Animal Crossing: New Horizons took the gaming community by storm during the COVID-19 quarantine, giving players the freedom and creative outlet their isolation lacked. When the virus began to subside in certain areas and lockdown restrictions lessened, some players abandoned their islands to the passage of time. Should these players return to their virtual Animal Crossing wonderlands, there are a few nasty surprises that may await them.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons islands progress with time and develop depending on the activities players accomplish. ACNH islands have regular events that occur at 6 AM each day, including the spawning of weeds, shuffling of Bell rocks, the arrival of traveling vendors, and inventory rotation at available stores. Islands that are left unattended for over a year will continue to experience these programmed events and suffer from others.
One of the most troublesome side effects of leaving an Animal Crossing: New Horizons island unattended is the overgrowth of weeds. Each day more weeds will spawn across the grass and paths of the islands, and eventually effect its overall star rating. Players who have invested hours into crafting the perfect paradise in Animal Crossing shouldn’t be surprised if this rating has plummeted after a year-long vacation. Clearing weeds from the island can be time consuming and tedious, but the items collected from the cleanup can be sold for Leif whenever he spawns next. Removing these weeds will also restore the five star rating of any island that had achieved it prior to the overgrowth.
The bugs in Animal Crossing: New Horizons are not restricted to the outdoors, and extended absences from the game will bring infestations into players’ houses. Players are notified of this with a short cutscene where bugs will scurry across the room, causing the player character to react with a ‘!’ over their head. These roaches cannot be caught, as players are unable to use a net indoors. As a result, these bugs can only be removed by being crushed underfoot. The roaches are quick and move erratically, making it quite difficult for players to kill all their unwanted tenants quickly. The bugs will likely have infested every room, so it’s suggested that players spend some time in their home ensuring all roaches have been killed.
Players’ islands are not the only things that fall apart after long absences. Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ Villagers will also react to a player’s prolonged disappearance in different ways. Jock Villagers will believe that players have departed to the mainland and be training to swim over for a visit, while Snooty Villagers will become irritated that they’ve been neglected. Thankfully, ACNH has revoked the ability for Villagers to leave while players are not present. This means that whatever ten Villagers were present on the island prior to players’ year-long absence should still be there.
Despite the many drawbacks that accompany returning to an abandoned Animal Crossing island, cleaning up and restoring relations with some of the residents can be a fulfilling pastime. Now that the lives of many former Animal Crossing: New Horizons players have kicked back into motion, those looking for some relaxation may want to revisit the virtual paradise that helped them through the pandemic. Unfortunately players’ debts to Tom Nook won’t have gone anywhere, but at least he doesn’t charge interest!