Customised frame on Stitches' photo
Image: Austin Voigt

Ever wonder if there's a point to all of the constant conversation-having, flea-catching and task-completing to be had with your neighbors in Animal Crossing: New Horizons? Lucky for you, there most certainly is - framed photos of each and every resident! But they don't come easily, or quickly.

For those who are less familiar with the intricacies of friendships in the Animal Crossing series, we've provided a handy guide to determining, increasing and benefiting from friendship levels with your animal acquaintances.

As a note: the information provided below is directly from the official Animal Crossing: New Horizons Companion Guide (unless stated otherwise). As there is much speculation and theorization on the interwebs about all things Animal Crossing, we've decided to stick to what we know is straight from the source and guaranteed to be accurate. Read on, islanders!

Increasing Friendship Levels with Villagers and Getting Their Photos in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

What is the "friendship level"?

While it's always been a bit of an unspoken, mysterious achievement in nearly every Animal Crossing game to date, becoming "best friends" with your animal neighbors has been yielding tangible results since the days of Wild World, in which players actually began to acquire framed photos of their BFFs as rewards signifying their friendship.

"Friendship" is measured on a scale of friendliness between yourself and each of your fellow towns-animals, and is increased through consistent, positive interactions together. Of course, this popular element of the games has naturally made a return in New Horizons, and even has a few new features to keep things spicy.

How do you increase your friendship levels with villagers?

Different options to engage with characters and build friendship include giving them gifts
Image: Austin Voigt

While "friendship levels" may be a bit of a black box, the official guide lists actions that can be taken to either improve - or degrade - your friendships in the game:

Raise Friendship Lower Friendship
Talk to villagers (once per day) Hit villagers with a tool
Send villagers letters (friendship increases when they reply) Push villagers around or run into them a lot
Give villagers presents (when friendship is already high) Give villagers "trash" items (tires, weeds, rotten turnips, etc.)
Give villagers wrapped birthday presents Accept requests from villagers but fail to successfully carry them out
Complete requests for villagers -
Sell villagers items they ask to buy from you -

How can you check your current friendship levels?

Because there is no in-game measurement or tool to determine friendship levels, it can be difficult to know where you stand with your friends — just as it can sometimes be in real life. There has been much speculation around the various levels that exist, and how to determine where your friendships fall, with possibly up to six different categories. As none of it is official, we'll leave it up to you to explore these various theories.

However, based on all of these theories combined, we have identified at least three unique stages that your friendships may go through, to give you a bit of an idea on where your relationships may be at. Here are some key characteristics of each of the three basic friendship tiers (again, there are generally believed to be more, and this information is not official):

  1. In the first tier of friendship, your only choice for engaging is to speak to villagers - no options to give them presents (unless you mail them), or complete requests; they will also become annoyed more quickly if you speak to them too often in one day
  2. At the second friendship tier, you'll be able to speak to villagers more frequently, without annoying them quite as quickly; you'll also have the ability to give them presents generally once per day, or fulfill requests for them
  3. Finally, the highest possible friendship tier will allow you to receive a framed picture from the villager - however, the timing of this reward appears to be completely random
Receiving photo from Stitches for becoming best friends
Image: Austin Voigt

How do you get your villagers' photos in New Horizons?

By achieving a maximum friendship level with a villager, you will eventually receive a their picture in a frame, which can be used as a furniture item. It appears to happen randomly - either when you interact with them, or through a letter.

Note: these are different from the posters that you can obtain of different villagers by scanning their amiibo into the game.

Another fun element is the fact that the frames are customisable with many different colors and designs - so you can ensure that your favorite villager's likeness will fit in with your home decor!

Customised frame on Stitches' photo
Image: Austin Voigt

And that, friends, is our definitive guide to determining and increasing (or decreasing) friendship levels in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. As of this month, we count 393 characters you can recruit as neighbors and become besties with - so for you completionists out there: you've got your work cut out for you. For help in this endeavor, take a peek at our handy guides on how to choose your villagers and how to use amiibo!

Have you achieved top friendship status with any of your islanders in New Horizons yet? How many framed photos have you received? Let us know in the comments down below!

This article is part of our Animal Crossing: New Horizons walkthrough, which includes a Complete Fish List, Complete Bug List and Complete Sea Creatures List. If you're looking for specific fish or bugs, we can tell you how to catch the elusive Coelacanth, Mahi-Mahi, Giant Trevally, Stringfish, Golden Trout and all the Sharks and Beetles, along with a full list of critters leaving at the end of the month (unless you visit Kapp'n's Boat Tour islands, of course!).

We can also help with How to Spot Redd's Fake Paintings and Statues, How to Make Bells Fast, How to Breed Flowers, How to Get more DIY Recipes, How to Upgrade Nook's Cranny, where and when to find special characters like Gulliver, Sable, Label, Wisp, Celeste, Pirate Gulliver and Jack, plus tips on using the Star Wand, Tool Ring, Rock Trick, Cutting Down and Moving Trees, using amiibo on Harv's Island, How to Back Up Your Island Data, How to Time Travel, How to Get a 5-Star Island Rating and a whole lot more.

If it's new content you're looking for help with, we can help you find gyroids, unlock Brewster's café, use the new Pro Camera App for selfies, enact new ordinances, get the beloved Froggy Chair, and even learn How to Cook.

And finally, Where to Buy Animal Crossing: New Horizons on Nintendo Switch, if for some reason you haven't yet picked up the game, and How To Buy The Happy Home Paradise DLC, too!