Animal Crossing: New Horizons Needs These 21 Quality-of-Life Changes

Published: Thursday, April 30, 2020 - 11:05 | By: Robert N. Adams
Developer
Nintendo
Publisher
Nintendo
Release Date
March 20, 2020
Multiplayer modes
Local, Online
Platforms
Nintendo Switch
Monetization
One Time Purchase
Purchase (Some links may be affiliated)
Amazon Nintendo eShop
Tons of Tiny Problems

After more than 200 hours, I've come to the conclusion that there are some Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life changes that are badly needed. While this is generally a pretty great casual game, there are little things here or there that just annoy the heck out of me and my friends.

Worst of all, many of these troublesome issues could be fixed with some very tiny changes. I don't want Bells to fall from the sky, but it would be nice if portions of the game were a wee bit less... aggravating.

 
 

Here are the 21 Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life changes I'd love to see added to the game!


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Island Sharing

Sharing Islands and Cloud Storage

I'm gonna start my big ol' list of Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life fixes with a heavy hitter: sharing islands and cloud storage.

I had to get the digital version of New Horizons thanks to my local gaming store temporarily closing down. The entire game with all of its assets is a few gigabytes at most, and I would bet that your actual island data takes up a very small portion of that.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the exact kind of game that makes paying for Nintendo Switch Online's cloud storage worth it. However big an island might be, surely Nintendo could afford to allow us to safely store them as a backup?

Moreover, why are we restricted to one island per console? In terms of file size, there is absolutely no reason that they couldn't make an option for multiple islands. My understanding is that previous games tended to be on handheld consoles that were only used by one person at a time, but that's not the case with the Nintendo Switch. One island per console just doesn't fit for a family game system, and removing this limitation is one of the improvements that Nintendo needs to focus on the most.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Crafting Multiple

Crafting Multiple Items (and Using Your Storage)

If you love fishing, you'll surely hit a point where you want to craft Fish Bait. This is one of the more obvious Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life issues that most players experience.

 

First, you have to dig up a Manila Clam and listen to that same silly pun every. Single. Time. Then, you need to actually craft the Fish Bait, which entails the following:

  1. Put the Manila Clam(s) in your inventory.
  2. Go to the workbench and go through an unnecessary dialog asking if you want to craft.
  3. Confirm crafting the item.
  4. Watch an animation (which you can thankfully speed up).
  5. Celebrate that you made a thing. Hooray!
  6. Go through another prompt asking if you want to keep crafting.
  7. Lather, rinse, repeat.

If I want to make 20 bags of Fish Bait, it is going to take me several minutes at least. Why? This is an absolutely unnecessary time sink in a game that's already pretty darn slow.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Inventory

Faster Storage Management

Speaking of slowing things down, moving things into and out of your storage is an absolute chore. You can only move items one at a time in either direction and it takes a good long while to get it done. Meanwhile, selling items at Nook's Cranny lets you select multiple items at a time and sell them in one go.

 

Better organizing for your hundreds of items is one of the Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life changes that are sorely needed. It would be helpful to be able to select multiple items in the backpack and in your storage to make moving multiple things much easier.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - DIYs

A Way to Store DIYs

See how there are a few DIY recipes on the floor there? That's an older screenshot of mine. The situation today is about five times worse.

could sell these spare DIYs I have, but they're an invaluable trading tool. They can be traded for other items or given away to friends. And yet, it's impossible to actually put them into any kind of storage. Your only real option is to drop them on the floor or place them on a piece of in-game furniture, and even that has its limits.

Some kind of DIY filing cabinet that stores your spares would be a very useful Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life improvement. People are not going to sell most of their DIYs and they can pile up quickly unless you're a very active trader.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Trading

Make Trading Safer (and Faster)

I've done a bit of trading through various online communities. Thus far, I've been lucky to not deal with any scammers. The day will inevitably come, and that's why making trading safer is probably one of the higher priority Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life changes that need to be put in the game.

There are goodness knows how many games where players can drop and pick up items. It didn't take game developers long to realize that this made for a terrible trading system. Blizzard Entertainment learned their lesson and implemented a simple (but effective) trading system in Diablo II 20 years ago.

