For the majority of my life, I’ve been content to be a mostly solitary creature. My primary hobby involves sitting in a recliner in my basement, ridiculously close to my belovedly over-sized TV. I’m happy to spend hours upon hours in fictional worlds, preferably with a tumbler of whisky to keep me hydrated.

Occasionally we all have to bust out of our comfort zone to expand our horizons, right? So what happens when you take The Tom out of that natural habitat and dump him into a frozen wasteland without power? Hopefully you get one heck of a column out of it. Read on to find out!

I can’t believe you actually clicked to read more. It’s like my wife having our anchor baby, you’re stuck with me now, sucker!

There are a lot of things associated with ice fishing that I truly enjoy. I love fishing, drinking and being on the water. I generally love Minnesota winters and outdoor activities. So who wouldn’t love sitting in a small hut with three other dudes in the dark?

My dad and brother both have January birthdays and we often celebrate them together. A couple of years ago we rented an ice castle and had a great time ice fishing in Walker Minnesota, outside of the bathroom situation.

This time around we headed to a friend’s place in Spooner, Wisconsin. Much cheaper, but it lacked the luxury of the ice castle. Instead of camping out at a table with a bottle of scotch in a heated trailer playing cards, we were in a (super sweet) ice house, sitting on camping chairs and staring at our little holes in the ice.

As thrilling as that sounds, I’ve learned that ice fishing isn’t really my bag. It doesn’t help that we only caught one fish between the three of us. But even if the crappies had been poppin’, we’d still have to take our gloves off to take the cold fish off the cold hook in the less cold house.

A couple of random highlights from the adventure:

  • My brother asked for a birthday drink at the bar where we watched the Vikings, and they brought him a tumbler full of whiskey
  • Inspired by my fitbit, I walked back across the lake at the end of the adventure, only to find that my brother had somehow lost the ice house while driving the four-wheeler back. No one knew where he or the house was. He showed up a half hour later huffing and puffing after dragging it through knee-deep snow alone
  • Breakfast (pictured above) consisted of eggs, hashbrowns and pizza

So there you go. There’s your humdinger. You’re welcome.

What’s New at OiO?

Episode 20 of Outside is Overrated – The Skywalker Saga

In the latest episode of the podcast, Tom and Phoenix recap the entire Skywalker saga, episodes 1-9. The show culminates with a lengthy discussion of The Rise of Skywalker and the definitive ranking of all nine films.

Support OiO on Patreon

Earlier this month, Outside is Overrated launched a Patreon page. The podcast and web content will always remain free. If you have the means and would like to help defray the costs for recording equipment, web hosting and other OiO-related expenses, I would truly appreciate your support.

Many thanks to by friends Brian, Darren, Joey and Billy for being the first to jump on board. Your support means a ton to me.

Initial Thoughts on Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order

In Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order you guide Cal Kestis on an adventure to explore his affinity for the force and presumably rebuild the Jedi Order. I’ve played eight hours or so and am probably halfway through the game. This is my first Respawn title and I’m going to have to go back and play their other games.

There isn’t an easy comparison for Fallen Order. I would say the biggest influences are Uncharted and Dark Souls. Traversal feels very familiar for me. Cal is less of a climber and more of a wall-runner than Nathan Drake and you will spend a  bit of time navigating environmental puzzles.

The Dark Souls influence ties to experience and leveling up. You find places to meditate throughout the map and that’s where you spend your skill points. You can also rest to heal and refill your estus flasks, uh, I mean healing stims. Doing so resets all the enemies in your environment. When you die, you regain your lost XP by landing a blow against the foe that felled you. It even works if you die getting back to that enemy, alleviating some of the frustration that you can find in a Souls game.

Knowing that this is a melee combat game, I also expected the fighting to feel like a Souls title. I was pleasantly surprised to learn it is its own thing. The focus is on blocking and parrying attacks, looking for an opening and launching your offensive. I can’t think of a game that feels the same. It’s really cool and tremendously satisfying when you finally beat a challenging enemy.

I love the supporting cast and I look forward to seeing how many planets we end up going to. Enemies have been a nice mix of storm troopers and crazy alien wildlife. It’s an amazing game and so far I would rate it my second favorite title from last year, behind Control. 

The Biggest Games of 2020 Get Delayed

Within the span of two days, gamers were disappointed to learn that two of the biggest titles of the year were being delayed.

For years I have said that I will believe the Final Fantasy VII remake is actually happening when the retail version is in my hands. Well, it appears that the game will actually launch in April this year. It was supposed to come out in March, but on Jan. 14 Square Enix announced that it would be pushed back a couple additional weeks.

Two days later a longer delay was announced for what should be one of the biggest games of the year. Cyberpunk 2077 is the game I have been most excited about since Dragon Age Origins. Originally slated to release in April, Cyberpunk’s release date was moved to Sept. 17.

I know that there is a ton of work that goes into game development, but this one stung. It will come out shortly before the PlayStation 5 and I have little interest in purchasing the same game twice within a couple months.  I did precisely that with Dragon Age, picking up both PC and console versions at launch. It will be a tough call between picking up Cyberpunk immediately at launch, waiting to borrow Hobby Box Burns’s copy or waiting for the next-gen edition.

Without these two titles this spring, I’ll have to get by with Nioh 2 and Doom Eternal. Check out an extensive list of 2020 release dates on Game Informer’s website.

Frostpunk on Xbox Game Pass

I am convinced the Xbox game pass is the single best service in gaming. I was browsing the library while contemplating what to do if a couple more patreons jumped on board (with another $7 a month I’ve committed to doing a segment and an article on a Game Pass game each month) when the game of all games popped up.

I have had my eye on Frostpunk since the game debuted on PC in 2018. It’s a strategy game where you try to produce enough heat and power to keep the last shred of humanity alive in a frozen wasteland. Check out IGN’s review:

 

I would have preferred to play the PC version, but having it included with Game Pass is too good to pass up. It looks like my time with Slay the Spire is over, it’s time to make some tough decisions to save humanity!

Thank you so much for reading my column this month. Until next time, stay inside kids!