Animal Crossing: New Horizons Update + DLC Review — First Impressions

Last month Nintendo surprised us all when they announced that Animal Crossing: New Horizons would be receiving yet another massive free update, alongside new paid DLC content. This news came via a Nintendo Direct dedicated exclusively to the game, after months of silence and a few small cosmetic updates. Up to this point, many fans of the game had long-suspected that Nintendo had moved on from New Horizons, and that we wouldn’t be seeing any major updates in the future. I’ll admit that most of us here at Couch Bandits had lost a lot of faith in the future of the game as well, but we couldn’t be happier to be proven wrong.

We’ve learned a valuable lesson that should not be forgotten: never doubt the magic of Nintendo. At a time when we most needed it, Nintendo dropped this massive direct that breathed new life into the game. So what exactly is included in this update, and how much fun is it? We’ll dive into that and also let you know if we think the paid DLC package is worth the money. So without further ado, let’s all unpack this wonderful new gift Nintendo has bestowed upon us.

Jake has provided some screenshots from his time playing the new content. I mean, come on. Look how cheery and adorable this looks!

One this that must be made clear is that this update comes in two distinct parts: the free major content update, and the Happy Home Paradise paid DLC. We’ll start with the free update because there’s a lot to discuss there, and it’s immediately accessible to anyone who currently owns the game, or is wanting to pick it up. While Nintendo did state this will be the final free content update for New Horizons, it’s easy to understand why given the amount of added material to experience.

First and foremost, let’s talk about the return of Brewster and The Roost café. For anyone who has played a previous game in the franchise, they’ll recall the loveable pigeon-barista Brewster, and his quaint café The Roost. Both of these key elements have been noticeably absent from New Horizons up until this update, and many fans were beginning to lose hope that they’d see their favorite pigeon added to the game. At long last, The Roost has made its triumphant return—and it does not disappoint. Instead of having its own building like in previous entries, the café now exists as an extension to the museum. There’s an adorable side quest in which Blathers asks you to find his old friend Brewster on a remote island, and implore him to open his café at your island’s museum. After finishing this quest and a day of waiting for the construction to be completed, you are free to visit The Roost whenever you want!

Jake visits The Roost for his first time.

The interior is warm and welcoming—wonderfully designed and decorated. Photos featuring callbacks to previous titles in the franchise adorn the walls, and there’s a lovely bar to sit at to enjoy a hot cup of Brewster’s finest brew. Like in previous entries, visiting daily will strengthen your bond with Brewster, and will unlock unique items and experiences that can only take place within this magical space. There’s even an Amiibo phone, which you can use to call other Animal Crossing characters to the café to sit down with you in a special seating area for a chat over some hot coffee. The private seating area can also host your friends when they come visit, making The Roost a versatile and entertaining new hot spot on your island. The Roost is a much-needed, and welcomed addition to the game that will both scratch your nostalgia itch, while reviving the classic café in a fun and new format. As the holiday season quickly approaches, I can’t wait to continue starting my day with a warm cup of Brewster’s coffee.

Jake tries his hands at cooking a new recipe.

Another familiar face we see returning in this free update is the sea-shanty-singing skipper Kapp’n. You’ll find him in his boat anchored at your island’s long dock, and you can pay him Nook miles to take you to unique distant islands. These new islands feature plenty of new resources and materials for you to discover and harvest. This is also how you go about finding Brewster in that side quest I mentioned earlier. While I haven’t explored this part of the update too intensely just yet, it is nice to have Kapp’n back, and it warmed my heart to be on his boat again, slowly traversing the open water while listening to him sing me a seafaring tune. The added resources compliment two new crafting skills that have been added with this update: cooking and farming.

While farming previously existed in some small form, the new overhauled skill opens up many new possibilities for things to plant and harvest. This content feeds directly into the cooking skill, which allows you to craft a large variety of dishes using the ingredients you grow and pick. Not only does this provide a new cosmetic incentive to construct and operate your own farm, but it also just adds a new sense of warmth and wholesomeness to the game that can’t be denied. Already I’ve found myself collecting as many cooking recipes as I can, and I’m hard at work harvesting the necessary ingredients. Fans of the crafting elements of New Horizons are going to love this new feature, and it promises to add hundreds of hours worth of gameplay to this already massive expansion.

Last but not least, the free content update provides a monumental overhaul to Harv’s Island—a space I previously found to be slightly lackluster. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy Harv’s Island prior to this update, it’s just that I rarely visited it or found myself compelled to do so. That’s why this is maybe my favorite component of the new update. Harv has opened up a new campsite commune on his island, right beside his photography studio. For those who have played Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp on their mobile devices, this may end up looking a bit familiar. The campsite allows players to donate bells in order to bring the various vendors of New Horizons to a more permanent location.

That’s right, this space acts as a hub from which you can visit any of the various vendors from the game. This makes it far easier to collect specific items you’re going after without needing to wait for the right vendor to pop up on your island. I was beyond relieved at the addition of this feature because collecting all of the art pieces for the museum becomes tedious and drawn-out, especially once Redd keeps selling you duplicates of pieces you’ve already donated. On top of all these add-ons, more familiar faces along with some new ones inhabit the camp grounds. Our dear friend Tortimer is back to provide you with quick access to your home storage, while Harv’s new groovy girlfriend Harriet will give you a fresh and happening haircut any time you’d like. All of these new additions go a long way to making every space in the game feel more alive and lived-in. This is by far my favorite new location to visit in the game, and it’s completely free!

That brings us to the paid DLC, which in all honesty has only exceeded my expectations so far. The Happy Home Paradise expansion borrows the main concept from Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer and translates it wonderfully for the world of New Horizons. I was initially skeptical of this addition because I didn’t know how much I would actually enjoy an interior design simulator—but I’m relieved to say it’s far more exciting than I ever could have anticipated. Happy Home Paradise replaces your in-game occupation as a barista from previous entries, and repurposes you as a professional interior designer assigned the task of designing creative vacation homes for residents looking for an island getaway experience.

Jake designed this mysterious magician’s manor for one of his clients.

All of this takes place on a distant island (which is accessible via your island’s airport) dedicated entirely to your new job. Each day you can visit the island and work for as long as you’d like, helping random residents model their ultimate, themed vacation home. After discussing the theme with the client, you’ll then be provided with three items of furniture the resident requests you use in your decorating. And that’s where the fun really begins—you get to call all of the shots from here on out. After picking the right spot to place the home, and the ideal season, you can take your best crack at becoming an interior design savant. From decorating the full interior, to designing the front yard and physical exterior of the house itself, this is one of the most creatively-inclined additions to an Animal Crossing game yet. It’s hard not to get completely absorbed in the fun of designing a themed space for each client. The more satisfied your clients are, the more work you’ll continue to get, and each time you successfully complete a job you’ll be paid in a unique new form of currency which allows you to purchase exclusive new furniture items. So far this has been one of the most enjoyable new additions to the game, and at only $24.99 it’s a difficult expansion to pass up. If crafting and decorating are your jam, do not skip this paid DLC—it is worth every penny. If you’re on the fence about it, and don’t typically enjoy the home decorating element of the game, you may want to just enjoy the free update for now.

And that’s maybe the most impressive thing about this huge update: there’s something for everyone. Most of it is free, and the paid content isn’t necessary to enjoy the core game. However, for those looking to get the most out of their New Horizon experience, the Happy Home Paradise expansion can be purchased separately, or as part of the new Nintendo Switch Online expansion, which also includes the N64 and Sega Genesis collections. I can’t recommend it enough!

Click here to watch the full Animal Crossing Direct from last month!

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