Whenever I hear the name ‘Dovetail Games‘ I instantly think of their super successful Train Simulator on PC and more recently Train Sim World on all platforms. However, the developers don’t stop at locomotive-based simulation games, they also released Euro Fishing a few years back, a game which promised “the closest you can get to real fishing from the comfort of your own couch” – until now. Fishing Sim World, nicely named in line with their Train Sim World game, has been released on the PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and this time it offers to take you out of Europe and around the world instead.
I guess the question is, is Fishing Sim World worth picking up or should it be thrown back into the water? Let’s find out.
First of all, I’d just like to throw out there that I’m no expert in fishing and I did struggle with this game a little bit, which I’ll come to later on. As such, I imagine that people who love fishing and really enjoyed the previous game from the developer will most likely get a lot more out of this game than I did. That being said, I still enjoyed myself and I found the overall experience entertaining, just not as much as I would have if I was a fan of the genre.
The biggest difference between Euro Fishing and Fishing Sim World is the locations. As I mentioned above, you’re no longer limited to European lakes and rivers, you can now venture out to various locations around the world as you aim to catch the most fish and win various tournaments. You even have the chance to ride out on a user-controlled boat in order to find the best spot for catching the biggest fish along with a full customisable load-out within a fully dynamic weather system.
There’s a lot going on in Fishing Sim World, but the core gameplay is clearly its fishing, something which requires a lot of patience and determination – especially if you enter one of the in-game tournaments or multiplayer modes as you’ll spend a very long time doing nothing if you’ve not grasped the mechanics correctly.
How to fish:
My first experience with Fishing Sim World wasn’t a very pleasant one. I skipped the tutorials and went straight into the deep end as I’ve played fishing games before, I’m the king of Final Fantasy: Monsters of the Deep! However, I had totally forgotten that this isn’t an arcade game, it’s touting realism and authenticity. As such, I sat there for around 30 minutes and was unable to catch anything. I had a few bites but each one managed to escape even though I was playing as I would any other fishing game. So, I quit out of free play mode and jumped in to participate in the interactive tutorials…
Much to my surprise, the tutorials aren’t actually interactive. For a game which bears the same tagline as Train Sim World, the lack of help and hand-holding is night and day. In Train Sim World you can’t do anything without the game telling you exactly what to do next. In Fishing Sim World, you’re presented with a batch of videos which simply tell you what to do rather than letting you play along and get to grips with the various components. This process isn’t too bad as the videos were informative and covered most things in a clear, albeit slightly boring, way. However, I still feel that in a game like this the tutorials should be either programmed into the game as tooltips or have a separate ‘getting started’ part where you can play along, like in Train Sim World.
So, I watched all of the tutorials and decided to jump into the game once again in order to try my luck a second time as I now know how to adjust my tension, reduce my reel speed, alter my load-out to suit the kind of fish I’m looking for (very important) and seek out the best fishing locations. What could go wrong?
Once you know what you’re doing, Fishing Sim World isn’t that bad, you choose free play, multiplayer or a tournament, pick a place to fish from or jump into your boat and go searching the waters with your sonar, and then fish until your heart desires (or the time runs out in the tournament). The issue here, coming from someone with little patience and not a lot of knowledge of fishing, is that with the arcade feeling gone and the simulation one kicking in, the game can get very monotonous and border-line boring pretty fast.
One of the cool features is that certain places allow you to set up camp and have up to three different rods on the go at the same time – so you can customise three types of rods and bait, cast them all off and just sit back and wait until one of them gets a tug from a fishy surprise. Once this happens, you need to quickly grab the right rod, yank back on the Right stick in order to lock in the hook, and then begins the reel-in. Reeling in is the same as any other game, you must move the rod in the direction of the fishes movements so you can pull them in with little tension, release and give the line some slack to avoid it breaking, adjust the tension and reel speed to adapt to what fish you have, and ultimately pull it right up close to you.
If this was an arcade game, we would have fast and dynamic music at this point which makes it more exciting, the fish would be jumping all over the place, and upon getting it close we would see the fish splashing around as we pull it out of the water. However, as this is a simulation game and not an arcade one, the music remains calm, the fish pulls but rarely splashes all over the place, and pulling it close initiates the ‘I caught it’ cutscene once the fish hits an invisible trigger point underwater. It left me feeling a little underwhelmed by the whole catching process as someone who loves seeing all the fantastical fish and the crazy encounters in Final Fantasy: Monsters of the Deep, but if you step back and look at it from the perspective of the target audience, this is probably as realistic as you’re going to get on modern consoles.
So, let’s actually talk about the fish as the Steam store page touts something which COD claimed they had many years ago: “realistic game physics and accurate fish AI”. I’m happy to say that I actually believe them with this, which real-life fishers will either confirm or deny. Each of the 18 species felt different, they seemed to react in their own way to the various baits, they swam in various patterns, and some of them were a lot harder to catch than others. Supposedly, the temperature of the water due to the dynamic weather also affects the various species as well!
