This is why you shouldn't time travel in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing New Horizons Resident Services
Animal Crossing New Horizons Resident Services (Image credit: iMore)

Almost everything in Animal Crossing: New Horizons takes time to accomplish. Whether you're constructing a new building, waiting for someone to move into a plot of land, or trying to get fruit and money trees to grow, the main obstacle in the way of your island's advancement is the clock. Therefore, many players have taken to "time traveling"; that is, manipulating the Nintendo Switch's system clock to make the game think that time has passed.

This tactic is undeniably useful, but that doesn't necessarily mean you should use it. Time traveling arguably undercuts what makes the Animal Crossing series special to begin with. In addition to that, time traveling can also seriously mess up your island paradise if you're careless. Ultimately, everyone can play their games however they want to, but we think you should avoid time travel. Here's why.

It goes against what makes Animal Crossing special

Animal Crossing New Horizons Project K

Animal Crossing New Horizons Project K (Image credit: iMore)

The biggest reason why you shouldn't time travel is because it's pushing against the careful design of the game itself. Animal Crossing is meant to be played slowly and over a long period of time, giving players something new to look forward to doing each and every day.

The journey is more important than the destination.

The accumulation of in-game wealth, items, and progress towards your island paradise's development is simply less satisfying if you use time travel to cheat and obtain everything in one sitting. With Animal Crossing, making your way forward in the journey towards your destination is what makes reaching that destination such a special accomplishment. If I were to sit down and time travel my way to the completion of my island, I would probably quit the game because there would be very little to look forward to anymore.

I absolutely understand the frustration people feel with Animal Crossing's habit of time-gating things, but I would encourage these players to take a step back and consider being patient. Instead of looking at your island as a huge project that will take forever to complete, try splitting your progress up into smaller and more manageable objectives. Give yourself a goal to complete for each in-game day, and see how you feel when you finish them. If you're still feeling impatient and antsy to keep playing, then the path of the time traveler is for you. But who knows? Maybe you'll realize how much fun it is to make each new day an adventure.

You can mess up your island

Animal Crossing New Horizons Make Money Fast

Animal Crossing New Horizons Make Money Fast (Image credit: iMore)

Another reason you shouldn't time travel is because it poses a lot of risks to your island's aesthetic. Time traveling a few days or so won't cause any problems, but if you ever skip ahead more than that, your island will likely become infested by weeds. This is because a couple of weeds grow each day in the game, and when you skip a large amount of time, the weeds spread like wildfire without you there to pull them. Not only does this ruin the look of your paradise, but it will also cause your island rating to sharply decline, forcing you to spend time pulling weeds before things go back to normal.

Though weeds are the primary concern, some other bad things can happen too. Any fruit left on the ground prior to time traveling will go rotten and will start attracting ants, and turnips will most likely spoil too, which can be painful if you spent a lot of Bells on investing into the Stalk Market. In addition to this, cockroaches will also infest your house and tank your Happy Home Academy rating, forcing you to run around and squish them.

Your villagers might think you hate them

Animal Crossing New Horizons Villagers

Animal Crossing New Horizons Villagers (Image credit: iMore)

Perhaps the most emotionally-distressing risk that comes with time traveling is that your villagers might become depressed because you haven't spoken to them for an extended period of time. If you time travel too far, they may leave the island entirely.

You can somewhat mitigate this by traveling in short increments of time and then making sure you talk to your villagers each time, but even if this prevents them from leaving, you'll still be harming the relationship you have with them because you still won't be talking with them as much as you would be if you played normally. If you care about having a quality friendship with your villagers, don't time travel!

You can't skip to future events

Animal Crossing New Horizons

Acnh Bunny Day Egg Recipes Hero (Image credit: iMore)

There's no point in skipping to future events; they don't exist yet!

One of the primary reasons people time traveled in previous Animal Crossing games was to experience special events and holidays, such as Halloween or Toy Day (Christmas), early. However, that isn't possible in New Horizons because of how Nintendo has chosen to implement events.

Instead of having all of them baked into the game at launch, Nintendo has opted to patch events in when it's time for them to happen and then remove them from the game until the event rolls around again. Essentially, this means that if you were to skip ahead to a future event day in New Horizons, it would just be a regular day — and as we established, there would be weeds and sad villagers everywhere. Don't do it!

Your thoughts

What do you think regarding the highly-debated topic of time travel in Animal Crossing? I respect the reasons why people choose to do it (after all, it is their game), but I do think that folks are missing out on how genuinely fun it is to play through the game slow-and-steady style. If you do end up choosing to time travel, at least make sure you do so carefully so you can avoid the risks discussed in this article.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is available for $60 on Nintendo Switch.

Brendan Lowry