The Happy Home Paradise DLC is out following a surprisingly packed Animal Crossing-centric presentation last month. This paid DLC, which Nintendo says will be the last for New Horizons, offers players a chance to take up a new profession as a vacation home designer. The experience costs $24.99 on its own, but if you pick up a Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership, Happy Home Paradise comes bundled in for no extra cost. So, is the design life worth the Bells?
With several hours, multiple happy vacation home clients, and even a promotion under my belt, my biggest takeaway is that this expansion holds little for you if you don’t love designing spaces. If you are drawn to Animal Crossing to gather museum displays or strike it rich in the Stalk Market, Happy Home Paradise might not be for you. However, if you get giddy thinking about pulling together the perfect themed room, this DLC will let you design to your heart’s content.
The expansion starts with the easiest job interview I’ve ever experienced. Called to the airport to meet Lottie, a character that debuted six years ago in Happy Home Designer, I am offered a position at her company, Paradise Planning, despite my complete lack of experience and ridiculous half-scuba, half-chef outfit. The aquatic culinary look didn’t cut it for long, though, as Lottie had me change into a uniform after meeting my new adorable co-workers, Niko and Wardell. After the first trial run, the process of finding a client and creating a dreamy vacation home follows a predictable pattern.
Armed with my official company clipboard, I comb the expansion’s hub island for would-be customers, a task made much easier because everyone on the island is dreaming about their perfect vacation home. Just stand close to a vacationer to get a glimpse of what kind of design they’re looking for. Don’t like the idea of building a robot factory or a home filled with mushrooms? Move on to the next villager. When I eventually discover someone with an intriguing vision, I consult with them, pick a location for their home, and learn about their décor requirements.
Then it’s off to the site to gussy up the home’s exterior and interior. There are a wide array of menu options for landscaping and changing the look of the building before even entering the house. I can alter the look of bridges, adjust the weather, swap building types, put up fences, plant flowers, and more. Once inside, the customer’s required décor – which has been conveniently shipped to the location ahead of your arrival – is waiting for me alongside a helpful list of recommended furniture pieces and design options that match the client’s creative concept.
But don’t worry about straying far from these suggestions; it’s almost impossible to disappoint the would-be homeowner. As long as I had the mandatory items in the house, I had a happy customer – even if I didn’t decorate anything. After a set number of successful jobs, I started to unlock new features, like polishing furniture to make it shine, a unique DIY recipe, or large facility make-overs. At the end of each project, I’m also rewarded in Poki, an in-game currency that only works on the hub island.
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I’m not a fan of Poki. I can use it in Paradise Planning’s small store to nab unusual household goods, but I can’t directly spend it on my home island, which limits its usefulness dramatically. Likewise, taking pictures of my interior design masterpieces for the company’s portfolio is weirdly restrictive. The game only allows me to submit the last picture I took, and I’ve lost a few of my favorite shots by accidentally taking another photo. However, like some oddly frustrating features in the base game, these aren’t enough to stand in the way of having a good time in the DLC.
Besides a few hard-to-find materials – like glowing moss and vines – a handful of fresh furniture items, DIYs, and decorating techniques, it doesn’t seem like players will miss out on too much if they skip Happy Home Paradise. Especially since the free update that released last week has introduced so much to the game, like cooking and boat tours with Kapp’n. But for Animal Crossing players that love creating imaginative homes, Happy Home Paradise is a perfect way to stretch those creative muscles without the tedium of crafting, customizing, or collecting all the pieces needed to bring your vision to life.