With the recent release of The Fisherman: Fishing Planet on Xbox One, I’ve been spurred to collate a little list of my favourite fishing games, those available to play on the Xbox.
Obviously, being out in nature, in the fresh air, and catching real fish is infinitely better than any video game can be, and the smell of the fish slime on your clothes, the red stained fingers from the groundbait, the greeting at the door when you get home to be told “You stink!”; well, you just can’t beat it. However, as I have to work for a living, and also have to make time to interact with the family, it isn’t always possible to get out on the bank. In times of need though, and on those days when it’s freezing cold or chucking it down with rain, it’s more than possible to turn to the beloved Xbox, sure as you can be that in the virtual world, it’ll always be sunny and the fish will be biting.
As I’ve played almost every fishing experience that you can find on the big black box, I thought I’d attempt to rank them, nailing a list consisting of 5 of the best fishing games on Xbox One, if you will.
Rapala Fishing: Pro Series
I was “fortunate” enough to review Rapala Fishing: Pro Series on Xbox One when it was first released back in November 2017.
At the time, I wasn’t impressed with the way the game looked at all, with the most plastic looking player model I’ve ever seen. But still to this day, being your avatar in the game, driving about in a boat, rocking up to likely looking fishing spots is all very nice, but it’s what happens when you cast out that sets this game apart from the others.
You see, despite being an interactive advert for the Rapala brand’s fishing lures, the proper use of their gear requires you to participate in a rhythm action mini game to make the lure swim right and attract the largest number of fish. Now, lure fishing in real life is not something I’ve done a massive amount of, but beyond jerking the rod tip and varying the retrieve speed, there is no rhythm involved in working a lure. Still, we’re virtually fishing, so I’ll let it slide.
What I can’t let slide is the fish playing mechanic, which features counter intuitive controls, requiring you to move a box right if a fish swims left, and so on. It’s a pretty poor game all round, if I’m honest, and while there are a multitude of lures to use and fish to catch, it just isn’t very much fun.
So we’ll use Rapala Fishing: Pro Series as the baseline, and hopefully things will improve from here on out.
SEGA Bass Fishing
It might seem weird to include a game made by SEGA in the top 5 Xbox fishing games list, but it was released on the Xbox 360, and is backwardly compatible to this day, so it count.
SEGA Bass Fishing is a very American styled game, focusing on the fish that most Americans seem to be obsessed by – the many varieties of Bass. Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Striped Bass, White Bass, there are many species to aim at in this game, and with an arcade twist to the gameplay, it offers something that little bit different.
With the emphasis again on lure fishing, you are tasked with catching the biggest fish in the lake, with only an artificial bait and your wits to help you. It isn’t the prettiest game in the world, I’ll grant you that, as it can trace its roots all the way back to 1997, but the way that it plays makes up for it. When a fish is hooked, the constant exhortations to “Turn the rod left”, or “Lower the rod” makes fighting the fish feel exciting, even today.
Choosing your location, your lure and then catching the fish in a tight timescale adds a certain something that the previous game in this list was missing.
The Fisherman: Fishing Planet
The free-to-play model of Fishing Planet annoyed me no end. Constant adverts to buy coins, in-game currency, or even extra lakes as DLC lead me to give up. However, with the release of the paid version of the game, The Fisherman: Fishing Planet on Xbox One, things are a lot better.
With missions galore to try and fulfill, almost endless combinations of tackle and bait to use, and more than 100 species of fish to have a crack at, on paper at least this would seem to be the complete package. Looking at the range of waters available, from small ponds to the Volga river in Russia, the picture looks even brighter, and with distinct fishing styles to master, surely this game should be higher up the list?
Well, sadly it stumbles at the final hurdle.
You see, once a fish has been hooked, the actual fighting of the fish, the bit that should be the most thrilling, is sadly pretty flat and dull. There’s no thrill, and there’s no feeling of accomplishment if you land a trophy fish; it’s just a case of keep winding and waiting for the fish to give up.
If this can be patched, if there can be a feeling of risk, of danger of losing the fish, then The Fisherman: Fishing Planet could well be a contender.
Fishing Sim World
It may be a bit of shock to see the current king of fishing games, Fishing Sim World, at number two on my list. And to be honest, it could well be number one, as it doesn’t do anything wrong. Lots of waters, lots of species, and an evolution of the fish fighting system seen in Euro Fishing. It is a great game, there’s no doubt. But for me, it is more like the fishing that you see on the television and it doesn’t match my experience of fishing in the same way as the game that I’m going to place at the top of the list.
Frankly, I’m not too bothered about catching Bass in America – it isn’t something I’m ever going to do – so despite the expansion of this game over its predecessor in terms of waters, it just doesn’t feel as real to me. However, what Fishing Sim World does do well is the very thing that The Fisherman struggles with: the actual fishing mechanic is very good indeed. Catching fish, then fighting them is very involving, and you have to use a certain amount of intelligence to ensure that you land them. Winding at the right time, moving the rod to oppose the way the fish is going, and adjusting the drag on the fly as you fight – these are all things you have to do in real life, and these things make Fishing Sim World almost as good as fishing games get.
Dovetail Games Euro Fishing
This, for me, is the current pinnacle of fishing games on the Xbox One.
Despite the follow up, Fishing Sim World being more polished, it is Dovetail Games Euro Fishing on Xbox One that keeps hold of my gaming heart because it is more relatable to my real world fishing career.
There are lakes in this game that I have ambitions to fish for real one day, like Linear Fisheries in Oxfordshire, UK, and to me, this grounding in reality just pips the other competitors to the post. The fishing on offer here mirrors what I do in real life too, with a sleeper rod that is cast out to await developments, and then a float rod put in place for whatever comes along. Fishing for Roach, Perch, Carp and Pike is exactly what I do, and even the humble Bream is represented in this game. These things make me happy.
A memorable fighting mechanic, a chance of catching monster catfish (I’ve caught them to over 100lb in the game, and the fight lasted more than half an hour) and a real feeling of achievement when you finally drag a monster from the deep is all real, and that means, to me, Dovetail Games Euro Fishing is the current top of the crop for fishing games on Xbox.
So, these are my top 5 fishing games that you can play on Xbox One, but you may have a different version of events. Are you a fan of virtual fishing, and if so, do you agree with my choices? Have I made a glaring omission? Let me know in the comments!