Video games and fishing are two words that you usually don’t associate with one another. Fishing games aren’t something new to the gaming world, with many games dating back as far as the 1990’s. But I think it is fair to say that many players have been left craving for a game or simulation that reely hooks – I know, I’m sorry – their attention and shows an accurate, detailed representation of what fishing really is.
But that has all changed as Dovetail Games – the multi-award winning developer behind the successful Train Simulator and Flight Simulator – has set out to create one of the most realistic fishing experiences available on the market today – and to be honest, I believe that is exactly what they have accomplished. But with that being said, there is one question that begs to be answered, does the realism of Euro Fishing, hinder the experience that some players – mostly the casual audience – have when playing through the game?
I definitely do believe that there is something about the realism of the game that takes away from your playing experience, but I will cover that in more detail later in the review. Now I do want to be clear that Euro Fishing is much more of a simulation –like Farming Simulator – than it is a game. But the developers – Dovetail Games – have tried to add a more game-like feel, by adding gamification into the simulator.
When the game opens, the first thing you have to do is create a character; this is a nice little feature that helps add a more personal feel to the game. Now, while it is a nice touch, it could have been much better – the selection of character features is quite bare and rather bland. After you have created your character, you will be taken to the main menu– if you make it through the extra-long loading screen –in which it will quickly become apparent that the game is designed to be is very serious.
The main menu will give you four different options – Academy, Freedom Fishing, Live Tournament and Multiplayer. Before you go diving straight into the game modes, I highly recommend that you complete the Academy training program as it will help you learn what is needed to become a master angler. This Academy will guide you through all of the core elements of fishing such as the bare basics, terminology, casting your line and reeling in any potential catches.
When casting your line, you will find that you are presented with two different methods – total casting and power assisted. While the power assisted method is easier, you will find that you will lose a lot of your casting control. Whereas the total casting – which you will quickly learn to hate – is much more complex and frustrating, but it also allows you much more control over where you cast your line. The total casting feature is by far the most frustrating aspect of the game, I have even lost count of the number of times I have failed when using this method. No matter how much I try, I cannot consistently maintain a successful cast. While the method does require a lot of practice, I believe that the casting mechanics need a major overhaul or simply tweaked to make the experience much more rewarding and enjoyable.
You will also learn about line tension, baiting, stalking and using multiple rods. To help with the fishing journey, Simon Scott –a renowned UK fisherman – will guide you through all of the core elements of the game. The entire Academy mode felt very professional and realistic – making it one of the best training programs I have encountered within a video game.
The next mode – Freedom Fishing – takes away all of the pressures of professional fishing as it is just you against the elements. Players can choose to take to the banks or set up a peg and master the art of fishing without any restrictions. Next up is single player, where you have the option to compete against AI anglers in a series of solo tournaments with a different scenario and objective for each level. The final single player mode is based around a series of challenges that put your angling skills to the test. Throughout all of these modes, you will gain experience points that can be used to upgrade your equipment that will allow you to catch different types of fish and also much larger fish such as boss fish – a highly sort after but difficult fish to catch.
Live Tournaments and Multiplayer are the two online modes within Euro Fishing. The Live Tournaments are essentially an online competition where you compete against other players all around the world with a set objective. This objective could be centered around the total weight of your fish caught or even the total number of fish you catch within a specific time period. Multiplayer mode is essentially an online version of Freedom Fishing, with the only difference being the fact that you can join an online lobby full of friends or random players from around the world.
One of the biggest letdowns of Euro Fishing so far is the selection of real world locations and the number of different species that are available within the game. There are currently five different real world lakes for you to fish in – The Observatory, L’arene, Digger Lake, St John’s Lake, and Presa Del Monte Bravo – and only seven species of fish – Roach, Bream, Tench, Common Carp, Mirror Carp, Leather Carp and the Wels Catfish. Now, while this is an acceptable starting amount, it quickly becomes apparent –after a few hours of play – that the game feels very repetitive simply due to the lack of content available at launch. Although, it is unknown if more content will be available through DLC or even a sequel.
Thanks to Unreal Engine 4, Euro Fishing is set miles above other simulations graphically. With immersive environments, beautiful lighting, and a dynamic weather system the game definitely looks and feels the part. The camera, however, is a much different story as – to be completely honest – it is terrible. Due to the poor camera mechanics, you are often forced to view the game at awkward angles and unusable positions. In some cases, you cannot even see the character. The only other issue that I found with Euro Fishing was a few frame-rate and lag issues. None of these issues though were game breaking, but even though I was using a PlayStation 4 Pro, the drop in frame-rate and lag spikes were quite noticeable.
The biggest point that I want to make is that although Dovetail Games have made a fantastic fishing simulator, the realism that they have incorporated into the game seems to hinder the overall fun of the game. Despite spending over 8 hours in the game, I don’t necessarily feel the need to return to the game anytime soon. Although there is gamification added into the game, I feel that it is missing just one little feature that grabs my attention and makes me want to come back for more – whether this is more game modes, environments, fish species or simply a better rewards system. I may just be feeling this way purely because I am not an avid fisher, but I do believe there is something missing from the game that would make players constantly want to come back for more.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a pro fisher and merely enjoy a good fish every so often, but I can completely see why Euro Fishing doesn’t just apply to those hard-core fishers that are looking for a virtual escape. But instead, the developers have been able to create a simulation that gives those that have never fished before, an opportunity to experience the next best thing – virtual fishing.
With all that being said, should you pick up Euro Fishing? Definitely, I would highly recommend picking up a copy – especially if you are looking for a fishing game that will give you the most realistic and detailed experience possible.
A PS4 review copy of Euro Fishing was provided from Dovetail Games for the purpose of this review.