The unique allure and tranquillity of aquaria is what enticed many people to give Megaquarium a try when it launched on consoles back in 2019. Being able to run your own aquarium in this sim management game offered a fresh take on this tried and tested genre: mixing the already relaxing gameplay with the peacefulness of watching what happens below the sea’s surface was a winning combination.
Now, nearly three years later, the first DLC arrives on consoles that originally appeared on PC. Can Freshwater Frenzy provide something worthwhile enough for you to return to Megaquarium?
Freshwater Frenzy brings with it thirty new species of animals to Megaquarium. These include the likes of guppies, piranhas, tetras and even some new reptiles and mammals. These have different living conditions to the saltwater fish so new plants and decorations specific for these new residents to your aquarium are also included.
This should go without saying, but these new freshwater inhabitants cannot simply be dropped in with their saltwater counterparts. Instead, they require a different type of water. Thankfully, Freshwater Frenzy doesn’t go that far into the granular that it has you building tanks and then filling with either freshwater or saltwater, but it does introduce a few new mechanics for you to monitor.
The pH level of the water now requires monitoring for certain species. This can be done manually using bogwood or java fern, or you can use the new Reverse Osmosis (RO) machine to increase the acidity of the water. Maintaining the pH level works identically to the other variables you are already managing – such as temperature and water quality – so isn’t as complicated as it sounds. And this only applies to the freshwater fish too, so don’t worry about opening an existing sandbox game and suddenly getting a lot of error messages.
If you are jumping into an existing save, Freshwater Frenzy has some new paints and decorations to revamp your aquarium too.
There is also a new five-chapter campaign for Freshwater Frenzy, that doesn’t require you to finish the main campaign before starting either. You can jump straight in at any point, although it does require you have a bit of prior knowledge of the game before doing so. The first mission will task you with introducing several new species into a smaller aquarium and almost acts like a refresher course to remind you want to do. It won’t be long before you are researching new freshwater fish, expanding your walls and hiring new staff again as you slip into the rhythmic gameplay loop once more.
Here is likely where you will find out about another of Freshwater Frenzy’s biggest new additions: breeding within the aquarium and hybrids. For the first time, offspring can be reared within your tanks. However, it isn’t enough to simply create a suitable living area for your fish. You will need to check fish specific notes to see exactly what is needed to get them to start breeding. And then, some offspring may then require additional criteria after that. The Amazonian Angelfish for example needs shelter that can only be found from snake grass, one of the new plants, to breed and rear their young in. Other fish will be pickier and require different areas for breeding and rearing. And of course, as these offspring grow, the variables of your tanks will change also.
Successfully start breeding though and then you can think about hybrids. These allow you to selectively start breeding species with different colours or patterns. In turn, these will bring more prestige and money should you decide to sell them on.
Freshwater Frenzy also features new tanks, including ones with suspended platforms for guests to get a better look at and tanks for reptiles that have both land above the water level, equippable items for your staff and plenty of new decorations. There are also three new achievements for the completionists to aim for, and these aren’t as demanding as some of the main game ones. They will all come through playing the new campaign: creating your first hybrid, selling a freshwater turtle and equipping a staff member with a tool belt. Whether you choose to start a sandbox or play the campaign, these new 50G achievements will not take you too long at all.
The best DLC is one that is able to offer a fresh take on the base game without changing too much. And Freshwater Frenzy – the clue is in the title – certainly does that. The new additions and mechanics may be small, but they fit in with the Megaquarium base game without requiring much effort to understand. However, with this wave of new fish added, it would have been good to see an expanded maximum number of fish. This still stands at 200, and aquarium owners will have to be more selective with what fish they have in their tanks.
Megaquarium: Freshwater Frenzy is able to deliver more of the same. This is a great and underrated sim management game, now with a new injection of fresh content for players to enjoy.