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Devolver’s demonic answer to ‘Animal Crossing’ arrives August 11th

Have you ever played Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley and wished you could subjugate the townsfolk? You’ll soon have your chance. Devolver and Massive Monster have announced that the cute-but-sinister Cult of the Lamb launches August 11th for PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. There’s a demo on Steam to help whet your demonic appetite.

The game shares the community building and top-down perspective of games like Animal Crossing, but the plot is anything but kid-friendly. You play a possessed lamb forced to repay a debt to a creepy stranger by growing (what else?) a cult around him. You have to build idols, perform rituals, give sermons as you gradually convert the local population in a randomly-generated world. Naturally, you’l have to battle false prophets and anyone else who refuses to embrace your beliefs.

'Skate Story'

Sam Eng/Devolver Digital

Cult of the Lamb comes alongside premieres for a trio of new Devolver games due in 2023. Anger Foot is a first-person shoot-and-kick romp from the creators of Broforce and Genital Jousting. Sam Eng’s Skate Story (pictured above), meanwhile, is a stylish skateboarder that challenges you to escape captivity in the underworld by eating the Moon — yes, really. All Possible Futures’ The Plucky Squire rounds out the list by telling the tale of storybook characters who jump between 2D book pages and the 3D world beyond. The three titles are all coming to PC, while Plucky Squire will also be available on PS5, Switch and Xbox Series X/S.

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons Ordinances Guide

It only makes sense that as the owner of your own island, you should be in charge of just about everything there. Since the beginning, you’ve had a huge amount of control over how your island works, including transforming the landscape itself to look exactly how you want it to. One thing you couldn’t do, however, was lay down the law. In past games, you were able to enact rules called ordinances that changed the way your village functioned, but these options were missing from Animal Crossing: New Horizons until the giant 2.0 update.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been a part of our lives for over a year now, but finally we can start to make the game work more toward fitting into our schedule rather than the other way around. These ordinances were great in past titles, and having them back will make your life, both in and out of the game, much easier. But, considering how long it’s been, and how many people may not have played a past game with them in it, here’s a full guide on ordinances in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

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What are ordinances and how do I set them?

The first question many might have is what ordinances in Animal Crossing: New Horizons even are. Ordinances can be explained by Isabelle, but they are essentially different rules you can set for everyone on your island to follow. There are four of them you can pick from, each changing the behaviors of your fellow islanders, or in one case the actual economy, and you can choose one at a time to be active. But, just like most things in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, setting an ordinance isn’t free. It will cost 20,000 Bells to put your rules into effect. Not only does that mean you should be careful before picking one you may want to change right away, but you will also have to wait a full day for a switch between ordinances to actually begin.

When you’re ready to get down to business and set up an ordinance, head into the Resident Services building and have a chat with Isabelle. Ask to Review island features, and then select the new Discuss ordinances option. This will bring up the list of all four ordinances for you to select. Just pick the one you want, pay the 20,000 Bell fee, and wait until the next day to have it go into effect.

All ordinances and what they do

Isabelle asking if you want to enact an ordinance.

As mentioned, you will have four choices of different ordinances in Animal Crossing: New Horizons that each change the way your island will work. These are Beautiful Island, Early Bird, Night Owl, and Bell Boom. Here’s a full breakdown of what you can expect if you enact each one.

Beautiful Island: This ordinance will scratch that itch of any player who just has to keep their island tidy. If you are sick of coming back to an island overrun with weeds, or even just having to deal with the odd one popping up in your otherwise pristine landscape, this is the ordinance for you. Once you set this ordinance, all your fellow villagers will finally start helping out maintaining the place. That means they will start doing things like pulling weeds, cleaning up trash, and watering flowers on their own. Keep in mind that sometimes you may actually want some weeds or trash, and that flowerbeds may get out of control if villagers start watering them, but those are mostly fringe cases.

Early Bird: If you’re the kind of player who only has time to visit your island in the early hours, this ordinance brings the game onto your schedule. With this ordinance, villagers will start getting up much earlier, and even open up shop at earlier hours so you can make any purchases you want first thing. Also, as a bonus, the shops opening up early don’t change their closing times. They will still close at normal hours, meaning this just extends store times at no downside.

Night Owl: For anyone on the opposite end of the spectrum, Night Owl will make Animal Crossing: New Horizons far more enjoyable. As you could probably guess, this does the exact same thing as Early Bird, only in the opposite direction. Now shops will stay open a little later, and villagers will also stay out and about longer into the night.

Bell Boom: This ordinance is for the more seasoned player in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. This ordinance doesn’t actually do anything to change how villagers work, but rather changes the economy itself. Turn on this ordinance and everything on your island will get more expensive. That might sound like a terrible idea, but while it is true that you will pay more for anything you buy, it also works for anything you sell too. If you’ve got a big stack of rare bugs to sell, for example, you can make even more profit with this ordinance turned on. It’s a bit of a risk vs. reward rule, so choose carefully before you spend to turn it on.

