Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been steadily adding updates since release, with new NPCs and contests arriving in the last few months. The game has also been keeping things fresh by adding a rotating variety of new bugs and fish.
June brought with it a wedding-themed update which allowed you to take Honeymoon pictures with Cyrus and Reese, but July has brought the game’s biggest update yet. Introducing a host of new features to the game, the first wave of the free Summer Update dropped on July 3, and here we’ve catalogued everything you need to make the most of it.
This is the big one. You’re now no longer confined to your island, and can instead go for a dip in the surrounding oceans. While that sounds like a chilly prospect for players in the Southern Hemisphere, for most in the Northern Hemisphere it’s the closest we’re likely to get to a beach holiday this year.
To go swimming, you’ll first need to buy a wetsuit for 3,000 bells from Nook Shopping. There are a variety of styles available in the game, but only one is available per day. You should buy the first one so you can get started, but then feel free to check back daily for a more fashionable one, if you’d like. Once you’ve bought it, equip the wet suit and press ‘A’ near the shoreline. If you’re on the pier or a rock, you’ll flip into a cannonball before splashing in the ocean, and if you’re on the beach, you’ll just paddle in.
Once you’re in the ocean, you can swim around as much as you want, although if you go too far, you’ll reach a netted barrier. Tapping ‘A’ will allow you to swim faster and help you cover more of the sea.
As well as having a casual swim, taking to the oceans also opens up a new way to fill the museum back on dry land.
While swimming, you’ll see little bubbles rising up. Much like the shadows in the shallows that indicate there’s a fish to be caught, these bubbles mean there’s an underwater creature waiting to be scooped up.
To dive, just press ‘Y’. The camera will shift slightly, and you’ll see a dark spot on the ocean floor. Swim over to it to catch it, but beware that your villager will have to come up for air, and that some creatures will flee. Tapping ‘A’ while underwater still makes you move faster, so use this on any creature who scarper.
It’s a little bit unnerving that sharks can still be caught in the shallows when you’re diving for starfish, but maybe just… don’t think about it?
From here on out, the creatures are just like the bugs and fish you’ll already be familiar with. The first one of each type can be donated to Blathers and then inspected in the museum, while every other one can be sold, gifted or displayed around your home.
In total, there are 40 sea creatures to find in this new update, though only 24 of them are available right now in the Northern Hemisphere.
Just like bugs and fish, some creatures are seasonal. For example, the moon jellyfish is only available from July through September, while the octopus, mantis shrimp, sea anemone and others are available all year round. Even for the yearly ones though, some can only be caught early mornings, midday or evening, so over time you should vary your diving schedule if you want to catch ’em all.
On our first swim around the island, we caught exactly 50 creatures in 19 different varieties. This swim started before 9am – important as certain creatures appear at different times throughout the day – but ended after, and it was raining. Still, whenever you do take your first swim and whatever the weather is, it seems like you can pick up a good chunk with a single lap around the island, leaving you to hunt for the rarer creatures more patiently afterward.
It’s much easier to fill up your inventory on sea creatures than bugs/fish, in part because your equipment won’t break and in part because you don’t really have to look very hard. This means a brief dip can turn very profitable if you flip your catches by taking them straight to Nook Shopping.
The Summer Update also brings with it a new NPC in the shape of Pascal The Otter, a returning character who has been with the series since Wild World. Pascal will pop up after your first scallop catch of the day and ask if he can have it. In return, he’ll give you a pearl of wisdom, as well as either an actual pearl or a DIY recipe, which we’ll dive into below.
It appears for now that Pascal can be encountered daily, but only once per day, and will appear whenever you catch your first scallop. Pascal is like Wisp and Celeste in that he does not count as a daily NPC, so it doesn’t matter who else is visiting the island; you can still find Pascal in the ocean.
Fun fact: Pascal is named after the French philosopher Blaise Pascal, and the measurement for water pressure, itself named after the philosopher. Pascal has a philosophical attitude himself, mimicking his namesake, and is one of the wiser NPCs you’ll meet.
Technically June brought the arrival of the summer recipes, as those blue summer shells you’ll no doubt have spotted on the beach can be used to make walls, flooring and bags, among other things. For these recipes, you’ll need to inspect bottles that drift ashore or shoot balloons out of the sky. For the new wave though, things are a little different.
You’ll get the recipes from Pascal, though they’ll be made once more from seashells you find scattered across your beaches. The designs all have mermaid themes, and include walls, flooring, dressers, sofas, lamps and much more.
As well as needing regular shells, these new recipes require pearls too. These can be found on the ocean floor, but can also be gained from Pascal by trading scallops. Therefore, you’ll want to give Pascal your first scallop you catch each day. Sometimes he’ll give you recipes, sometimes resources and sometimes a fully made item like a mermaid tiara.
Gulliver, the seagull whose handy dandy communicator is always damaged, has gotten a summer makeover for this update. Instead of a friendly if incompetent sailor, Gulliver is now a pirate called Gullivarr, complete with pirate coat and hat.
He appears to be part of Gulliver’s regular rhythm, meaning he has a chance at appearing each week, just as Flick, CJ, Label and Redd do (Sahara, Kicks, Lief, KK Slider and Daisy Mae are each guaranteed to appear every week). His encounter is broadly similar, though the pirate skin does freshen up his dialogue, and his communicator parts are found in the ocean rather than on the beaches.
Above, you can see Gulliver in his usual garb, passed out on the beach after we hosted a music festival on our island.
This is only half of the Summer Update too, as the second part is due to hit our shores in August. No clues yet as to exactly what that will entail, so for now just enjoy your newfound deep sea diving ability.