Fishing is one of those weirdly ubiquitous RPG systems. Nobody picks an MMO based on how good its fishing skill is, and nobody complains when a new MMO launches with no fish to catch. Yet, with the launch of End of Dragons, all of the “big five” MMORPGs will have it, and countless other MMORPGs, single-player RPGs, and everything in between have it in some form as well. It’s one of those things that you will either love or pretty much ignore, but either way, it’s coming to Guild Wars 2.ArenaNet’s devs recently took to the waters of Seitung Harbor on stream to show off fishing and its companion player boating system, skiffs. I appreciate that fishing isn’t just about staring at your bobber until it bobs, then simply clicking a button to put a fish into your inventory. My favorite fishing systems have always been ones with some amount of challenge to them, ones that simulate reeling the fish in slowly and steadily without losing it. Sure, it’s a lot more work than any other type of resource gathering, but hopefully the extra work will be worth our while.
We got a full look at both the mastery line for fishing and the mastery line for skiffs in this stream. The fishing line (no pun intended) includes Fishing Hole Master, which rewards you for fishing specifically at fishing holes; Angler Sense, which pings nearby fishing hot spots; Fishing on a Full Tank, which buffs fishing while a food buff is active; Master Caster, which increases the range you can cast your line; and Local Legend, which unlocks “exclusive selections” from fishmongers and fishing merchants. Skiff masteries include Full Throttle, which increases your skiff’s speed; Depth Charge, which CCs enemies that may try to attack you from the water; Speed Boost, which unlocks — you guessed it — a speed boost for your skiff, which can be recharged by your passengers when they do emotes while riding; Fishing Party, which gives fishing buffs for fishing in a party; and finally Reinforced Hull, which increases your skiff’s HP. Most of these masteries are pretty predictable, but I think a few of them stand out.
I, along with most GW2 players, have been wondering how exactly skiffs would be different from the skimmer mount that came with Path of Fire. They’re both water-based “mounts,” so it seems a little redundant. One has to wonder if early planning for skiffs provided some of the motivation behind allowing the use of skimmers underwater — an update which seemingly came out of nowhere last year — just to give them a little differentiation. Skiffs, of course, have five seats, so they help keep your party together when traveling. Skiffs also have more health than the skimmer; skimmers have 8892 health, whereas the dev stream showed the skiff’s health at 11,525 (no doubt with the Reinforced Hull mastery active). Perhaps most noteworthy is that skiffs look a lot easier to steer than the slippery skimmer, and their speed throttles up and down rather than moving at a constant high speed. I wish the stream had included a race between the skiff and a skimmer so we could have a better idea of the skiff’s speed, preferably with and without the speed boost powered by passengers’ emotes, but that didn’t happen. The differences between the skiff and the skimmer aren’t huge, but there they are.
I would just like to say how brilliant I think it is that ArenaNet chose to reward players for fishing in groups. Fishing could easily be an isolating, single-player experience, but, while you’re perfectly free to fish on your own, Guild Wars 2’s designers wanted to make fishing easier and more rewarding when you choose to do it in a group. Not only do skiffs allow your party to move from fishing hole to fishing hole together without anyone getting lost, but the Fishing Party buff gives you increased fishing power for each catch any member of your party gets when you fish together on the same skiff. Sure, it’s not mind-blowing, it’s not going to sell expansions based on this alone, but it is just such a Guild Wars 2 twist to put on it.
While the Guild Chat stream was informative, there are still a number of unknowns surrounding fishing. First and probably most importantly, we still don’t know what exactly fish are used for. A fun fishing system is great, but if it’s not rewarding, then what’s the point? The devs demonstrated fileting fish, so presumably those fish filets will be used for cooking, but no details were given on what those recipes would look like (or how they would differ from the already wide variety of existing cooking recipes). There was some mention of fishmonger NPCs that we could trade fish with. I would like to imagine trading fish for minis, tonics, skins, and other cosmetics, but there were no specifics given, so I suppose we will just have to wait to find out.
The devs showcased a couple of collection achievements associated with finding all of the unique fish in each region of the game (with some wonderfully punny names like Lornar’s Bass and Beacon’s Perch), but glossed over the achievement rewards, saying that they weren’t ready to talk about that yet.
Fishing is nothing new for an MMORPG, and boats aren’t anything to write home about either, but, whether you personally want to engage in it or not, I think it’s safe to say that ArenaNet has done a good job designing one of the more interesting fishing systems we’ve seen in MMOs, that is cleverly designed to bring people together rather than spread them out. There are still some looming questions, but I’m guessing we will get to test these new features in one of the upcoming betas, or if not, we will know soon enough when End of Dragons launches this February!