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The Best Animal Crossing Games, Ranked

The Animal Crossing games have always had a dedicated fanbase. It wasn’t until Animal Crossing: New Horizons arrived on the Nintendo Switch, however, that the series exploded in popularity. This cute life-simulation series speaks to the more laid-back crowd, somewhere between a game like the Sims and a Harvest Moon-style game. While each game does mix things up, adding new mechanics and ways to express yourself and explore, the core concept has always been about taking your time, making friends, and living out a peaceful life in these bright and colorful worlds. Oh, and paying off the massive debt you always seem to get dumped on you by Tom Nook, of course.

Animal Crossing began on the N64 in Japan, but the first time we got to experience this lovely series was on the GameCube in 2001. Including the debut entry, only eight titles in the series have been made across various systems. While this is a small number compared to some other Nintendo franchises, such as Zelda or Mario, each game can be played almost endlessly. The number of things to do, make, decorate, and more makes it hard not to get hooked on these games. Whether you’re a seasoned villager or looking for a new game to relax with, we’ve taken all of the Animal Crossing games and ranked them from best to worst.

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1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Now that the honeymoon period is over and we can look back at the entire series with as objective an eye as we can, we still have to give the top spot to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Based on the sales numbers, this is probably not too controversial an opinion, but that doesn’t mean it was far and away the best. What pushes Animal Crossing: New Horizons to the top of the series is a bunch of quality-of-life improvements, new mechanics, and new ways to customize your village (or island in this case), all while keeping that magical charm the series captures so well. While not everything worked as smoothly, or was even included, when the game came out, playing it now feels almost like an entire second game was added.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons shakes things up by making you the owner of your own island. There’s a huge cast of new villagers that can join you, rotating bugs and fish to collect, new items to craft, fruit to harvest, and so much more. The game is expertly designed to always give you something to strive toward, as well as smaller tasks to keep you wanting to come back every day. Visiting new islands for materials you can’t find on your own island, or taking a trip over to a friend’s island to see how they’ve decorated their world, are all fantastic ways to make this game feel like the most social version of this series yet. If you enjoy customizing every aspect of your world, Animal Crossing: New Horizons will keep you engaged for months on end.

2. Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Cyrus greeting pink and blue llama villagers.

Before the Switch was even a far-off dream, Animal Crossing: New Leaf fulfilled our desires for an Animal Crossing experience on the go. Released for the 3DS, this was just the fourth game Nintendo put out in the series, and their first one on a handheld, yet it nailed everything fans wanted from this experience. The weaker power of the 3DS made no difference here. The art style translated perfectly, and because there’s no action or reflex-intensive moments, performance was not a problem at all. Coming off of one of the less impressive games in the series, Animal Crossing: New Leaf brought in a host of mechanics that set the foundation for Animal Crossing: New Horizons to build upon.

Unlike earlier entries, Animal Crossing: New Leaf actually places you in the role of the mayor of your village rather than just a resident. This makes much more sense considering how much power you always had, but they also used that to introduce a whole host of new mechanics. You can now pass laws and do public work projects to build new shops and infrastructure, all toward improving your town status. It isn’t all just paperwork, though. This is where new activities like swimming and visiting other islands, again something Animal Crossing: New Horizons would take notes from, were first introduced. It even has some light multiplayer modes where you can play others in some minigames to unlock unique items for your town.

3. Animal Crossing

Tom Nook telling the player to take a look inside houses.

The first and original Animal Crossing knew exactly what it wanted to be right from the start. The art style was perfect for the system and even today looks great. Most of all, though, people loved it for just how different it was from anything else on the market. Unlike a Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing didn’t pin you down to be a farmer. Instead, you were basically free to dabble in as many different activities as you wanted. While it wasn’t the cultural phenomenon that Animal Crossing: New Horizons would be, this game did really start the trend of Nintendo games appealing to a wider audience who didn’t typically play many games.

Sure, Animal Crossing is light on features compared with the later games. Still, what’s there is what the series would make its name on. There are plenty of villagers you can speak to, make friends with, and interact with in ways that many games today still don’t match. It also felt incredibly advanced and almost unreal at the time by using the internal clock of the GameCube to track the time of day, but also trigger different seasonal events. Coming into your town to find it covered in snow, or set up for a Cherry Blossom Festival, without any warning made Animal Crossing feel like it was a truly real and living place. They even had a bunch of old NES games you could unlock and play within the game.

4. Animal Crossing: Wild World

A girl holding a watering can near a red tree.

The first sequel to the original Animal Crossing does take a step back from the original, but it has the portability factor going for it. Released for the original DS, Animal Crossing: Wild World just wasn’t able to cram as much content onto the handheld as many would have liked compared to what we had experienced on the GameCube. Still, this entry made it clear that taking your village with you was how this series was meant to be played. The smaller scale perhaps even made the idea of checking in on your village on to the go more manageable, even if more hardcore players felt a little light on things to do.

