Brittany is a huge "Animal Crossing" fan! She has played Wild World, New Leaf, Pocket Camp, and is currently obsessed with New Horizons!
In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you can have up to eight people/characters playing on one island. Most people use these other accounts for their friends or family to share their Switch and set-up their own character on the island, but what if you’re the sole-player? You can still use your other profiles to make side characters, which will allow you to have more houses to decorate, more opportunities to make bells, and more interactions with special NPC characters.
As someone who is currently playing with/managing five characters in total in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I have a lot of tips and some valuable advice for anyone looking to set up a side character (or four!).
How to Set up a Side Profile
First thing’s first—you have to make a new profile on your Switch in order to make a new character in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Set-up is pretty easy. From your Switch home menu, simply navigate to the System Settings page (the sun icon), then scroll down to “User.” From there, select “Add User” and you’ll be able to create a new user profile. You can pick an icon and a username for your new user. The Switch will prompt you to link a Nintendo Account with the new player, but you don’t have to do this unless you have another Nintendo account (which requires you to sign up with a new e-mail address). Just select “Later.”
Then you'll be sent back to the User menu. There, you'll be able to see your original user account, plus the new one you just made.
How to Play as a Side Character
When you go back to the Switch home and select Animal Crossing: New Horizons from your games, you’ll now have an option to select a profile to play as. You can select your new character and start up the game.
If it’s your first time playing as the new character, you’ll have to go through all the initial introduction/set-up that the game does when you first start playing; starting at the airport, telling the Dodos your name and gender, creating the look of your character, meeting Tom Nook at resident services, placing your tent, and using the Nook Phone for the first time.
Initial set up does take about an hour—this includes playing up until the point where you’re collected 5,000 Nook Miles to pay off your first home loan (which is recommended, but I’ll get to that later). But once you play this part through, you can spend as much or as little time on your side character as you want.
7 Advantages to Having Side Characters
So now you may be wondering what the advantages are of having multiple accounts/side characters on your one New Horizons Island. Well, there are actually plenty! Here are the top seven.
1. Extra Storage
If you’re anything like me—a virtual pack rat—you’ll realise that you’ll run out of storage pretty quickly in this game. Even with the basement unlocked, I’m often hovering at 1500/1600 of my storage space, which is insane to think about.
With a side character, you will have a new house to store objects in! Depending on how much you want to put into expanding the home, you can have anywhere from 80-1600 storage slots per house (storage expands by 80/120/240/320/400/800/1600 per house upgrade), not including your pockets. At the very least, I recommend upgrading from a tent to the single-room house (this is where you pay via 5,000 Nook Mile points, as mentioned above), so you will have the minimal 80 additional storage slots.
To manage/swap inventory between characters, simply take out the item you want to put in your side character’s house and select “Drop Item." It’ll fall wherever you want on the ground. Then when you log into the side account, your side character can pick it up and place it in their house or inventory.
Be careful, as this also means that any dropped objects (they look like the Animal Crossing leaf icon when dropped vs. placed as furniture) can be picked up by ANYONE who visits your island. So while you have dropped objects on the ground, if you have a friend or stranger visiting through Online Multiplayer, they can also pick up and take these items.
I try to clean up my island of any dropped items before I invite someone over, unless I know it’s a friend whom I can trust not to take anything. And I generally place objects near my side character’s houses, which are far away from the main area where I’m usually entertaining guests.
Isabelle and the rest of your villagers also won’t care for a lot of dropped objects on the ground. If you ask Isabelle for an island evaluation whilst you have several items on the ground, she’ll advise that you have too many things littering your island, and it’ll affect your overall island score.
2. More Rooms to Decorate
One of my favourite things to do in the Animal Crossing games is to decorate rooms. I love decorating my own home, but I also love making themed rooms/houses, creating cinemas, restaurants, spas, laundromats, banks . . . you name it! Sadly, you only have the one house to do all that with in Animal Crossing: New Horizons (or you can create them on Harv’s Island!), but if you create a new character, you have a whole new house to decorate.
Again, use the above method to transfer items between characters if you have things in storage that you want to decorate a side house with. Or, use your side character to buy desired items directly from Nook’s Cranny or the Nook Stop.
You’ll have to upgrade the side character’s house just like you did for your original in order to have a full home and six rooms to play with, but depending on how many decorating ideas you have, it’ll be worth it in the end.
One good thing about this vs. just playing in Harv’s Island, for example, is that when you invite friends over via Online Multiplayer, they can also come and look at the houses you’ve decorated. Keep in mind that you or your friends can’t pick up any items placed inside the side character’s house (nor can you place things down directly if you’re not playing as the owner of the home), but they can certainly see and interact with anything you’ve placed there.
