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Animal Crossing: A Guide To Starting Your Island Fresh (Without Resetting)

Nintendo’s latest Animal Crossing title has given players more freedom than ever before when it comes to designing their villager’s town/island. Not only can furniture be placed outside for the first time in the series’ history, but almost the entire island itself can be shaped into whatever the player desires, whether it be plentiful rivers, towering mountains, or a massive city sprawl.

Many players who have spent their fair share of hours playing New Horizons have no doubt had the urge to change everything up and start over. Of course, resetting the game entirely comes at the cost of losing DIYs, items, villagers, and overall progress made, making it a big decision to consider.

That’s why some have taken on the job of redesigning their island completely, doing a big makeover while keeping their save file. If you’ve been considering doing an island overhaul, read on to find out where to start and some helpful tips to keep in mind.

Clear The Island

It’s hard to clean a room when there’s so much stuff cluttering the floor, right? The same goes for every building, item, and piece of greenery found on your island. Start by moving all your buildings to the beach to maximize the amount of space available for designing and terraforming. Having the space clear will help visualize how your final product will look like.

Clearing everything will take patience and time, but you can spend time doing research and planning while moving one building to the beach per day.

Store All Your Items

Items are thankfully much easier to move than buildings are, and can be tucked away in your house until needed again. However, you may find your home’s storage reaching capacity due to the influx of outside items.

If you have version 1.6 of the game or higher, consider talking to Tom Nook to upgrade your item storage capacity from 1,600 to 2,400, double the amount from before. This is especially helpful for those who love to collect every variant of furniture or clothing items.

Entrust Your Flowers To A Friend

You may have collected a lot of gorgeous flowers during your life on the island, including some rare hybrid flowers that took ages to breed. Unfortunately, flowers can’t be put in storage, creating a space problem that has two solutions (besides selling them.)

Flowers can be planted on the beach, where they won’t grow or breed at all in the sand, but your beach will be filled with buildings at this point. The second solution is to get the help of a friend and entrust them with your flowers until your island is ready to blossom again. It may require a few trips back and forth, but it saves a lot of headache in the long run.

Consider Your Vision

Maybe you have a great idea in mind already, or you just wanted to wipe the slate clean and work from there. Whatever the case, it’s good to take the time to consider what will fill the acres of your island, as well as what items, flora, colors, and paths you’ll use to do it.

You can browse other islands via Dream Suite, make a moodboard, or take inspiration from an existing place such as Paris or Middle Earth. The possibilities are endless, so take as much time as you need to come up with exactly what you want.

Use A Planning Program

Programs like these are a lifesaver when it comes to redesigning an entire island. Being able to see what something will look like without having to sacrifice time and bells in the game is undeniably helpful.

If you work better in 3D space, check out bubble wand’s Island Planner. For a 2D planner that features a top-down view, try Happy Island Designer. Remember, your planner doesn’t have to be perfect; a first draft never is.

Use Patterns/Paths To Plot Beforehand

Whether you crave symmetry or love a loose and natural feel, you’ll want everything to be in “right” place, especially since moving them can be such a pain. Add in cliffs and water and it only gets more difficult, especially since buildings and items have certain constraints about how close they can be to cliffs and water.

A great idea is to put down paths or custom design patterns on the area you want your buildings or trees to go, to make sure that don’t make any mistakes or run out of space in an area. After all, how frustrating is it to move a building, only to realize you’ve placed it one space off and have to wait to try again?

Practice Terraforming Before Attempting

Terraforming can be confusing and painstaking, but once you get the hang of it, it will feel like muscle memory. Knowing how to build double waterfalls and make curves in cliffs opens up a world of possibilities for creativity.

Remember that what fish you can catch depends on the bodies of water present on your island: some fish are only in clifftop rivers, where others are only in ponds. If you’re trying to catch every fish, make sure to include these rivers and ponds in your design.

Always bring a ladder with you, and don’t be afraid to call Resetti if you’re in a tight spot.

Have A Gathering Spot For Villagers

This one is great to consider for the long-term. Many residents will gather in the plaza of the Town Hall to do yoga, share drinks, or do other activities together. If you want villagers to interact with furniture and objects, however, they’ll have to be placed in other locations for them to enjoy.

It’s great to have a café or restaurant, but your joy may be dampened if no villagers ever visit. It’s good to consider making your areas villager-accessible to help the AI along. Villagers tend to favour open areas or easily accessible items, such as ones right outside their house or in wide-open spaces. They also love sitting under trees, no matter how many chairs or benches may be nearby!

Check Your Rating With Isabelle

If you’re hoping to get that coveted 5-star rating again (or for the first time), it’s good to check in with Isabelle to see if there are any elements your island may be missing (or overflowing with.) You may realize that your island is lacking something you forgot to consider in your original vision, such as certain trees, bushes, or fences.

Create What Makes You Happy

Ultimately, island ratings mean little in the grand scheme of things, especially if said rating gets in the way of your dream island. Forget the numbers, and forget what everyone else is doing: make an island that brings you joy to visit every time. You want a massive circus island? Start clowning around! Can’t decide between a creepypasta tribute or a fairytale kingdom? Combine the two, and you’ll have an island that is truly unique and special.

Animal Crossing is about living a life that you choose; each game starts with the player striking out on their own to find a new home. Life can’t always be the way we want it to, which makes simulation games like Animal Crossing so special: a home that’s all our own, neighbors that are friendly and funny, and a community that feels safe and welcoming. If you make your island your own, it’s sure to be spectacular.

Next: Animal Crossing: 10 Things To Do Once You’ve Perfected Your Island

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Hayley Mullen is a writer, composer, musician, and gamer from Toronto, Canada. A graduate of McMaster University, they worked as 93.3 CFMU’s Production Coordinator, as well as radio show host of Study Jams. Having played over 700 hours of Pokémon Emerald, they are a true lifetime fan of the series. Besides gaming, Hayley enjoys public speaking, poetry, and reading mystery novels.

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