Animal Crossing: Wild World took advantage of another aspect of the DS and experimented with online play. The original game only let you visit other people’s villages if you physically brought over your memory cards, but now the DS allowed you to check out your friend’s town remotely. This game did feel like a trimmed-down version of the first game, only portable and with some new ways to interact and socialize with your NPC villagers. The touch screen was also a much cleaner way to manage your inventory, as well as a fun way to design your own cosmetics.

5. Animal Crossing: City Folk

A boy holding a shovel facing the horizon.

Animal Crossing: City Folk was an odd entry. It hit the Wii in 2008, just three years after Animal Crossing: Wild World. Because the series was back on a main home console, fans were ready for the next major leap in the series. If Animal Crossing: City Folk was going to ditch the portability, it should at least be a bigger game than the first, right? Well, in some ways it was, but not in the way fans really wanted. Aside from some technical additions, nothing about this game made it feel like a necessary entry in the series. It looked fine enough on the Wii, but not all that distinguishable from the original, and the Wii controls weren’t utilized for anything interesting. For some reason, the maximum number of villagers was also less than the original at a maximum of 10 compared to 15.

You already know the basics of what you can do in Animal Crossing: City Folk. There’s fishing, bug collecting, gardening, and fossil hunting. The one really new thing this entry brings to the table is the city area, as the title implies. However, your village is completely separate from this City Plaza area. To reach it you need to take a bus, thus go through a loading screen, where you can visit some different shops, including an online Auction House, and see a few unique NPCs. Since you also have Tom Nook and the Able Sisters’ stores within your village, you quickly run out of reasons to endure the long load to go to the city at all, which again was this game’s primary new feature. Unless you haven’t played another Animal Crossing game before it, there’s little reason to give Animal Crossing: City Folk your time, especially with the online service shut down.

6. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer

A pink-haired girl setting up a bathroom.

One of the main allures of the Animal Crossing games is that they don’t try and pin you down to just one thing. They’re wide open, lite life simulators. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer breaks that appeal by taking away most of that freedom and giving you the job of designer. Sure, designing your home was plenty of people’s favorite parts of the other games, but that wasn’t the only thing you could do. While it is technically a spin-off game, you wouldn’t be able to tell based on the title. When you factor in how many people who don’t follow games all that closely play this series, plenty of people came into this game expecting a full Animal Crossing experience only to be let down.

Rather than having your own home to customize, Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer gives you the responsibility of being the architect of an entire village. That means every building, including other villagers’ houses, office buildings, schools, and more, are yours to plan and design, both inside and out. That might sound like a nice addition to the formula if it were in fact an addition rather than the entire experience. You have an incredibly robust toolset for designing and decorating all these buildings, but … that’s all you can really do. There’s basically no more life sim elements, or even anything to push you to keep playing. Your objectives are just … designing houses. Sometimes villagers will have requests you need to meet, like including a color or specific piece of furniture, but that’s about it. Unless you only play Animal Crossing for the home design aspect, this is an easy one to skip.

7. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Happy villagers standing around a pool.

As great as Animal Crossing proved to be on handheld devices, the iOS and Android attempt wasn’t quite the best move. Instead of bringing a classic Animal Crossing experience to the phone, it adopted the lesser qualities of phone games and applied them to an Animal Crossing game. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp was never expected to be a fully featured entry, or be the next big hit, but it fell below even those low expectations when it came out. Sure, it’s free, but with so little to do, and so much pressure to spend money on it, it kind of went against the entire premise the series had set since the beginning.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is not a joyful, relaxing time for most players. The idea is that you are in charge of running and building a campsite, which makes sense for a smaller-scale game. However, your options for activities are about as limited as one could expect. Aside from basic gathering and bug hunting, there’s little to actually do here. You can hang out with some villagers, but interactions are limited and will get old fast. The worst part, as alluded to earlier, is the microtransactions. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp really shoves its monetization in your face. You won’t be able to go more than a few minutes without feeling the pressure to buy a lootbox or subscribe to the different paid services to access items and even events.

8. Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival

A racoon landing on a 36 fruit space.

There’s no other option to put at the bottom of an Animal Crossing games list than Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival. Not only is this an Animal Crossing game in name only, but it’s just a bad game overall. The only minor saving grace, if you want to call it that, is that this game was released exclusively on the WiiU, meaning that very few Animal Crossing fans know it exists or had to suffer through playing it. Before even touching on why the actual game itself is so disappointing, we have to address the fact that this game required the use of Amiibo, or Amiibo cards, to even play. You technically just need one Animal Crossing-specific Amiibo to play, but any other character has to be unlocked with either an expensive and often hard-to-find Amiibo or extra Amiibo card. And this game isn’t even free like Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, either. You already paid full price for this.

