Home away from home
So the Happy Home Paradise DLC has been out for about a week (ish) now, and I’ve made a decent amount of progress. If it weren’t for all the pesky, non-vacation-home-designing activities required by life, I’m sure I’d have filled an alarming amount of plots by now. Can you tell I’m having way too much fun with this? As it is, I’ve designed around 15 homes (plus three facilities) and I’ve genuinely enjoyed what I’ve played so far – especially with how this DLC is paced. So let’s talk first impressions, shall we?
If you can make your way to the airport, through your weed-infested, apocalyptic landscape of an island (I hope your villagers made you feel nice and guilty for abandoning them, you monster) you’ll find Tom Nook waiting for you. After a brief introduction to Lottie, the owner of Paradise Planning (for all your vacation home needs) you’ll unlock the option to have the dodo’s fly you to work. Yay? Once you’ve arrived on the pristine island resort, you’ll be introduced to the dream team of Lottie, Wardell, and Niko. Now I know that Niko, the little monkey, is objectively adorable, but Wardell is the real winner for me. He’s real quiet, very chonky, and oh yeah, he’s a manatee. He is perfect, and I would die for him.
But let’s get down to business (not to defeat the huns) but rather, to the designing of vacation homes. When you work with your first client, Eloise, you’re introduced to the basics of design: the client presents their concept (for Eloise, a reading room) and a few items of furniture that must be included in their design. From there, you’ll pick the plot of land that you feel suits their needs – there are a ton of options ranging from beachfront, to arctic icebergs, with additional variety in season, landscaping, and size. Once you’ve settled on the perfect locale, it’s time to design, and for your first client, you’ll be focusing exclusively on the interior of the house. This sets up the foundation for the rest of the DLC. While you have access to certain new items and ideas, like ceiling decor (what a time to be alive!), and accent walls, it’s all very manageable.
After you’ve worked with Eloise, the game opens up a bit more: you’re free to hand-pick your next client from a group of beachgoers. As you continue to design more homes, your options for decorating continue to expand. You’re able to customize the exterior of their home, from the roof colour to the style of the structure, as well as the surrounding landscape. The game will slowly add more furniture items to your catalog, with themed items to match your client’s needs, and help you bring their vision to life. Further customization options, like expanding a room size, changing the colour of the lighting, and adding a soundscape can completely change the vibe of an entire design. While working on Tipper’s Ranch-style home, I added a wheat field and silo to her front yard. Ken’s dojo-dream was built around a samurai centerpiece, with tons of Japanese influence. Sherb wants a ‘Fantasy Theme Park’? You better slap a carousel and a Ferris Wheel in his front yard, this isn’t amateur hour.
While this slowly-adding-new-items-and-concepts isn’t revolutionary or anything, I do think it was a clever way to structure this DLC. Looking at the amount of furniture I have available to me now (which includes every piece of furniture I’ve ever crafted, ahhh!), compared to when I started a week ago, is a little staggering. If I had had access to all of this immediately, I would have been completely overwhelmed. The way Happy Home Paradise slowly ramps up the design stakes, by adding further customization options like partition walls, columns, half-walls, and second floors (oh my) is absolutely perfect. Even the addition of designing facilities for the main resort area (which seem to unlock after you’ve taken care of a certain number of clients) is a brilliant change of pace. You’re free to create your own original concept and build whatever your heart desires. I’ve designed a school, a café, and a restaurant so far, and each one is better than the last. The game also gives you the option to go back and remodel homes you’ve worked on previously, though I haven’t chosen to do so yet; once I’ve completed a home, it’s done and that’s that, I’m never going back to it again. Sorry, Eloise.
Creativity feels almost limitless in Happy Home Paradise, and with everything unfolding at the perfect pace, it’s been such a pleasure playing Animal Crossing regularly again. It’s even more fun seeing the differences in creative vision across the community – comparing my version of a certain characters’ home to another is made possible via the Happy Home Network, where you can post your designs to share with players worldwide. Some poor villagers and their quirky concepts have even become infamous already – like Lionel’s “Restroom Refuge” (seriously Lionel, why do you want a room full of toilets???) and let me tell you, they make for top tier content. I’m trying to take the DLC nice and slow, because I just don’t want it to end – so maybe it’s time to take a break from work, and unwind on the resort. Catch me hanging out with Wardell on the beach!
Have you guys tried Happy Home Paradise, or the new update? Feel free to share your thoughts! And seriously, go check on your villagers, they miss you.