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Animal Crossing paid DLC lets players design adorable vacation homes

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.

Introducing Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Happy Home Paradise

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.

Key art for Animal Crossing Happy Home Paradise.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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.

Otto Kratky
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Otto Kratky is a freelance writer with many homes. You can find his work at Digital Trends, GameSpot, and Gamepur. If he's…
Disney Dreamlight Valley and Harvestella make one critical farming mistake
Donald Duck walks through a town in Disney Dreamlight Valley,

Thanks to games like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, farming and life-simulation games are back in fashion. They've also dominated September, as Disney Dreamlight Valley launched earlier this month and games like Harvestella, Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life, Fae Farm, Rune Factory 3 Special, and a brand new Rune Factory title all got segments in the latest Nintendo Direct. Harvestella even got a demo after the September 13 Nintendo Direct -- one I immediately downloaded to get my farm on early.
Getting into it though, I found that Harvestella already has a problem I've noticed in many titles that are part of the genre boom, including Disney Dreamlight Valley: they don't get to the farming fast enough, damnit!
While that might seem obvious, recent games in the genre have had long-winded opening before the player has any farming tools in hand. As players come to these games for the farming and simulation elements, developers looking to join in on the trend may want to take some pacing cues from games like Stardew Valley by trimming down their front-heavy lore drops and getting players to the fields sooner.
Let's jump into it
Part of the beauty of Stardew Valley is how quickly it immerses the player in the game's core concepts. The indie hit lets players loose to farm or build within 10 minutes before slowly expanding systems outwards and letting players get more invested in the game's world and story. You'll know whether or not you'll like Stardew Valley within 10 minutes of playing, and will already have crops that give you a reason to stick around if you do like it. 
Disney Dreamlight Valley – Gameplay Overview Trailer
In both Harvestella and Disney Dreamlight Valley, it takes at least 30 minutes for any farming elements to be introduced, and even longer before players can get caught up in the gameplay loop of tending to their crops or customizing their home as the game intends. I was eager to try Disney Dreamlight Valley via Xbox Game Pass when it released earlier this month. After getting hit with an immediate exposition dump followed by slowly paced tutorials and a weapon-collecting quest, I got bored with it and dropped out just as it was opening up for me toward the end of the first hour. It didn't entice me and I had other things to do and games to play. 
Shortly after, I checked Harvestella's demo out after it dropped during the September 13 Nintendo Direct. I expect I'll end up playing more when it launches, as I'm intrigued by its world and mix of action RPG and fantasy sim. That said, I found myself trudging through the demo as I had to deal with lots of exposition and simple "walk to" objective gameplay before I could actually get to any farming or RPG elements. While I'm glad I didn't stop playing the demo, I almost did due to the glacial pacing.
I wish Harvestella had more quickly gotten me into its gameplay loop before then dumping its intriguing lore on me. That's not to say the story isn't important in these kinds of games. Some of the most memorable parts of Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing: New Horizons are getting to know the residents that you live alongside. The sim elements are what draws the most players in, as well as what will get them into a routine that they can get hooked on.
HARVESTELLA - 2nd Trailer
Devoting over 30 minutes to an hour of extra playtime in a game that can last dozens of hours may seem like arguing over semantics, but the first few moments of the game can make or break an experience. And when you're in a genre with so much competition these days, players can easily move on to something equally as interesting if they aren't immediately hooked. The best simulation experiences cut the fluff, get players right into the action, and save the deeper elements for later. Future farming and life simulations game should take note if they want to potentially take off as Stardew Valley did. 

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Nintendo’s mobile games are more influential than you might think
Alear and Marth open a door in Fire Emblem Engage.

