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Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a welcome escape from the pandemic for many Nintendo Switch gamers. While the game had frequent smaller updates, many had hoped it would have more longevity through expansions and major free updates.
And then came the announcement of its expansion — Happy Home Paradise — which launched shortly after a major free content update, version 2.0.
So how does this expansion stand up to the original? And is it Animal Crossing: Happy Home Paradise worth it?
What is Animal Crossing: Happy Home Paradise about?
Happy Home Paradise introduces a new archipelago to the game. Players access it in a different instance, similar to Harv’s Island, so you need to travel to it by plane.
Here, you’ll find the Paradise Planning offices. Founder Lottie asks you to join her team in order to design vacation homes for holiday-goers.
She’ll pay you in a unique currency for your efforts, which you can redeem for exclusive decor items. As you advance at your position, you will learn to craft new items and apply your decorating skills at home.
You will also get a chance to design a variety of holiday homes according to themes chosen by holiday-goers, as well as the chance to design buildings needed on the Paradise Planning island.
Enough variety to keep players interested
One of my worries when first looking at this expansion was its seemingly narrow focus — it seemed like it may only appeal to those who are heavily invested in the island customization features of Animal Crossing.
After all, just how much can you really design homes over and over before it becomes repetitive?
Luckily, Happy Home Paradise finds ways to add variety to this format.
Firstly, the initial designs are limited to certain themes and a smaller catalogue of items. As time progresses, you unlock more items.
You also unlock more design tools and options. But the need to stick to a theme for many of your first designs helps keep things fresh.
You will also receive different types of buildings to design on occasion.
The choice to do jobs on your own time (and do extra jobs or skip days when you want to) helps keep you from feeling like you’re just grinding through tasks.
Improving on the past
The expansion also improves on certain flaws or frustrations in gameplay from the past. For example, the design tools are vastly improved compared to the original island design tools.
Moving items around, customizing, and decorating is far easier. This includes some of the landscaping tools, such as placing fences and paths.
While certain tasks take time to unlock, jobs aren’t time-gated nearly to the extent that progress at the start of the base game is. In fact, I only realized some jobs were time-gated because I read about a certain job online.
Compared to early gameplay for the base game, this is a huge improvement.
Even the Paradise Planning NPCs seem much more likeable. These improvements make you wish that more expansions were on the way.
Is Animal Crossing: Happy Home Paradise worth it?
Happy Home Paradise breathes new life into Animal Crossing, giving you hours of extra fun in the game. Paired with the version 2.0 update, it really does feel like the boost of life sorely needed by the game.
It’s unfortunate that this is the only planned expansion for Animal Crossing. At only R450, it’s also not too expensive. You get many hours of gameplay in exchange for the price.
Happy Home Paradise is definitely aimed at players who enjoy decorating, but you don’t have to be one of those players that spends hours meticulously customising their island to enjoy this expansion.
If you enjoy decoration, customisation, and design, you’ll enjoy the expansion pack and get your money’s worth.