8.5
Poki, Gyroids & My New Career as an Interior Designer in the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Update & DLC
Reviews

Poki, Gyroids & My New Career as an Interior Designer in the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Update & DLC

Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out right in the midst of one of the weirdest times in perhaps all of our lives, and gave many a welcome distraction from the world feeling like it was falling apart around us. Now over a year and a half after its release date, the ‘final’ free update has been released along with the very first DLC for the game Happy Home Paradise.

I have been somewhat consistently playing New Horizons since its release, usually with around 1-3 month breaks in between each obsessive stint. But there have been many people who completely fell off the wagon, and I can’t really blame them, as there has been a great lack of new ‘content’ and it can get tired very quickly.

To combat this lack of purpose, I often set myself little projects for my island, I will often fully re-landscape areas (which takes days) in order to breathe some welcome fresh air into my island. Even so, I was getting to a point where I loved what I had achieved with my island, and couldn’t really figure out what to do next. Luckily, just as this was setting in, Nintendo announced the huge update along with the DLC. There is a lot to get through, and I haven’t even had a chance to experience all of the brand-spanking-new stuff in store, so this will be a general overview of how I have found the update. 

First of all, I will say it didn’t really feel overly different because a lot of the new things are quite unassuming, like how you can sort your storage inventory, or how you can now ‘scootch’ in tight places; I genuinely didn’t even realise these were new until I had a look at a list of new features. But probably the most game-changing thing for me is the vines, which you can plonk on any cliffside, so you don’t have to fork out the bells for a ramp or get your ladder out constantly.  

The very first thing I rushed to do was getting Brewster, which is quite a simple task to do, but it also tied nicely into introducing Kapp’n and the new collectable ‘Gyroids’. Having not played any other AC game before this one, I will say that I don’t really have any particular connection with these characters, so forgive me if I sound like I am brushing them off a little bit. But aside from them as welcome new faces to my island, I wasn’t blown away. 

Brewsters as a whole is a nice idea, and I don’t know if I am missing something, but I did get bored quite easily, I will pop in every so often for a cuppa and a brief and subdued chat with Brewster (who I do like as a character), but I’m not overly enamoured by the addition. 

The boat tours are a bit more intriguing, with the promise of getting a new gyroid to your collection or finding crops of potatoes or sugar cane. I am a huge fan of anything I can collect, it adds that purpose to the game that I was finding harder and harder to grasp onto. I love the process of digging one up, burying it again, watering it, and the day after it turns into its final form, which is always a surprise. It’s altogether a bit of simple fun.

Animal Crossing character holding up fragment of a gyroid

Cooking is something I haven’t really felt a huge desire to take part in, although, I do love making things for aesthetic purposes, like a cute peach smoothie that works so well to tie a room together. Aside from that, I am not overly convinced yet.

One thing about cooking that has frustrated me, however, is that cooking recipes are now included in the building recipes, so now in bottles on the seashore, or ones you get from your villagers in their house can be both. Now this time last year I was in my 3-month stint of not playing so I missed out on pretty much all of the autumn recipes, but now I am having trouble getting any of these because cooking recipes seem to be more abundant 

Perhaps the thing I have appreciated the most from the update, it how the developers have taken notes from players complaints and made island life a bit easier, but they haven’t taken it so far as to ruin the general ethos of the game. The ordinances are such a welcome addition, but some do come with a price, for instance, you can increase how much you sell things for, but prices in the shops go up. My favourite is the ordinance where you can make the island either friendlier for those who are morning people or night owls. Being able to keep Nooks Cranny open later is a godsend! 

As well as all of this, there are a bunch of additional items, hairstyles, and Harv’s Island is now somewhere I will actually remember exists. Harv’s new ‘coop’ venture, offers a range of new and old vendors that will take permanent residence on his island. But with everything in this game, it does come at a price, and for someone whose management of finances in Animal Crossing often mirror those in real life is a huge pain, but I am very excited to eventually make this shopping paradise a reality! 

I do think that I perhaps should have spent more time perusing the new features in the update before I bought the DLC because I have quite honestly spent most of my time exploring my new career as an interior designer in Happy Home Paradise. Not to toot my own horn, but I am genuinely so good at this part of the game, I am in my element, to the point where I have thought to myself…’ could this be my new career path’??

In the DLC, you go to work for Lottie, who runs Paradise Planning, a company that sets up vacation homes for various new villagers. Your job involves scouting for clients, sitting down with them to discuss plans and then designing their house. 

At the start of your career in Paradise Planning, you are given the outdoor area and one room to makeover for the client. On consultation, you have a loose brief to work with and three items that you must include in the area, you can’t really fail at this, unless you forget to include one of their chosen items…and then you get the full sassy wrath of an unhappy client.

I absolutely adore going to work, it takes me back to the hours upon hours I would spend designing and making my Sims home because it has that instant element in terms of what you can use. There is no having to spend a silly amount of time getting materials to craft and customise, most of the things you need are there. The one downside to this, however, is going back to my own island feels so limited after this freedom, especially when attempting to renovate an outdoor space, which now feels even more odious than before.

Happy Home Paradise gives us what people have been screaming for since the beginning, a grid system on outdoor spaces, and don’t get me wrong it is just on a small space, but it makes all of the difference. Being able to put paths down from a top-down perspective, moving trees freely, being able to plonk the house freely without paying 100,000 bells….*chefs kiss*. 

Now that I mention bells, there is one important thing to point out. I did wonder if I was actually going to get paid for going to work. I wouldn’t put it past this game to treat it as volunteer work, Tom Nook, after all, has built his entire empire on the free labour I have given him over the past year and a half. But you do get paid but alas, not in bells but in Poki. I understand this because it would completely change how things were run on my island and with the Paradise Planning shop existing I am not too mad about it, because I can spend my Poki on shiny new things that aren’t available in Nooks Cranny. 

I am pretty sure I am only in the early stages of the DLC, I didn’t watch the trailer fully, because I do like being surprised with how things play out (and the Animal Crossing update trailers tend to show you everything). But from what I have played so far, and small snippets of things I’ve seen to come, I am still absolutely enthralled by Happy Home Paradise.

I am beyond thrilled that Nintendo decided to breathe some new life into New Horizons, for me the DLC is so worth it, adding something so fresh and new to the game that I think it was sorely missing. The update on its own is amazing, with a lot to keep us busy for a while even without the DLC. I am, however, slightly disappointed that this will be the last free update for Animal Crossing: New Horizons. I was really hoping for some variations in events in the new year because I honestly don’t know how I am going to deal with Bunny Day for the third year in a row…

8.5
Score

Pros

  • Top-down outdoors grid system with free movement
  • Range of new items/things to do
  • A new sense of ‘purpose’

Cons

  • Design features of the DLC make designing on your own island feel even more like a chore
  • Could do with Brewsters having more of a purpose
  • Food recipes being added is making finding crafting recipes you want harder

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