One of the true pleasures of Animal Crossing: New Horizons is the sense of connection. It’s not just that Nintendo’s life sim has achieved near-universal ubiquity in a matter of days. It’s the fact that you, alongside up to seven other players, can go and visit a friend’s island. There, you can do what you’d do on your island: fish, catch bugs, play dress-up. Except you’re doing it together. Right now, with togetherness in the real world a fleeting resource, few things could be more welcome
But like state dinners, wedding receptions, and elevator rides, there’s an unwritten code of conduct here. One wrong move can easily ruin a good time. In the interest of keeping everyone’s cortisol low in this genial game, get your Emily Post on and follow the rules to a tee.
When someone’s trying to visit your island, make sure everyone—including any other guests who have already arrived—has their Nook Phone tucked away. Otherwise, another guest won’t be able to fly to your island. Orville will relay to your scheduled visitor this vague message, “Wuh-oh! Looks like we’re getting interference… Hang on,” and refuse to book them a plane. Just wait until you’re all together to pull out your phones. That’s more like real life, anyway.
Entering or exiting a building at same time as one of your fellow players can cause lag and other connectivity issues. While you’re at it, don’t try shopping from the same vendors at the same time, either. Only one player can talk to any given shopkeeper at once. This can cause strife if, say, one player wants to buy a whole tuxedo but, before they get around to purchasing the slacks, another player has struck up dialogue with Mabel. In short, wait your turn.
Tom Nook’s Getaway Package doesn’t have a security force. There are no laws. The closest thing to a bouncer in this game is that antisocial dodo with sunglasses who fires off faux military lingo. In other words, there’s no easy way to kick someone off an island without kicking off all of your guests by ending the session.
Reporting someone—which you can do by hitting the minus button and selecting “Report”—won’t immediately remove them. Delisting someone from your friends list will prevent them coming back, but it won’t kick them out of a current session. When you’re a guest, don’t abuse this immense privilege.
Here’s an example, for which I admit full culpability: When I first started playing, I visited a friend’s island. She was farther along than me—had a ladder, a vaulting pole, an upgraded ax, all that jazz. I still had flimsy tools and very much wanted an upgraded shovel. Understandably, she said no, on account of the fact that I had nothing useful to trade. So I started stomping on all her flowers. Soon enough, she gave me a sweet shovel, with one condition: I leave her island, stat. You shouldn’t do what I did! It’s mean!
There are other ways you can pressure people into lopsided trades, so long as you’re on their best friends list. You can plant trees all over the place. You can dig a bunch of holes in front of their house. You could even go full MI-6 blacksite operative and start chopping down trees. These tactics are all mean, too! Don’t do them!
When you’re on someone else’s island, you can’t access your storage. If you want to gift or trade something—say, a brand-new shovel, extra clothes, or some of your island’s native fruit—to your host, be sure to bring it with you before you go. Otherwise, you’ll either have to build it from scratch or head all the way back to your island. Both moves are total time-wasters.
Similarly, you can’t decorate while someone is visiting. If you’re hankering to show off your Throwback Race-Car Bed or Mini Fridge, put that stuff on display before guests arrive.
As you walk around someone’s island, you’ll probably see a ton of stuff that you want. There are fossils and pricey bugs. Each beach brims with seashells you can sell for bells. Taking any of this stuff without permission is frowned upon. But the gravest sin is to steal fruit that isn’t native to the host’s island. For instance, a host’s island might have plenty of pears (ew) and just one peach tree, which they certainly got elsewhere. You might want those peaches; I understand the impulse. Stand down.
Stealing the peaches robs your host of a cash flow. Each piece of native fruit sells for 100 bells. Non-native fruit, however, goes for 500 bells a pop. Your host could also be saving those peaches to create a grove. Planting three peaches begets three peach trees (and nine peaches). Planting those nine peaches creates 27 trees. You can see how the dollar signs add up. Seeing as it takes three days for fruit to regrow on trees, stealing those three peaches means you’re setting back your host’s plans by at least three days.
Maybe your host is willing to share. Who knows! The point is: Ask first.
When someone leaves an island without going through the official channels—meaning only the airport—you’ll get an alert that “someone quietly left.” Maybe the wi-fi cut out or the Switch disconnected from the internet due to a wayward press of the power button. Regardless, the game will then reload. All players with a steady connection will stay on the host’s island, but any progress made in that session will revert. Dug holes will get refilled. Purchases will be refunded. Chopped trees will grow back.
To be sure, there’s not much you can do about fickle internet service. At the very least, keep cats, babies, and other unpredictables away from the router. It also helps to remember not to suspend the game using the Home button.
And for the love of K. K. Slider, stop stepping on the flowers.