STAFF REVIEW of Fishing Sim World (Xbox One)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018.
by Adam Dileva

Fishing Sim World Box art There really isn’t a wide breadth of options for dedicated fishing games on console if you’re really into the sport, which is a shame, as I tend to always gravitate towards fishing if it’s included in game, even as a simple side activity with little reward. Truth be told, I can count the times I’ve actually gone fishing in real life on a single hand, but even though I’m not an avid angler in real life, I do enjoy my virtual line and reel whenever possible.

Dovetail Games aims to remedy this isolated problem on console with their newest release, Fishing Sim World. Aiming at being a realistic fishing simulator, you’ll travel to many bodies of water and use dozens of pieces of equipment to start your angling career off on the right foot. So does Fishing Sim World tick all the right boxes to get you hooked? Let’s dive in.

From the opening, you’ll be able to create your character, male or female, and slightly alter how they look and what they wear. There’s really not a lot of options available, or that look great, but at least you’re able to somewhat customize a fisherman, or woman, to suit your preferences. I will say, the blandness of the visuals is apparent from the get-go, as the characters and animations themselves are far from impressive by any means.

Next up I would suggest heading to the tutorial area, as that’s going to be how you learn how to begin your fishing career off on the right foot. This was the first disappointment I had though, as instead of an in-depth tutorial that shows you and gets you to practice all the intricacies of the fishing life, you’re instead simply given a list of tutorial videos to watch and hopefully remember. There’s a handful of videos, going over each topic, from casting, reeling in, tackle box and equipment and more, but for a game that’s boasting about being a realistic simulator, some hands on practice would have been a far better option instead of this back seat approach.

You’re able to then choose where you’d like to fish from a handful of different areas and lakes, aiming to catch more than a dozen different types of fish along the way, and do to so, you’re going to need a multitude of different equipment types, from lures, bait and rods, depending on what you’re aiming to catch. Do you prefer to hit the lakes in Florida, New York, France, Germany, Austria or the UK? It’s completely up to you, and of course, each area houses different species of fish. To navigate these large lakes you’re going to need a vessel, and as it just happens, you have access to a boat, allowing you to search and scour for your favorite fishing spots with your on-board fish sonar and GPS.

Fishing won’t work without the right equipment, and included is a number of items for your tackle box from a number of officially licensed brands such as Bass Cat Boats, Delkim, Rat-L-Trap, Duckett Fishing, Korda and Mainline Baits. While I’m not an avid fisherman myself, I can only assume that the licensed gear is an accurate depiction of its real life counterparts and works similarly.

What I love the most about fishing is that you can simply do it at your own pace and relax. Sometimes I need to unwind from the everyday shooters and racers, and want something different to reset my gaming state. This is where Fishing Sim World excels, as you’re not forced to catch a certain amount or imposed with strict time limits (unless in a tournament), allowing me to freely fish at my own pace and speed however I wish.

So you’ve boated all around your chosen lake and found a spot that seems full of fish with some great natural beauty to it to relax to. Now this is where your patience will be tested. Fishing is tricky, as you’re simply left to chance, depending on the fish, how hungry they are, if they’ll bite and more. Sometimes you’ll find a spot where you’ll constantly get bites nonstop, whereas other areas I’ve had no luck with a single bite for over 15 minutes. This of course is partly due to the fisher’s skill of setting the line and reeling it in in a specific way in order to tantalize the fish into biting.

You’ve given two different options for casting and using your reel. A more realistic version labeled ‘Total Cast Control’ and a simpler easier option. The easy option simply has you aiming and then holding down the power button on your cast until you hit the percentage you want (100% being the maximum distance), whereas Total Cast Control is much more involved and will require a bit of practice to get used to. It takes a bit of a learning curve to get the hang of, but you can cast much more precisely and is more involved if you take the time to learn its intricacies.

Fish won’t simply bite just because you cast your lure into the water though. This is where your skill as a fisherman comes into play, as you need to make your lure maneuver in a specific way to entice the fish into thinking it’s real food. There are different types of lure movements you can use, depending on the specific lure and the type of fish you’re trying to attract. You can constantly reel in, stop and go or make twitch movements. Each have its own purpose and is indicated if you’re doing it properly by the color of its icon in the water (green for good and red for poor).

Your line is on the water and you’ve finally got a bite! Indicated by a large “!”, you’ll need to snag the hook into the fish’s mouth quickly if you want to keep it attached without it breaking free. This is called the strike, and the quality of your strike will depend on the movement and timing of your rod snap from when the bite happens. This takes a little getting used to, but it’s always exciting to see that lure dunk into the water as your rod bends.

As the fish fights you, you’ll need to fight back in moderation. Your fishing line is set for a specific weight limit and tension, so if you fight too hard against the fish, your line could snap. This is where the cat and mouse game begins of letting the fish tire itself out before you reel it in. If the fish is swimming away to the left, you’ll want to maneuver your rod to the right as you reel it in slowly, keeping an eye on the tension meter. When the fish takes a break, that’s when you want to reel in as fast as you can, before it fights back and tries to swim away some more. It’s always satisfying to reel in a huge catch that was a back and forth battle.

Progression is based on your earned Tackle Points, TP for short, and this is what you earn for catching each fish. Earn enough TP and you’ll be able to spend it on new gear, clothing and more equipment, based on your fishing preferences or style. It’s a basic as a progression system comes, but at least there’s a reason to continue catching other than for the love of the sport itself.

Should you have other avid fishing friends online, you’re able to play together in 4 player multiplayer and even begin a live tournament to see who the best fisherman is by comparing catches. Depending on the tournament you choose, you’re not simply ranked on who catches the biggest or heaviest fish, but sometimes the amount caught, combined length or combined weight. These add some variety to the gameplay and simply catching one huge monster trophy fish won’t always net you the win in every case.

While the world itself is very bland and uninspiring, it’s still somewhat calming, being in the middle of a lake by yourself, waiting for a bite. The sunlight and reflections on the water look decent, but for a game that absolutely revolves around being in and around the water, I was hoping for more in the visuals. Of course I wasn’t expecting it to hit the realistic water standards set in Sea of Thieves, and you can see a small bit of transparency in the water when the fish near the surface, but everything else simply looks average and bland at best.

There’s really no music included either, and while I get that as a design decision, as you’re supposed to be on the water alone, quiet and calm, when you don’t get a bite for over ten minutes, the downtime can become boring. Maybe that’s because I’m not an avid fisher in real life and simply ‘don’t get it’, but never the less, I still had fun when the fish were biting and I caught a new personal best bass.

Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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