Animal Crossing: New Horizons – How To Unlock and Play Multiplayer Mode in the Game

Published 05/10/2021, 11:58 PM EDT


Going about one’s daily life on an Animal Crossing: New Horizons getaway island is fun and relaxing. There are so many daily activities to do, upgrades to make, and anthropomorphic animal villagers to invite to stay. However, what makes the game even more interesting is the ability to connect with friends and family while playing together.

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For instance, up to eight players can reside together on the same island. Four individuals among them can play together at once, though there are a few catches. Additionally, the game offers local and online multiplayer, allowing one to visit friends’ islands or invite them over.

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Of course, there are various ways to enjoy and interact with several other players in the game. However, it might be not that straightforward for beginners. This article will guide you on how to unlock and play different multiplayer modes in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

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Couch Co-Op or Party Play in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Up to four players living on the same island can together at the same time on a single Nintendo Switch system using the game’s Party Play feature. Since only one established New Horizons island can exist per system, the first island established will be the one shared among all players for that particular system. However, subsequent players utilizing the same Switch system will be able to create their own villager in the game.

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How to unlock Party Play

Have the main player start the game and play through the tutorial to set up their character and island. This segment includes going through the initial introductions with Timmy, Tommy, Tom Nook, completing a few tasks, and falling to sleep on the first night. Doing this will assign the player as the island’s Resident Representative and they will also receive their NookPhone from Tom Nook.

At this point, a second player on the same Switch console needs to start the game on a different profile and join the established island. They will have to go through the aforementioned process, but this time, it’s going to be a lot more streamlined. It will take them much lesser time and dialogue to obtain their NookPhone.

Once this subsequent player becomes a resident of the island, all users, including the Resident Representative, will unlock a new app known as Call Islander on their NookPhone. Using this app, one can choose and invite other residents who share the same island to play together. Essentially, this is what Couch Co-Op or Party Play is, and below are a few points to keep in mind.

While up to 4 players living on the same island can play together simultaneously, each user will need access to a controller. The person who launches the Party Play session using the Call Islander app is deemed the leader and the others become followers.

As everyone will be sharing a screen, the leader will dictate where everyone is going and followers will accompany in the same direction. Of course, it is possible to switch the leader at any time by shaking the leader’s controller or by using the Call Islander app.

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How to unlock local and online multiplayer in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Local and online multiplayer allows up to eight people to play together on a New Horizons island. However, these methods require each user to have a copy of the game and play on their own Nintendo Switch system.

To be able to play locally or online with friends, you have to go through the same process of establishing your island and working through the first day of gameplay. The additional step required is having access to Dodo Airlines, which becomes available on the second day of gameplay.

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons considers 5 AM as the beginning of a new day. So you simply need to transition to or beyond this time since the first day of playing the game. The key takeaway is that you unlock the game’s multiplayer features once you unlock access to the Dodo Airlines airport.

From there, you just need to follow the prompts and directions by speaking to Orville. He will guide you through the entire process of inviting friends to your island or visiting their island, both locally and online.

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It is important to note that online multiplayer requires membership for the Nintendo Switch Online service. And that’s all there is to unlock co-op play and multiplayer in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

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Souhardya Biswas

494 articles

Souhardya Biswas is an eSports writer for EssentiallySports. He joined the organisation in 2020, wanting to explore the sphere of professional eSports journalism. His passion for gaming started with titles like GTA San Andreas, Far Cry 2, Modern Warfare 2, FIFA 09, eventually developing an interest in Battle Royale games like PUBG and Apex Legends.

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