Make no mistake, Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival is not an Animal Crossing game. Despite having the name and characters, this is a Mario Party ripoff, and it doesn’t even do that well. We already hit on how you can only play with new characters by purchasing Amiibo, but even if you somehow ignored all that, the game itself is just so dull. The boards are generic and slow, the mini-games are tedious at best, and worst of all is the Happy Points system. Instead of earning money, Bells, to purchase something like Stars in Mario Party, you’re all trying to earn the most Happy Points. These are given away by landing on certain spaces, as are Bells, which at the end of the game are just converted into Happy Points anyway, making them kind of useless. There are other game modes and things to unlock, but the grind required to do so is unreasonable for a game that feels more like a chore anyway.

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ 2.0 Update Can’t Save It

Upon learning that Nintendo was planning to release a gigantic 2.0 update for the wildly popular Animal Crossing: New Horizons, most players’ emotions traveled quickly from excitement to fear. After obsessing over the game for a few months after it released, many had left their towns dormant, allowing weeds to grow in the grass, villagers to come and go, and holidays to be left uncelebrated. The amount of work fans faced to get their towns looking “presentable” again was imposing enough that some said they planned to just reset their towns and start with a fresh canvas.

Others said they’d brave the work just to experience the update, which promised a suite of returning characters, new experiences and new DLC, and a huge number of quality-of-life changes. Is the beefy new 2.0 update worth returning to your forgotten town? Based on my time so far, I sincerely don’t think so.

Target audience

The goal of the New Horizons‘ 2.0 update, which is the last major free content update for the game, is to get players back into their towns. It’s not intended to get new players to buy the game. Instead, it’s made up of small but meaningful updates designed specifically to assuage existing player base’s complaints over the past year and a half. By all metrics, Nintendo has succeeded: The game hasn’t seen these levels of popularity since it launched. All of my friends and coworkers are excitedly talking about their favorite returning characters and all of the changes they plan to make to their island.

After trying the update — which dropped a day early — I quickly found myself very underwhelmed. Most of the changes are geared toward helping players who love to design and customize their towns to the nth degree. Instead of sticking to the series’ roots as a set-in-stone simulation game, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is more akin to The SimsA completely mutable world where players can make their experience exactly what they want it to be.

Back in the days of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, fans would use hacks and mods to decorate their islands beyond the bounds of what the game allowed. New Horizons gives players a way to do that more legitimately and makes total customization easier than ever through usability upgrades like permanent ladders, additional bridges and inclines, and storage lockers. Once they’ve made their dream island, players can snap photos of it to their heart’s content it thanks to upgrades to the in-game camera app, which allows you to take great photos like this:

The update is also painfully obvious about the fact that it’s trying to get you to play for as long as possible. Don’t get me wrong: Animal Crossinghas always been an incredibly slow-moving game, but New Horizons has taken it to a new level ever since its release. With the update, many players’ time spent on their islands will increase once again, but how satisfying an experience will it be? When you have to spend an extra day gathering gyroids to attract Brewster to your town or grind out fish for hours to get Katrina to move onto Harv’s Island, is it something you play because you genuinely enjoy it, or do you play because you feel obligated to do so?

I’ve never been a fan of having complete control over my island. Honestly, it’s more stressful than it is fun. I found myself yearning for the Animal Crossings of days past that plopped you in a premade town and gave you little control over the comings and goings of your villagers. The “story” of prior games — what little there was — was about making do with the place you landed in and learning to live with the locals, whoever (and whatever) they might be. With the 2.0 update, New Horizons pulls itself even further from that original mentality and becomes a completely different type of game in the process.

Constant sameness

At the same time, the game manages to be a little too similar to its predecessors. When I first saw the reveal video, I thought, “Wow. That looks like New Leaf, but in HD.” Many of New Leaf‘s most popular features, like town ordinances, permanent shops owned by characters like Kicks and Leif, and boat trips from Kapp’n, have been brought to New Horizons as part of the update. Nintendo changed very little in bringing these features over: The four ordinances that players can choose from in New Horizons are exactly the same as the ones in New Leaf. Kapp’n’s sea shanty tunes are all the same, at least musically. Brewster serves coffee the exact same way he’s been doing since Animal Crossing: Wild World. Even if Nintendo intended to kowtow to fans who just wanted New Leaf on the Switch with more customizability — which is exactly what New Horizons has become — it could have at least included some new tidbits, like fresh songs for Kapp’n.

My New Horizons character dances next to her satellite farm.
Yes, I have a weather satellite farm in my town. Call me a nerd all you want.

