Animal Crossing: New Horizons — How to Play Hard Mode

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been around for a while, and some island veterans want to increase the difficulty by playing hard mode. Hard Mode is a fan concept invented by YouTuber NintendoTalk. It’s sure to present you with the most leisurely gaming challenge yet, and we’ve got all the steps to get started right here in our guide.

How to play hard mode

There are five hard mode rule categories: restart, villager, daily, theme, and economy rules. You must follow all the rules and complete a daily checklist to play hard mode.

restart rules

  • Only 1 reroll on island layouts.
  • The island name must come from an AC Island Name Generator, and you can use unlimited number of repeats.
  • Aspiring villagers can choose the location of their home.

Villager Rules

  • You must keep at least one starting villager until you get their photo. If you roll again, you’ll need to take photos of both villagers before they can leave.
  • You must use thought bubbles to talk to all villagers.
  • You can gift only 1 villager per day.
  • If someone asks to leave, you must let them go (villager rules still apply here).
  • When you get a campsite villager, you need to invite them to your island (villager starting rules still apply here).
  • You can use a maximum of 10 tickets for hunts. When you reach the 10th ticket, you must take that villager or select Autofill.
  • You can only visit 1 Mystery Island per day (except for hunts).
  • Amiibo scans are not allowed and Sanrio items cannot be sold.

Daily Rules

  • You can time travel within 7 days. (You can also choose not to use time travel for an additional challenge.)
  • Purchase at least 1 item from Nook’s Cranny and the Able Sisters once per day.
  • Let Katrina read your daily future to you.
  • Complete all 2x Nook Miles (this overrides savings rules).
  • Engage in daily stretching (1 per day).
  • Complete all daily NPC quests (Gulliver, Lavel, etc.).
  • All new bugs/fish/sea creatures/fossils/art must be donated before they can be sold.

design rules

  • Only wear custom clothing that you design yourself or from another player’s ables shop. You have to change your outfit every week (you can buy hats, glasses and accessories).
  • You must publish your designs in the Able Sisters shop.
  • Only use custom codes that you design.
  • Design your own flag.
  • You cannot move the villagers’ houses until you can gift.
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economic rules

  • You can only have four 3×3 plots for selling crops (crops must be in bundles of 3 for harvest).
  • Only harvest and sell fruit from 9 fruit trees and 4 coconut trees.
  • Turnips are allowed, but you can only sell them on your own island. You can buy from other players on Sundays.
  • For Sunday flea markets, you are allowed to visit other hardcore mode players to buy and sell goods.
  • Each flea market vendor can offer a maximum of 10 items for sale. You must pay 2,000 bells into your donation box when you arrive on their island.
  • Only a maximum of 5 flea market customers per Sunday (including turnip buyers).
  • Treasure Islands or Nookazon are not allowed.
  • Only sell Bugs to Flick, Fish to CJ, and Weeds to Leif. All materials and crafted items are sold at Nooks, and all other items can only be sold at Sunday markets.
  • Crops, Fruits, Sea Creatures, and Fodder can only be sold in a Nook Deposit Box.
  • If plant money treesyou can just use the bell bag you dig up.
  • No trade in flowers or sale of fossils allowed.

Daily checklist

  • 2x Nook Miles and Goals
  • Complete the daily stretch
  • Water all crops
  • Available NPC quests
  • Nook’s Cranny/Able’s purchase
  • Receive Daily Fortune from Katrina

If you follow all the rules, you will successfully play Hard Mode. We think following the daily checklist helps keep you on track, but overall it might take some getting used to. NintendoTalk has a Discord server where you can share your progress, and you can join here.

Well, that’s it for our guide on how to play Hard Mode Animal Crossing: New Horizons. If you found this guide helpful, check out our other animal crossing Leader.

Feature photo via Nintendo

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