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Island layout selection — Animal Crossing: New Horizons guide

Which layout should you go with?

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A selection screen of four different island layouts appear, each with different rivers and cliffs Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon
Julia Lee (she/her) is a guides producer, writing guides for games like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and Genshin Impact. She helped launch the Rift Herald in 2016.

Choosing your your island’s layout is the first step you have to complete in Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the Switch. Timmy and Tommy Nook will present you with four options, but if you don’t like them, you can close out your game, reload it, and try again to find something you like better.

Because the game does have a terraforming tool, choosing your island doesn’t matter much in the long run — but you won’t be able to change your island for several days. This means you should pick something you’re happy with at the beginning.

In this New Horizons guide, we’ll show what to consider when selecting your island.

How to choose a good island

When picking your island out, pay attention to where the rivers and cliffs are. Unlike previous Animal Crossing games, New Horizons has higher cliffs. You’ll be able to access all of these high areas once you get a Vaulting Pole and a Ladder, but you’ll eventually build bridges and ramps to climb cliffs and cross rivers. Adding tons of bridges and ramps can be expensive, though, so keep that in mind.

You cannot move where your Resident Services building is, so make sure you like the placement of it on your island. It will always get placed in a relatively centered spot, so just keep in mind how much space is around it. If you want it to eventually be in the center of your shops or villager homes, it’ll need enough space around it to put other buildings.

Some fish, like carp and tadpole, can only be caught in ponds. Make sure your island has a small body of water (that isn’t a river) so you don’t have to miss out on these fish.

Your airport can also be different colors, and based on our experience, it doesn’t seem that you can change the color. You can get red, green, yellow, and blue airports, but if you’re picky about your island’s colors, reset to get the airport color you want.

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