Even the new shop area in Harv’s Island has been done before. In Animal Crossing: City Folk, the titular city area was a place where players could travel to in order to buy from a variety of retailers. It was widely derided at the time, largely because City Folk was otherwise a Wii port of Wild World and didn’t have much fresh content to introduce beyond the mostly worthless city. Yet when it’s reimagined as Harv’s Island, it’s suddenly much more exciting. The new zone is an endgame quest for players who don’t have much else to do and have too many bells sitting around. It’s great for collectors, as players no longer have to wait for these characters to randomly show up at their island and peddle their wares, but it feels like more of the same. There aren’t any new characters, just returning faces that Nintendo knew fans would be excited to see. If you’ve played New Leaf, you’ve seen them all before.

If Nintendo was going to stick to bringing in content that’s been around for a while, it would be great to see some of the older features make a return. When I spoke to my villagers after having not seem them for over 10 months, they all greeted me with sickening sweetness, talking about how the island was undoubtedly a better place because I’d returned. I found myself wishing that the 2.0 update included some of the meaner villager dialogue and actions from the original game.

Some of the update’s content is simply redundant — why does hair stylist Harriet need to be in the game when the way players update their appearance has been fundamentally changed since New Leaf? The only truly new mechanic is cooking, which is fun for a while but doesn’t serve any real purpose besides giving you something else to gift your neighbors and giving your character strength to redecorate their island.

Buying seeds from Leif.

Nintendo has a lot to learn about supporting “live” games or games that continue to receive updates after their release, and New Horizons‘ 2.0 update is one of the best examples of this. If the game had had more of a steady drip of content over the past year and a half rather than one huge dump in the update, I think fans would be a lot more satisfied. Then again, a huge fllod on content with everything that most fans want was an extremely successful way to reinvigorate interest in the game all at once. I plan on giving the paid DLC a shot, as I enjoyed Happy Home Designer back in the day, but the chances of me continuing to play the base game on a daily basis are slim to none. New Horizons 2.0 simply isn’t enough of a change to warrant diving back into my island.

When I initiated a save and the message “Ready to wrap things up for now?” popped up, I was struck with a pang of sadness. I knew that as hard as the update had tried to reel me back in, it was likely that I was wrapping things up permanently with New Horizons.

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Animal Crossing Version 2.0 update surprise: Here’s what’s inside

Animal Crossing: New Horizons fans have received a rather pleasant surprise, as the game’s version 2.0 update has gone live a little bit early. Initially, we expected the version 2.0 update to go live on Friday, November 5th, alongside the Happy Home Paradise DLC. While it seems we still have to wait until Friday for the DLC to land, the version 2.0 update is available now and ready to be played.

What’s included in Animal Crossing: New Horizons version 2.0

While the Happy Home Paradise expansion is paid DLC, the version 2.0 update is not and is free to everyone who owns Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Perhaps the most significant addition in the update is Brewster, who will open a cafe called The Roost in the museum after players complete a task for Blathers. Players can join island residents and friends in the cafe for some coffee, and they can even use amiibo cards to summon coffee drinking companions as well.

Brewster isn’t the only returning character in this update, as Kapp’n will be making a return as well. He’ll ship players off to new islands that may be home to unique flora or islands in the midst of different seasons. Essentially, it sounds like Kapp’n could be a good way to obtain items that wouldn’t usually be available on home islands.

Gyroids are also making their return with this update, and players will be able to dig them up just like they do fossils. Gyroids can be discovered buried in the ground after rain showers, or players can bury gyroid fragments that grow into full gyroids overnight. As in previous Animal Crossing games, gyroids will make various sounds when placed, and they’ll react to music as well. They can even be customized this time around to match the design of the room they’re placed in.

With this update, Harv’s Island is also getting some renovations as players will be able to contribute bells to turn the island into an open-air market featuring shops from numerous peddlers. Cooking has also been added to New Horizons with this update, and players will be able to grow a variety of vegetables to help further their cooking ambitions.

So, even though the Happy Home Paradise DLC packs a lot of content, this update is no slouch either. You can check out the video we’ve embedded above for details on everything included in this update.

A surprise release or a mistake?

Interestingly enough, there seems to be no official confirmation from Nintendo that this update is indeed live. The page that catalogs all of the Animal Crossing: New Horizons updates on the Nintendo support site hasn’t been updated at the time of this writing and instead shows the most recent version as 1.11.1. Likewise, neither the Nintendo of America nor the official Animal Crossing Twitter accounts have made any mention of this update.

The radio silence from Nintendo has left us wondering if this surprise release was actually a planned one or if it was a mistake. If it was a mistake, it’s unlikely that Nintendo would confirm it, so we’ll likely never know what the truth is; we’d just assume there would be a little more fanfare trailing this launch.

In any case, our Switches confirm that the update is live, and while it was automatically downloaded for us, you may need to manually update Animal Crossing: New Horizons to get it. Doing so is easy – simply highlight Animal Crossing: New Horizons in your Switch library, press the “+” button, and then select “Software Update.” We’ll let you know when the Happy Home Paradise DLC is live, but while we wait, New Horizons players can dive into the new update and see what it has to offer.

