!

Around the island, golden beams sometimes shine from the ground. Excavate them and you will find a bag of bells (the island's primary currency). Instead of putting on the bells and covering the hole, you can plant the bag to grow a money tree. If you choose the bells in your warehouse and hand out a bag of 10,000 bells, you can actually grow a tree that drops bags by 10,000 bells when it grows up. Get a grove of those who grow, and you'll be rich in no time.

Don't let Gulliver sleep in!

A few days into your island adventure you will notice a seagull that has been washed and slept on the beach. If you talk to him, he will mumble something comical and sink back into his sleep. Do not stop! Keep talking to him until he wakes up, and he'll give you a short mission to complete and a small reward to reap. And no, this is not the first time Gulliver serves your beaches.

Fruit gives you great powers

Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

If you eat fruit, you will notice a counter in the upper left corner of the screen. This indicator shows how many pieces of fruit you have eaten (up to ten), and for each you can perform a super performance, such as breaking a stone or digging up an entire tree. Digging up trees helps to make groves for easy picking, and when you visit other islands it helps to transplant new fruit trees home without having to wait for them to grow again. All that said, don't break the ROCKS! Actually…


Screenshot by David Priest / CNET

Iron, clay and stone are all useful resources early in the game, but they are difficult 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 think, "Let me eat some fruit and hit a rock. Then I'll get ALL the resources, right?" WRONG! When you break a rock, you get a single resource, and you have to wait for another rock to play elsewhere on the island (which, remember, takes real-time days). If you are not trying to clear space for something, do not break stones. Just not.

Craft is king (especially when you're on the go)

Craft tools and items from the debris that you discover around the island are a huge element early in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and you'll often want to stick around when I'm roaming far from home. If you always keep a workbench in your warehouse, you can just pick it down anywhere and get your craft on without the awkward hike back to your tent or house.

As you perform these tricks, Animal Crossing: New Horizons will really start to open up to you. Keep discovering and creating, keep chatting with your upper hand and above all, keep stressing while you do it.

Now you know how to get started on your island trip in Animal Crossing, check out some other tips for get the most out of your Nintendo Switch and the seven other games you need to play on the console.

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