STAFF REVIEW of Fishing: Barents Sea Complete Edition (Xbox One)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020.
by Adam Dileva

Fishing: Barents Sea Complete Edition Box art At one point I was tuning into Deadliest Catch on Discovery Channel at its peak. Something about that unique career path made for some entertaining viewing every week. Of course, I also imagined what that job would be like day to day. Now, with Fishing: Barents Sea Complete Edition, I can get an idea of what the day to day might actually look like, and it’s tedious.

I will say, when I first played a Farm Sim title and the like, I was very skeptical as to why anyone would find that type of gameplay entertaining, but after delving into a handful of titles, I now get it, not making the same mistake this time around. Yes, this is a slow paced simulator, but there’s an audience for nearly everything, and if being a commercial fisherman peaks your interest even slightly, then you’ve come to the right place, as Barents Sea has some depth to it.

Having released on PC long ago, this complete edition now finally makes its way to console, including both of the DLC’s that previously released for the original game. The first, Line and Net Ships, added 5 new vessels to captain, and King Crab added, well, you guessed it, crab fishing. Both are included along with the base game now that it’s been released on console.

You’re given a fairly small fishing vessel and are set on your own in the Norwegian Sea, searching for prized fishing grounds and the start of your lucrative career. Your initial boat is very small, can’t hold much fish and is excruciatingly slow, but you have to start somewhere right? You’ll begin small, catching a single line or two at a time, eventually working your way up to bigger and better vessels where you can also hire a crew and upgrade your ships.

Once you learn the very basics, you’re essentially left to your own in a huge open map. You’re given a large circumference area where you can see fish density and population, but like other games, you’ll need to actually venture out into the greyed out parts of the map if you want to see underneath its ‘fog’. Obviously, after you’re able to afford the better boats, exploration and fishing will come faster, and with a handful of different boats, there’s plenty to work and strive towards.

Given that you’re a commercial fisherman, don’t expect to grab any fishing rods. Instead, you’ll fish with various methods such as long-line, trawl and net, each of which has its own style, method and controls, each of which is simple to learn, but to master and gain the most bonuses will take some time. My only complaint is that the controls for the menus themselves is very awkward and cumbersome, having you tap directions on the D-Pad numerous times to select the option you want.

If you’re a fishing buff you’ll be happy to know that there’s officially licensed equipment too from Scanmar and TrawlEye. While most will probably not know this equipment or brands, those that do should find the authenticity that much more accurate. As you raise your bankroll, you’ll be able to customize your boats with upgrades, not just to your engine to be quicker and more reliable, but to expand your storage containers and more across your whole vessel. The better your equipment, the better and bigger your catches will be, so it pays to invest when thinking long term.

As you sail across to the Barents Sea, you’ll need to periodically dock at one of the harbors to repair your boat, offload and sell your catch, upgrade your boat, refill your supplies, hire staff, take out a loan and more. As you sail you’ll deal with different weather, seasons and even day and night cycles, all of which affect fishing spots and patterns.

Sailing times can be excruciatingly slow, especially in your first boat. Thankfully, you can set waypoints in any area that’s been previously explored and doesn’t have the ‘fog’ on the map, which you can then fast forward time as it does all the traveling for you in mere seconds. While this is handy, as time will fast forward in real time too, you can only skip ahead time manually when you’re docked, not on the open water. Keep in mind, traveling around uses your fuel, which costs money, so you’ll need to figure out how you want to pass time when you’re waiting for your lines to soak and attract more fish. I just wish there was a way to pass time quicker on the actual boat itself, but at this point, there is not a way to do so.

I fully expected there to be a sandbox mode like in other Sim games, where you’re given an unlimited, or at least obscene, amount of money and can just freely play with whatever equipment you want. I didn’t find that here, meaning you’re going to need to grind and work for that money if you want to try out all the ships, equipment and upgrades. Also, if this had a multiplayer mode, I would have really enjoyed fishing alongside with a friend or two, cooperatively or competitively.

Yes, Fishing: Barents Sea Complete Edition is going to cater to a very niche and specific audience, but just like Farm Sim and others alike, those that do enjoy this time of super realistic gameplay that most will find mundane, will surely enjoy the attention to detail and authentic representation. While I’m not the specific audience for a title like this, I can appreciate the work that goes into trying to show an accurate depiction of such an interesting and unique career.

Sometimes you need a break from all the shooters and action games. This is where Fishing: Barents Sea Complete Edition comes in; when you just want to sit back, sail your boat across some open water and commercially catch some fish for some profit. Just be prepared to sink a ton of time into it if you want to make any real progress.

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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