animal crossing new horizons 4

Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ Terraforming Reshapes Island Life

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Customizing your living space and character is nice in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but what if you just want your own private fishing pond? A nice tile walkway? Now, you can alter the island itself to your liking, creating a paradise that’s truly your own.

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Terraforming will allow you to shape and sculpt your island however you want, offering a variety of tools and tilesets to create that dream escape. At PAX East 2020, we saw that there were an array of brick, dirt, grass, and sandy path styles that you could lay down. These can be placed where you like, allowing you to make some nice walkways around your home, some soothing paths to walk through the trees, or maybe a road to your preferred island neighbor.

These tilesets seemed like a tiny addition, but they really make your vision for the island pop with a sense of structure and order (if you’re into that sort of thing). They made the island feel like more of a home town than a collection of loose houses, and with several options available, there was enough variety to create different feels for whichever area you were working on.

In keeping with the big impact of small changes that seems to have been a major part of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you can also round off these paths and tiles. These smooth corners, as opposed to harsh, square edges, makes their look feel more in-keeping with the cute, soft look of the game in general, and were very pleasing to the eye. I had no idea how much those hard square edges bugged me until I saw just how pleasant the round edges looked, and instantly had some new ideas on how to fiddle with the island’s look.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Creating walkways and borders made for some wonderful enhancements, but being able to change the land itself was even more satisfying. Cliff construction will let you make some tall obstructions wherever you like, but you can also knock them down if they’re getting in your way. This is as easy as digging a hole, too, as you just set yourself up with the feature, select the cliff-building tool, and your shovel can hurl up walls of dirt or knock them down with a button press. It takes seconds to create something, encouraging players to tinker with it to see if they like what they’ve built or not.

While walling certain animals into stone prisons may appeal to some of you, it was the waterway construction that really shined during the Animal Crossing: New Horizons demo. Being able to carve out a fishing hole right into your yard (again, with the same ease you’d see from digging a hole), or cut a moat around your yard to give it more of a fortress feel (which is a bit oddly hostile for this game, but also kind of fun) added yet another small personal touch you could give to your living space.

You can also guide waterways throughout your town to give it a unique feel, or do just about whatever you could like with water. Surround your home with a dramatic waterfall. Close up that a body of water that keeps getting in your way. It’s all up to you, and can be done so quickly and easily it becomes a natural, comfortable means of exercising your creativity on the island.

Both tools go a long way toward giving you more control over what you want your living space to look like in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and will allow players to customize the entire island in lovely ways that they’ll definitely want to show off to their neighbors.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is slated to release on the Nintendo Switch on March 20, 2020.

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Joel Couture
Joel is a contributor who has been covering games for Siliconera, Game Developer, IndieGamesPlus,, Warp Door, and more over the years, and has written book-length studies on Undertale, P.T., Friday the 13th, and Kirby's Dream Land.