It’s a great way to get creative and show off your imagination to friends!
3. Extra Money Rocks and Money Trees
Now let’s get down to the slightly cheat-y, but totally valid, reason for making a side character: more bells!
Each player on your island has access to a new glowing money spot each day, which means you can deposit bells in the hole to grow a money tree! I always deposit 10k bells per character, which always guarantees a money tree of 30K at harvest time (you can certainly plant more or less, but 10k is the best-guaranteed investment over time). I have a small orchard of all my money trees that my five characters create each day. After I’ve harvested the money bags, I chop down the trees and replace them with new ones (since after you’ve harvested the money, the tree just turns into a normal hardwood tree). There’s no limit to how many money trees you can have on your island at a time.
There’s also a money rock for each player per day. Make sure you have each character hit the money rock every day for your bonus 16,100 bells per day, per character. Please note that the same rock may not produce bells for each player, so you may have to hit a few rocks before you find the money rock on each account.
Interestingly enough, there is a bonus harvestable rock, but only for one other player on the island. The main character (or first account playing for the day) can harvest five rocks per day for resources (not including the sixth rock, which produces bells), and one other player can harvest just one rock per day for resources. The harvestable rocks won’t re-spawn again for anyone after the second player has hit it.
4. More DIY Recipes
I really love collecting DIY recipes in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, so when I realised I could get even more DIYs on my side accounts, I was thrilled.
Each player can receive at least one message in a bottle per day along the shore of the beach. (Sometimes two will wash up; if you pick up one early in the morning towards the start of the day, you may find one later in the evening if you check again.)
Each player can also visit the villagers who are crafting DIYs and collect a recipe. Make sure you check morning, noon, and night for a villager crafting, and if it’s a good recipe, why not log into a side account and collect it there?
Of course, getting so many DIYs from your side accounts is bound to lead to you having duplicate recipes. You can either give them away to friends, trade or sell them online (I recommend sites like /r/ACTrade or Nookazon for trading and in-game selling), or just sell them to Nook’s Cranny, though DIY cards are only worth around 200 bells at Nook’s Cranny.
The only downside to having duplicate cards is that there’s currently no way in the game to put them into your storage. So if you find you have a lot, you might want to place them in a room in one of your side houses until you’ve traded them all away, like I’ve done.
5. More Nook Miles
I know some people find it hard to accrue Nook Miles, but it’s actually relatively easy, especially the daily Nook Miles + rewards. By simply spending 15 minutes per day, per character, I can usually get a few Nook Miles points by naturally playing the game, or doing simple tasks, like catching bugs and fish.
You also unlock some from easy achievements: upgrading your home, placing objects in your house, placing items in your storage, etc.
Don’t forget that you get bonus points for checking in at the Nook Stop machine, so that may be worth doing on each account, too.
And again, what do you do with all these extra Nook Miles? Well, you can use them to travel to the Mystery Island on your side account, buy special items in the Nook Stop machine, or use them to purchase Nook Miles tickets, which you can either keep for your main character to use, or use them for bartering on Animal Crossing communities like /r/ACTrade or Nookazon. Nook Miles tickets are highly sought after in the community, so it doesn’t hurt to have some of them lying around when you want to buy a special item, your dream villager, or gain entry to someone’s special event (i.e., meteor shower/Celeste visit).
6. Extra NPC Rewards
Every day you have a new NPC who will visit your island. Generally, you can only interact with them/receive a gift from them once per visit, but with your side account, you get more chances for interactions and rewards.
You can speak to Celeste with each account for more DIYs. Help Gulliver on each account for his special object the following day. Help Wisp get his spirit back on each account for a random reward. You can request more songs from K.K. Slider, purchase more paintings from Redd, and order more commissions from Flick and C.J. (provided you have the required bugs/fish).
There are two NPCs that are not worth visiting on your side accounts. First is Label, as she’ll give everyone the same rewards for passing her fashion check (but she will give each account Tailor Tokens, which you can give to your main account). Second is Saharah, as she will sell the same rugs, and mystery wallpaper/flooring during each visit (however, it can be useful to purchase from her if you want multiples of the same mystery wallpaper/floor, as she does limit them to one per person. If you have a bunch of her tickets, you can let your other accounts trade them with her to get a random mystery wallpaper or floor per visit).
7. Extra Nook Stop/Catalogue Purchases
I really love the catalogue feature in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but one thing I hate about it is that each player is limited to only making five orders per day. This becomes a real issue when you’re trying to craft something like a Wooden Bookshelf, which needs five books to craft. You can purchase your five books and get them delivered the next day, but if you’re trying to make multiple bookshelves, this would take days or weeks to complete.
Even if you just need to order a bunch of items for decorating from your catalogue, having a five-per-day limit is just maddening.
