There are few pastimes more relaxing than fishing. There’s just something about pushing a little boat out into the middle of a lake, absorbing the solitude and silence of nature, and waiting for a bite. Perhaps you favour fishing from the bank; if so, then picture a cooler of drinks beside you on a hot summer’s day, a lunchbox of sandwiches by your side, and nothing to do for the immediate future.
It would, of course, be nigh-impossible for video games to completely replicate this experience, since playing video games is a primarily indoors-based pastime. Still, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a wealth of excellent fishing games out there for you to get stuck into. Whether you’re a fishing novice or an expert in the field, you’ll love these fishing games you can play on your PS4 right now.
We kick things off with the FIFA of pro fishing video games. Okay, perhaps not quite. Rapala Fishing: Pro Series certainly has its fair share of problems: it’s perhaps a little too unchallenging, it can be too sedate at times, and it’s a tad repetitive. That said, if you’re a fishing fiend and you’re not willing to put up with quiet and repetition, then perhaps you’re in the wrong industry.
What Rapala Fishing: Pro Series does have is content. There are tournaments to participate in, ranks to climb and 24 species of fish to catch across several iconic locations in North America. The licensing is on-point, too; if you’re a fishing fan, you’ll recognise everything in-game, from the boats to the rods to the lure. Equipment is customisable, so you can build your dream fishing rig, then take it out and see what you’re made of. Rapala Fishing: Pro Series isn’t perfect, but it more than makes up for its flaws with a satisfying, well-built game engine.
This one’s the real deal. Fishing Planet is perfect for the fishing aficionado (afishionado?) who wants a huge dollop of realism with their fishing experience. This game has some of the most breathtakingly beautiful graphics we’ve ever seen, with weather effects that change and alter each other in believable ways, wind that ripples water, lighting that overwhelms the eye just like real sunlight would, and more.
Of course, just because Fishing Planet looks beautiful doesn’t mean there isn’t more going on under the hood. The devs have worked hard to make this a true, authentic fishing experience, which means realistic lure physics, excellent aerodynamics and hydrodynamic simulation, complex fish AI behaviour and more. Add to all this a robust multiplayer mode with competitions, tournaments and leaderboards, and you’ve got yourself what may well be the definitive fishing experience on PS4.
Fishing Master (PS4 VR Required)
Unfortunately, this one has a pretty hefty barrier to entry: you’ll need to be packing a PlayStation VR headset to enjoy it. If you do have one, though, or you’re willing to fork out the cash to pick one up, then Fishing Master is a must-play. Its visuals don’t quite have the breathtaking fidelity of Fishing Planet, but there’s a vibrant quality to its aesthetic that won us over nonetheless.
Likewise, the fishing mechanics themselves aren’t particularly incredible, and the game can get a bit repetitive thanks to some shallow core gameplay concepts. It wouldn’t be on this list if it didn’t win us over, though, and the reason is twofold. First off, it just feels great to fish in Fishing Master, and that’s more important than a thousand realistic game engines. Secondly, it’s a VR title. There’s really no better way to immerse yourself in the fishing experience than to strap on the headset and view everything first-hand.
Dovetail Games’ offering is a little more bare-bones than the others on this list, with five locations to choose from and a smattering of customisable equipment and tactical approaches. What it does offer is more than enough to earn it a place on this list, though, and the competition is surprisingly steep. Euro Fishing is another great-feeling game of fishing, but there’s a few things it does that make it stand out from the pack.
Euro Fishing’s greater emphasis on technical skill and observation make it a more interesting prospect for armchair anglers than the other games on this list might be. Players must observe fish spawn points and “shows” (hints that a fish is swimming beneath the surface of the water) if they’re to make a catch, and once the line is bitten, there’s a surprisingly intricate game of cat-and-mouse with the fish before it’s yours. Add “bosses” to this mechanic (it’s odd, but it works) and Euro Fishing is a decidedly offbeat little rough diamond of a game.
Okay, this last one is cheating slightly, but try it - you might fall in love with it. Stardew Valley is a one-man effort that’s a spiritual successor to the long-running Harvest Moon franchise (now called Story of Seasons), and shares many of those games’ mechanics and concept. The nostalgic pixel art betrays a surprisingly dark and adult world; there are alcoholics, abusive partners and deadbeat parents living in Stardew Valley, and you can’t help them all.
Don’t worry if that sounds a bit heavy, though, because there’s also a farm to look after, and, yes, plenty of fish to catch. You’ll grow crops, tend trees, sell produce to make money and improve your farmstead with a range of buildings and animal enclosures. The fishing minigame in Stardew Valley isn’t incredible, but like the rest of the game, it’s weirdly addictive, and feeds into the central loop of “grow crops make money buy seeds” incredibly well. If you’re up for trying something a little different to the regular fishing simulators, you could go a lot worse than Stardew Valley.