Being an islander, I have a bit of experience with fishing. Okay, I’ve only done it maybe 10 times (or so). Either way, I’ve tried it out enough to know the basic mechanics. Thus, I found it surprising as to how well Ultimate Fishing Simulator was able to capture the feeling of fishing.
Ultimate Fishing Simulator offers a nice set of tools. There are various types of hooks, lures, lines, bait, and other items used to catch various types of fish. Each species of fish is attracted to different things, along with some tools being better suited for specific types. All of this intricate detail adds to the overall level of realism. I recently tried out SEGA Bass Fishing due to it being in a Humble Bundle, and the difference between it and Ultimate Fishing Simulator is like night and day.
Like an arcade racer versus a racing sim, SEGA Bass Fishing doesn’t hold a candle at all to that of Ultimate Fishing Simulator. The game even takes into account weather conditions (which are dynamic), time of day, and water temperature. These constantly changing factors create a different experience every time you play. Sometimes I found myself waiting a mere few seconds for a bite, while other times there’d be some slow moments. Anyone who’s been fishing before knows that you have some active days, and others that are far slower. So, it was great to see this reflected in-game.
It’s all in the wrist
The actual fishing experience has also been well implemented. Some fish can be quite fierce and will put up quite a fight, while others are reeled in fairly easily. There’s a tension meter which reflects the stress being put on the line. As expected, going over the limit results in your line snapping. Thus, the key to keep the catches rolling in is to learn how to fight with the fish, not against. Controls are everything when it comes to this. While gamepads are supported, I found using a mouse and keyboard to be far better for taking control of my line, seeing that it felt close to using an actual fishing rod.
In addition to the aforementioned variety of fish species and fishing tools, Ultimate Fishing Simulator also offers different environments to fish in and different types of fishing. The locales span all over the world and realistically include the species that belong to the different regions. While the majority of your fishing is done on-shore, some maps also offer the opportunity to go out on the water in a boat. There’s not much of a mechanical difference, but it’s fun to have the option.
Fish on ice
Some maps also have winter variants, which will have you ice fishing. Now with this, things are different, as you have to drill into the frozen bodies of water and cast your line down the tiny hole. Visibility is also reduced when ice fishing due to the ice sheet blocking out a lot of the sunlight. Again, these realistic touches sealed the deal for me. This may come from a small studio, but the minute details were still taken into account.
One area where Ultimate Fishing Simulator trades realism for convenience is with the underwater camera. Depending on your rod setup, this feature will be present. You still always have the option to keep the camera on the usual first-person perspective that’s above the water. But it’s nice to have the underwater view as it helps you to guide your hook and see how the fish behave. The sim also takes a few more liberties with the implementation of RPG-like skills.
Skills to get the gills
These skills are unlocked by obtaining skill points, which are awarded every time your fisherman levels up. Of course, you level up gradually with each catch (which nabs you both experience points and cash). The skills give you access to new gameplay mechanics and increases your existing abilities like gaining more strength. My favorite skill is the Hunter Vision, which allows you to see fish from above the water for a few seconds with a night-vision like filter. Using this helps to determine where’s the best spot to cast your line, since fish congregate in different spots. Features like this may be unrealistic, but it ends up making the experience more enjoyable. And, let’s face it, real-life fishing would be way more fun with some of this stuff, too.
The team behind Ultimate Fishing Simulator have clearly done their homework, and it’s lead to an overall enjoyable experience. But, this is still currently an Early Access title. Thus, there are some bugs and oddities that flare up from time to time. I never ran into any game-breaking issues, but you can keep in anticipation of that when playing. One area that I did notice needing some help is the optimization.
Catching fish and catching eyes
Ultimate Fishing Simulator’s system requirements are noticeably high. Even the game’s Steam page warns newcomers to take note of them before committing to a purchase. My modest Y700 was able to run the game at 1080p at medium to high settings with an average framerate of around 30 frames per second. There were some times where it dipped below that. But, overall, I’m still pleased with the visuals. The texture work on the environments and fish models are quite nice, and the animations are smooth. Wind simulation is present and looks great, and the lighting effects only add to the package. If optimization can be improved to support more hardware while preserving the visual fidelity, things would be just right.
Most titles with “simulator” in the name tend to be trash; the farthest thing from providing a realistic experience. With an admittedly corny name like “Ultimate Fishing Simulator,” I was a bit nervous that it would end up being yet another write-off. But clearly, I was proven wrong. And I’m happy I was. If your specs are up to par, I’d definitely recommend picking this up if you enjoy fishing whether virtually or in real life. It has a few rough edges, but this is still an all-around great fishing sim.