Mists of Pandaria promises exciting and sorely needed additions to fishing. Looking over what we can expect at El’s Extreme Anglin’ and Wowhead makes me reflect on the state of fishing today and its evolution over the years.
A lot of players complain about fishing, but all the complaints basically boil down to the fact that its core mechanic is a bit mind-numbing. You cast out your lure, wait for a nibble up to 20 seconds, you click on the bobber and loot your catch. As far as I know the very very basics of this have not changed over the years.
The “waiting for the nibble” mechanic is annoying because you have to pay at least a little attention after you cast in order to catch the moment to click on the bobber. It’s hard to type in chat when you fish, or even really watch TV in the background. (By the way, for those who play with the sound off, sound helps a lot with this, the nibble makes a splash noise.) And have you ever tried to fish with extreme lag? Not fun. Having to loot what you catch is a bit annoying but this can be addressed using auto-loot in the interface options.
What has changed is what can you catch, where you can fish, and the math behind gaining skill from fishing. They’ve also added quests (darkmoon faire and dailies) some of which reward fishing skill points upon completion.
The absolutely fastest way to level fishing skill now is so simple that you can write a fishing leveling guide in one sentence — stand by the fishing trainer in your capital city, catch fish, and train the next level as you need until you hit max level. You gain skill points based on the number of casts you perform no matter what you catch or where you fish. If you fish in water with a higher fishing level, you lower your chances to catch something interesting, but you don’t lower your chances to gain a skill point. And you can fish in pools anywhere at any level without catching junk ever.
By streamlining fishing’s leveling process they took away lot of the profession’s “flavor” without addressing what most people find boring about it — having to wait for the nibble. I’ve always maxed fishing on all my toons, and enjoyed it actually, but even I find it a bit boring when the incentive of the skill point, mini-ding is gone. So if I race to max level without experiencing different fish or locations, there is never really any incentive to do so other than farming fish for profit. They basically ended up making fishing even more boring, something most probably thought wasn’t possible.
I’m sure the game’s design team has looked at the core “nibble” mechanic a great deal and it seems like they are pretty set on not changing it. They could take away the need to click on the bobber altogether, and that doesn’t seem any more radical than the change they made to mining where now you only have to strike the node once to get everything in it. They could allow you to click on pools to cast into them as well.
In the absence of making changes to the core mechanics of fishing, which I predict won’t happen, I’m hopeful that the addition of new rewards and reputations and quests for fishing in MoP will refresh the profession for a lot of us older anglers. Making things too fast or too easy takes the fun out of them just as much as them being too slow or too difficult does.