I'm a sucker for fishing mini-games, and I'll admit I spent way more time beside Final Fantasy 15's ponds and streams than I should have. I was stoked when I heard Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV announced, I mean the only way fishing with Noctis could be better is if it was in VR, right? Well, the thing about current VR setups is that they're cumbersome and fickle, and unfortunately, Monster of the Deep is a victim of this burgeoning technology. That doesn't mean it's not worth a try though, just that it's probably more niche than most gamers will care for.
Monster of the Deep gives you a chance to fish all over Eos, and you'll get a chance to see some familiar territory up close and personal. You'll take on the role of a generic hunter, with an admirable amount of customization options. In Story Mode, your job is to hunt down colossal demon fish that are upsetting the balance of nature all across the land. Doing so, you'll cross paths with Noctis and pals, Cindy, and a whole host of familiar companions from FFXV.
Fishing for Demons
To take down these demon fish, and their not so demonic bretheren, you'll have to cast your heart out with an upgradable rod, reel, line, and bait. You also thankfully get a radar unit that will help you pinpoint fish. For the big boys, you'll have to use a crossbow to wear them down first, which adds a fun bit of combat shooting. Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV lets you play with either the PlayStation Move controllers or the DualShock 4. I found the Moves more fun, since you can mimic the actions of casting a line and reeling it in, but the DualShock is probably more accurate and easier to use.
Both methods of control have issues though. The fishing in the game feel just a little unpolished, and sometimes when I was casting the lure just going to shoot across the level inexplicably. When they're working right though, the game is a blast for fishing enthusiasts, and having to move the Move controllers just the right way to keep the stress off the line felt close to the real thing.
The fish look spectacular, as do the character models. PSVR games can be so hit and miss with their presentation, and I was glad to see some of the fidelity from the base Final Fantasy XV made it over to this DLC. Unfortunately, some of the backgrounds is a bit blurry, which stands out next to the crisp characters and water, but that's the price you pay in VR.
Some significant glitches took me out of the game more than once. A pretty typical occurrence for motion controls is in some titles you'll find that the tracking gets momentarily confused, which ends up making your character models arms warp and bend in inhuman ways. This has happened to me in other VR games, but PSVR titles most of all. Monster of the Deep has a big problem with this, and also seems to have some issues with the player's camera coming unglued from its model.
Add the above to the clipping issues that sometimes occur with the lure, and you get a glitchy feeling which usually isn't a hallmark of Square Enix's work. According to PR, there will be a day one patch that will solve some of these issues, but it's still something to watch out for.
Story Mode is the real meat of Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV, but there are a few other ways to play the game that add some replayability. Free Mode is perfect if you just want to chill by your favorite fishing spot and leisurely catch some fish without any pressure. Hunter Mode puts a bounty on certain fish, and you'll have to hunt them down for a reward. Tourney Mode (which didn't seem to be available yet) is supposed to be a mode where you can test your skills against other fishermen.
To Fish, or Not to Fish?
Monsters of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV is an odd game, and it's just not going to appeal to everyone. Heck, it's not going to appeal to everyone who likes Final Fantasy 15. It's part of the continuing experimentation with the medium of VR, and for a first effort, Square Enix hasn't done too bad.
If you have a PSVR and you want to see Eos from an eye-level view, and you want to do some semi-glitchy fishing, this is a good title. With patches, Monster of the Deep will likely improve, and there's a lot to enjoy here for players for which it does appeal. For most though, this title will be a hard pass.