Ever since E3, we’ve been at the point with Final Fantasy XV where it doesn’t really matter what they announce next, we’re going to sit there and accept it happily. Because the Chocobros have won themselves places in our cold, dead gamer hearts and they just aren’t going anywhere. Which is a fantastic community reaction to any game, especially to a Final Fantasy game. And while we may have been skeptical of Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV when it was just fishing in VR, but the moment we all saw that we could sit there at a campsite and crack open a cold beer with the boys, we were sold. Every last one of us.
I got the chance to sit down and catch a couple of fish playing through one of the early game missions called “Mission of the Deep,” which if I had to guess was the first mission, but don’t quote me on it. The premise of the game is simple – you show up at a fishing spot where Prompto is hanging out, and he asks if you wouldn’t mind being his muse for the day as you catch some fish. Obviously you agree, because of course you do. The two of you bond as you catch a couple fish, maybe a catuar or two if you’re lucky, before he thanks you and takes a photo of you. And then, oh then it is on. Once you fill up what I will always refer to as the “jaws gauge” by catching regular sea fare, you get the chance to hook a massive, writhing, hellbeast of a fish. Once you catch your monstrous prey, you then hang out at a campfire with Prompto, Gladio, Ignis, and Noct. You even get to hold a “physical” copy of your photo.
The whole setup is designed to play on the emotional connection the player feels to the game world and to the characters. And it does it well.
What Monster of the Deep does not do well at the moment is everything else.
Granted, this is an early build of the game, and it is the first VR title Square Enix is working on internally. So yeah, it was always going to be rough.
But at the point I’m watching a massive, 6-7′ demon fish writhe about in waves that somehow exist in sand and rock, things start to get a little fishy. The initial stages were fine, the whole hooking process is relatively easy to accomplish, although managing to actually flick the PlayStation Move controller wand in the right way to properly cast is a feat among itself. The reeling takes much longer than it needs to. I think I spent about 10-12 solid minutes just reeling in and tiring out my first fish. Which, while speedy when compared to actual fishing, is a bit much to be going with the reeling motion on the move controller. My wrist was pretty much aching when I finished the mission which took about 30 solid minutes to run. I was able to whittle it down to about 5 minutes or so by the end, but that is a lot of reeling.
Granted, having a fishing game with actual fishing physics is pretty damn cool.
So while it wasn’t a clean demo, and the game needs some serious polishing, well. So did FFXV the first couple of times around, and the game shipped without too many problems. Which means we can feel decently hopeful.
Granted, if all you want is to hang with the boys, well, it definitely does that already. And if you just want to fish, it does that too. Technically. But at least you get to hold up your catch like a fishing badass.