What playing together means for your farm.
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.
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.
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