How to Get Started in “Animal Crossing: New Horizons”

Are you new to the Animal Crossing series? Are you finding yourself behind when it comes to progression, while your friends are flaunting newly decorated homes? If you’re lost on what to do, here are a few ways to get started!

Getting Started on Your Island

Animal Crossing New Horizons Getting Started

Timmy and Tommy, two non-player characters (NPC) introduced when you first start the game, will help you set up your island. You’ll be prompted to create your character, choose a hemisphere that will impact the starting season in your game, and choose a randomly generated map. None of these selections matter beyond personal preference.

Animal Crossing New Horizons First Day

Once you make it to your island, you’ll meet two animal residents that will join you. Additionally, your island will have a random native fruit.

You’ll begin by placing your campsite as well as the campsite locations of your residents. Pick carefully because you won’t be able to make changes to this until later on in the game.

Once you’ve placed the tents, Tom Nook, the manager of the company running the in-game business, will ask for your help in finding resources to start a campfire—tree branches can be found lying on the ground and fruit can be shaken from the trees.

Once you turn these items in to Tom Nook, a little ceremony will begin, where you’ll be prompted to name the island. You’ll be crowned as the new Resident Representative of your new Island.

Animal Crossing New Horizons First Day

After a little celebration around the campfire, he recommends you take a nap in your tent. Once you wake up, the real game begins!

Once awake, Tom Nook will call from outside your tent and you’ll be prompted that real-time has begun on the island, meaning it will be daytime if it is currently daytime where you live.

After this, you’re pretty much free to do as you please, but to progress the game, there are several things you must do.

Earning Bells to Repay the Island Getaway Package Debt

Animal Crossing New Horizons Earning Bells

There will be several loans to pay to dear old Tom Nook as you progress through Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The first loan that you must repay is the Island Getaway Package.

To pay off your debt, you’ll need 49,800 Bells, or 5,000 Nook Miles. Bells are the Animal Crossing currency, and you’ll need a lot of them to do any upgrades in the game: your home, resident homes, decorative items, new recipes, etc. Nook Miles are explained in more detail below.

The easiest way to earn bells early in the game is selling fish and bugs that you catch to Timmy in the Resident Services tent. He’ll buy just about anything, including weeds and fruit on your island.

Work on Your Nook Miles

Animal Crossing New Horizons Nook Miles_2

As Tom Nook said at the beginning of your game, Nook Miles is an alternative currency used to upgrade the first installment of your house (er, tent) and to exchange for items in the Nook Stop kiosk such as furniture, a bigger inventory, and several DIY recipes.

Nook Miles is a currency that is new to the Animal Crossing series. Think of Nook Miles as a rewards program (located in your Nook Phone) that encourages you to progress through the game—there are several Nook Miles challenges to complete the longer you play.

You can shake trees to gather fruits, money, and rare furniture drops. You can sell weeds that you pick up to Timmy for bells, and when you’ve sold enough, you will earn Nook Miles.

After you turn in 5,000 Nook Miles to Tom Nook to settle your Island Getaway Package Debt, you will unlock the Nook Miles+ Club app on your Nook Phone. The Nook Miles+ Club app is an even bigger challenge and reward program that will generate five new tasks to be completed each day.

Animal Crossing New Horizons Nook Miles_3

You’ll receive new titles in your passport with each unlock, and a few points will be added to your total.

Also, by accessing the Nook Stop (ATM-like machine) daily, you will receive a free Nook Miles bonus. Be sure to click on the Nook Stop kiosk inside the Resident Services tent daily.

Increase Your Inventory Space

When you start your Animal Crossing: New Horizons adventure on the Nintendo Switch, you will have space in your pockets for 20 items. New Horizons introduces resources like stone, wood, and iron nuggets for making furniture and tools, and these crafting items quickly eat up inventory space.

By using the Nook Stop inside of the Resident Services tent, you can redeem inventory upgrades with Nook Miles. The first inventory expansion is called the Pocket Organization Guide and can be redeemed for 5,000 Nook Miles, allowing you to instantly receive 10 new slots in your inventory, bringing your total to 30.

There are several important items to purchase as you collect Nook Miles—we recommend picking up the Tool Ring, which provides a quicker way to alternate between tools. The Tool Ring costs 800 Nook Miles and is available after you become a member of the Nook Miles+ Club.

Learn DIY Recipes to Craft Items

Animal Crossing New Horizons DIY Recipes

At first, you will only have access to Tom Nook’s workbench, located in the Resident Services tent that Tom Nook set up. DIY Recipes can craft several tools used for chopping wood, collecting rocks, fishing, and more. Eventually, you can craft your own workbench to use outside of the Resident Services tent.

