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Animal Crossing: New Horizons online guide: How visiting islands works

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is out now, and it’s a delightful and engaging return for the series. But while Nintendo is great at designing charming and serene games, it still often struggles with online features. Is the same true for the new Animal Crossing? Thankfully, no. The online multiplayer in New Horizons works about as expected with only a few headaches.

Let’s get the basics out of the way. Here’s the process for visiting your friends’ villages or having them visit yours:

Play until you unlock the airport. This is one of the first buildings your island gets after you complete the tutorial. It usually opens on your second day.
Go into the airport and talk to the dodo bird at the desk.
Choose to fly or to accept visitors.
And you’re good to go.

But this system has some caveats that you should keep in mind. Let’s talk about that.

What friends, best friends, and Dodo Codes mean in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

New Horizons uses your Switch friends list. So when you tell the Dodo Airlines you want to fly, it’ll search which of your Switch friends have their gates open. And if you open your gates, only your friends will see your island on their list.

But what if you want to open your island to your friends but you also don’t trust said friends. This is where the best friend system comes into play. Only people who are your best friend can use tools like the shovel or ax on your island.

This is not the same as the Switch’s built-in best-friend system. Instead, this uses one of the apps on your in-game Nook Phone. Once you visit a friend’s island, you can use the Best Friends app to ask for permission to be a “best friend.” Once the island owner approves, you will then get the option to dig up fossils. Otherwise, you’re stuck to shaking trees.

Finally, you can use the Dodo Code option. This enables you to open up your island with a five-digit code. You can then share this code on social media or in a Discord to invite whoever you want to your island whether they are your friend or not. But you can also limit this code to friends only.

Just beware that the game has to stop and load every time someone joins your island. So if you open it up to everyone and post the code on social media, your game may end up unplayable as people join in a nonstop parade.

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