Animal Crossing: New Horizons is all about friendship, but it can be confusing to figure out how exactly to play with your friends. You can’t just rely on your Nintendo Switch friends list for everything. New Horizons also has its own friends list and your Switch friends aren’t automatically included. Here’s a rundown of what you need to do to start playing with friends and make sure you’ve added them as friends in New Horizons.
The first thing you need to do is wait a day after you’ve started your game. At that point, your island’s airport will be operational, and you can start traveling to friends’ islands and accepting visitors to your own. Keep in mind that you need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to play online with others or access the Animal Crossing features in the NSO mobile app.
Friends vs. Best Friends
New Horizons distinguishes between “friends,” meaning your Nintendo Switch friends, and “Best Friends,” which are friends you add in-game via the Best Friends List app on your NookPhone. To unlock the Best Friends List app, you have to play online with at least one other person (we detail how below).
While you can play with friends and Best Friends in largely the same ways, there are a few differences. Most importantly, Best Friends can use all their tools on your island, while friends aren’t allowed to use destructive tools (shovels and axes).
You can also view whether your Best Friends are online or not via the app and send them in-game messages provided they’re online. You can still view the friends you’ve played with via the same app, but it won’t tell you whether they’re online, and you can’t send them any messages.
How To Add Friends And Best Friends
Once you have access to the Best Friends List app, the only way to add either friends or Best Friends to the app is by playing with them online first. There’s currently no way to import your Nintendo Switch friends list into the in-game app.
Once you’ve played with someone online–either by visiting their island or inviting them to yours–they’ll be added to your in-game friends list in the Best Friends App. From there, you can request to add them as a Best Friend or, if they’ve requested you first, accept their request. We’ve outlined how to play with friends online below.
How To Invite Friends To Your Island
In order to invite friends to your island, you have to speak to Orville at the airport and tell him you want visitors. You have a few options when doing this: You can choose whether to connect to local players or those playing online, and you can allow either all your friends or only your Best Friends to visit. Orville will then open your gates so your friends can come, and when you don’t want visitors anymore, you can ask Orville to close the gates.
You can also choose to invite players via a Dodo Code. Choosing this option will allow you to invite people who aren’t on your friends list at all in addition to friends and Best Friends. Orville will give you a random five-character code, which you can then give to anyone you want to invite (by texting them or whatever method you’d normally use to communicate). This helps you control who comes to your island. The Dodo Code will expire when you close your gates.
How To Visit Friends’ Islands
If you’d rather go to a friend’s island, talk to Orville and instead tell him you’d like to fly and that you want to visit someone. He’ll again ask you to choose between local play and online play, and you can then either search for a friend–to see if anyone on your Switch friends list has opened their gates to friends–or search via a Dodo Code you’ve received from someone else. Like with inviting friends, you’ll need to coordinate using whatever methods you usually use to talk to your friends and make sure their gates are open.
What Can You Do With Friends?
When a friend is visiting or you’re visiting their island, you can simply play Animal Crossing together as you normally would (though you can’t do things like terraform your island while you have company, for example). You can exchange items by dropping them on the ground, trade fruit, visit each other’s stores, and talk to each other’s villagers, among other things.
When you aren’t playing together on one island, you can still communicate with friends in a few ways. You can send messages to Best Friends using the Best Friends List app (as long as they’re online). You can also send letters to any of your friends as long as you’ve played with them online before. You’re limited to two letters per friend per day, but this is a good way to send items to friends if you don’t have time to visit each other’s islands. Finally, you can buy and send friends gifts directly through the Nook Shopping option at the Nook Stop machine in Resident Services–you can even use a special gift card. Both letters and Nook Shopping gifts will arrive in your friend’s mailbox almost immediately, provided they’re connected to the internet.
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