Which PC game has the best fishing?

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Which PC game has the best fishing?
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Fishing in games should be a relaxing activity, but also an exciting one. Which game does it best?

In PC games, fishing is a much beloved and sought-after pastime. Sometimes it’s a side activity or minigame, and other times—as in fishing simulators—it’s the entire point of the game. But in MMOs, survival games, sims, and other genres, fishing is near and dear to our heart.

A good fishing experience should provide two things: relaxation, and excitement. The act of fishing—casting your line and waiting for a nibble—should be a serene and calm experience. Once you’ve got a bite, however, reeling in your prize should be a bit of a rush.

Below, in no particular order, we’ve rated the fishing experiences in a number of PC games, whether they’re minigames, time-killers, or full-blown fishing simulators, by how relaxing and exciting they are. Just for fun, let’s begin with a game you can’t even play yet!

Far Cry 5

I grew up fly-fishing with my dad, a method for catching trout in which the fisherman wraps a bunch of feathers and fur around a small hook to resemble a bug and whips it around like a bullfighter. He calls it ‘the philosopher’s sport’, probably because you spend a lot of time sitting around doing nothing or untangling your line from the brush. Far Cry 5’s take does away with the brush and the long waits but gives you a character that can cast line across a damn football field with the grace of an Olympic javelin thrower. It feels and looks amazing, propped up by a detailed rendition of Montana. Catching fish is easy and satisfying, but any meditative properties are gutted by Far Cry 5’s insistence on entertaining you. Expect to bag as many dead cultists, bears, and mountain lions as you do trout. And expect any philosophical musings to veer into nihilism—it’s hard to appreciate your place in nature if it’s dunking you in blood. —James Davenport

Relaxing: 2/10
Exciting: 8/10

Stardew Valley

There are a lot of relaxing activities in Stardew Valley, and fishing is simultaneously the most calming and the most frustrating. Instead of the standard “hit the button when the bobber goes under” mechanic, Stardew’s fishing minigame involves keeping your fishing meter aligned with a fish icon that fluctuates up and down, depending on how difficult the fish is to catch. It’s frustratingly difficult at first—the bar is tiny, the fish flail wildly, and the control scheme is unconventional. But once you get the hang of things—and level up your fishing skill enough so the bar isn’t so miniscule—it becomes a relaxing zen escape from the hustle and bustle of small-town farm life. —Bo Moore

Relaxing: 7/10
Exciting: 5/10

The Sims 4

There are a number of relaxing activities in The Sims 4, though I’ve come to the determination that fishing isn’t one of them. It feels like one, initially: you cast your line and see what happens. The issue I have is that once you’re there, the game will immediately send other Sims to fish beside you: friends, neighbors, strangers, pets, they all flock to your location as if they’re answering a distress call. Your personal needs begins stacking up, relationship meters begin appearing, and the zen experience quickly becomes lost amidst a clouds of distracting icons. When you catch something, conversely, it’s not exciting but a relief: now I can go do something else just to get away from the crowd. —Chris Livingston

Relaxing: 1/10
Exciting: 1/10

My Time At Portia

My Time At Portia

To fish in My Time At Portia you’ll need a rod (craftable) and a caterpillar (found while hacking up bushes), and you can only fish at a few designated spots. When a fish bites, you reel the fish in while keeping your mouse cursor over the struggling creature.

My issue is that a fish always bites, and always bites at pretty much the same amount of time after you’ve cast your line. It’s not particularly relaxing, I think because the fish bite so quickly, and it’s not terribly exciting, either, because you pretty much know exactly when the fish will bite. Fishing in Portia is very respectful of your time, which is nice, but I’m not here for tightly scheduled fishing. Quite the opposite, in fact. —Chris Livingston

Relaxing: 3/10
Exciting: 3/10

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft

I want to cut World of Warcraft some slack because its fishing minigame is well over a decade old at this point, but it’s pretty damn disappointing all around. There’s nothing really to it: Just cast your line, click on the bobber when it wiggles around a bit, and voila, you have a fish. There’s a skill system tied to it, obviously, but it doesn’t really mean much since you can still fish wherever you want. Legion also added an ultra rare fishing rod for those real zealous fishers, but again fishing largely feels like a waste of time and I won’t fault you for skipping it entirely. —Steven Messner

Relaxing: 6/10
Exciting: 1/10

Which PC game has the best fishing?
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