I decided this year to treat gaming like a hobby again, starting with making the most of my Xbox GamePass subscription and seriously scaling back on purchases and sales through Steam and other Indie games. I missed the good ‘ol days of Nintendo, playing pretty much whatever the newest title was, regardless if it was my preferred genre or not. I played everything, and if it was fun, cool. If it wasn’t? Whatever. Move on to the next title. (Of course, that’s easy to do when you’re spending your dad’s money instead of your own, lol.)
As I scrolled through the ever growing list of titles, I came across Call of the Wild: The Angler. I’ve always kind of laughed at hunting and fishing games, always making a mental image of the “good ‘ol boys” who were likely playing them, but I figured “Why not?” and proceeded to download. Lo and behold, I’m “HOOKED”. (See what I did there?)
The premise is that you are a fisherman, of course, but you explore and traverse a HUGE open world in (currently) three game reserves, choosing where you want to fish, how, and for what. You can customize your kit, add boats and vehicles to your garage, upgrade fishing gear, and level up your expertise and rankings in several different ways. The game is filled with achievements and the scenery is amazingly well built and beautiful. Slog through water and muddy terrain, experience mosquitos buzzing in your ear, fish will taunt you by jumping out of the water right in front of your line, and even hear the grunts and screams of God-knows-what lurking in the woods.
It is not played in real time, but you do go through day and nighttime environments, with fish that prefer those environments coming into the fray. You can fish ponds, streams, lakes, and rivers using pretty much any bait or lure setup you have raised enough points for. Like in real fishing environments, sometimes you don’t get a bite in forever, sometimes they are practically jumping in your boat. There are hundreds of types of fish, including exclusives to the reserve where you are located.
You will stay in touch with a game warden via radio and he will give you points for finding and calling in invasive species of bugs and plants scattered in the wild. You can find hidden trinkets, like silver dollars and blog notes, in camps and add them to your inventory. There are even fun little hidden items like Bigfoot tracks scattered throughout. The water and environment sounds are calming and everything feels very relaxing—until your fight a fish for 5-10 minutes and your line snaps, that is. And there’s some big fish out there that will do it very early in game. Even with that frustration, all in all, you have an amazing game that will keep you entertained for a long time.
The controls and game play are pretty easy. The tutorials are phased out well, so you don’t waste too much time up front. You can honestly jump right in and start fishing if you are familiar with these sorts of games. There are controls for adjusting drag and tension, different fishing styles like jigging and twitching, adjustments to the speed of your reel, etc. You have a meter which you watch during epic fights with some fish that let you know when to ease your tension and drag, when to manually set your hook, etc. All of which feels pretty good. You also do not have to mess around with tying hooks when you snap a line, which is a great time saver. Its an immediate respawn. When you fall off something it is also an immediate respawn, which is good.
There are a couple downfalls, but none of them are deal-breakers. Casting leaves a little to be desired, but that could be due to my ping/lag. The customization also leaves a little to be desired. It is nowhere close to an EA Sports style player customizer, so your character looks pretty terrible in your trophy shots. The fish look great though! Driving is sketchy at best, so be prepared to run off the road—a lot. Driving a boat isn’t nearly as bad as driving a ground vehicle. As for traversing terrain, it does feel a bit slow. Not quite real-time walking/jogging, but not far off. I have personally only found a couple “fast travel” unlocks also, which can be a little frustrating if you need to go back for bait at the shop when you are a considerable way out in the wild. The girl who runs the gear shop in the first game reserve is annoying, so be prepared for that. You’ll also likely get tired of being called “buckaroo” by the game warden. Again, neither are going to make you delete the game.
Finally, you have the ability to fish by yourself or you can fish with friends in multiplayer. I have not tried the multiplayer yet, so I can’t report on how easy that is, but it looks promising if you and a pal or two want to go on a virtual fishing trip and shoot-the-shit for an hour. I have watched others fish near me, so it does look like you can see what your buddy is fighting against.
I’ll do an update at some point after playing a few different reserves, and I have been taking screenshots of various fish (pics below), so you can see some of the whoppers and “minnows” I’ve landed. For now, my recommendation is a DEFINITE TRY IT OUT. It’s very balanced with achievements, so you get a lot of motivation to keep you from being bored. The biggest fish in the game currently also regularly pop up as being caught on a “hidable” feed on your screen, so you know its possible to “get the big one”. If you love the outdoors, the scenic views are quite spectacular. The relaxing sound of the water is also a nice change of pace from bullets flying and stuff exploding around you all the time. You also don’t have to get up at 3am to hit first light at that fishing hole. Can’t beat that with a stick.
Happy fishing, ya’ll!
What did you think? I’d love to know!
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