Animal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerSource: iMore

No man is an island. I mean obviously they aren't, they're men. But you can definitely enjoy playing games with your friends on an island thanks to Animal Crossing: New Horizons. There are a few ways to enjoy multiplayer. You and your family or friends can either reside on the same island using local multiplayer or if you each have a separate Nintendo Switch console and your own copy of New Horizons, you can travel to other player's islands using online or local wireless features.

Here's everything you want to know about New Horizons' multiplayer modes and how to set up multiplayer.

The hangout spot

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Play with others on your island

Use your NookPhone to call other islanders together, make changes to your island, purchase goods, manage your items, and more. You'll have fun building the island getaway of your dreams.

Multiplayer modes

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has a huge limitation to it that makes it so that only one island can be created on a Nintendo Switch regardless of how many user accounts there are. That means that if multiple people want to play from one console, they'll all have to share an island together. Thing is, only the person who starts the game first will actually be able to make any serious island progress. This can definitely be frustrating for the other players sharing the island. If you'd rather have it to where everyone has their own islands, then everyone will need their own Switch and their own copy of New Horizons.

There are three main kinds of multiplayer modes: Local couch co-op, online play, and local wireless.

  • Couch Co-op (Party Play): This mode allows up to eight players to share a Switch and a New Horizons island. However, only up to four players at a time can play on the same island in this mode.
  • Online Co-op: This mode allows players to use and internet to visit each other's islands. Players do not need to by physically close. Up to eight players can be on one island at a time in this mode.
  • Local Wireless Co-op: This mode is for players who are physically near each other, each have their own Switch, and their own copy of New Horizons. Up to eight players can be on one person's island at a time.

We'll explain what activities you can do in each multiplayer mode and how to get them set up.

Local couch co-op

Animal Crossing New Horizons Multiplayer LocalSource: Nintendo

Up to eight players can live on the same island together. In order to do this, each player must have a user account on the same Nintendo Switch system. You should note that you can only create one island resident per user account. However, when sharing an island, each resident has their own home and can decorate it just the way they like.

Despite the game allowing up to eight residents on one island, New Horizons only supports local multiplayer for up to four players at a time. So, you'll need to take turns playing if you have more than four people sharing an island together. Additionally, each player will need their own controller.

When playing in local couch co-op, each player can harvest items and use their own tools. You will each need to be considerate and leave materials for other players to collect. Additionally, you might want to discuss what big changes you want made to the island before doing them. This can prevent any contention that may arise from someone cutting down trees or destorying rocks that other players didn't want destroyed.

Party Play

Animal Crossing New Horizons Multiplayer LocalSource: Nintendo

If a player who shares an island with others opens the NookPhone and accesses the Call Resident app, they will call all of the other available residents to them for Party Play. In this mode, one person functions as the leader and the remaining players are followers. This means that everyone follows the leader around, but when the leader stops, everyone can engage in the activities in that area. You can also change who the leader is at any point in time if one of you wants a turn at it.

Only the leader can access the inventory pocket or enter buildings, which limits what the followers can do. Anything caught or harvested by followers will be stored in the Recycle Box at the Resident Services building. You'll want to make sure to go and pick those items up at some point when you're no longer playing together in Party Play mode so you can add them to your personal inventory.

How to set up local couch-co-op multiplayer

  • Someone needs to start New Horizons, name the island, and get to the point where their character goes to sleep. This makes it so that the game syncs with real-time. Note that the first person to do this will be the only player who can make any progress on the island's development and as such, they cannot abandon the island.
  • Additional players can join the established island as long as they have their own user account on the same Nintendo Switch. All they have to do is boot up the game from their account to join the island. This will allow them to have their own house and work towards paying off their own debt.

    Animal Crossing New Horizons Upgrade Tent To HouseAnimal Crossing New Horizons Multiplayer LocalSource: iMore and Nintendo

How to set up Party Play in local co-op

  • Whenever multiple people inhabit one island, Tom Nook gives the players a new app called Call Resident, which allows for party play. To initiate party play, one person starts up the game and then selects Call Resident from their NookPhone.
  • Select the players you want to play with.

    Animal Crossing New Horizons Multiplayer LocalAnimal Crossing New Horizons Multiplayer LocalSource: Nintendo

  • The person who set up Party Play becomes the leader. Wherever they go, the other players will follow.
  • Once the leader finds an area they want to explore, everyone can participate in a local activity.

    Animal Crossing New Horizons Multiplayer LocalAnimal Crossing New Horizons Multiplayer LocalSource: Nintendo

  • If you want to change who the leader is, you can do so by shaking the Joy-Con or by opening the Call Islander app and then having the new leader press the right button on their controller.

    Animal Crossing New Horizons Multiplayer LocalSource: Nintendo

Online multiplayer

Animal Crossing New Horizons Multiplayer LocalSource: Nintendo

In order to take advantage of online multiplayer, everyone who wants to play will need five things: A Nintendo Switch Online subscription, their own Nintendo Switch system, their own copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, a reliable internet connection, and they will need to at least be on day two within their own game.

If someone's Wi-Fi or internet connection isn't strong enough, it's possible that any visiting players will be sent back to their own islands.

