One of my favorite cozy games is FREE right now, and you might be surprised by what it is

Epic Games Store has just been throwing out free games weekly for a while now, with some offerings being better than others. To my surprise, this week's free game listings from EGS includes Call of the Wild: The Angler—one of my favorite fishing games ever. You can add The Angler to your Epic library for free until March 28, and the money you save on the base game can be used to splurge on picking up the latest South Africa reserve DLC that is available now. Not a PC player? That's okay, you can also enjoy Call of the Wild: The Angler on console, and as part of an Xbox Game Pass subscription.

Call of the Wild: The Angler | was $30 now free on Epic Games Store

Call of the Wild: The Angler | was $30 now free on Epic Games Store

The studio behind theHunter: Call of the Wild released an expansive open-world fishing game that is so much more than it seems. The world is full of adventure and collectibles for those who seek them, while giant aquatic catches lurk below the water's surface. From fishing for legendary catches to scavenger hunts in the troll caves of Norway and dinosaur parks in South Africa, there's plenty to explore in The Angler.

Price check: $12 (GMG) | $24 (Xbox)

While I am undeniably known as the local Call of Duty nerd, I have an incredible soft spot for cozy and wholesome games. I spend so much time grinding in the gory and grimy world of Modern Warfare 3 and Warzone that I find it nice to take a break from the anguish of war for something combat-free from time to time. This need for a change of pace has fostered my love of farming simulators, and I even wrote a review of the cozy space farming sim Lightyear Frontier recently. Farming is great, but my (not-so) secret love is fishing simulators. 

At the end of August 2023, most of my peers were so stoked for the impending release of Starfield, and it was absolutely dominating nearly every conversation about gaming. I was the odd duck out, however, who is not particularly interested in sci-fi enough to be on board with what Starfield had to offer. I was also looking for a break from my usual COD sessions with the bros each night ahead of the launch of Modern Warfare 3 that November. Little did I know that the surprise launch of Call of the Wild: The Angler on Xbox and Game Pass would become the solution to my problem.

I was already a fan of the Call of the Wild series from having previously played Expansive Worlds' theHunter: Call of the Wild, because—yes—I like hunting simulators, as well. Diving into The Angler seemed like a no-brainer for me, but it was getting the COD squad on board with the slower pace of angling. It turned out to be a much easier sell than I was expecting because there's one thing the development team at Expansive Worlds gets really right. It's even in their name. The world of The Angler is so surprisingly full.

The Angler plunks players down into these vast nature reserves, similar to what we saw with theHunter. Expansive Worlds didn't just focus on creating lush waterways with diverse fish offerings, the entire world is worthy of exploration. There are times when you want to just stop and sit at your favorite watering hole, and there are times when you want to see if the game will just let you hike up that mountain on the horizon. Spoiler alert: it will. And it will likely take you an hour or more to do it. And it's going to give you such an incredible view that for a few minutes, you're going to forget you're in a video game.

The base game for The Angler, which is what you'll get for free from Epic or as part of your Xbox Game Pass subscription, takes place on the Golden Ridge nature reserve. Here players will find sprawling lakes, narrow streams, and hidden ponds. Two NPCs, the friendly warden and the shopkeeper, provide quests and training on how to play the game. There are plenty of collectibles to keep you busy, as well.  Additional DLC content adds 3 new reserves for those who want to take their angling around the globe. 

The Norway DLC features delightful scavenger hunts and charming tales of trolls, along with deep cave water systems and lakes aplenty. The Spain DLC reserve takes anglers to a quaint village on the coast, where a restaurateur and shopkeeper will keep you busy with quests and fishing challenges that test your rod and reel combinations. The latest DLC is set on a South African reserve, where players can take a trip back in time by visiting the local dinosaur park. Each DLC pack can be picked up individually or purchased as a bundle with the first Nature Reserve Season Pass. 

Expansive Worlds has recently revealed that a second Nature Reserve pass and additional DLC content for the future are in the works. While the engine for the game has hit its limitation on how big the fish added can be, there's still plenty of room for a variety of species from around the world. Now—if you'll excuse me—I have to go see about drowning some worms and finding dinosaur fossils in South Africa.

Cole Martin

Cole is the resident Call of Duty know-it-all and indie game enthusiast for Windows Central. She's a lifelong artist with two decades of experience in digital painting, and she will happily talk your ear off about budget pen displays.