In my first weekend playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I had grand designs to pay off my initial mortgage and plant a robust orchard of fruit — but I didn’t expect my proudest accomplishment to be picking more than 6,250 weeds. I was driven to complete that herculean feat because I was rewarded with Nook Miles, a new currency in the series that I’ve become obsessed with collecting.
In New Horizons, you earn Nook Miles for doing just about anything on your island, such as traveling to other islands, talking to villagers, plucking weeds, or fishing. If, for example, you catch 100 fish, you’ll get a stamp on your fishing card, a few hundred Nook Miles, and a new fish-catching goal to shoot for.
New Horizons also offers Nook Miles Plus, a rotating set of five mini-tasks like catching five bugs or talking to three villagers. So if I don’t feel like tackling a big challenge, like paying off my huge mortgage or trying to catch a rare fish, I can spend a few minutes chatting with some of my island’s residents to get miles instead.
Nook Miles can be turned into great in-game rewards, like an expanded inventory or a way to quickly select tools. I also find I’m a lot more willing to spend Nook Miles because they can’t be used for bell-based goals like my home’s mortgage.
Nook Miles may seem like micro-progression systems you might have encountered in mobile or free-to-play games like Fortnite — and that’s intentional, according to New Horizons’ director Aya Kyogoku. Nook Miles were designed in part to help ease players from the smartphone spinoff Pocket Camp into the new game. “We did realize that a lot of the fans who started playing Animal Crossing for the first time with Pocket Camp may have difficulties jumping into titles like New Horizons,” Kyogoku said.
But even if Nook Miles give some structure to a series that’s sometimes better known for giving you a blank canvas to make your own fun, I like how they offer tiny goals I can tackle at any time.
The system really comes together when you use Nook Miles to buy Nook Miles Tickets, which let you go on a trip to a special island you can only visit one time. That island is typically filled with fish, bugs, fruit, and other resources to gather, which you can sell or use in some other way to improve your island. The whole time I’m making the trip, gathering resources, and bringing things back, I’m earning more Nook Miles that I can put toward my next ticket or one of the many other rewards offered.
There are dozens of Nook Miles stamp cards, so I’m guessing that even when I’ve paid off every house mortgage and decked out my island to look exactly the way I want, I’ll still have goals that will take me weeks to work through. I’m really looking forward to tackling them — though I’m glad I’ve already pulled every weed I need for the “Greedy Weeder” stamp card.