Skyrim - Fishing

The Anniversary Edition of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim recently released, which costs $20 (for previous-gen Skyrim owners) and adds some bells and whistles to the current-gen update. But one of the much-touted freebies is the newly added fishing mechanic, which doesn’t require the $20 upgrade at all.

Although I was looking forward to checking this feature out, it is unfortunately shallow on the video-game fishing mechanic spectrum.

This isn’t to say that it isn’t a nice addition, because it very much is. And considering it’s free, an old adage about gift horses comes to mind. Whether you enjoy passing time in a leisurely fashion, or you simply want to have another checklist-style activity to tick off your mission log, this is far from a gimmicky waste of time. It’s just that… well, it almost feels like a quick-time event more than an engaging activity, especially compared to how fishing is implemented in so many other games.

Fishing is by no means new to the video-game realm, and there an almost endless number of games that offer their own take on fishing, for better or for worse. As a mechanic that is so ubiquitous in games these days, it’s almost shocking how many variations there are to the formula. In fact, it sort of seems unnecessary, since a more universal approach would make life easier for fishing-inclined gaming enthusiasts. As is, it can take several rounds of interaction to simply learn how the heck it works, depending on how intuitive the instructions or mechanic itself is.

Skyrim - Fishing

Thankfully, fishing in Skyrim is a pretty straightforward affair. It only requires two things: a fishing pole (which is pretty easy to come by) and one of the many designated fishing spots in the game. The latter requirement is the one I take issue with, as you are not able to simply sidle up to any shoreline to just let ‘er rip. You have to first locate one of these fishing ports, which can be identified by a combination of a fish drying rack and bucket of fish (though in some instances you’ll just find the bucket).

With your pole equipped, you’ll simply interact with the prompt to fish. This is usually triggered while looking at the bucket within close proximity, and your character suddenly snaps into place when the fishing minigame is ready to play.

Once you trigger the fishing minigame, you’ll simply cast off and wait, although the in-game tips do say that you will only be successful fishing in areas where the water splashes around where your hook lands (considering the minigame determines where your cast lands, I have yet to fish and not have the water splash). Then you just wait for your controller to vibrate, which indicates a bite. If you reel in on a light vibration, you’ll get nothing; it’s only once the vibrations are extended for a more than a split second that you will find success. Of course, whether that means reeling in a fish or a discarded lantern or bucket is seemingly luck of the draw.

Outside of this minigame, rods also serve as super weak one-handed weapons. That’s maybe not the most useful piece of information, but now you know it.

And that’s fishing in Skyrim in a nutshell. Unlike games like Red Dead Redemption 2 or Stardew Valley, you don’t need to manipulate your line in order to goad a fish into biting. Hell, you don’t even need to worry about bait. You just simply press X (on PS5), wait for the duration of vibrations to hit that sweet spot, then press X again.

I do appreciate the addition of the fishing mechanic and accompanying questline; I feel that this really adds to the experience of playing Skyrim, especially if you are playing on the survival setting or like to engage in cooking. It’s just that it feels kind of shallow in the scheme of things, since most other games with a fishing mechanic, even smaller indie titles, manage to add more interaction and less passivity. I guess I just expected more from Bethesda than this barebones system.

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