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How to Use Photo Mode in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons lets players channel their inner creativity, giving them the building blocks to craft some truly incredible works of art. Even better, the game features a robust photo mode so they can capture their masterpieces in the best possible way. Taking photos in New Horizons is a simple process with a surprising amount of depth — and thanks to Update 2.0, photo mode is better than ever. Here’s what you need to know about taking photos in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Further reading

Access the camera app on your NookPhone

Jon Bitner / Digital Trends

The first thing you’ll have to do before taking pictures is unlock the NookPhone. It’s one of the first things you’ll receive upon setting foot on the deserted island, and it gives you access to several different apps. Pull up your NookPhone by pressing ZL and navigate to the Camera app. Once the Camera app is selected, your game will enter Photo Mode and allow you to take screenshots.

How to adjust the camera settings

Animal Crossing player using the camera app.
Jon Bitner / Digital Trends

Manipulating the camera is incredibly simple — in fact, the game tells you what each button does while the camera is open. Here’s a quick rundown of all the features:

  • Press ZL to cycle through the different filters. These include Normal, Sharp, Pop, Soft, Dramatic, Film, Monochrome, and Antique. Try messing around with these settings until you find a look that suits your style.
  • Press L to change the frame of your picture. You can choose between No Frame, Frame, Cinema, Time, Date, and Frame + Date.
  • You can manipulate the camera location using the directional buttons on the Joy-Con. This allows you to adjust both the horizontal and vertical camera position.
  • The right analog stick can be used to tilt the camera — the same way it functions during regular gameplay.
  • Press R to make your villager look at the camera.
  • If you’ve unlocked Reactions, you can use ZR to access these while in Photo Mode.
  • You can zoom in on the action by using the X and Y buttons.
  • When you’re happy with your setup, press the plus sign (+) to capture the image. This will remove all UI graphics, allowing you to take clean screenshots of your Animal Crossing town.

Upgrade to the Pro Camera

Animal Crossing player staring into the camera.

With Animal Crossing: New Horizons‘ 2.0 update, Nintendo brought additional functionality to the basic camera app. Before you can use the powerful feature, you’ll first have to unlock it by following these steps:

  • Ensure your software is up to date.
  • Load your game and head over to the Town Hall.
  • Access the Nook Stop Terminal.
  • Redeem your Nook Miles for the Pro Camera App (1,500 Miles).
  • Your Camera App will automatically update to the Pro Camera App.

With your new Pro Camera, there are two features you’ll want to explore:

  • Handheld Mode: Walk around in first-person and snap photos.
  • Tripod: Place the camera on a tripod, which allows you to walk into your close-up photos.

Accessing these new features is simple — just press the “–” button on your Joy-Con to toggle through the available viewing modes.

Photopia is a robust photo studio

Animal Crossing player heading to Harv's Island.
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If you’re looking for a bit more control over your photoshoots, head on over to Harv’s Island and check out Photopia. Harv’s Island becomes accessible after you meet Harvey, who will arrive on your island once you’ve invited three residents to live in your town. After meeting them, head on over to Dodo Airlines to book a flight to his home.

Here, you’ll still have access to the same nifty camera app, but you can also invite other villagers, pose them, and deck them out in all sorts of different outfits. Plus, any villager you invite to the island will then pose for their own pictures — which will become available for purchase in the form of posters at your local Nook Stop. You can also add your own furniture to Photopia during each shooting, giving you incredible control over each picture.

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Happy Home Paradise Fixes Animal Crossing’s Biggest Problem

It’s a huge week for Animal Crossing: New Horizons players. After a disappointing year devoid of meaningful updates, the cozy life simulator has gotten a massive update. That’s thanks to the game’s 2.0 build, which adds a sequel’s worth of features to the game. Perhaps more exciting is the game’s first and only paid DLC, Happy Home Paradise, which is included with a Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription or available to buy for $25.

Happy Home Paradise is essentially a spiritual sequel to Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, a stand-alone spinoff title that was released for Nintendo 3DS after Animal Crossing: New Leaf. The game was more focused than its freeform mainline counterpart as it only asked players to design houses for villagers. It was essentially a little puzzle game about fulfilling home requests that was charming, though didn’t feel robust enough for a stand-alone title.

It was just one example of the way Nintendo has struggled to capitalize on Animal Crossing’s success. The company tried a few spinoff titles to turn it into a more varied franchise, but nothing stuck. But now, with Happy Home Paradise, Nintendo has found a perfect solution to the series’ fatal flaw: Attach the side games to the main game.

In-game spinoff

Happy Home Paradise quickly whisks players off to a new island that houses a self-contained game. Players are recruited by the Happy Home Academy to walk around the island, take requests from its inhabitants, and design their dream house. Villagers will offer a specific theme, like “sporty,” and ask that a few specific items be included in their home. Once players accept, they’ll be able to freely decorate both the interior and exterior of the house using a curated list of items (players don’t need to own the items to use them in designs).

