Animal Crossing New Horizons: Happy Home Paradise Review
Although New Horizons made a giant impact when it came out last Spring, odds are you haven’t played it in a while. And that’s fine! Animal Crossing games tend to have a hard-coded lifespan for most players. Eventually you just drift away, looking for that same weird high in other cozy life sim titles. Thankfully, we’ve got a ton of new content to play around with. Between the 2.0 update and this, the Happy Home Paradise DLC, Animal Crossing fans are riding high. I’ve only had access to the DLC since it launched, but it’s already changed the game for me in several key ways.
Okay, so it’s changed the game in one way. But it’s still big! The DLC has you working as an interior decorator for the Happy Home group. Rather than endlessly re-tool your own place, you can now whip up a whole town’s worth of fabulous vacation homes. You’ve got infinite resources, a lot of land plots to fill up, and total creative freedom. You can even change the size of rooms! I was unsure this would keep me hooked, but the unlimited budget is a huge boost to your casual creativity.
Money Is No Object
Not to harp on that point repeatedly, but the power to plaster every wall in TVs is too great to ignore. Not only that, but you’ve got immediate access to a gigantic catalog of items. I’ve seen more incredible furniture in the last 48 hours than I did in the whole first year of playing. When you have the power to make everything match? It’s like a cheat code for better taste. The rooms I design make most of my house look totally busted. Which is actually kind of a problem. Your vacation from island life -which is actually just a job- feels like a fresh breeze compared to the usual grind.
New items show up to your home island at a glacial pace. You get drip-fed content of all kinds in real time 24 hour shifts. If your island looks and feels amazing, it’s because you showed up every single day to make it that way. On the other hand, you can make a professional, perfect room after 20 minutes on the DLC end. It really shines a light on how merciless the regular grind can be. Like an actual vacation, you get a perfect vertical slice of a life beyond your reach. The two worlds aren’t totally separate, however.
You can bring back a couple things from your work trips. Souvenirs, for one. Every day, a new selection of unusual objects shows up in the company store. It’s all your work scrip is good for, so I usually buy all of it. You can also buy chocolates to lure your villagers to this custom paradise. If there’s anyone on your turf you think would benefit from a second home, you can sweep them up and get to work. So far I’ve gotten a single villager on island time, with a Twitch streamer’s neon/RGB studio. Weird choice for a vacation spot, but I’m not here to judge. Sadly, the room re-sizing trick doesn’t work on your own house, which is just cruel. However, you will be able to bring some of these techniques home! You’ll just have to design a lot of homes first.
Partitions And Accent Walls
While we have been given a ton of content with the 2.0 update, the DLC is focused on home design. To that end, it’s a bit one-note. To be clear, designing homes is rad, and getting some of those techniques on the home island is even better. But without a vested interest in interior design, there’s little incentive to pull the trigger on the Happy Home Paradise expansion. Even without it, you’ve still got Brewster’s cafe, Kappa’s boat rides, Harv’s co-op experiment, and the whole cooking and farming system. Although if you do decide to dip your toes in this home design business, it represents a ton of gameplay. At the time I’m writing this, it’s not clear how many homes you can build – or how many villagers you can cram on each island. So go nuts, is what I’m saying.
By itself, I’d be hard-pressed to recommend the Happy Home Paradise DLC to every AC fan. There’s only so much home design you can do before you’re burnt right out. Which is why Nintendo bundled it up with the 2.0 update. You can barrel through it at your own pace, but really you shouldn’t. Like the rest of Animal Crossing, it’s best if you take it easy. Make a house, make your rounds through the islands and your various chores. Maybe stop in at the cafe? Unlike the main game, you don’t have to take it slow. The game just encourages you to do so. This may be a simple addition to the game, but it’s also a valuable one. You’re given new tools in a new setting, with new rules that spread to the whole base game. Rather than a coat of paint, this DLC is more like an extra room added to the ground floor. Whether you want to build a couple houses or a whole map full of them, the Happy Home Paradise DLC has you covered.
***A Nintendo Switch code was provided by the publisher***
- Tons of new items
- More flexible pacing
- Lot of room to get creative
- Sort of one-note
- My house looks awful now
- Just a cluttered little shack