The DIY for Beginners recipe must be purchased to progress through the game. The DIY for Beginners recipe can be purchased with Nook Miles through the “Redeem Nook Miles” option at the Nook Stop kiosk inside the Resident Services Tent.

You can exchange Nook Miles for the DIY Advanced Crafting Recipe, too. This recipe will include more durable tool recipes that won’t break as easily as the flimsy tool recipes.

DIY recipes also turn up in the Message In A Bottle items that occasionally wash up on the beach.

Interact with Residents

Interacting with residents in "Animal Crossing: New Horizons"

Speaking to your residents every day is an important part of the Animal Crossing experience. Like any good neighbor, you’ll want to build a relationship with them, and in return, they might give you some free furniture and DIY Recipes.

Decorate Your Home

Animal Crossing New Horizons First Day

At the start of the game, you’ll be given a tent to live in, just like your furry residents. As time progresses, you’ll have more funds to upgrade from a tent to a house. Soon after you pay off your debt and choose to upgrade your home, the animal residents will follow suit.

The first expansion of your home will allow you to choose a roof color and the construction will be finished by the next morning. You will suddenly have a ton of space and a new storage feature to take advantage of. So, if you were throwing furniture items on your lawn to make space in your tent, now you can move them indoors and start decorating!

Timmy will sometimes have furniture items for sale, or you can start your collection by buying various furniture items in the Nook Stop, such as the Nook Inc. Wall, Nook Inc. Floor, and the Nook Inc. Rug.

You can also display items inside your home such as the free Nintendo Switch display that you receive in the mail on day two, clothing, and any fish or bugs that you catch.

The residents on your island will build their homes and begin decorating shortly after your home is built. It’s truly a magical experience to watch as they slowly fill their homes with new furniture. If you’re unsure how you want to decorate, you can drop in on them for ideas.

Expand Nook’s Cranny

Animal Crossing New Horizons Nook's Cranny

By purchasing and selling items to Timmy, you can encourage him to begin construction on the Nook Shop for your island.

This new shop, called Nook’s Cranny, will offer a wider range of furniture, clothes, and house decorations for sale that can be purchased with bells. Before it can be built, though, you’ll need to collect some building supplies.

Build the Museum

Animal Crossing New Horizons Blathers

When first starting out on your island, Tom Nook will ask that you bring him any fish or bugs that you find—this is how you unlock Blathers, the museum Curator.

After you hand over five species to Tom Nook, you’ll be asked to place a tent somewhere on the island for Blathers. The owl character will move in the next day.

When you first speak to Blathers, he will give you the Flimsy Shovel and Vaulting Pole recipes. The Vaulting Pole will propel your character across the river, unlocking more of your island to explore.

After he hands over the recipes, he will ask for 15 new donations to the museum: fish, bugs, and fossils. By turning in more donations, you will persuade him to build the museum.

Catching bugs and fish to fill up your museum is a huge part of Animal Crossing; plenty of players throw their fish and bug cages on the ground in preparation for his arrival.

Connect Online

Animal Crossing New Horizons Fruit

If you’re not connecting with friends in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you’re missing out on some important features.

Related: How to Connect With Friends in “Animal Crossing: New Horizons”

Connecting to players online opens up the new Best Friends List in your Nook Phone so that you can connect and chat with your friends whenever they’re online.

Depending upon what hemisphere your friend is on, there can be new fish and bugs for you to find. One of the goals in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is completing the Critterpedia—an encyclopedia detailing the time and season for every fish and bug that you’ve captured in the game.

To fill out the museum exhibits, you have to finish the Critterpedia. The Critterpedia is unlocked by presenting your first caught item to Tom Nook in the Resident Services tent. Just select the “I found a creature!” menu option.

In addition to collecting fish and bugs on a friend’s island, there are a total of six fruits to unlock in Animal Crossing: New Horizons on top of your native island fruit. To collect all six of these fruits, you must either use 2,000 Nook Miles to obtain a Nook Miles Ticket that will take you to a randomly generated island with fruit to collect, or you can travel to a friend’s island that has different fruit than your own.

Don’t Rush … Sit Back and Relax

The point of Animal Crossing is to take your time and smell the roses. Animal Crossing is a series that is designed to be played gradually over a long period of time—each day brings something new, and sometimes the best way forward is simply to anticipate tomorrow.

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