Coming from Dovetail Games, purveyors of quality fishing titles such as Euro Fishing and The Catch: Carp & Coarse, comes another fishing game – Bassmaster Fishing 2022 – this time set in the ultra competitive world of American professional bass fishing.
This is super serious business to our cousins on the other side of the pond, with the top flight anglers earning many, many dollars for catching a few fish that, to be honest, look like fat perch. I personally have never understood the obsession with bass, as there are fish swimming in American waters that are bigger and harder fighting. But over there, it’s bass or nowt. Still, Dovetail has made a game out of this uniquely American pursuit, so grab your rod, we’re going in!
Bassmaster Fishing 2022 is split into the usual Dovetail sections, with separate lobbies for pleasure fishing, online fishing and the career mode. Alongside these, there are the usual options for checking out the history of your chosen angler, the place to get new tackle and equip it, and the section that allows you to modify your angler to make sure they look as close as possible to yourself.
It’ll be the Career mode where you should start, and it is a pleasure to see a structured approach to this, based on, I assume, the way that top anglers come up through the ranks. You start off as a lowly newbie in the College League, and have to beat off all the competition in order to progress to the next level, the Open Championship, before finally making it to the Bassmaster top table.
Now, for those of us who aren’t American, let me explain my biggest issue with these contests. I don’t doubt that these are based on the real rules from the proper contest, but to me, they are just a bit strange. In a lake full of different species of fish, there are only two or three types that actually count in these contests, and I can’t see why. You see, if it’s not a Largemouth, Smallmouth or Spotted bass, they don’t count in these contests. As an example, in one of the College League matches, my first two casts produced Striped Bass of 27lbs. In a contest based on total weight, with 55lbs delivered in the first two fish, how could I lose? And yet lose I did, as Striped Bass (despite being Bass) didn’t count. So, my top tip to you is to check the eligibility before you start off, and only try to catch the “correct” fish.
So, Career is good fun, if somewhat challenging, as singling out particular fish can be tricky. The pleasure fishing side of Bassmaster Fishin 22 is a lot easier, as you can catch whatever you fancy; this is a good place to learn the sneaky hangouts for the fish. As luck would have it, where you find fish as you cast out for pleasure is usually where they are found in the competitive modes as well, so time spent getting to know the lakes can be time well spent.
The layout of the lakes is exactly as it is in real life too, and I know this as I was able to use a real map of the area to find my way back to the start area of a contest, being able to relate where the internet map showed the location as to the location in-game, so there is a big tick for the realism of the game here. If you do find a hotspot, you can drop markers to find them next time, and these markers are present for you whichever mode you are in. Again, a big help. This mode is helpful not only in terms of locating fish, but also in seeing if they have a preference for a certain lure, and a certain type of retrieve on that lure. It’s all useful intelligence.
The big change here from other Dovetail fishing games comes in the form of the Bassmaster Royale mode. Yes, as you may have guessed from the name, it’s a take on the overplayed Battle Royale modes available in other games. Luckily, if you get cut in this game, it’s not a death sentence. Each match is 40 minutes long, and there are regular cuts made to the original field of 60 players; the first after 10 minutes, and so on. As long as you keep catching fish, it’s all gravy. These matches are also cross-platform and this appears to be working well, with no shortage of players. The addition of a time limit focuses the mind wonderfully, and the tension is palpable – should you stick it out where you are, or up anchor and motor off to pastures new, but not be able to be fishing while you do so? Or you could do what many folk seem to do, and if someone is winning, there’s a tactic in place that sees them drive up as close as possible to them and try and steal their fish. Bad sportsmanship, is what I call it.
Graphically, Bassmaster Fishing 2022 is extremely accurate in terms of the real life fishing destinations, and the rest of the graphics are up to snuff as well. This time around you can watch the lure underwater and not only see how the fish react to it, but also look around to see if fish are in the area. The thrill of seeing fish come charging in and grab your lure is very real, and this is a great addition to those which have gone before Bassmaster. However, the fish, while they look great when they are behaving normally, do wig out on a regular basis, when they appear to be vertical, either head up or head down, in the water. I’ve even seen fish vertical with their tails out of the water!. Yes, this does make it easy to locate them, admittedly, but it just doesn’t look right.
The water effects, and the way that you can see the fish you hook through the water looks just right, and the sound effects – all clicking reels, bending rods and splashes – are bang on as well. The fighting of the fish, once hooked, is also as good as it always has been in a Dovetail game; the tension as the fish screams off as you frantically try and lower the tension on the rod is as heart pounding as ever.
Bassmaster Fishing 2022 is a very good simulation of the sport, but even keen anglers will want to have some interest in the bass side of life for it to really come to life. Yes it plays well, for the most part it looks good and Bassmaster Royale brings something new to the table, but there are still some better fishing titles out there.
Bassmaster Fishing 2022 is available from the Xbox Store for Xbox One and Series X|S