After a second night of staring at a queue of 900+ players trying to get onto my chosen New World server, I gave up on the character I'd already gotten to level 14. I looked for the lowest population server I could find and created a new avatar. I just can't spend over an hour standing in line for New World—not when all I really want to do is a bit of fishing. The fishing in New World has me hooked.
I attempted to make my new character look like a weathered, sunburned fisherman, and decided to keep him dressed in his starting rags, ignore all the quests, and devote him entirely to fishing and a few other crafting projects. Fishy Jim was born and I've been playing with him for hours now, happy as a clam.
In our list of the best fishing in PC games, I said fishing should be a combination of relaxing and exciting. I'm looking for the chill experience of casting a line and waiting for a nibble, and the thrill of catching something cool or unexpected, or just plain big. New World's fishing nails all of that.
While I find the fantasy elements of New World a bit ho-hum, it's still a very pretty place to spend time in. Standing in a forest glade casting a line into a shimmering pond or doing some night fishing next to a waterfall is serene and soothing. I'd typically like a bit more challenge to fishing—in New World it's maybe a little too simple. Just cast the line, wait, and click when the icon says you've got a bite. (It even warns you that you're about to get a bite.) Then it's just a matter of holding the mouse button to reel in, and letting go when the tension gets high enough to snap the line. Unless you're fighting to reel in a monster fish, it's not much trouble at all.
Despite the near-guarantee that you're going to catch something, there is still a bit of excitement, and I'm not just talking about a high level wolf abruptly spawning next to my fishing spot and immediately leaping at me (which gives New World a Far Cry feel at times). Occasionally I'll hook something unusual. In fact, the second time Fishy Jim cast his line he reeled in a Fish Sword, which unfortunately can't be used as a weapon but only salvaged for scrap. Which is a huge bummer! Fishy Jim fighting zombies with a Fish Sword? It'd be perfect. Alas.
There's also a chance of pulling in a treasure chest, which is probably the only way FJ is ever going to acquire any valuables. I got three chests in a single session at a tiny little pond, each filled with ingots, gold, and gems. I didn't expect to start honing my jewelry crafting skills this early, but I'm already on my way.
I should probably mention the actual, y'know, fish. There are all sorts and sizes, from massive flopping salmon, pike, and catfish, to creatures like squids and clams. You wouldn't think a snail would put up a big fight when reeling 'em in, but you'd be wrong. They're pretty stubborn. And take it from Fishy Jim, if you perch at the edge of a waterfall there's a tiny deep spot you can find with your hook, and who knows what you'll pull from the water? This sucker took three full minutes to reel in, but it was worth it:
There are fishing quests, too, and they've sent my low-level Jim jogging nervously across the map into regions much higher than his level to perform tasks in exchange for fishing attire. At around level 8 I was running through creepy ghost-infested forests trying to reach these far-flung fishing masters to acquire fishing boots, gloves, and a hat. At level 10 I'd finally collected all the five pieces of the fishing outfit, but I couldn't actually put them on until I grinded my way up to level 14 by hunting and crafting and even fighting a few monsters. Mission (eventually) accomplished. Fishy Jim finally looks the part.
When I'm not fishing I'm leveling up some of my crafting skills, and while it can be a bit of a grind it's also a surprisingly generous system in a lot of ways. Gathering a bush or a cluster of bullrush by a river won't just give you wood or reeds. You might also collect a bit of fishing bait (Jim likes this) or some other resource you can use in alchemy or cooking or other types of crafting. Just as fishing will give you a little surprise now and then, so does harvesting other resources, and a mission to collect some ore or herbs will result in returning to town with a pocketful of other goodies, too, giving you access to recipes you didn't even anticipate being able to make.
An additional aid in foraging is a sort of sixth-sense for spotting certain plants. It's subtle, which I like: when you've leveled up harvesting enough, tiny little icons will appear on the compass when you're near grains, hemp, and other types of plants. It's a nicely unobtrusive system—other games might outline the plant with a glowing line or litter your map with icons, but these little compass pips don't cloud up the screen or get in the way. And they're super useful. I had no idea nuts even existed in New World until I followed a compass pip! They're almost invisible among the dense grass and bushes, but now I've got loads of them.
I quickly tired of activities like chopping down trees or mining rocks for ore in games, and it's honestly not much different here in New World. Standing in one spot swinging and axe just isn't an interesting thing to do. But at least there's been a bit of effort to make this sort of resource gathering less of a drag, mostly due to the wonderful sound effects. There's no skill required to hack at an ore deposit with a pickaxe, but the sharp crack of the pick on stone is extremely pleasing, especially when you get an equally sharp echo off the nearby trees and cliffs. It's got the crisp snap of a gunshot, and it's equally satisfying to be running through a valley and hear someone else's pick cracking off a rock somewhere up on the cliffs. As a bonus, monsters don't seem to notice the sounds and come to investigate (though they probably should.)
And there's just so much to craft. Armor sets and clothing, jewelry and furniture, and so many meals that a restaurant would need a volume of menus to contain. I'm still early on and I can't say for sure the promise of unlocking new levels of crafting will keep me grinding, but for now it certainly is. There's just so many things I want to craft. I made Jim a hatchet that chains a lightning attack on enemies. I've crafted a silver ring and several kinds of fish bait and a sturdier fishing rod. I cooked pasta today. Pasta!
It's probably obvious I'm not an MMO guy, but as a survival fan I'm enjoying the systems aimed at keeping me busy in ways that have nothing to do with wars over territory or non-fishing related quests. I wouldn't say the crafting is truly compelling but it's friendly and generous enough at the outset to make me want to keep on leveling up my skills and unlocking new recipes. I think survival fans who don't typically play MMOs might still find something to enjoy in New World, be it cooking, crafting, or finding a nice quiet little pond to fish in.