Nintendo’s mobile games don’t get enough credit. While Nintendo had some undeniable hits like Pokémon Go and Fire Emblem Heroes, many consider the rest of its mobile efforts fairly underwhelming and even somewhat disappointing for a video game company of Nintendo’s stature. While nothing ever quite reached the high bar Pokémon Go set in 2016, Nintendo’s mobile games are a bit more influential than they get credit for.
Over the past few years, games like Pokémon: Let’s Go! Pikachu and Eevee, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe have built upon their mobile counterparts. Then, during the September 13 Nintendo Direct, Fire Emblem Engage’s announcement and main gimmick cemented that Nintendo isn’t just viewing mobile games as a mostly failed side experiment. While they might not be the most successful games out there, their DNA is creeping into the Nintendo Switch’s bestselling titles.
Mediocre mobile returns
Nintendo’s mobile gaming efforts kicked off in the mid-2010s. Niantic created the AR game Pokemon Go, which quickly became a smashing success in 2016. In the six years since, the game has generated around 678 million installs and $6 billion in player spending, according to data from Sensor Tower.
While working with Niantic proved fruitful for The Pokemon Company, Nintendo partnered with DeNA for most of its initial mobile games. Unfortunately, none of these quite reached the heights analysts and Nintendo expected. Super Mario Run was a smash hit at launch but failed to sustain much interest and consistent revenue, so it’s considered a disappointment by Nintendo.
Meanwhile, other games like Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Mario Kart Tour, Dr. Mario World, and Dragalia Lost launched, and while they’ve still made lots of money for Nintendo, most haven't matched the success of the most popular mobile titles. The biggest exception to this is Fire Emblem Heroes, a gacha game where players can summon classic Fire Emblem characters. It’s had over $1 billion in player spending alone as of June 2022 and is Nintendo’s “flagship title on the [mobile} platform,” according to Sensor Tower.
More recently, Nintendo tried to recapture the success of Pokemon Go with Niantic’s Pikmin Bloom, although that game has reportedly disappointed as well. Overall, it’s understandable why some people are surprised to see only a couple of surefire mobile hits from a company with the pedigree of Nintendo and consider it a side venture that never realized its full potential. If you look closely at the console games in these series that Nintendo put out since, though, it isn’t ignoring everything learned while making mobile games.
Mobile's monumental impact
Nintendo has the masterful ability to find the strongest elements of an idea, draw those out, and then expand upon them to create something uniquely memorable. We’ve seen it do this time and time again with subsequent entries of its flagship series, but it’s a mindset it has applied to its mobile games upon closer inspection.
As far back as 2018, Pokemon: Let’s Go! Pikachu and Eevee recognized the charm of not needing to battle a Pokemon to capture it, and incorporated that into a traditional RPG experience. More recently, items and mechanics like gardening and cooking from Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp made their way into Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was able to revive its live service offerings by repurposing the best tracks and assets from Mario Kart Tour.
Fire Emblem Engage – Announcement Trailer - Nintendo Switch
The legacy of Nintendo’s mobile games could also be felt in the September 13 Nintendo Direct. The showcase’s first announcement was Fire Emblem Engage, which is turn-based strategy game where the main gimmick is being able to summon classic Fire Emblem characters with a ring. While it doesn’t look like Fire Emblem Engage goes full gacha, it’s clear that Nintendo recognized how people liked collecting and using classic Fire Emblem characters in a new adventure, so the developers drew and expanded upon that idea for Fire Emblem Engage.
Before the announcement of Pikmin 4, Shigeru Miyamoto also took a lot of time to highlight Pikmin Bloom. While we don’t know much about Pikmin 4’s gameplay, Nintendo could find some aspects of that game’s exploratory experience, weekly challenges, or something I’m not even thinking of to freshen up the next mainline game. The same could even happen with Super Mario Run the next time Nintendo decides to make a 2D Mario game.
While watching Fire Emblem Engage’s reveal during the latest Nintendo Direct, it became clear that Nintendo’s mobile games have quietly become influential forces in the company's console games. Nintendo has slowly plucked the best ideas out of them and brought them into Switch games without extra monetization. While the future is cloudy for Nintendo's seemingly stalled mobile push, I hope the company can still find a place for its games on mobile, using the platform as a space to experiment with its beloved series.

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Disney Dreamlight Valley sets itself apart from Animal Crossing in 5 key ways
A player walks by Wall-E while heading into a cave in Disney Dreamlight Valley.

Animal Crossing is one of gaming's most popular franchises, giving players a much-needed break from the world of challenging, narrative-driven, and thought-provoking adventures in favor of zen community management. Few other games have managed to match its unique gameplay loop in ways that feel equally rewarding and relaxing, but that's not stopping Disney from shooting its shot at the genre with Disney Dreamlight Valley.

While the two games are no doubt very similar, Dreamlight Valley has a handful of notable features that will likely sway many players in one direction or the other. Let's take a look at five of the biggest ways these two life simulation titles differ from one another.

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