Warning: Late-game spoilers for ACNH follow.
Once you’ve upgraded Resident Services in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you can talk to Tom Nook about changing your island infrastructure. This includes moving buildings, building bridges, and adding inclines to make traversing your island a little bit easier for you and the villagers. But what if you want to change the landscape? That’s where terraforming comes in and this guide will cover how to unlock it and some neat ideas on how to use it.
How to Unlock Terraforming in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Editing landscapes is an ability that players get later in Animal Crossing, so it will take quite a bit of work to unlock terraforming in Animal Crossing: New Horizons if you haven’t already made some decent headway. Here are the requirements:
1. Get a three-star island rating
First, you need to get a three-star island rating so if you haven’t done that yet, we recommend you check out our guide. In short, you need to decorate your island with flowers, items, and fences. Keep checking with Isabelle for feedback. Once your island rating reaches three stars, K.K. Slider will come to perform on your island and the game credits will roll.
2. Get the Island Designer App on Your Nook Phone
After that’s finished, Tom Nook will greet you at your house to install the Island Designer App on your Nook Phone. The app in its standard form only allows you to create paths, however, you can head to Resident Services and hit up the Nook Stop to buy permits with Nook Miles for a variety of things.
3. Purchase Waterscaping and Cliff Construction Permits
While the Nook Stop sells a variety of permits, the two most important for terraforming is Waterscaping and Cliff Construction. Each permit costs 6,000 Nook Miles each (and just so happens to be the most expensive), but they will allow you to mold your island into the town of your dreams. Check out our guide on how to get more Nook Miles if you’re having a hard time accumulating them.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Terraforming Ideas
After you’ve been given the power of the shovel, possibilities for sculpting your island are nearly endless. If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some cool ideas for terraforming your island:
Recreate famous video game and movie towns
Some players sought inspiration from their favorite games. We actually covered a really cool ode to the Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. There was also an Animal Crossing player that turned their island into Pallet Town from Pokemon. These types of terraforming projects don’t have to be limited to games, either. Pick a town or neighborhood from your favorite show or movie and put your terraforming skills to the test.
Build designated areas for housing, shopping, fishing and bug hunting
You can also try going the practical route by simply creating spaces for your villagers to live, shop, fish, and bug hunt. Here are a few suggestions:
Create a market by placing Nook’s Cranny and the Able Sisters Shop in an area decorated with fruit stands, vending machines, and seating with fountains.
Build a giant waterfall with a big pond for fishing surrounded with tables and seating.
Add a garden filled with hybrid flowers, an orchard, and the museum, like a park.
Place all of your villagers’ homes on a beautiful cobblestone path with street lights and yard decor that match their personality.
Create an elaborate entrance to your island
What better way to greet your visitors than to give them a grand entrance. Players have already taken to decorating their Animal Crossing: New Horizons islands with beautiful pathways that lead into the heart of their islands.
entrance wip + rowan being a dork #AnimalCrossing #ACNH #NintendoSwitch pic.twitter.com/VTop5KuHtF
— 보라색 하나 (@FueledBy_Donuts) April 14, 2020
My entrance is cutie #AnimalCrossing #ACNH #NintendoSwitch pic.twitter.com/j5RUT216m8
— Ari ♡ (@ariacnh) April 12, 2020
Go all-in on a theme for your town
If you have an undying love for a certain aesthetic — be it witchy, galactic, nerdy, or even natural and rustic — then use terraforming to further enhance and bring that vibe to life! Build a spooky cemetery at the top of a hill and place the museum in the middle if you want something spooky. Or create an outdoor library with a cafe surrounded by waterfalls like this twitter user did!
For even more guides and customizion suggestions, be sure to visit IGN’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons wiki guide.