We need some kind of dedicated trading interface. Not only will it make trading easier, it will make it safer and prevent scams. It absolutely must be able to transfer Bells, Nook Mile Tickets, DIYs, and even the clothes off of your back—sometimes, you travel to a new island with absolutely everything for sale, clothes included.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Vaulting

Climbing Cliffs and Leaping Lakes

You're restricted to a tiny portion of the island at the very beginning of your journey. Your world expands when you first unlock a vaulting pole a few days into the game, allowing you to jump over rivers. A new dimension is added to your travels when you unlock the ladder a few days later and gain the ability to ascend cliffs.

There is rarely a scenario where players may not carry a vaulting pole or ladder. Heck, even though my island is filled with inclines and bridges, I still carry my vaulting pole and ladder just in case.

These two tools are essential pieces of equipment. The Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life fix for this problem is simple enough: these items really ought to have their own dedicated equipment slot, separate from the inventory.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Camera Angles

Changing the Camera Angle

When you're at home or in some buildings, you can freely move the camera around. Outside, though? You can change the vertical angle, but you're not allowed to rotate the camera.

Nintendo has shown that they're perfectly capable of implementing a free-moving camera, and yet that's just not an option when you're out of doors, making this a prime pick for an Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life fix. Just use the indoor system outdoors!

I've seen some people argue that this exists to maintain the "traditional" look of the previous games which had a fixed camera. Thanks, but I'm not invested in your nostalgia. I'd like to actually be able to find the items I've dropped that somehow fell behind a tree.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Basic Houses

Upgrade 'Basic' Villager Houses

Did you know that not all villager houses are the same? The first few villagers that join you get a different type of "basic" house. As far as I know, there's not really a way to get them to upgrade to their "true" house without kicking them out of your town and inviting them back.

That is patently ridiculous. Surely this is one of those Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life changes that Tom Nook could take care of for a simple fee, yes, yes?

Players ought to be able to outright upgrade these "basic" houses for a nominal fee. The game could always use more money sinks, anyway.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Getting Rid of Villagers

Kicking Out Villagers (and Keeping Them Out)

While we're on the subject of villagers, let's acknowledge that there are basically two kinds of people: those who care about the animals living on their island, and the slightly nutty folks who have made a perfect plan for who they want to live with them.

I firmly fall in the latter category, and I must admit that I've found this whole experience immensely slow and frustrating. For starters, you can get maybe one villager a week to leave. I thought that was that and took my time searching Mystery Tour islands for one of the villagers I actually wanted.

I then discovered (much to my consternation) that a random villager just moved in on his own without prompting. This undocumented "feature" has now made my problem worse. Shuffling out all of the unwanted villagers I have is the only time I've ever considered time traveling.

There needs to be some kind of mechanic to make it easier to remove them. And no, using Amiibo figures and Amiibo Cards ain't gonna cut it.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Construction

Speeding Up Construction (in Some Cases)

Part of the appeal of Animal Crossing is the slower pace of the game. If a shop opens up at 8:00 in the morning, it opens at 8:00 in the morning. Sure, you could cheat by setting your system clock forward, but some view that as going against the spirit of the game.

I rushed to get my island set up to unlock terraforming—a task that can only be completed once you're closer to 10 villagers. Once I was done, I found myself wanting to move around all of my buildings and construct new inclines and bridges.

To say that it took a while was an understatement. It took me three weeks to get everything in place and I was sorely tempted to cheat with time-traveling. It would be nice for there to be an option to move or construct more than one building a day, even if I had to pay a premium. I might have taken that option and it'd make for a fine Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life improvement.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Lock Furniture.jpg

Locking Furniture in Place

One of my favorite spots on my island is this nice little bamboo forest that I built. This forest has a hot spring right in the middle and it's all coming together very nicely. Unfortunately, actually using the trees has become a chore.

You see, the same button that's used to pick up items is also used to pick up furniture. Once I whack the bamboo trees with my Stone Axe, I inevitably pick up the hot spring (or some other piece of decoration by accident). Then, I have to carefully move everything back into place.

