Animal Crossing: New Horizons is one of the games that saved our sanity in 2020, but not everyone plays it every day. Maybe you found something else to play on your Switch or just got tired of the daily grind—and that’s okay! But you may notice your island looks a bit different when you come back.
Unlike other video games, taking time away from Animal Crossing has in-game consequences. None of them are severe, but the list of chores and missed special events grows longer if you spend too much time between visits. Returning to an unkempt island can be overwhelming, especially if this is your first Animal Crossing game, but we’ll show you everything you need to do to get your village back in order.
Check in on your friends
The first thing many socially-minded players will do is chat up the friendly villagers they haven’t seen in a while. Some will be happy to see you, but others will be upset that you were gone for so long. They may even threaten to leave if they’re unhappy with the state of the town. But don’t worry, you can win back their affection by fulfilling requests, giving them gifts, and tidying up the island. Make sure you drop in on everyone to see if they have important updates for you or have specific needs they need met.
Squish those roaches
If you haven’t visited in over a month, you’ll notice some creepy cockroaches moved into your island home while you were away. These little critters aren’t harmful, but are definitely unsightly. You can step on them to get rid of ‘em, but be sure to check under your furniture to make sure none are hiding. Your Villager will say “All the pesky cockroaches are GONE! I feel so much better now!” once you remove them all.
With your home infestation exterminated, your island’s landscape needs attention next. Weeds, fossils, and seashells all pile up while you’re away. It’ll take some time to tidy up everything, but the extra seashells will be handy for crafting and you can offload any fossils you find to Blathers the Owl.
Catch up on your mail
Just like in real life, you get daily mail deliveries in Animal Crossing. These are delivered even when you’re not playing, so take a few minutes and catch up on your letters and packages—just keep in mind you might not get all of your mail.
Your villager’s mailbox can only hold 300 messages at a time. If you’ve been away for several months with a full inbox, you may have even lost some mail that couldn’t be delivered—including gifts from your friends or special-one-of-a-kind items that only show up once throughout the year. Unfortunately, these missed items cannot be retrieved (unless you resort to time travel).
Look for special events
The Animal Crossing games have their own seasonal calendar with special holidays and festivals that only come around once a year. These time-limited special events include unique items and updates to your town, like snowy weather on Toy Day. These events are inaccessible once they’re gone, but if you’re lucky, you might just stumble onto one when you load up the game again. Give every inch of your town a look to see if anything’s changed.
Now, I don’t recommend playing a game every day due to FOMO—there are plenty of other games to play, hobbies to take up, and important life events that are more important than Animal Crossing—however, there are plenty of online resources to use to stay on top of important upcoming seasonal events in New Horizons or help you predict random happenings around your island like meteor showers and weather or Stalk Market fluctuations, so you don’t miss out.