One of Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ biggest selling points was its new terraform feature. But how do you terraform your land?
I’m sorry to disappoint new players, but terraforming in Animal Crossing: New Horizons is not something you’re able to do straight away. In fact, it’ll be around two weeks before you unlock the ability.
Once Isabelle comes to your island, which happens once you’ve upgraded the Resident Services tent to a fully fledged building, you’ll be tasked to prepare the island for K.K. Slider to visit. You know, the famous musician. For him to visit, you need to raise the profile of your island. This involves adding decorations, getting new people to visit, and increasing the number of residents.
It’s a bit of a slow task, but once you’ve done enough, K.K. Slider will come! As a reward for your hard work, Tom Nook will install the Island Designer on your Nook Phone. This is what you need to begin terraforming.
However: to begin with, the Island Designer app only lets you place dirt paths. In order to truly change your landscape, you need to unlock different types of permits. Thankfully, these can be purchased at will from the Nook Terminal.
Head to the Resident Services building, and interact with the ATM-type Nook Terminal. Select ‘redeem Nook miles’. On there, once you’ve got the Island Designer app, you’ll find two new options; ‘Waterscaping permit’ and ‘Cliff construction permit’. They aren’t cheap: they cost 6,000 Nook Miles each. However, once you’ve unlocked both, you’ll be able to terraform your Animal Crossing island to your heart’s content.
The waterscaping permit allows you to place and remove water wherever you like. Create your own rivers and ponds! The cliff construction permit allows you to build and remove higher-level cliffs around your island. Don’t want to build inclines and fed up of having to use ladders? Make everything flat, if you want. You can also purchase permits to place different types of paths around your island from the Nook Terminal.
Once you’ve unlocked the permits you need, you’ll need to visit the Island Designer app on your Nook Phone again. Starting it up, your villager will don a hard hat and is ready to do construction. Sadly, you can’t work from an overworld map; you need to be in the very spot you’re wanting to terraform. Press ‘+’ on your Switch to change the tool you’re using, and press ‘A’ in the spot where you want to terraform. When you’re done, head back into your Nook Phone and select the Island Designer app again to close it.
Have fun with terraforming in Animal Crossing: New Horizons – it’s hard work, but it’s worth it in the end!