During a demo, I watched a player create a spa-like dream house complete with starry wallpaper and aromatherapy furniture. A list of other requests showed that players will build anything from a perfect coffee room to a toilet palace (don’t ask me what that means).

It’s a simple little puzzle game that puts players’ decorating skills to good use. They’ll get to design a series of homes, customizing everything from the outer façade to the actual dimensions of the rooms within. They can even adjust the environment the house appears in, seamlessly changing the season or time of day. Any design can be saved and adjusted after the fact, so players can keep tweaking as much as they’d like.

Had this been a stand-alone title like Happy Home Designer, I don’t imagine many people would pick it up. At the end of the day, home designing is one piece of a larger game. Spinning it off into its own side title seems reductive. Nintendo has wised up to that fact this time around, realizing that home decorating works better as a minigame.

A player designs a disco room in Animal Crossing: Happy Home Paradise.

Minigames have long been part of Animal Crossing’s DNA. One could argue that the main game is just a series of smaller games compiled into a life simulator. Fishing is its own little sport, holidays like Bunny Day feature contained side -objectives, and New Leaf’s Roost Cafe (which returns in the 2.0 update) explicitly featured a coffee-making minigame. Going even further back, the main appeal of the first entry was that it included playable NES games, putting games within a game.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf took that one step further with its Welcome Amiibo update, which brought a survival board game called Desert Island Escape and a match-three puzzler to the mix. But Nintendo wasn’t simply content with launching one core game and loading it with free content. Happy Home Designer aimed to expand the formula with mixed success, but the company flew too close to the sun with Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival. The Wii U spinoff was a full board game that utilized amiibo, almost like a Mario Party for the series. It was a total flop, critically and financially. The game reportedly sold less than half a million copies in its lifetime. Ouch.

Happy Home Paradise sees Nintendo accepting the fact that players only care about the core Animal Crossing experience, not the IP as a vague concept. They’ll check out creative new content that expands their island life, but not necessarily shell out for a separate purchase. Part of me wonders if players would actually engage with an Amiibo Festival take two if it was piped into New Horizons. It doesn’t matter how good the content is; it would just be another way to pass the time.

A classroom full of students in Animal Crossing: Happy Home Paradise.

Unfortunately, Happy Home Paradise is said to be the game’s last paid DLC and it won’t get any major free updates either. Players have to hope that it’s enough to keep them going for years to come or that little updates here and there will be enough to keep it alive. That feels like a mistake. Happy Home Paradise is a smart new strategy for the series, solidifying the core Animal Crossing games as a sort of live service hub filled with activities. In a perfect world, New Horizons would continue to get support through the Switch lifespan, with spin-off ideas folded into the game. The game could turn significant updates into paid DLC, getting more money out of the series without the need for side-gambles.

Hopefully, Nintendo has learned its lessons from New Horizons’ whirlwind life cycle and uses it to build the ultimate installment down the line that keeps fans carrying out their cozy digital lives. Animal Crossing is the only metaverse I’d actually want to live in.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Happy Home Paradise is available to purchase today for $25. It’s also included with Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscriptions. New Horizons’ 2.0 update is free for all players.

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Nintendo releases big ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ update earlier than expected

Nintendo has released its last free major content update for Animal Crossing: New Horizons over a day earlier than planned. During its Direct presentation in October, the gaming giant announced that it’s rolling out New Horizons version 2.0 on November 5th. As TechCrunch and IGN have confirmed, though, the update is now live and can be downloaded to your Switch. Version 2.0 adds quite a number of new features to the game, including characters from old Animal Crossing titles. 

One of those characters is Brewster, the quiet pigeon proprietor who’ll open up the Roost café at the museum after you do a certain favor for museum director Blathers. Kapp’n, the singing sailor kappa, is also back and will take you to remote islands on his boat. You can only purchase boat rides once a day with Nook Miles, though, so you can’t endlessly sail around all day. If you want to shop from new stores owned by familiar characters, you can head over to Harv’s Island, which now has an open market. Reese & Cyrus’ shop, for instance, will offer new types of furniture customization, while Katrina will read your fortune.

The update adds gyroid hunting and cooking activities, as well. For the latter, which will be part of DIY recipes, you can combine anything you harvest and other ingredients to create new dishes. Finally, New Horizons 2.0 introduces several quality-of-life improvements, including the ability to establish ordinances. You can make the residents get up at the time of the day you’re active in the game, for example, or reduce weeds’ growing rate. The update also allows you to keep more items by giving you a bigger home storage and storage sheds you can place around your island. 

In addition to the free update, Nintendo announced last month that it’s releasing a Happy Home Paradise paid DLC that’ll let you design vacation homes for characters on November 5th. That one isn’t available yet, but it’ll set you back $25 when it comes out tomorrow. 

