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How to prepare for Animal Crossing: New Horizons 2.0 update

Put on your weeding gloves

colorful animal characters cheer on a player character who is dancing with stars around him Image: Nintendo EDP/Nintendo
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

A major update for Animal Crossing: New Horizons is scheduled for Nov. 5, 2021 — and if you haven’t already returned to your island in anticipation of the launch, now’s the time. With so much new content arriving on our shores, there’s probably some work you’ll want to do before it washes up.

Though New Horizons’ popularity initially after launch was unprecedented — and stayed that way for months — people did eventually move on to other things. For some of us, it’s been more than a year since we’ve last checked in on our islands. The place is overgrown with weeds. Flowers are spilling over into walkways. No one’s thought to pick up the sticks. There are cockroaches in my home. But, personally, it’s more than that. I got a little chaotic in my last months before I signed off. I tightly packed all my villagers’ houses into a small corner of the island, and turned a fourth of the place into a giant yellow flower field. It’s beautiful, yes. But do I have enough space to create a farm in which I grow and cook my own food? Absolutely not.

You may not have an extremely large yellow flower field on your island, but chances are that you’ve used up a lot of your space. With the new update, I’m going to have to renovate — and you might have to consider it, too.

Reacquaint yourself with your island

Animal Crossing characters doing yoga and other calisthenic exercises in the game Image: Nintendo EDP/Nintendo

The best place to start is to familiarize yourself with your island again. Look at your map, but also walk your shores and take in the space you’re created. Appreciate the hard work you’ve put into creating your island oasis before you tear that shit to the ground.

(Just … kidding?)

For me, I used this time to reflect on what I needed to do. Though I remembered my villager neighborhood being isolated, it’s actually right in front of the airport dock. That’s bad. It’s closed off on a small piece of land with the Resident Services building, before rogue flowers spawning from the massive field start overtaking portions of land. The museum, soon to be a social hub for my villagers, is tucked back on a far-off, upper portion of my island. Though it’s impeccably landscaped over there with its stunning courtyard — save the weeds — it’s very far back from all the action from the Resident Services plaza. Simply put, it’s a pain in the ass to reach.

But the main part of my island is this: Without noticing it, I somehow managed to stuff all my buildings into one half of the island. And the other half is effectively empty, except for the massive yellow flower field and my own island home. My initial thought was that I would have to flatten my island to the ground and work from there. But after my walkthrough, I realized I had a lot of open space I could focus on, and complete the island rework in steps, rather than in one nightmarish frenzy.

But you might just have a single plot of land you want to clear for a new farming area or a new section of your island to display all that delicious new food. Regardless of what your problem area is, make note of it, so you can make a plan.

Make a plan and enact it

Make a map of your island, whether that’s on paper or using a digital tool like Happy Island Designer. (I prefer the digital version, since it’s so easy to tweak.) There, you can recreate your current island setup and your dream island setup, and use those two maps to plan out exactly how to move forward.

Creating the steps from there will be easy (or hard), based on your needs. Though there is a large portion of the community renovating their entire islands, I think it’s more likely that people will be clearing space for farms. For some, that might mean moving a home or two. For others, that could be cutting down trees and pulling up weeds and flowers.

Once an area is clear, you could just go ahead and leave the parcel of land empty until the new update rolls around in November. But, if you’re a planner like me, you’ll probably want to start getting the layout right. You can use custom designs on the ground to create garden rows, like you would for pumpkins, and maybe a fence and some signs to decorate the area. If that’s the case, you’ll just have to tweak some things before jumping right into your farm on Nov. 5. There are reasons to wait, though: The new log fence will be perfect for gating off gardens.

This is what I mean:

Plots are all set up and ready to go!

Another easy thing you could do is to clean up decorations you might have put up for some other holiday. Is the last time you played during Bunny Day? Get that out of here! You can celebrate fall by putting up pumpkins and other seasonal decor.

If you’re flattening your island to the ground, godspeed. I’m suffering in the dullness of pulling up my field of yellow flowers.

Clear your dock

One easy way to spruce up your island is to clear your dock for Kapp’n. The dude’s making his way on Nov. 5, and he might enjoy a cozy little spot of his own.

Load up on Nook Miles and other materials

Look: Chances are that you don’t have a shortage of Nook Miles. But if you do, you’re going to want to start stocking up.

Nook Miles have always been useful, but there are a bunch of extremely cool furniture items — like carnival stuff — added to the Nook Miles catalog. But more importantly, Kapp’n’s boat tours will cost 1,000 Nook Miles each round. As a new feature, it’s something you’ll want to explore a lot. Don’t let your Nook Miles stop you.

You’ll also need to use Nook Miles to buy the DIY Recipes+ stuff to get cooking. What I’m saying is, Nook Miles are typically flowing, but you want to make sure you’ve got a lot. There are a lot of ways to get Nook Miles, but the easiest is by hitting the milestones on your rewards card — stuff like placing fences, amassing fruit trees, and catching fish all award Nook Miles.

While you’re at it, make sure to gather some extra materials so you’re able to craft the new DIY items in-game. Using your tools, too, will help getting the golden tools, which awards a ton of Nook Miles.

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