Player limitations

Animal Crossing New Horizons What Is NookphoneSource: Nintendo

Visiting players have tool restrictions that prevent them from being able to run off with all of your best harvestable items. That way if you happen to invite a troll over, they won't be able to get away with your rare goods. However, if you have a friend who you trust, you can mark them as a Best Friend in the game. This allows them to use their tools while visiting your island.

In case you need it, here's a guide for how to become Best Friends in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Communication and NookLink

Animal Crossing New Horizons What Is NookphoneSource: Nintendo

If you're playing multiplayer with a good friend, you'll likely want to take advantage of NookLink on your real-life smartphone. This is an app that integrates with Nintendo Switch Online in order to let you text chat and video chat with other Animal Crossing: New Horizons players.

That way, even if your good friend is miles away or unable to come over, you can still communicate easily while playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

How to set up online multiplayer

Inviting others to your island

  • Head to the Airport and talk to Orville, the Dodo bird behind the counter.
  • Tell him I want visitors.

    Animal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerAnimal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerSource: iMore

  • Then specify that you want to do this Via online play.
  • He'll tell you that he needs to set up the online connection. Select Roger!.

    Animal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerAnimal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerSource: iMore

  • You can then choose to either invite via a code or Fling 'em open!. The second of which allows random players to visit your island. If you've already experienced multiplayer you will also have the option of choosing to either invite All my friends!, Only my Best Friends! or you can have random people visit you by selecting The more the merrier!

  • If you want to play with someone who you know, but who isn't registered as a friend within New Horizons or on your Nintendo Switch, select Invite via Dodo Code.

    Animal Crossing New Horizons Multiplayer LocalAnimal Crossing New Horizons Multiplayer LocalSource: Nintendo

  • Make sure you tell your friend(s) the name of your island along with the code so they can make sure they are going to the right island.

  • Now have your friend(s) complete the following steps.

Flying to another player's island

In order to do this with a specific friend, they must first make it possible for others to visit their island. See instructions above.

  • Head to the Airport and talk to Orville, the Dodo bird behind the counter.
  • Tell him I wanna fly!

    Animal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerAnimal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerSource: iMore

  • Next tell him I wanna visit someone and then tell him you want to do this Via online play.
  • He'll work on setting up an online connection. Select Roger!

    Animal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerAnimal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerSource: iMore

  • If you've never done multiplayer before, select Search via Dodo Code. Then type in the code given to you by your friend. If you have already done multiplayer before now, you can also choose to select Search for a friend. If any friends in your friend lists have made it possible for players to visit, you'll be able to travel to their islands.
  • Select Let's fly!

    Animal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerAnimal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerSource: iMore

  • An animation will play showing you flying to your friend's island. Enjoy multiplayer together!

    Animal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerSource: iMore

Local wireless multiplayer

Animal Crossing New Horizons two players using players using ReactionsSource: iMore

In order to take advantage of local wireless multiplayer, everyone who wants to play will need four things: their own Nintendo Switch system, their own copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, they will need to be physically close enough to each other for their Switch consoles to communicate effectively, and they will need to at least be on day two within their own game.

Don't allow your Switch consoles to get too far apart when playing in this multiplayer mode or New Horizons might claim there is a weak connection and could send any visitors back to their own islands.

How to set up local multiplayer

Inviting others to your island

  • Run to the airport and talk to Orville behind the counter. Tell him I want visitors
  • Specify that you want this done Via local play.

    Animal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerAnimal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerSource: iMore

  • He'll inform you that he's turning off the internet connection. Select Roger!
  • Now you can choose to allow anyone nearby to enter your island by selecting Fling 'em open! This is the option I always choose unless there are random people around me that I don't want coming to my island.

    Animal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerAnimal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerSource: iMore

  • To make it so only certain people can come, choose Let's set a code.
  • Type in a four-digit code and select Confirm.

    Animal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerAnimal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerSource: iMore

  • Now tell your friend(s) the code and the name of your island so they can know for sure that they're going to the right place.
  • It's now up to your friend to complete the rest of the steps from their Switch. You'll find those steps below.

Flying to another player's island

In order for you to be able to visit a specific friend's island, they will have needed to allow for visitors. See instructions above.

  • Run to the airport and talk to Orville behind the counter. Tell him I wanna fly
  • Next tell him I wanna visit someone. Specify that you want this done Via local play.

    Animal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerAnimal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerSource: iMore

  • He'll inform you that he's turning off the internet connection. Select Roger!
  • He'll locate the name of a friend's island. If this is where you want to go, select Let's fly!

    Animal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerAnimal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerSource: iMore

  • An animation will play showing you flying to your friend's island. Enjoy mutliplayer!

    Animal Crossing New Horizons MultiplayerSource: iMore

Castaway Kids

Animal Crossing games have always been social experiences. Whether your sharing pictures on social media of your gorgeous landscaping job or running around with friends and fishing on the riverbanks there are so many ways to enjoy this game. However you're using multiplayer, I hope you have a wonderful experience.

The hangout spot

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Play with others on your island

Use your NookPhone to call other islanders together, make changes to your island, purchase goods, manage your items, and more. You'll have fun building the island getaway of your dreams.

Get More Switch

Nintendo Switch

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