It was a long wait, but Stardew Valley finally got cooperative multiplayer farming at the beginning of August. You no longer need a mod to plant crops with your pals, and it's now a cinch to play together on both the Steam and GOG versions of Stardew Valley.
It may be easy to play Stardew Valley multiplayer now, but we still have some tips to streamline the process of farming together, and advice on how to best make use of your shared time and resources. Finally, we also have advice on some mods that let you form a Stardew Valley farm with dozens of players, and a way to effectively turn your farm host into a dedicated server.
Stardew Valley multiplayer: Getting in
Four-player co-op arrived in Stardew Valley on August 1. It's the same as singleplayer, but with friends, basically. One player hosts, and up to three can join on them. To get started, just head to the new co-op menu from the title screen. From there, and we're quoting the patch notes, you can:
- Host a new co-op game.
- Re-host an existing co-op game.
- Join a new farm (provided that any of your friends are hosting and have a cabin available for you).
- Re-join a farm (provided that the host is in-game).
- Join a LAN game (by entering the IP address of the host).
- Enter an invite code (generated by the host) to join a game (this allows for Steam/GOG crossplay).
Stardew Valley multiplayer: Getting started
Stardew’s multiplayer does not support split screen co-op, so make sure whoever you plan to play with has their own copy of the game and has opted into the beta through their Steam or GOG client. Co-op relies on the new farm building called a cabin. You must have cabins on your farm for each friend you plan to invite, maximum being three. Luckily, each cabin is relatively cheap, requiring only 100 gold and 10 stones for the most basic structure. You can either begin a new farm with cabins already pre-built for you or load an existing save into singleplayer to commission a cabin from Robin the carpenter before opening the same save in co-op.
Now that you have a farm and at least one cabin to shove your friend in, start your game through the co-op button on the main screen and scroll near the bottom of Stardew’s options menu. You can invite a friend via LAN, by reading off your invite code for them to enter, or in Steam by right-clicking their name in your friend list and selecting "Invite to game." You can play with friends on either Steam or GOG by using the invite codes. Saves are stored on the host player’s machine, meaning others cannot play after the host leaves the game but the host player can choose to play alone without friends who had previously helped in the save.
Stardew Valley multiplayer: Getting acquainted
The most important things to remember in co-op Stardew are what you share with your friends and what you don’t share. These things remain separate:
- Skill levels
- Relationships (meaning if your real life significant other, like mine, still thinks they’re going to woo Jodi away from her husband you can pursue your own successful relationship while they bark up that tree).
What you do share:
- Farm space
- Most importantly, your time
It makes complete sense that in a shared game the clock would march on regardless of who happens to be organizing their inventory or perusing Pierre’s store. What I forgot is just how much time I spent doing those things while playing alone. I may well have spent equally as much of my days in some kind of menu, causing the game’s clock to pause, as I did actually running about. In co-op, the clock stops for no farmhand and the days fly by at a breakneck pace.
The sun is always setting hours before I feel like I’ve gotten done what I had hoped to accomplish (too realistic, right?) and without my partner and I ever managing to communicate what we’d be working on. The pressure to perform quickly isn’t a defect with the co-op design, but it’s a new way of thinking about playing that I had to consciously adjust to. If you absolutely must pause, the host player can press the default key T to open the text chat window and type "/pause" to force freeze the game.
Inevitably, a friend will log off with something in their inventory that you needed. You can pilfer what they held out on you by checking what looks like a dresser inside their cabin. If you choose to invite friends to one of your existing saves, they will create a new character and begin with a basic set of tools, no skill levels, and only the starting amount of daily energy. My partner was forced to dig through my abandoned clothes and weapons to find hand-me-downs that would let him dive into the lowest levels of the mines, while also finding that he didn’t have the energy to water all the crops on my farm.
Apart from time constraints, a few other oddities are worth noting. While in co-op mode, you will not be able to move or demolish your farm buildings from Robin’s store. Presumably this could create conflicts if your friends are inside of a building you demolish or are standing where you hope to move one. For a constant organizer like me, kicking my partner out so I could edit our farm’s arrangement in singleplayer every so often is not ideal.
Once you're used to life on a shared farm, there are a couple mods that open up what you can do in multiplayer.
Stardew Valley multiplayer mods
Always On Server For Multiplayer - This mod puts the farm host into a deep slumber, allowing the world to continue running without them playing. This allows for the rest of your farmers to play even when the host isn't present, and the mod is smart enough to pause the action when no one's active so time won't pass. The host will have to leave the game running on their computer, but that's a small price to pay for a farm that never sleeps.
Unlimited players - This mod removes the co-op limit on four players and cabins, allowing an entire community of people to live that Stardew life together. Only the host needs to install the mod. Things might get hairy if you have dozens of people playing simultaneously, but modder funny-snek, who created the Always On Server mod above, posted this image on Reddit showing that a farm run with both mods is a beautiful sight.