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3 ways to access multiplayer in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Live your island life with pals by your side!

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After you arrive on your semi-private island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you might notice plenty of anthropomorphic animals everywhere but that your fellow humans are scarce. That's because the only way to encounter human characters is to use the game's multiplayer features to interact with other players, giving you a space to enjoy island life with your fellow man.

But how do you use Animal Crossing: New Horizon's various multiplayer modes to reconnect with human society?

‌‌Animal Crossing: New Horizons can be enjoyed with several players at once in three distinct ways: You can manage an island locally with other residents on your Switch, play with friends in real life using the same console, or join friends online.

How do you play Animal Crossing: New Horizons couch co-op or party play?

If you only have access to a single Nintendo Switch within your household, this will be your only option for multiplayer. You and up to eight others will carouse about on an island together with one person in charge. If you'd like to play simultaneously, up to four people can play at once.

  1. Have the person you believe will be the primary player start the game and play through the tutorial. This part concludes once your character has gone to sleep for the first time. This will cement them as essentially the main player or 'Mayor' of your island. The Mayor player will be the only one given complete access to the island, allowed to do things like build bridges and make major island-changing choices.
  2. With the Mayor chosen, other users on the same Nintendo Switch can now boot up the game and join the island. Each additional person will require their own house, so make sure there's space on the island to accommodate. If it all becomes too much, note that the Mayor player can kick others off the island at any time.
  3. Once at least one additional player makes the island their home, all users, including the Mayor, will unlock an app on their NookPhone called "Call Islander," which has a yellow flag icon. This app will invite users who share your island so that you can play together in Party Play mode.
  4. After everyone who'd like to play has their characters set up, launch a Party Play session by clicking the Call Islander app and selecting who you'd like to join you.
  5. Each additional user will also require a controller. Animal Crossing: New Horizons can be played using a single Joy-Con, two Joy-Cons, or a Pro Controler.
  6. Once everyone is in, the person who launched the session will be considered the Leader, and the remaining people will be dubbed followers. Enjoy!

Although you're now playing Animal Crossing New Horizons with your friends, there are a few limitations you should remember.

You will all share a screen, so followers will automatically be dragged by the leader, forced to go in the same direction. Followers cannot be left behind! Stragglers will automatically catch up.

Additionally, while the leader has full access to their inventory and regular Animal Crossing gameplay, followers will deal with a fairly addled game. They'll only be able to fish and catch bugs, which will both automatically be stored within Resident Services' recycling bin.

If having a limited selection isn't your jam, the leader can resign from their role by shaking their controller or via the Call Islander App.

Once you're through playing together, the current leader can end the session via the Call Islander App. However, all of this might be a bit of a snooze if you're sick of playing at home and want a more traditional multiplayer experience.

How do you unlock multiplayer in Animal Crossing: New Horizons?

Traditional multiplayer is unlocked by hitting "Day 2" of gameplay, which happens as the day changes for you in real life after first starting the game. This will unlock Dodo Airlines, the game's multiplayer hub. There you'll be able to enjoy both online and local multiplayer. Unlike Party Play, both modes may be enjoyed with up to eight players. Similar to party play, there are some limitations to what players that join can do — they'll be unable to use the host's Resident Services, and most won't have access to their Axe or Shovel tools unless the player is denoted as a Best Friend.


How do you play local multiplayer in Animal Crossing: New Horizons?

To enter local multiplayer in Animal Crossing: New Horizons:

  1. Physically meet up with some friends who all also own a Nintendo Switch and a personal copy of Animal Crossing New Horizons.
  2. After saying hello to one another, decide which among you will be the host. The host needs to go to Dodo Airlines, informing Orville that they want visitors via local play.
  3. Players who intend to join will need to go to Dodo Airlines, speak to Orville, and select "I wanna fly," "I wanna visit someone," and finally "Local Play." Your local pal's island should pop up as a destination. Those looking to travel should do so one by one. If too many people attempt to join at once, the system will possibly overload, thus canceling your flight.
  4. People may also enter a one-time Dodo code to join.
  5. Once you're in, you may unite to take on the world.

How do you play online multiplayer in Animal Crossing: New Horizons?

To enter online multiplayer in Animal Crossing: New Horizons:

  1. Similar to local multiplayer, this all begins with Orville. Speak to him at Dodo Airlines and inform him that you want visitors, but state it's via "Online Play."
  2. Friends can join you by speaking to Orville and selecting "I wanna fly," "I wanna visit someone," and "via online play," then selecting your island.
  3. When everyone you'd like to play with has joined, speak to Orville again to close off your island so you won't have to entertain more guests.

NOTE: Multiplayer requires a Nintendo Switch Online membership.

How do you add Best Friends in Animal Crossing: New Horizons?

Unlike normal friends, best friends can use their ax and shovel when visiting one another, meaning they can chop down trees, dig for fossils, and plant flora. You can begin adding best friends in a few easy steps:

  1. Become friends with the appropriate person/people on Nintendo Switch.
  2. After unlocking multiplayer, play with somebody you'd like to become a best friend.
  3. Send them a Best Friend request in your NookPhone's Best Friends list app (which unlocks when you first use multiplayer).
  4. If they accept, you've got a brand new best friend!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is available on Nintendo Switch.

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