I would say about half the time spent within Fishing Sim World is time you need to spend customising your gear for each of the various situations you may encounter – this is something you can do on the fly as well. In regards to your gear, there are hundreds of different combinations of officially licenced rods, lines, reels, bait, etc… So for the enthusiast, this game has more depth than Lake Baikal!
Moving back to the tournaments (fishing leagues), you have four options, all of which offer something different. The Bass league has you fishing for a set time and your five heaviest Bass are used to compare and declare a winner. The Carp league consists of you aiming to catch as many Carps as you can with their combined weight being the deciding factor in this challenge. The Predator league is similar to the Carp one, only this time the combined length is the deciding result. Finally, the Coarse league is all about quantity and not quality as the victor is the one who caught the most fish regardless of their size or weight.
So, between free play, online, and the four leagues, there is actually a lot of content here to keep any fans of the genre entertained for many hours.
I didn’t actually encounter any obvious glitches or bugs within Fishing Sim world, which is always nice in a simulation game as they can sometimes be riddled with them. However, that doesn’t mean the game is perfect as I did think the controls felt a little floaty at times and even unresponsive and clunky when trying to swap between my three rods. Over time I got used to it and it began to feel much better, but initially, it did put me off a little bit.
Graphically, Fishing Sim World isn’t anything to scream and shout about, but it’s the attention to the small details that really impressed me, just like the developers did in Train Sim World. The water is actually translucent, well, to a certain depth right below you. As such, as you pull in the fish, you can actually see them swimming around under the water as you wrestle with them to bring them to the surface. This is pretty awesome and I don’t think you could actually see them in the Euro Fishing game – you can even make out what fish it is before you pull it out as it’s fully rendered as soon as you hook it.
However, even though the game looks cleaner and more detailed than Euro Fishing, it still suffers from a lot of unpolished elements. For example, you can walk right through your rods which you set down, fish can sometimes swim into the ground and under your boat (with your line going right through both elements), the character looks bored and tired in the ‘caught’ photoshoot, and some of the textures aren’t up to the quality we saw in Train Sim World. Saying that though, the various environments actually look pretty stunning as the sunlight shines off water and reflects the trees, the fish also look really well detailed and realistic. It’s just a shame the overall physics and general housekeeping wasn’t up to the same standard in all areas.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve declared that I love simulation games and I love the monotonous tasks of performing the mundane in order to either participate in a job or do something which I could be doing in real life if I wasn’t so lazy. However, I’ve never been the biggest fishing fan in the world. Sure, I enjoy fantastical fishing games like Final Fantasy: Monsters of the Deep, and I enjoy in-game mini-games which revolve around fishing like in Yakuza and Stardew Valley. But I’ve never really clicked with actual Fishing games on a whole.
However, Fishing Sim World has a charm to it, an addictive nature which makes me want to play more of it and ultimately get better. Sure, I may have lost pretty much every league I entered and also failed miserably within the multiplayer, but it still had me going back and trying again. I feel the sign of a good simulation title isn’t only about its realism and 1:1 nature, it’s about its ability to draw you in and keep you invested and entertained, even if you know nothing about the subject matter. My only gripes would be the lacklustre tutorials and the immersion breaking occasional graphical flaws.
Fishing Sim World is a great successor to Euro Fishing which fans of the former will really enjoy playing. Even as someone who isn’t really too keen on fishing in terms of a realistic simulation game, I still found enjoyment within the game and wanted to go back for more in order to get better and actually catch some bigger fish. However, if you have played Euro Fishing and enjoyed what it had to offer then expect more gear, new locations, much bigger environments, more intense challenges, and it even lets you ride a boat! Sure, there are some graphical anomalies with the physics and the ability to walk through things like you’re a ghost, but the core aspect, the fishing, is rock solid once you get to grips with it.
Just like most simulation games, I would recommend this to people who are really into the subject, fishing, as even though I enjoyed it and I’m really only interested in arcade fishing, there were times I felt a little bored just waiting for the fish. As such, fans who want a more realistic approach to the sport should be more than happy with what’s on offer here.
Fishing Sim World£29.99
- Realistic fish physics within the water with each species having their own patterns
- Hundreds of gear combinations in order to create your perfect loadout
- Lots of content in the form of free play, tournaments, multiplayer and online leaderboards
- Very good looking fish with small features such as being able to see the fish under the water up close
- Beautiful scenery which looks so calm and relaxing
- The tutorials are just videos and don't really guide you as much as they should
- If you're not used to fishing games, it can be a bit confusing and intimidating at first
- There are some graphical anomalies which ruin the immersion