Animal Crossing: New Horizons: Island redesign tips

Nintendo /

Looking to revamp your island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons?

Animal Crossing: New Horizons dropped March 20, 2020 (4 hours agooooo, I wanna be sedated [sorry]) and since then has received a bunch of cool updates and features that set it apart from other Animal Crossing games. But let’s say you’ve gone through all that. You’ve upgraded Nook’s Cranny; you’ve filled up your museum; you found all the fun new summer DIY recipes; you’ve gone through our extensive game guide and mastered all the subtle nuances of the game; and, most importantly, you (hopefully) did all this while still resisting the urge to time travel. I’m not dogging time travelers but if you skip around in time and are out of things to do in the game, you brought that on yourself. So, that brings us to the important question: Now what?

I had this problem very recently. Everything in my town was paid off. I caught all the bugs and fish for June. I had finished the fossil section of the museum and all I was waiting on was the occasional Redd visit or searching #AnimalCrossingTurnips on Twitter in my constant attempt to stay rich. But the game itself started feeling stale.

I took the solution to the game that psychologists will often you take with yourself, look within and make the changes you wanted. For that to work in this case, I needed to fix my entire island.

See, I liked my island, a lot. It had a lot of cool ideas but I noticed a problem, and it’s a problem a lot of islands have, there’s no overall theme. It’s just a weird showcase of random brainstorms the player had put together where there’s room. I decided to start fresh and fix everything and that involved one thing, a single theme.

Pick one theme

Decide what you want your island to look like.  I always loved the Cleveland college district. Big open walkways, sculptures and art advertising the museums everywhere, flower gardens and a very easy to navigate series of roads. I wanted that for my island.

So I added infrastructure and streets. The placement of my islanders, admittedly, is perfect. They were already at the far north of the island with their homes on a three tiered cliff perfectly lined up with their own yard. I didn’t need to move them so that’s where I started. I built the street starting there.

In downtown Cleveland, in the aforementioned college area, there’s a lot of places designed for residents to just sit and read. Communal libraries and benches. Things of that sort so I put that into my island.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Nintendo /

And if you look to the bottom right of that picture you’ll see the shadow of a dinosaur skeleton. That’s all from the next bit.

Repurpose items

Remember when I said that I liked how the college district has sculptures and stuff like that all over the place? Well, I remembered that, in anticipation of the return of dinosaur models, I have duplicates of almost every fossil in my storage.

I went to work placing them around my town in eye-catching ways. Giant dinosaurs peek out from behind stores, the Apatosaurus peeks out from over the town hall roof, and dinosaurs great you at the entrance to the island and it’s various parks. I made sure not to put them too close but close enough where it helps fill the large void the streets create giving everything a sense of scale.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Nintendo /

Have your islanders help

Technically your islanders never help. Sure, from time to time you’ll catch them watering a single flower or donating 32 bells towards your 220,000 bell bridge; but, they don’t really do much for you. That can change depending on your usage of interactive items, specifically instruments.

I found that if you place anything that plays music near an instrument in a public, shared spot, the villagers will occasionally walk up to the instrument and play along with the music. Not random notes either, that guitar will lay down a guitar track. So, scattered throughout my islands are little music centers (the one in the picture being my largest) where I’ll occasionally stop because I’ll see villagers putting on little performances.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Nintendo /

Make it easy for guests

One final thing to keep in mind when it comes to your layout is the navigation. Most islands are just a Tetris mess of little scenes. Getting from one end to the other feels like a low budget parkour set.

In addition to the massive streets and helpful indicators, I completely revamped my guest garden. Originally my guest garden was what everyone’s guest gardens are; a bunch of trees slapped together growing different fruit. I changed it.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Nintendo /

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Instead of just a grassy area I thought to myself, what if it was more like a cozy park stroll. I made the trees look more like they were growing out of well kept soil. I added red brick pathways and some lighting. I wanted to make even the most boring things, like picking fruit, to be an experience for the player.

And that’s something I realized can help keep the game fresh. We all have these giant spreadsheets of an island to work with and we do everything cell by cell. Make your island more interesting. It takes days to complete and, honestly, it’s incredibly fun to now invite people to my island and stare at my phone waiting for the excited Facebook reactions.

dark. Next. Animal Crossing: New Horizons: How to unlock the Island Designer app and terraforming

Want more like this? Need help with anything Animal Crossing? Hit up our amazing and ever-growing guide of Animal Crossing: New Horizons help!