I'd love to see an option to "lock" furniture so that it couldn't be easily picked up, perhaps with a specialized tool. This way, I can actually use the harvestable elements of my island without all the inconvenience.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Custom Designs

Custom Designs and Terraforming

Unlocking terraforming starts the "endgame" of Animal Crossing: New Horizons in a sense. You're able to reshape pretty much every bit of your whole island to your liking.

Part of terraforming is the ability to place certain floor designs on the ground permanently. You also have the option to use Custom Designs (created by yourself or others), but I found, much to my dismay, that it's no different than the default "spray" option. That is to say, Custom Designs placed with the terraforming tool aren't actually permanent.

Lots of people have made their own custom paths (some of which you can see in images here). They look nice, but they're awfully fragile. The ideal solution is to let the terraforming tool put down Custom Designs as permanently as anything else.

This may be a slightly more difficult Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life fix, but I'd argue it's well worth the trouble. I'd certainly love to spruce my island up a bit and not have to worry about kicking my floor away.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Moving Rocks

Please, Please Let Us Move Rocks

Saying that I like things to have their proper place would be a massive understatement. I like designing things and getting everything set up just right. New Horizons largely gives me a lot of freedom for moving things around with one exception: rocks.

You know those big ol' rocks that pop up on your island? There is genuinely no way to move them. If you break them, they respawn at a random spot. If you want to spawn them somewhere specific, there is only one solution: pave over your entire island so that there are only a handful of valid spawn locations.

This whole process took me a week-and-a-half and it was a tremendous pain in the ass. The fix here is simple:

  • Using fruit + axe breaks a rock.
  • Using fruit + shovel picks up a rock.
  • Trying to take a rock home from a Mystery Tour doesn't work because it's "too heavy."

This solution would let players break rocks if needed, move the rocks wherever they like, and prevent any possibility of taking home extra rocks. And best of all, I wouldn't have to pave over my whole island again if I accidentally break one.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - What Do I Own

What Do I Already Own?

I am very frugal with my Bells... right up until the Able Sisters shop opens. Then I go on a fashion frenzy and buy pretty much every item I don't have. The problem is, I'm not always sure.

To better understand things, here's a quick primer on "cataloging": if you pick up an item, it gets added to the roster of things you can buy from the Nook Stop. If it's not a craftable item, you can purchase it again at some future point.

When it comes to clothing, you only need to buy (or otherwise acquire them) once and you're set. The problem is that neither Able Sisters nor Nook's Cranny indicate which items you already own, nor is there any sort of failsafe in place. Here's the Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life remedy: a simple icon indicating that you've cataloged an item.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Shopping Faster

Shopping Should Be Faster

Shopping isn't just full of mysteries — it takes a long time, especially if you're buying a lot of items in one go.

Think back to your last online order of groceries. Suppose that you had to check out and pay for each and every individual item on your list. It would get annoying fast, wouldn't it? Well, that's exactly how shopping works in New Horizons.

It's not so bad in Nook's Cranny, but it's pretty terrible in Able Sisters. Yes, you can wear multiple clothing items at the same time—a hat, some pants, a shirt, etc.—but buying multiple items of one type is awful. If there were seven pairs of pants you wanted, you would have buy one pair, complete the transaction, and repeat it again several more times.

The Able Sisters (and Nook's Cranny, Leif, and any other shop while we're at it) badly need a proper shopping cart. You give me the things, I give you the Bells, and everyone leaves happy without wasting half an hour.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Talking.jpg

Talking Should Be Faster, Too (...Too)

One of the most helpful Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life changes would be to speed up text. Anyone who has traveled to another island or talked to Saharah knows exactly what I'm talking about.

I understand the necessity for some of this dialog the first time around, but do I really need to hear the whole spiel about prices and exchange tickets every time I buy a rug? Blathers, bless his feathered heart, is just as bad at times. And goodness forbid you click the wrong online play option at the airport; you'll be sitting through half a page of annoying text yet again.

I don't think the amount of dialog should be cut down entirely, but it would be nice to have a way to massively speed things up beyond holding down the B button. 


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Nook Miles items.jpg

Buying Alternate Nook Rewards Items

Here's a mild spoiler: once you're a fair ways into the game, you can purchase a certain selection of special items with Nook Miles. What the game doesn't tell you is that each of these items have variants, and each island only gets one variant. If you want them all, you'll have to trade.