The workaround for this when playing with side accounts is to let your side account “catalogue” the items you need to order. This consists of simply dropping the item on the ground, logging into your side character, and picking it up then dropping it again, so it’s also added to their catalogue of items. Then you can have your side account order them, too.
I’ve done this plenty of times, particularly when needing to craft multiples of things like bookshelves or Magazine Racks; I catalogued the single book and magazine on my side accounts, ordered them from the Nook Stop, and delivered them back to my main character the next day. Now I can craft five Wooden Bookshelves in a day instead of waiting a week to do them all.
Cons to Having Side Accounts
Not everything is perfect about having a side account, so there are of course some cons:
- Takes some time to get set up: As mentioned above, it does take at least an hour to set your side account up for the first time. This can be tedious once you’ve done it a few times.
- You have to play each character each day: You don’t really have to log-in to your side account every single day, but it’s worth doing if you really want to get the full potential of having more characters (i.e., extra money spots, money from rocks, message bottles, etc.)
- It becomes expensive to upgrade houses: To upgrade your house fully, you need to spend 5.696 million bells (including the final 2.5 million loan, which isn’t entirely necessary to pay off). Good thing you’ll be making at least 46k per character, per day with money trees and money rocks!
- You can't play with the other characters: I thought that if I created my husband in the game, I’d see him walking around my island or be able to interact with him when I’m not playing, but the game doesn’t work that way, sadly. You’d only be able to play “with” your side accounts if you have more than one joy-con and play couch co-op. You can, however, place your side characters down in Photopia on Harv’s Island, if you want to pretend to interact with them there for storytelling purposes!
Things You Can't Do With a Side Character
All that being said, there are a few limitations the game has around side characters:
- Get extra design slots: This one really gutted me about New Horizons, because back in the days of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, each side character got extra slots for QR code designs. Sadly, designs and pro-design slots are shared between all characters on the island, so you’re stuck with the small amount the game gives you, no matter how many players you have on the island.
- Take advantage of all dailies: I’ve mentioned several dailies above that you can take advantage on your side accounts of, but there are a few that don’t respawn per character, mainly tree-shaking (once one of the characters have shaken all the trees, none of the others can shake them for bells, bees, or items), tree harvesting (you are limited to three pieces of wood per tree, per day), collectables (though things like seashells still spawn on all accounts, special collectables like mushrooms can only be picked up once), and the aforementioned harvestable rocks.
© 2020 Brittany Brown
Kathaleen Wood on August 08, 2020:
I have a question you may be able to answer. Why do some people seem to have 80 custom design and 50 pro custom designs? I have seen this several times when I am entering the creation code from somebody when I am in the Able Sisters Boutique. The custom design has 80 (1/2 & 2/2 windows) and Pro custom has 50 (1/1 windows)
In case you wanted to see what I was writing about, this is the most current design I was inputting; MA-5116-9644-5826. I found this on YouTube while watching an Island Tour. I really hope that you might know the answer to this because I cannot seem to find anything.
Thank you so much for your article. I did not know that there were places that you could trade or buy items with bells.
I look forward to any insight that you may have on the subject of Custom Design space.
Brittany Brown (author) from Sydney, Australia on July 01, 2020:
You're welcome, I'm so glad it helps! I hope Animal Crossing eventually adds on the ability for all players to have separate islands, but I doubt it, lol
Brittany Brown (author) from Sydney, Australia on July 01, 2020:
Hi Chelsea! You can see their house, but you won't see them walking around town or anything like that, unless you go to Harv's Island and bring them there :)
Chelsea on July 01, 2020:
So if you’re logged into main account you won’t see the secondary character around town or in their home?
Stef on June 30, 2020:
This was sooooo helpful! I’m new to animal crossing and only started playing to be more connected to family who don’t live close but also was curious about how the shared island stuff worked as far as who can claim what. This is the best info out there for those wondering how to navigate having more than one player on an island without stepping on toes and for helping people decide what they can get with an extra player. ❤️
Brittany Brown (author) from Sydney, Australia on May 21, 2020:
Thanks for your comment, Matt, and I'm glad the article was useful (all those money rocks!) I also haven't had Redd for about two weeks I think (haven't checked today, but fingers crossed he's there)- but according to a Data Mine, he's meant to be visiting just like normal NPCs (I'll be doing a follow-up article about this!), so unless it's glitched, we should see Redd soon :)
Matt Pietropaoli on May 21, 2020:
Thanks for sharing these interesting tips! I don't use any side accounts, but I can see the benefits for visiting vendors like Redd -- who I honestly have not seen at my island in weeks. I didn't know that multiple characters could hit the money rock! Thanks again for the great read.