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Design Adorable Vacation Homes In New Animal Crossing DLC

New paid DLC for Animal Crossing: New Horizons that gives players the opportunity to design vacation homes for the game’s various villagers has been announced during today’s Animal Crossing Nintendo Direct. The DLC, titled Happy Home Paradise, is set to launch on November 5, along with the game’s 2.0 update, and will cost players $25.

Happy Home Paradise will also be available as part of Nintendo’s recently revealed Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership, along with access to Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis titles.

In the expansion, players assist a resort developer called Paradise Planning by designing vacation homes that are tailored to villagers’ requests. Customization is king when designing vacation houses, with players being able to change nearly every aspect of homes and the lots they’re on. Players can change the size of homes themselves, and put up partition walls or pillars to section off spaces. Outside, players can change the location of the house, its design, and edit the surrounding area with a new top-down editor.

Along with vacation homes, players will be able to redesign different facilities across the DLC’s archipelago. Whether they create a restaurant, hospital, or school, villagers will occupy and use each facility.

Once players have successfully designed a vacation home, they’ll receive payment in the form of Poki, a new currency. While it can only be used on the archipelago, Poki can be used to purchase rare furniture and other cosmetics, which can then be brought back to players’ main islands.

The new design techniques that players use on vacation homes can also be applied to homes on the main island, drastically growing the ways player homes can be customized. And for players who are tired of visiting their villagers’ ugly homes, once enough vacation homes have been designed, villagers may ask the player to give their house a makeover.

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Animal Crossing New Horizons’ 2.0 Update is Gigantic

A huge 2.0 update for Animal Crossing: New Horizons is bringing a ton of new content, including returning characters, quality-of-life changes, new activities, and more. A video shown today during the September Nintendo Direct revealed that the update will be available for free on November 5.

In addition to the previously teased Brewster and the Roost café, fan-favorite characters like Katrina, Kapp’n, and Tortimer will be making a return in an all-new area, and players will have more options in how they decorate their houses and islands.

At the Roost, players will be able to enjoy a cup of coffee with Brewster, Animal Crossing‘s very own brewmaster. Players will also be able to scan Amiibo cards to invite NPC residents to visit the café with them, as well as invite other players to enjoy coffee together. Another returning character is Kapp’n, who will sing his usual sea shanties as he ferries players across the ocean to new “mysterious island,” which features different materials, plants, seasons, and times of day than the main island.

Most of the other returning characters will be arriving via Harv’s island, which has a new area in the back. After the player contributes enough bells to various properties on the island, characters like the hairdresser Harriet, the fortune-teller Katrina, the shoe seller Kicks, and wallpaper salesman Sahara will set up permanent shop, allowing players to use their services. Players can get their furniture customized by Reese and Cyrus, the owners of Re-Tail in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, or speak with Tortimer, the former Animal Crossing town mayor.

A Villager drinks coffee at The Roost in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Gyroids, furniture items from previous Animal Crossing games, are also making a comeback. They now must be watered in order to “grow” into a full-sized Gyroid, which can then be placed in a house to create a sound effect.

The 2.0 update also aims to answer some of players’ quality-of-life complaints. Town ordinances, which allow players to adjust the activity times of their island, are making a comeback from New Leaf. Players will be able to craft up to 10 each of bridges and inclines on their island, which has been increased from eight each. The Nook Phone’s camera app is also being upgraded to the Pro Camera, which allows players to take pictures from a first-person perspective and add themselves in the photo via a tripod mode.

For ease of storage, players can use the new locker furniture item to access their home storage from anywhere on the island. A new tool, the ladder set-up kit, will allow players to permanently place ladders on cliffs, allowing for ease of access in areas that are too small for inclines.

A villager rides a boat with Kapp'n in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

There’s more home customization available than ever in the new update. Players can now increase the size of their storage to 5,000 items, and there are new exterior styles for houses. There are also new furniture items that can be bought with Nook Miles and tweaks to custom designs. Players can also now cook food by harvesting ingredients and combining them in the usual crafting manner.

The new pro decorating license allows for furniture like hanging lamps to be placed on ceilings and walls, and players can customize single walls with a different color or style of wallpaper, creating an accent wall. The island shop will carry new items that can be placed both inside and outside. As for player customization, 11 new hairstyles will be added, which Harriet can teach players once she moves in to Harv’s island.

Players will also have some new activities available to them. A new group stretching task allows players to use the Switch’s motion controls to stretch with their villagers and other players. There are new emotes available for when players are living the island life with their friends, and Island Life 101, a new Nook Phone app, will give activity suggestions to new players. Island residents may invite players to visit their homes, and they may also drop by players’ houses, like in New Leaf.

The Animal Crossing: New Horizons 2.0 update is free and will release on November 5 alongside the game’s new paid DLC.

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