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8 improvements that would make Animal Crossing: New Horizons even better

Now that Animal Crossing: New Horizons has had some time to marinate with its audience, the community has honed in on key features that would make it even better. These range from large overhauls of existing mechanics to the implementation of new ideas altogether. Although this entry has streamlined many fan-favorite features, some mechanics could still be improved upon with a few tweaks. 

This list compiles eight fixes and improvements that could be added to make New Horizons even more enjoyable.

Further reading

Tool degradation meter

Animal Crossing: New Horizons improvements
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Tools are the backbone of Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Without them, you’d be unable to chop trees to gather wood, collect bugs, go fishing, or dig up fossils. However, your tools don’t last forever. Most of them have limited uses and will break after a while. This mechanic is common in similar games, but what’s missing in New Horizons is some sort of meter letting you know how close your item is to breaking. A literal meter next to each item would suffice, or even visual degradation to the item itself, which would deteriorate as you use it. Having such a system in place would make it easier to prepare — whether you’re on your own island or venturing to another.

Ability to purchase different items in larger quantities

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An overarching theme with New Horizons’ issues has to do with a general lack of efficiency. While this entry has greatly improved upon its predecessors in many aspects, there are lots of mechanics that could be made even more efficient. For instance, the buying process could use some work. You currently can only buy one item at a time, whether you’re at Nook’s Cranny or using Nook Miles in Resident Services. There are certain items that you’re allowed to buy in bulk, but these are limited to only five.

Purchasing clothing from the Able Sisters, however, is much more streamlined since you are able to buy multiple items at once. But even this has its limitations since you can’t purchase multiple items of the same category at once (i.e. you can’t buy two shirts at the same time, but you can buy a shirt and a hat simultaneously). Ideally, you’d be able to select and purchase all the items you want — as many as you’d want — all in one go. This would speed things along, allowing you to tend to your island much faster.

Option to open or close airport gate from NookPhone

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Picture this: A friend just stopped by your island to drop off some much-needed supplies for your next big project. You plan on moving some land around, using the Island Designer app in your NookPhone. However, you’re greeted by a pesky message, letting you know you can’t use the app while your airport gate is open. Now you have to run all the way back to the airport to close the gate before going about your business. This seemingly minor hiccup quickly becomes a huge nuisance if you’re someone who has company on your island often. The ability to open/close the gate from your phone would save time and make it much easier to let your friends come and go as they please. Speaking of which …

Eliminate/improve constant loading screens in multiplayer

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Every time a friend visits your island, a hefty loading screen appears, stopping you in your tracks and showing the progress of their journey. It’s cute once or twice, but its charm starts to wear off quickly. To make matters worse, if you’re a visitor, you have a similar loading screen to sit through while traveling to and from an island. When you multiply that by seven possible visitors — all of whom have to wait for the loading screen to finish before continuing — it becomes nearly impossible to walk, let alone enjoy your visit. It’s unclear if the loading screen is in place due to technical limitations, but surely something can be done to at least speed things up. If you’ve ever been invited to an island to sell turnips at a high price, you’ll know just how chaotic things can get when players are constantly coming and going.

More house/shop expansions

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Many New Horizons players have already maxed out their house expansions and have upgraded their shops to their fullest forms. Truth be told, there are substantially fewer house and shop upgrades in New Horizons than in the last entry, New Leaf. In the last installment, you were able to upgrade the size of each room in your house several times. But New Horizons does not allow you to expand the size of any additional rooms.

As it stands, the store upgrades are lacking by comparison, as well. Currently, Nook’s Cranny only has one expansion, while the clothing shop, Able Sisters, has none. Having a bigger store would allow more items to be available at any given time, which would, in turn, increase efficiency. Perhaps a future update will introduce more robust expansions to your home and island’s stores.

Additional permanent shops and characters

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There are many characters and stores missing from New Horizons‘ roster, too. Although it has streamlined buying options and consolidated the need for multiple stores, there are still some that have yet to appear. These include the Fortune Shop, Dream Suite, Gardening Store, and The Roost coffee shop, all of which appeared in New Leaf. Arguably more troublesome is the lack of beloved characters like Katrina the panther, Wendell the walrus, Tortimer the elderly tortoise, Kapp’n the turtle, and Brewster the pigeon.

Fans speculate these characters might appear later on, as travelers who eventually move to your island. However, even the addition of characters like Leif (as part of the recent Nature Day update), who appears as a traveling salesman, has not led to a permanent addition to the island. Instead, you must wait for him to randomly appear, similar to Kicks, Label, and Redd.

Improvements to terraforming, paths, and building relocation

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One of the most significant new features in New Horizons is the ability to customize your island with paths, or by terraforming the ground around you. By using the Island Designer app on your NookPhone, you can customize your island like never before. While this is a much-needed feature, it has a handful of kinks that need to be worked out. The overall user experience while terraforming — whether you’re working on cliffs or water — is wonky at best. Many times, it’s tough to be as precise as you’d like, which leads to unnecessary frustration. 

Likewise, paths can be tricky, as well. They come in many different forms, like dirt or brick. Laying down a path is a great way to give your island some extra character. The only issue is that you cannot place two paths of a different material next to one another without a sliver of grass appearing in between. This might seem like a non-issue, but if you’re going for a specific look on your island, that sliver of grass can start to become an eyesore.

Building relocation can also be a pain, especially if you just want to move a structure a few feet from its original location. If your building is slightly off-center and you need to push it back one notch, New Horizons doesn’t make it easy. You aren’t able to move a building if it’s in the same vicinity of its original location. So what should be a minor fix turns into a long and expensive process, just to make a slight adjustment. In its current state, you must pay to move your building to a new location, wait a day for it to be rebuilt, then pay again to move it to its new destination and wait another day for it to be finalized.

Wider variety of items

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After you’ve completed the game’s preliminary goals, you’ll probably want to start personalizing your home, villager, and island with items. And while there are plenty of items to choose from at first, you certainly start to see repeats after playing for a while. Even if you include the controversial Easter-themed items (as part of the Bunny Day event), there are fewer in this entry than in New Leaf, according to VillagerDB.

That said, it is likely that more items will be added with each update, as evidenced by Nintendo’s support thus far. When you consider New Horizons’ tremendous sales, which helped it become the bestselling game in the United States during its launch month, there is surely a massive, loud community clamoring for these fixes to be added.

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Joseph Yaden
Joseph Yaden is a freelance journalist who covers Nintendo, shooters, and horror games. He mostly covers game guides for…
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