2018 is coming to a close, and man, what a year for games. Sony’s first party exclusive lineup was bolstered with another handful of critically acclaimed titles, Microsoft acquired a ton of new studios, and the Switch got a Pokemon game and a new Smash game. With the end of the year comes discussions of things like “best soundtrack”, “best RPG”, or “game of the year.” We’ll leave those to Geoff Keighley because we’re here to talk about what really matters: fishing minigames. 2018 really was the year of the fishing minigame, and there was such a wide variety of fish to catch and lines to cast, leaving no virtual angler disappointed. Without further ado, here are the absolute best of the best fishing minigames that graced our consoles this year.
5. A Way Out
A Way Out’s fishing is relegated to a small portion of the game. It’s short and incredibly simple, landing it a spot at the bottom of this list. It does make interesting use of the game’s forced co-op, though. One player has to splash to scare the fish toward the other player so they can stab one with a makeshift spear. You only get one each, and then you have to leave. A Way Out is full of varied and fun minigames, but its fishing segment is sadly the weakest of the bunch.
4. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
Yakuza games have a reputation for their wacky side content, and Yakuza 6 is no exception. The Song of Life has stellar minigames, from a baseball management sim to karaoke to, of course, fishing. Rather than fishing with a rod, in this entry, Kazuma Kiryu dons diving gear and gets up close and personal with the creatures of the deep, armed with an oxygen tank and a speargun.
Yakuza 6’s fishing minigame earns its place among the angling elite because of its unique execution. Instead of some variation of casting, waiting, and reeling, Yakuza 6 lets you play a first-person rail shooter, complete with bonus pickups and boss battles. It even has a progression system, allowing you to unlock better spearguns and increase your lung capacity on repeated attempts. What really sets this game apart is how it weaves the fishing into the core gameplay. Completing certain substories and side quests will unlock new fishing locations and even exclusive spearguns. It drags you back into the depths to hunt down more piscine prey, and it gets better every time.
3. Far Cry 5
Far Cry 5’s fishing minigame is pretty standard. You have your rod, you cast, you wait, and you reel. It doesn’t do anything particularly exciting, but it’s a solid execution of relatively safe ideas, just like the core Far Cry experience. It doesn’t hurt that the game’s environments are beautiful, and the sound design is exceptional.
That’s not to say Far Cry 5 doesn’t have any substantial fishing content. There are established records for each type of fish, and turning in fish that break these records will get you rewards, eventually culminating in the elusive Old Betsy fishing rod. There’s also a fairly interesting side quest involving a legendary fish known as “the Admiral”. Co-op play is a bonus as well, letting you and a friend cast your lines side by side in the ultimate bonding experience. For a good time with bait and tackle, look no further than Far Cry 5.
2. Monster Hunter World
Monster Hunter World, much like our ancestors, features hunting and gathering as its two core pillars. Fishing falls into the gathering category, and it plays a significant role in making sure hunters are properly outfitted for their escapades in the Ancient Forest. There are several different types of fish in Monster Hunter World, each incredibly useful. Sushifish reward players with rations and herbal medicine, integral to fighting off hunger and poison during a hunt. Whetfish scales can be used to sharpen weapons faster than a traditional whetstone, which can mean the difference between life and death in a fight. Goldenfish are an easy way to make a quick buck, opening up the budget for more expensive and useful support items.
Monster Hunter World also has a pet system where players can use a net to capture small creatures to keep in their rooms. This system also applies to fish, letting hunters store their most prized fish in an aquarium. Part of the joy of fishing is showing off your trophies. Monster Hunter World is one of the few games that lets you do this, and the game’s focus on multiplayer makes comparing catches all the easier. An emphasis on gathering and crafting keeps fishing a core component of Monster Hunter World’s gameplay loop, and it remains incredibly satisfying even a hundred hours in.
1. Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption 2 has the best fishing minigame in recent memory. Everything about it is sublime. The game’s world is massive, leaving players with no shortage of options when it comes to fishing locales, whether they prefer the streams outside Valentine or the Saint Denis docks. Each of the game’s 15 species of fish inhabit different ecosystems and prefer different bait and lures. Each species also has a legendary version that will take patience, preparation, and skill to catch.
Part of what makes Red Dead Redemption 2’s fishing so great are the game’s visuals. It’s not hard to see that Red Dead Redemption 2 is a good looking game, but taking a boat just off the shore in the early morning, watching the sun rise over a foggy horizon with your line in the water is such a special moment every time. From moonlit casting at a lake in the mountains or evening angling near Blackwater, there’s an overwhelming sense of peace and serenity no matter where you cast your line in Red Dead Redemption 2.
However, what Red Dead Redemption 2 nails most about fishing is companionship. Fishing is a bonding experience, and bonding with Dutch’s gang is a key component of Red Dead Redemption 2’s narrative. Sometimes gang members will ask Arthur to go fishing with them, and they’ll share stories and advice, lines bobbing in the water without a care in the world. Fishing is also available in Red Dead Online, letting you experience companionship with your real life companions, making some much needed money in the process.
Red Dead Redemption 2 gets so much right, and the fishing absolutely does not get the credit it deserves. That’s why we’re crowning it the official Circle Square Games Fishing Minigame of the Year for 2018.