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Are you ready for your life to change this Wednesday when Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp comes to mobile? If you hesitated for even a moment while pondering that question, we can’t be friends. But if your answer was “YES!!!” (with all three exclamation marks in tow), have a seat and listen up, I have some good news: While microtransactions are offered in Nintendo’s latest and greatest mobile release, they are in no way necessary for you to have a fun and full experience with the game.

You might have heard about Nintendo releasing the game early in Australia a few weeks ago. Well, whether you live in the region or not, it was possible to work some magic and gain access to Pocket Camp without having to wait for the worldwide release on the 22nd. Being the ridiculously eager Animal Crossing fan that I am, I couldn’t hold myself back from designing my campsite and hosting campers at my outdoor abode as soon as possible, so I jumped on the hype train the day the game hit Australia. Ever since then, I’ve poured countless hours into creating my dream campsite, taking full advantage of all the features — except for microtransactions.

I made it my personal goal to see how far I could get in the camp creation process without spending a dime, and I was surprised with how easy it was to do. All it required was patience and some simple organizational skills. Considering that ACPC has only been in my hands for three weeks and the rather developed status of my campsite, I’m hoping you’ll take my word for it — in fact, if you’ve been following my personal Twitter feed, you already have a solid idea of how long it took me to reach certain objectives.

I’ll give you an example by working backwards through building my favorite amenity.

Amenities are a big feature within Pocket Camp. Much like Public Work Projects in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, amenities serve as a means to provide your designated area with large pieces of decor that are both pretty to look at and functional for the campers you host. At the moment, amenity options include a variety of tent designs, a tree swing, a picnic area, a treehouse, a merry-go-round and a half-pipe — and I’m sure a wider selection of enhancements are on the way in the future. The way in which you achieve some of these amenities is through a series of upgrades. So in order to get my complete merry-go-round (which I’m very proud of, mind you), I had to start off by having a tree swing put up. The tree swing already looked cute at level 1, and throughout several upgrades to level 5, more details were added to it. As lovely as the tree looked capped at level 5 though, my main goal was to build the merry-go-round — but I couldn’t access that particular amenity without unlocking it through achieving a level 5 tree swing. Basically, building my camp requires working through levels in the amenities processes.

To build or enhance any amenity requires essence and materials. Materials mostly consist of cotton, paper, steel and wood, while essence is split up into four categories: Cool, Cute, Sporty and Natural.

You can acquire all of these by simply helping out campers (the animals) who are scattered throughout ACPC. Their little quests will be nothing new for Animal Crossing veterans, as you’ll be gathering fruits, fish and bugs that are found all over a rather condensed map. Once you give the campers their desired items, they’ll reward you with essence and/or materials. Every camper/character falls within one of the aforementioned essence categories, and each one will primarily give you one or two of the materials. While the materials act as rewards for every accomplished quest, the essence is almost always only given when a camper levels through the friendship you build with them. Collecting most of the materials is a pretty easy task; it’s obtaining all the necessary essence that can be frustrating. The essence flows in when you first begin, making it easy to achieve the lower levels for amenities — but as it takes longer to gain friendship levels with campers, the essence flow will dwindle.

Patience is a virtue

This is precisely where patience comes in handy. You can easily spend money by purchasing “leaf tickets” from Nintendo in ACPC, which will help you obtain whatever materials or essence you’re missing to achieve a higher amenity level. These tickets will basically speed up the waiting period. So instead of slowly gathering essence and materials over a few days, Nintendo gives you the option to skip all of that work so you can get what you want right there and then.

This is how I see it though: What’s the point of playing a game if I get everything I want right away? If I get everything I want the moment I begin a game, there’s virtually no reason for me to continue playing it. The fun of a game for me is working towards goals, knowing I truly earned things I desire. I spent three fun-filled weeks building that level 5 merry-go-round, and it’s beautiful — I love looking at it and watching campers sit on the adorable horses that move up and down. But now that the one goal is complete, I’m excited to move onto the next one, which may include another type of amenity.

Stay organized… or else

With all this in mind, I’d like to once again bring up the concept of utilizing organizational skills. Simply figure out what you want your goal to be and plan out how you’ll be using the materials and essence you gather from campers. You also have the ability to craft items in the game, so furniture, food and other items you display on your campgrounds can be made in the same fashion as amenities. If you have your heart set on that glorious half-pipe though, you’ll want to use that coveted Sporty essence very carefully. Save those materials and that essence, help those campers, and you’ll be watching Rosie skateboarding on that ramp before you know it!



My Nintendo is da bomb

A third tip (that I have yet to mention) that will help ease the strain of waiting, while removing that temptation to pour your own, precious money into ACPC, is this: Make sure to link up your My Nintendo account as soon as you begin the game. You’ll be given the prompt to link the two together upon starting the app, so it’s almost impossible to avoid the task. Doing so will give you access to certain materials and even some free tickets to help boost your gameplay the first day or two. It’s likely that we’ll continue to see more goodies added to My Nintendo the longer Pocket Camp is out, so make sure to check that page frequently in your game’s Settings as you play.

All in all, I’m thoroughly impressed by the heftiness of Pocket Camp. It may have stepped away from the usual Animal Crossing formula that we all know and love, but it’s introducing us to a new way of experiencing village life by giving us the opportunity to build small worlds of our own on our mobile devices. Even more impressive is the idea that the game offers as much as it does now and knowing that Nintendo will continue to build and enhance what we’re able to do. As of right now, I’ve gotten wind of future gardening features, as well as how we’ll see camp surroundings transform throughout the different seasons. Keep this thought in mind as you begin your new mobile adventure: Pocket Camp will continue to grow and you always have full control over how you want your campground to evolve, along with the pace at which it grows, with nothing being sacrificed if you choose to play without the use of microtransactions.

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Written by Lauren Ganos
Creative Director, Managing Editor

Designer and writer by day, gamer by night, Lauren dreams big when it comes to creative endeavors. Perhaps that's why she's taken on the roles of creative director and managing editor for Nintendo Wire. If she had a video game superhero alias, it might just be The Visionary, a true keeper of imaginative order.