HomeReviews3.5/5 ReviewCall of the Wild: The Angler Review

Call of the Wild: The Angler Review


With any new fishing game, I seem to be in pole position to write the review. Being a keen real life angler, I can theoretically look at the mechanics of the game and judge whether it is realistic, I guess. 

Coming from Expansive Worlds, makers of the popular theHunter: Call of the Wild, this new game is imaginatively called Call of the Wild: The Angler, and brings something a little bit new to the table – pretty much an open world fishing game, where you can wander around the wilderness and fish wherever takes your fancy. 

So let’s crack on and yomp off into the wilderness, shall we? Those fish aren’t going to catch themselves!

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It’s time to go fishin’

Story isn’t really a part of these games, and so it proves here. We rock up at a fishing resort, meet various people who can give us missions and quests to do, and then go fishing. The rest of the time, it is pretty much up to you where you go and what you do, so while there isn’t a narrative as such, there is still a certain framework that you can build your experience around. The Fishing Academy is a good place to start with Call of the Wild: The Angler as it teaches you how to fish in different ways. The Tour of the Resort mission is also worth doing, if only because it will unlock fast travel points allowing you to magically move to places without having to drive. The map in Call of the Wild: The Angler is huge so you’ll want to make the most of this. 

Taking in what Call of the Wild: The Angler has to offer ensures things feel very impressive. The view from the top of the hills, looking out towards pristine virgin lakes is amazing, and the sense of scale that this gives is high. Looking closer, however, and the news is not so good – from a close up perspective, especially if you wander off the roads and try going across country, the textures are very crude and blocky. By contrast, the water effects are very good; being by a lake in the evening, with the moon reflecting off the water, makes you feel that everything is right with the world again. 

Many fishing games fail with the stars of the show though – the fish. In Call of the Wild: The Angler the animation of our catch is all okay; they very much look like plastic representations of the real thing. Expansive Worlds have however nailed one thing – the animation of the hand winding of the line on the reel is actually bang on. Not even the mighty Dovetail Games fishing games manage to get that right, so a big tick here. 

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Yep, Call of the Wild: The Angler is huge

The sound is okay as well, with nice music and fully voiced NPCs to interact with. I must say, the award for the most realistic mosquito in a video game is going to have to go to this title too! All in all, as long as you are by water, and fishing is happening, the rest of the presentation issues fade into the background. 

Vehicles are available as well, to aid in the exploration. That means we can buy boats, if we can save up enough money, but it’s also possible to rent them, along with cars. Don’t be tempted to try to drive off road in the car, as it quickly runs out of ideas on even a moderate slope. And whilst the boat stuff is okay as long as you’re only staying in that bit of water, in reality not much water is actually linked together. This makes finding the things the Ranger wants you find a little bit trickier, but as they glow like a collapsed star, you can see them from a long way away. 

But what actually can we get involved in with Call of the Wild: The Angler? Well, a brief glimpse at the map will likely prove overwhelming, as there is a massive amount of land to cover, dotted with rivers and lakes to go and find and have a dangle in. We start off by a huge lake, and as we catch fish and complete missions we start to earn new equipment and currency, which can be used to buy new rods and reels, as well as lures and bait. 

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How will you fish?

There are three main ways to go fishing in Call of the Wild: The Angler. The first is float fishing, where a bait is suspended beneath a float until a fish comes to grab it. You can zoom in on the float, but it is so tiny in the mass of water that it is better to watch the float indicator in the bottom left of the screen, and wait for a message to strike before starting to play the fish. The second way is spinning, which involves using an artificial lure to make a fish think that a tasty meal is getting away. There are a number of different types of lures, and they are all best used with a certain style of retrieve, so reading about the lure you are using in the journal is recommended. The last type of fishing is again artificial, being that of using a jig head to make a small piece of plastic seem alive. This isn’t unlocked until you reach level 15 however, so you’ll need to work for the right to fling bits of rubber around!

As you’d expect, there are a number of different fish to aim at, and they all live in slightly different places (all in the water, of course). Slightly different baits and methods are needed to catch them. For instance, Northern Pike and Walleye (Zander to me, but this is America) like lures, while other fish such as Sunfish like bait, fished under a float. Luckily, as you expand your tackle collection you can have different rods set up with various styles of fishing equipment attached (up to four setups can be saved). The change to fish for a different species can be made in a few moments. 

So, how about the actual fishing mechanics, I hear you ask?

Well, it all starts off pretty well, and the casting mechanic is decently realized. You have to hold the LT button to get ready to cast, whip the rod back and then forward, releasing LT at the optimum time to get the most distance. It is pretty similar to casting in real life, and works really well. Then comes the waiting (if using bait) or the winding and twitching (if using a lure). When a bite is received, the screen will helpfully tell you to “Strike!” and you do this by hitting the RT button. 

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Strangely, it’s the actually fishing that lets this one down

But it’s once the fish is hooked that Call of the Wild: The Angler actually starts to feel a bit flat, weirdly. I’m not sure how they managed to make the most exciting bit of fishing, the fight of a hooked fish, feel so limp, but it is like winding in a bag of wet sand. You need to keep an eye on the tension on the line, adjust the clutch as necessary and just keep winding. The position of the rod makes no difference to the fight, and it all feels a bit disappointing to be honest. 

Call of the Wild: The Angler isn’t the best fishing game, nor is it the best exploration game – walking up those mountains is very tedious. In fact, neither is it the best driving game. However, when all the aspects of Call of the Wild: The Angler come together, the resulting mix is actually a pleasant place to spend a few hours. Driving to a new lake, having a few casts and seeing what you can find is remarkably zen; a very calming experience. You may prefer to fish alone though – there’s always one who spoils things if you head into multiplayer lobbies.


  • Massive map to explore
  • Exploring and fishing likely looking spots is calming
  • Greater than the sum of its parts
  • Rough textures when close up
  • Fighting a fish is unforgivably dull
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Expansive Worlds
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 30 August 2023 | £24.99
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Massive map to explore</li> <li>Exploring and fishing likely looking spots is calming</li> <li>Greater than the sum of its parts</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Rough textures when close up</li> <li>Fighting a fish is unforgivably dull</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Expansive Worlds</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 30 August 2023 | £24.99</li> </ul>Call of the Wild: The Angler Review
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