What play­ing to­gether means for your farm.

PC GAMER (US) - - CONTENTS - By Daniella Lu­cas

There’s a won­der­fully calm­ing rhythm to start­ing a new farm in Stardew Val­ley, from de­cid­ing where to put those first parsnips to plan­ning out fu­ture up­grades as your am­bi­tions start to grow. But all of that goes out of the win­dow when you start play­ing with oth­ers. Where once you were the sole ar­biter of taste and path-style choices, now it’s done by com­mit­tee. Which is great if you’ve all got sim­i­lar tastes and can work to­wards com­mon goals, but it’s dis­as­trous if you do what I did, and in­vite a part­ner who’s never so much as held a vir­tual wa­ter­ing can. Set­ting up a mul­ti­player game of Stardew Val­ley is easy. There’s an added co-op but­ton in the main menu where you can ei­ther host a game or use an in­vite code to join some­one else’s. You can choose to start en­tirely from scratch, or you can add a cosy cabin to a pre-ex­ist­ing farm and in­vite up to three other peo­ple to all play to­gether. All of the farm’s prof­its are shared into one pool of cash, but you will have to up­grade your tools in­di­vid­u­ally and progress your own re­la­tion­ships with the towns­folk.

Par­adise lost

Af­ter giv­ing my new farm­hand a quick run through of what each of the game’s tools did and how best to use them, our new quiet life of peace­ful plan­t­keep­ing be­gan. Or, at least, that’s what I’d hoped. While I start clear­ing out rocks and dead­wood branches to cre­ate a neat space to till, my part­ner de­cides to steal my tele­vi­sion so he can have a dual mon­i­tor setup in his cabin. In mul­ti­player mode any­one can pick up any item and do what they want with it. There are no op­tions for own­er­ship, be­cause who in their right mind would want to troll in a game about peace­fully milk­ing cows and pick­ling to­ma­toes?

Af­ter a bit of wran­gling, I get my part­ner to start hoe­ing the soil in vaguely the right spot and plant crops be­fore bed­time. Just one more prob­lem, though—to progress to the next day you both have to go to bed. He made sure to steal my house­plant be­fore fi­nally set­tling down for day two. My dream of a har­mo­nious life in the coun­try is quickly turn­ing into a liv­ing night­mare of stolen crops, dual-screen TV ar­range­ments, and badly po­si­tioned cau­li­flower plants.

Af­ter mak­ing sure ev­ery­thing is wa­tered in the morn­ing, I de­cide to in­tro­duce my beau to the nearby town so he can have a look at what else this idyl­lic val­ley has to of­fer. Af­ter pok­ing around a bit, he quickly finds the bar and finds the blue­haired Emily help­ing be­hind the counter. “I think she likes me.” Ear­lier prom­ises of want­ing to marry my char­ac­ter have now gone out of the win­dow, but if I want to be petty I could stop him ro­manc­ing her… by mar­ry­ing her first.

This up­date lets each player build their own re­la­tion­ships so you can tech­ni­cally woo the same char­ac­ters if you wish, though only the first per­son to pro­pose will get their prize. While I con­tem­plate my de­vi­ous­ness he buys an ale, wip­ing out al­most all of the gold that was go­ing to be spent on our bean fund. Maybe I should let Emily have him.

Even­tu­ally we fall into a rhythm of tend­ing to the land and for­ag­ing to earn back the lost cash to in­vest in more crops. I feel a glim­mer of pride when he har­vests his first parsnip— even when your part­ner ac­tively tries to un­der­mine you for fun, hav­ing a se­cond pair of hands re­ally does speed up so many of Stardew Val­ley’s chores. Be­tween us we can plant on a larger scale for in­creased prof­its, though if you think that makes things too easy you can also in­crease the dif­fi­culty by ad­just­ing how much things sell for in the main menu.

Farm out

Un­for­tu­nately, my part­ner is just not cut out for farm­ing life, and de­cides to pack it in af­ter a few in-game weeks. Stardew Val­ley is just not his kind of game. If the sin­gle­player wasn’t your jam then the mul­ti­player up­date won’t be the thing that con­vinces you oth­er­wise. For fans, though, there is more to the up­date than just the prospect of co-op­er­a­tive crop in­creases, with a few new sea­sonal events, dec­o­ra­tions and some added se­crets to un­cover. Even with­out get­ting some help in, the up­date still makes it worth giv­ing the val­ley an­other visit. Just be care­ful to choose bet­ter friends.

in­vite up to three other peo­ple to all play to­gether

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