It’s been a hot minute since Animal Crossing: New Horizons received an update, with the last one, the Super Mario 35th Anniversary Event, launching way back in March 2021. But that’s about to change now that Nintendo’s announced the Happy Home Paradise DLC dropping on November 5. This paid DLC is so big, in fact, that fans who fell off are jumping back in, and they’re excited about the new decor, storage increase, and more.
After the game landed in March 2020 (along with the pandemic, famously), Nintendo Entertainment Planning and Development (Nintendo EPD) only slowly dripped updates for New Horizons. The glacial pace of these fixes and new content dismayed fans to the point where many abandoned the game, and by extension, their islands. It’s painful to imagine all the weeds that must’ve sprouted since.
But as many fans have told Kotaku over Twitter DMs, New Horizons’ Happy Home Paradise expansion, a riff on Happy Home Designer, has re-piqued their interest.
One player named Cody, who hasn’t touched New Horizons in 14 months, said they picked the game back up specifically in preparation for the DLC.
“The expanded decor options and the ability to have a shopping plaza are the big gets,” Cody said over Twitter. “I also like that the DLC has villagers with clearer wants and needs (the mandatory items for the homes) so it gives the game more sense of purpose when you pick it up.”
That “purpose,” the core of New Horizons’ loop, was a common sentiment among fans. Even a daily New Horizons player under the Twitter handle vwtifuljoe mentioned that Happy Home Paradise is “going to really add” that missing link. To them, that’s the importance (or impact) of a careful interplay between in-game objects and activities and how NPCs interact with them.
“The crafting, design, [and] decorating aspects just fall off in importance, because there is no close to that loop,” vwtifuljoe said. “No one appreciates the fact that a soccer goal is there except for you, and that’s not very interesting. With the DLC, it looks like you are getting [to] close the loop. You get room requirements, decorate, then feedback, and rewards.”
Aside from the NPCs’ clearer desires and some closing of the gameplay loop, New Horizons’ Happy Home Paradise also has people stoked about its new “job”: a vacation home designer. See, the upcoming DLC tasks you with creating homes for other villagers. Asks can range from the mundane to the ornate, depending on the NPC. It’s this variety, as one Kazzie Charbonneau told us over Twitter DMs, that’s partly why fans are returning to their islands again.
“I’m excited about the new objects, but also the way they’re being presented with the new ‘job’ option,” Charbonneau said. “We’ll basically be able to design a bunch of vacation homes, which is a pretty simple idea, but it really taps into what I think a lot of the fans are drawn to. […] I originally played it for the cute village aspect—having cute neighbors to chat with, filling the museum, but that got old real fast. But the new updates make me want to revamp my whole island.”
And of course, since Happy Home Paradise brings back some elements from previous Animal Crossing games, fans are also looking forward to a few old favorites returning. This includes camper vans from Pocket Camp and Brewster’s coffee shop, The Roost. And then there’s Wardell the Manatee, who managed to win fans over during last week’s New Horizons Direct.
As someone who’s traditionally skipped the Animal Crossing games, seeing the love fans still hold for the series —and the excitement around Happy Home Paradise—has even me interested in starting an island. With confirmation that November’s free patch is the last, plus the release of the premium Happy Home Paradise expansion, now may well be the best time to jump in (or return to) Nintendo’s low-key social simulator.