Stardew Valley has had plans for multiplayer gameplay since before its release, but the feature was not implemented in the final version of the game that was loosed upon the world in late February 2016. A year and a half later, Chucklefish Games is confident enough in the progress of the feature that they have provided a general overview of how it will work and some of its features.
Multiplayer will take place on a single farm controlled by one player as the host. At the outset of the game, Robin the Carpenter will offer to build up to three cabins where farmhands can reside; these farmhands are the roles that other players will be taking on. Farmhands will be capable of doing nearly everything that the "main" player can do, whether it's farming, fishing, foraging, fighting, or just about any other activity you can think of. Of course, certain major decisions can affect the course of the game and these will be reserved for the main player; among these are when to go to sleep, when to start and end festivals, and whether or not to side with Joja Corp.
There won't be any need to join a server; PC players will simply connect to their friend through an invite on Steam. The mechanism for other platforms (which includes the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4) has yet to be determined, but Chucklefish expects that it will work more or less the same way.
A feature that was requested by many players is the ability for two player characters to be married. Chucklefish likes the idea, and while it won't make use of the Mermaid Pendant (as is used with bachelors and bachelorettes), it will likely require a similar amount of effort to woo your companion in-game. The specifics of this feature are still being hammered out internally.
As it stands, there won't be any split-screen, local multiplayer, or PvP. This may be, in part, due to the fact that over 15,000 lines of code had to be retrofitted to incorporate multiplayer gameplay into a game that didn't have the groundwork laid for it in the first place, an effort that Mr. Coxon describes as "notoriously hard".
A beta test for the multiplayer functionality of Stardew Valley will take place on Steam sometime towards the end of the year. The developers encourage mod authors to appropriately update their mods during this time. If everything stays on track, the 1.3 patch for the game should deploy to the PC, Mac, and Linux versions of the game sometime in early 2018. Console versions will follow some time after that.
Quick TakeNow that we have more details in hand, a number of new questions emerge about Stardew Valley multiplayer. How will marrying NPCs be handled - on a first-come, first-served basis? Can you compete for their affections? Will we get a larger farm to accommodate multiple players or will we be working on the same size plot of land we have now? However things turn out, I'm definitely looking at this as a very interesting development. I'm quite looking forward to it!
What do you think of Stardew Valley multiplayer? Is a PvP function something that you would like to see added in the game? Is there anything else you would like to see done differently? Let us know in the comments below!