Last week, I posted an article discussing my tumultuous relationship with Animal Crossing: New Horizons’s new crafting mechanic. In short, it was love at first Flimsy Axe recipe, but my island goals quickly became too ambitious for what is currently possible to achieve with crafting. I ended that discussion on a positive note. Crafting as a concept works for Animal Crossing, and I have complete confidence that Nintendo will continue to improve on the mechanic throughout the future of the franchise. Thankfully, we might not have to wait too long for that crafting filled future.
In the weeks since New Horizon’s release, the game has already been updated to host the Easter-inspired “Bunny Day” event, the Earth Day equivalent “Nature Day” celebration, and multiple island changes, including a museum expansion. In the chance that the Animal Crossing developers reach out to me for consulting advice on subsequent updates (my DMs are open Nintendo), here are the improvements I would make to give crafting the jump start in attention that it sorely needs.
1. Minimize Time Wasting
Crafting isn’t fun. Collecting resources is calming, producing useful items is neat, but the actual act of going to a workbench to transform those resources into useful items is monotonous. To craft a single item, I have to work through a six-step process that looks like this:
- Approach a workbench
- Select “Let’s Craft” to bring up the recipe window
- Choose the recipe
- Select “Craft it!”
- Select “Let’s do it!” to confirm
- Wait for the animation to finish
It’s an inelegant and laborious system that wastes a lot of time checking if I am absolutely sure that I selected the correct option. Nintendo, I chose “Bonfire” from a long list of options. I then clicked “Craft it!” while being on the Bonfire recipe page. Is that not enough to discern my intention that I want to craft a Bonfire? What’s with the additional “Let’s do it!” button?
Things become even more frustrating if I want to craft multiple items or customize something as the game forces me to repeat certain dialogs to accomplish these tasks. Fishing Bait, for example, is a fairly straightforward recipe that only requires one Manila clam to craft. Yet transforming an inventory full of clams into bait can take longer than five minutes of mindlessly jamming the ‘A’ button through redundant confirmation questions.
Streamlining the crafting process would go a long way towards making the mechanic feel like a reward instead of a chore. I would love to see the six-step process shrink to three steps, which is possible if they eliminate the unnecessary selections. Recipe pages should have an option that allows you to “Craft All” so that making 30 Wreaths doesn’t require 30 separate crafting animations. I should be able to select a recipe that is dependent on another recipe as long as I have enough resources to craft both. The customization menu should merge into the crafting window, and workbenches should be smart enough to check your home storage for materials as well as your inventory.
2. More Recipes
One of the reasons I spend so little time crafting items is because of how few recipes I find in general. Today alone, I had the option to purchase five furniture pieces from Nook’s Cranny as well as a wealth of clothing from the Able Sisters and Kicks the skunk. Compare that to the ONE recipe I found in a bottle by the shore, and it’s easy to see just how unreliable of a feature crafting is when it comes to discovering useful items. Increasing the rate at which players find recipes is a must going forward if New Horizons wants its crafting system to remain relevant in the future.
3. Dismantling Items
Finding a new recipe in a bottle every day is functional, but it makes the recipe discovery process feel random. Instead, New Horizons should introduce the option to dismantle items as an active and organic way for players to learn more recipes. Every item could have the option to be dismantled, and the reward for the process would be half of the resources needed to craft that item in the first place. In addition, every time a player dismantles an item, there’s a chance they will learn a new recipe. For example, dismantling a kitchen sink might teach players how to craft a bathroom sink.
4. Luxury Recipes
Even if New Horizons starts delivering two or three extra recipes a day to players, this strategy can only succeed for so long. So far, the majority of recipes I’ve collected have lacked a sense of personality, complexity, and uniqueness. Finding three more recipes for wooden chairs is not nearly as appealing as the 50” flat screens or Skull Shaped CD players being sold at Nook’s Cranny daily.
In the same way that the remodeled Nook’s Cranny sells one “luxury item” every day, I want to see that policy extended for recipes so that players can find “luxury recipes.” These recipes would likely require an exorbitant amount of resources to craft, but the payoff, in turn, would be well worth the effort. When paired with my dismantling suggestion, luxury recipes can put players in the driver’s seat when it comes to inching closer to their house or island goals.
5. Crafting Infrastructure
As Tom Nook intended, the world of New Horizons is heavily dependent on how many bells I have and almost nothing else. Expanding my home, building a new home for visitors, remodeling shops, moving buildings, and installing bridges are activities that I am likely to do for years to come. However, none of those things rely on the game’s crafting mechanic in any way.
Sharing the monetary cost of some of these purchases with skillful ones can significantly increase the value of crafting while also adding more variety to the overall New Horizons experience. Take the “Log staircase,” which costs a blistering 168,000 bells to construct every time. Instead, why not make the staircase into a luxury recipe which costs 168,000 bells the first time and then an excess of various log types to craft. Crafting mechanics could also split bell costs in different ways, like being able to pay off a portion of your house debt by supplying Nook with some of the resources he needs to build it.
6. Tool Degradation Changes
Let me be honest. As someone who has spent hundreds of hours in the previous Animal Crossing games with the same fishing rod since day one, I don’t particularly care for the breakable tool mechanic in New Horizons. There’s nothing more irritating than having my shovel or axe break when trying to finish my morning Animal Crossing routine in a hurry. If I could take tool degradation out, I would, but because I don’t see that ever happening, there are still some other changes Nintendo can make to improve the tool situation.
A ubiquitous suggestion I’ve heard floating around the online New Horizons communities has been to display warning meters under tools that showcase how close they are to breaking. Although this is not ideal for me, at least my incoming suffering will no longer be a surprise. I guess that’s a step in the right direction to be sure.
What I really want to see is an adjustment of how New Horizons treats “Golden Tools.” Throughout the franchise, gold tools have earned a notorious reputation for being immensely challenging to collect, and New Horizons is no different. Obtaining the recipe for the Golden Fishing Rod alone requires players to catch every fish type available in the game- a feat that could easily take months if not years worth of work. What bothers me is that, like the standard and flimsy tool types, gold tools are still degradable. It’s a real slap in the face to anyone putting in months of work trying to obtain these recipes. New Horizons is the first Animal Crossing game I’ve played where I’m not actively motivated to assemble my golden toolset for that very reason. For the love of all that is Nook, please make gold tools unbreakable in New Horizons. If I’m spending the ridiculous amounts of time it takes to earn these tools, then I should be able to take a break from needing to craft them regularly.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Nintendo is planning the improve upon New Horizons’s crafting system in future updates. Whether they take some of my suggestions listed above remains to be seen, but until then, all we can do is speculate. So what do you guys think about my improvement ideas? Are there any you disagree with? Is there a crafting change that you want New Horizons to make that wasn’t mentioned on my list?