That's not such a big deal. What is a big deal is that owning these items doesn't entitle you to buy them again. Even if you've unlocked an alternate color Phone Box or Drinks Machine, you will only ever be able to buy the one tied to your island.

Collecting is a big part of the game. You should be able to buy the alternate Nook Miles items once you've acquired them. If balance is a concern, then the cost of the non-native items could be increased to compensate.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Identify Items

Making it Easier to Identify Items

Iconography in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is wildly inconsistent. You can see the actual items in your storage, but your inventory only shows a clothing class or a leaf. The only way to know what an item is for certain is to either place it on the ground, put it on, or drop it into your storage.

At the minimum, a little dot of color would be helpful to show off variant designs. This Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life improvement would make managing your inventory much easier.

A much better improvement, however, would be to show a miniature version of the item as depicted above. It can be seen decently even on handheld mode and deciphering items would be as easy as pie.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Golden Tools

Golden Tools Should Matter More

In previous Animal Crossing games, golden tools were the ultimate item. Once acquired, they would never break. The golden tools in New Horizons are practically a joke in comparison.

As an example, here's what goes into a Golden Axe and the sale value for the sum total of items:

  • 5 Tree Branches (25 Bells)
  • 1 Stone (75 Bells)
  • 1 Iron Nugget (375 Bells)
  • 3 Wood (180 Bells)
  • 1 Gold Nugget (10,000 Bells)

The inclusion of a Gold Nugget ups the cost of a Golden Axe by a factor of more than 10. What do you get in exchange? An extra 100 uses before it breaks. (And regular tools have 100 uses to begin with.)

I understand that there a balance concerns, but double the uses for more than 10 times the cost just doesn't add up. If golden tools had 1,000 uses, it would be a much more worthwhile endeavor while still not being invincible.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Nintendo Switch Messaging

Nintendo Switch Online Messaging

This is a bit outside of the purview of the game itself, but it'd be a massive Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life improvement nonetheless. Nintendo's reliance on friend codes presents a problem: how do I get my Nintendo Switch friends into the game?

Believe it or not, you can add friends on the Nintendo Switch ecosystem but there is absolutely no way to actually communicate with them via the console itself. There are no private messages. There is no text chat. There is no voice chat.

Xbox Live had this down nearly 20 years ago. Voice chat and text messages were gradually refined and improved to the point of perfection. This is a silly oversight on Nintendo's part and they really should get around to improving this part of their service.


Animal Crossing Quality-of-Life - Multiplayer in General.jpg

Multiplayer in General

Closing things out is another big point of contention with Animal Crossing: New Horizons: the multiplayer is shallow and often aggravating to play.

First, there's the issue of connecting. Every time someone comes onto your island, everyone on the island must sit through a nearly three-minute cutscene. Every single time.

You can't sit out this cutscene, either; you just have to deal with it. If you're in a menu, the other player can't connect until you close it and you will be repeatedly nagged to close the window while they're trying to connect. This makes activities like selling turnips a special kind of hell.

Local multiplayer has its problems, too. Because of the silly shared islands, only one person is "in charge" of the party — local co-op players on the same console don't even have access to their own inventories! This would have been a piss-poor multiplayer system in 2005, and there's no excuse for it in 2020.


Some time ago, I saw a beautiful tweet that succinctly sums up all of the little problems I have with Animal Crossing: New Horizons:

Truer words have never been spoken.

Some of these problems are surely too complex to easily fix. In other cases, some simple Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life improvements could remedy the problem with comparatively little effort.

Nintendo makes quality games with enchanting gameplay, entertaining stories, and masterful characterization, but their user experience leaves much to be desired. I only hope that they'll see the ongoing content patches as an opportunity to fix them.

What Animal Crossing: New Horizons quality-of-life improvements would you like to see added to the game? What's been your biggest source of annoyance so far? Let us know in the comments below!


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A photograph of Robert N Adams
Senior Writer

I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I haven't stopped gaming since. CCGs, Tabletop Games, Pen & Paper RPGs - I've tried a whole bunch of stuff over the years and I'm always looking to try more!