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How to unlock golden tools in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has quickly become a cultural phenomenon. It’s the perfect game to relax with, offering up laid-back activities such as fishing, bug-catching, and even stargazing. And while it’s easily one of the best games on the market, it’s not without a few irritating gameplay designs. Unlike previous installments in the series, tools in New Horizons are breakable — a feature that grows old after you’ve crafted your 80th shovel.

Thankfully, there’s a way to unlock more durable gear — known as golden tools. While these still break, they last much longer than your run-of-the-mill variety. Unlocking each of them isn’t difficult, either, but it will take a lot of persistence and hours of gameplay.

Further reading

What are golden tools?

Tools typically come in three different varieties — flimsy, normal, and golden. For the most part, tools perform the same function regardless of tier, but they each come with their own durability. Here’s a quick rundown of how many uses you’ll get out of each; however, it’s worth pointing out that this may vary based on how you are using each item:

  • Flimsy: 10 uses
  • Normal: 30 uses
  • Golden: Up to 200 uses

If you really dislike running back to your house to craft new gear when yours break, you’ll want to invest in golden tools as soon as possible. It’s unfortunate that they still have limited use, but at least you’ll be inconvenienced less frequently. All golden tools are crafted the same way — that is, using the base tool along with one piece of golden ore. However, you’ll first need to unlock their respective DIY recipe. Here’s how it’s done:

Golden shovel

Jon Bitner / Digital Trends

The shovel is useful for many things in New Horizons, such as hunting for fossils, smacking rocks for ore, and digging up communicator parts for Gulliver. This last one is the key to unlocking the DIY recipe for the golden shovel. Once you’ve helped the stranded seagull for the 30th time, you’ll receive the recipe the following day in the mail. Gulliver’s appearance on your island is random — and he isn’t too frequent of a visitor — so you’ll have to play for several months before picking up this useful recipe.

Golden axe

Prepare to channel your inner Once-ler, as you’ll have to chop down hundreds of trees before you can wrap your fingers around the handle of a golden axe. More specifically, you’ll first need to break 100 normal axes. Seeing as each tree requires three chops to topple — and each axe has a durability of around 30 — you’ll have to cut down nearly 1,000 before setting eyes on the golden axe recipe. Your best bet is to visit dozens of mystery islands using Nook Miles Tickets; otherwise, you’ll turn your town into a barren wasteland.

Golden fishing rod

Animal Crossing sea bass

By the time you unlock this one, you probably won’t want to go fishing anymore. That’s because you’ll need to catch every single fish in the Critterpedia before the DIY recipe is mailed to your home. Since fish rotate out based on the season, you’re looking at an entire year before finishing this lengthy task. Of course, you could always time travel — but where’s the fun in that?

Golden net

Jon Bitner / Digital Trends

Just as it was with the golden fishing rod, you’ll need to catch every bug before earning the golden net. Bugs are also seasonal, so there’s a long slog ahead for anyone hoping to craft a more durable bug-catcher.

Golden watering can

This one might be the most difficult to earn out of all the tools, but at least it’s not tied to the seasonal appearance of different animals! To get your hands on this recipe, you’ll need to build your town up to a five-star location. Isabelle in Resident Services can help guide you in the right direction, but putting her advice to practical use is easier said than done.

So long as you’re decorating your island with a mixture of store-bought and handcrafted goods, you should eventually reach this milestone. Feel free to celebrate by watering all your plants without breaking your watering can!

Golden slingshot

Unlike the golden watering can, this task is the easiest to accomplish. Simply pop 300 balloons that float across your island, and the next balloon that appears will be golden. Go ahead and pop your final balloon with a normal slingshot, as you should receive the golden slingshot DIY recipe as your reward for shooting down balloon number 301.

Balloons spawn every few minutes in New Horizons, so this task can be completed in a few weeks by a dedicated player. It might be tedious, but at least you don’t have to time-travel six months into the future to catch a single dung beetle.

Are golden tools worth it?

Unlocking all these different tools isn’t something to take lightly. It will take months of dedicated playtime to earn all six, and the fact that they can still break is a bit disappointing. Not only that, but you’ll need to part ways with precious golden ore to craft them. That said, they are still a worthwhile goal to chase down. Even if they aren’t as useful as players would have hoped, they still give impressive bragging rights when playing with friends.

It’s also very likely that you’ll earn all of these without needing to go out of your way. Most people are actively trying to complete their Critterpedia just for the sake of it — not because they’ll be rewarded with a fancy new tool. Unless you’re dying to get your hands on something golden, it’s best to just take your time and earn this gear at your own pace. Otherwise you might fail victim to Animal Crossing fatigue after you’ve shot down your 100th balloon in 24 hours.

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