Animal Crossing: New Horizons is one of the best games on Nintendo Switch. Excitingly, the game rewards you for connecting with other players in several ways. For example, non-native fruit collected on friends’ islands will earn you more Bells when you sell it relative to native fruit harvested from your own island.
But how can you connect with other players in order to reap such rewards?
Below we’ll take you through the various ways in which you can play with friends, as well as outlining some of the benefits and pitfalls of each multiplayer mode. So, grab some extra Joy-Con because it’s Animal Crossing multiplayer time!
Animal Crossing: New Horizons Multiplayer
How do I take part in couch co-op (Party Play)?
You might think that every player needs their own Switch and copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons to utilise multiplayer, but there is actually a way to play with your family and friends on one console. You can do it via a mode called Party Play.
Firstly, the basics. Up to eight people can live on one island (only one island is allowed per Switch, remember), and up to four of these cohabitants can take part in Party Play sessions at once.
Here’s how to set it up.
- Load the game and, using the Nook Phone, select the Call Islander app. You'll only have this when you have multiple islanders on the island on your Switch. That means loading up the game with a second player account once the island has been established.
- You’ll be able to summon any of the other villagers living on that Switch’s island to your gameplay session.
- A quick controller recalibration and you’re all set to start playing together on one screen.
During Party Play one resident will be designated as the 'leader' with the other players playing as followers. Leaders can play as normal; select tools, open their inventory and collect fallen fruit or wood. Followers are limited to cycling through their tool sets one at a time and are unable to interact with items on the ground.
However, swapping between leaders and followers requires only the flick of the Joy-Con controller. A simple prompt will then appear allowing a new player to take on the role of leader.
It’s a good idea to utilise leader switching so you can access your inventories in turn, or if you want to drop items to give as gifts to each other. It’s also worth noting that when followers catch any fish or bugs they’ll be sent to the recycle bin at Resident Services.
How do I unlock local co-op and online multiplayer?
Your first port of call for all multiplayer sessions is Dodo Airlines which is located at the base of your island in the airport (where you first arrived on day one). Online and local multiplayer is locked until Day Two of your island escape, and both modes allow up to eight players to play at once. That’s four more than Party Play!
Once you enter the airport and talk to Orville, he will give you the option to either fly to an island or to open up your hometown for visitors from lands afar. You’ll then be prompted to select between engaging with ‘local play’ or ‘online play’
How do I take part in local wireless co-op (Local Play)?
Local Play is the best option for friends/families with multiple Switches who are in the same vicinity. With wireless Local Play, you can open the gates at Dodo Airlines to anyone who may be using Local Play nearby.
- If you want to host other players on your island choose ‘want visitors’ and ‘local play’ when prompted by Orville.
- If you want to visit someone else’s island choose ‘I wanna fly’ and ‘I wanna visit someone’ when prompted.
- Finally, choose ‘local play’ and you’re good to go.
Local Play is superior to Party Play in two main ways. Firstly, all players can access their inventories meaning that activities can be undertaken a lot more smoothly. Secondly, there is no follower/leader system so players can go wherever they want on the island without popping back into the leader’s orbit when they stray too far.
How do I take part in online multiplayer (Online Play)?
Local co-op isn’t an option if you want to connect with friends who are far away. For that, you’ll need to connect to the internet for Online Play.
- Head to Dodo Airlines and, once you’ve arrived at the desk, make sure that you’re connected to the internet and have a Nintendo Online subscription. You cannot take part in Online Play without a Nintendo Online subscription.
- If you want to host other players on your island choose ‘want visitors’ and ‘online play’ when prompted by Orville.
- If you want to visit someone else’s island choose ‘I wanna fly’ and ‘I wanna visit someone’ when prompted. Finally, choose ‘online play’.
- If you chose to open your island to visitors you’ll be allowed to pick between several options that make it easier for your friends to find your island. You can open the gates to all your friends (everyone who is a friend on your Nintendo Switch) or limit entry to only include Best Friends (read more about them below).
Choosing to fly to an island may bring up several possible destinations, especially if you have many friends on your Switch (you popular thing!). Should the search results bring up more than one island, you’ll be able to pick from a list that outlines the island and the friend they belong to.
How do I use Dodo Codes?
Worried about who you’re bringing to your precious island? If you’re sending out invitations to players who aren’t on your Switch’s friends list (people you don’t know), you may want to use the Dodo Code system. Dodo Codes prevent just anyone from hopping on a plane and heading over to your island, and can be used for both Local Play and Online Play. Essentially, only players who know your private code can visit your island.
If you want to work through Dodo Codes, simply choose the ‘Invite via Dodo Code’ option whilst talking to Orville at Dodo Airlines. He’ll give you a five-digit Dodo Code you can pass on to trusted friends, and they in turn can present the code to Orville who’ll sort everything else.
How do I choose Best Friends?
Playing Animal Crossing with your friends is fun, but playing with those registered as Best Friends is even better. After all, Best Friends will be able to use (potentially destructive) tools on your island such as shovels and axes to help you landscape. If a player isn’t registered as a Best Friend, they cannot use these tools under any circumstances.
To register a visitor as a Best Friend you’ll need to:
- open up your Nook Phone and select the Best Friends app (which is available once you’ve talked to Orville and tried multiplayer).
- From here you can sort through islanders who’ve visited your island and add them to the Best Friends category.
It's worth knowing the difference between Friends and Best Friends and taking care when playing online, especially with people who you don't know. You wouldn’t want to let untrustworthy players loose on your island, only to have them chop down every tree and dig a million holes. Nook and Isabelle would not be pleased!
Can I visit other players' islands when they're not online?
Yes! Well, sort of. If they've uploaded their island to Nintendo's servers and obtained a Dream Address, it's possible to go to sleep (on any bed) and visit other people's islands in your dreams.
You do this by entering Dream Address codes, similar to Custom Design codes, after which you'll wake up on the plaza of their island and be free to explore (although you won't be able to take anything home with you - it's only a dream, after all!).
That's all for now, but let us know if you have any questions or multiplayer tips of your own in the comments. In the meantime, enjoy sharing your island with your besties!
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!