You’re fighting with what’s clearly a large fish, possibly the biggest you’ve hooked in years. You fight and fight only to have your line snap, and the fish just swims away. You’re angry, upset, and ready to walk away, but you don’t. You put on a new lure, cast your line and try again. That’s what playing Call of the Wild: The Angler is like.
The follow up to theHunter: Call of the Wild, The Angler moves away from hunting over to fishing. With it comes the same goal that developer Expansive Worlds wanted to achieve with its hunting title: an ever-evolving world where players can play with others and catch some of the most common, and prize, fish on earth.
Call of the Wild: The Angler Review – Open Waters
When you load up into the game, there really isn’t much there in the menus. In fact, your only option is to just jump into a game. Unlike theHunter, where there is a separate option for multiplayer, The Angler doesn’t have that. Everything is asynchronous and takes place within one area. Whether you want to play online or offline, you go to the same place and simply load into your location.
That location is Golden Ridge Reserve, which is based off Yellowstone National Park and is the only one that’s available at launch. Though it’s no doubt disappointing, it’s so large that you won’t get through the whole thing right away. And with 12 species of fish to catch at the start, there’s enough to keep you busy.
The game puts you right into a tutorial to get the hang of things like bait fishing, drag, and more. There are even more tutorials on things like spin fishing, driving, and boating if you need more guidance.
After the tutorial, it’s time to dive into what The Angler has to offer.
To be quite honest, it’s a mixed bag.
The controls are simple and easy to learn, getting boats or vehicles is free, and there are a number of missions to keep you invested in the game. You get those missions from various postings throughout the map or by talking to the two main NPCs in the game, Game Warden Clayton Johnson and Shopkeeper Sophia Thompson
From identifying invasive plant species to catching a specific size and ranking of fish, there’s a decent variety of goals to achieve in the game.
Going back to the shopkeeper, there is a lot to buy. Whether you need rods for bait fishing or just prefer to use lures, you can buy and build the pole setup you prefer. There are also cosmetic items like hats, shoes, pants, shirts, and more that you can buy to customize your player. Unfortunately, you don’t get to see it much because there is no third-person camera view at any point in the game. The only time you really see it is when you are choosing to take a picture with a fish you’ve caught.
Oh, and she can be pretty damn obnoxious if you choose not to buy from her shop.
Casting Your Line
Now, fishing itself. You can fish with bait, lures, or jigs. Each style gives you a different experience with different strategies for catching the fish you want. From the sit and wait approach to fishing with a bobber and bait to practicing your twitch technique with a solid twitch bait, it’s a nice representation of what fishing can be.
With your line in the water, you’ll be prompted to set your hook with a “Strike” command. Once on, you’re in for a fight that is both satisfying and realistic depending on your rod and line setup. Some fish will come in with no fight, while others will have you battling for up to 15-20 minutes if you’re lucky.
You’ll adjust your drag and tension countless times in addition to pumping your rod just to make sure you keep the fish on the line. And while sometimes you’ll either lose the fish or have your line snap, leaving you understandably furious, the feeling of satisfaction when you finally reel in your catch is fantastic. That’s why it’s so upsetting that there’s no hatchery or anything of the sort to keep your best fish. You can view a list of your latest catches, sure, but it’s not the same. TheHunter has a trophy lounge, but The Angler has nothing like it.
One area of actual fishing that is sure to annoy many purists is what happens when your line snaps. You don’t lose your lure, hook, bobber, or anything. It just goes back with no issue. It’s small, but it’s annoying.
Looking for where to fish can be frustrating, especially when out on the water. And by frustrating, I mean more along the lines of disappointing. Wherever you are, you’re bound to find a fish when you cast. In fact, I think about 75% of my casts resulted in a fish getting on the line. I’d love to have to use a fish finder, should you choose, when out on a boat. Alas, that’s not possible because fish finders aren’t even in the game. Also, you get a bit too much leeway to set the hook when prompted to strike. It’s not as much of a “be quick or lose it” moment as I feel it should be.
As you complete missions and catch fish, you’ll earn XP and level up. All this does is provide more credits to spend at the shop. The higher the level, the more credits you earn for your catches. There’s also a reputation rating that will give you bigger rewards for completing missions.
As mentioned earlier, online play is asynchronous and automatic once you create and log in to an Apex Connect account. Yea, I know. Another third-party account you have to sign up for. Isn’t it just so nice?
When online, up to 12 players can be in the same game. Walking or boating around and catching as many fish as your heart desires. But if you think you’ll be spending time hanging out with those people in the game, you’d be mistaken.
Online players are just there. You can’t interact with them in any way. No voice chat; no messaging; no emoting; nothing. There are not even multiplayer challenges like theHunter has for players. These things need to be addressed sooner rather than later if this game aims to be a social fishing title.
Like real fishing, The Angler is a game that can be absolutely maddening yet gratifying at the same time. There are moments that have you questioning your choices whereas others will keep you hooked – pun intended – for hours of play.
There are many limitations in what the game offers at launch, which keeps me from saying you need to drop the $29.99 on it right away. However, knowing where this game is likely to go based on theHunter could certainly entice enough people to pick up right away. But I can’t use that to justify a good or bad review.
That said, if you are a diehard fisherman looking to hit the virtual waters, this is a game you’re likely to enjoy. If you aren’t that but want a fun fishing game with the depth to keep you entertained for a while, you’re going to want to hold off for a little more content to be added.
Call of the Wild: The Angler Review
Like real fishing, Call of the Wild: The Angler is a game that can be absolutely maddening yet gratifying at the same time. The game has fun fishing gameplay and what’s there is nice, there’s just not a lot of depth for those looking for a deep and fun fishing experience.