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Integral Archer

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Book Review: Fallout: Equestria by Kkat—or, rather, the first five chapters of it · 8:00am Jan 4th, 2013

A long time ago—that is to say, a shorter time period ago than I’d care to admit—I was your stereotypical crazed teenager with a high-pitched voice (didn’t hit puberty until the eleventh grade), foaming at the mouth, guzzling Mountain Dew by the liter, and insinuating to strangers on Xbox Live while playing Call of Duty that I had engaged in sexual relations with their mothers.

Yes, I was that kid. Oh, hoh, how times have changed.

You see, I was an FPS junkie. Halo, Call of Duty, Half-Life, Bioshock, Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike: Source, you name it. I had no time for those geeky “RPG” games that my nerdy friends played. They kept asking me why I didn’t play them, and I gave some nebulous reason as to thinking that the leveling up system in such games were stupid (as I prestiged in Call of Duty). But they kept nagging me, and eventually, I caved and borrowed Fallout 3 from one of them, loaded it into my Xbox, and was ready to be disappointed.

And in a way Fallout 3 changed the way I looked at video games, and all media, in general. I absolutely loved it.

On a similar note, I also got into reading shortly afterwards (coincidence?). I read Metro 2033 a while back and reviewed it.. My opinion of that book gets higher every day since I’ve written that review, the more I think about it. Don't read my review, because it does not do justice to how awesome that book truly is. Every chapter sent shivers up my spine, and it was a great example of how to build a world through character interactions as opposed to dumping information (with the tiny exception of the first chapter). It was similar, plotwise, to Fallout 3, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some developer at Bethesda had read it prior to working on Fallout 3. It was lacking a bit in the character department; but, regardless, I hold Metro 2033 as the definitive example of how not only to build a world, but how to write a post-apocalyptic story, and I use it as a benchmark for judging all post-apocalyptic stories now.

As I started to immerse myself in the fan fiction aspect of the My Little Pony fandom, it occurred to me how massive Fallout: Equestria is, both physically and its impact in not just the fan fiction-verse, but in the entire fandom as a whole. Seriously, it’s got a subreddit, an entire writeup on Equestria Daily dedicated solely to saying how awesome it is, its own website, a TV Tropes page, an innumerable amount of side-stories written by fans, a vast amount of artwork, and a professionally bound book (those are tomes!). And, to be honest, this is quite inspiring to me as a fan fiction writer, knowing that there are actually people who care about silly pony stories.

I’ve seen absolutely no criticism of Fallout: Equestria. In the write up on Equestria Daily, there are people in the comments section who call it the greatest thing they’ve ever read with the greatest characters that have ever been written (and they say this in a world that has The Count of Monte Cristo and Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas, to name a few). This, as an appreciator of literature, naturally, intrigued me. It was at this point that I started browsing the subreddit, looking at the artwork (some of which, really damn impressive), reading what people thought about it, listening to snippets of the audio drama, etc. You could say that I was a Fallout: Equestria fan fan, i.e., I was fond of the fans of the story, intrigued by what they did and what they thought, without actually having ever read the thing myself.

Originally, I had been put off by its length—being a very slow reader with a very short attention span, and possibly suffering from OCD (this manifests itself in a compulsion to reread sentences over and over again), it had taken me six months to read The Count of Monte Cristo, my favorite novel of all time, and two years to read Atlas Shrugged, the seventh longest novel in the world. But those two novels are my two favorites, and I do plan to read both of them again—and I do want to tackle War and Peace eventually, so I guessed that Fallout: Equestria would be good practice.

I was very excited to start. Ponies, apocalypse, and Fallout 3? Three of my favorite things in the world!

So, here’s my thoughts on the first five chapters.


The story has a lot of potential. There’s a massive world being built up in here, I can see, and it can go so many places. With a bit of skill—and, since this was written over the course of a year, the writing probably gets better—something really compelling, engaging, and atmospheric can happen. Those remaining chapters are just bursting with potential that, to be honest, I’m eager to see.

That was a cool idea, opening the vault into nighttime, and the narrator thinking that there was a void outside. There are no dark places in a vault, and the first night out of the vault is one that should be one that is remembered. The first few moments (that is, before the narrator encounters the raiders) were eerie. Finding that old radio message really set the first stone in the world that was going to be built, and I was really interested to see where that would lead. It’s little things like that which made the Fallout universe so engaging, and the old note left by the narrator’s crush set up a mystery that could tease for a long, awesome time.

And, in the same vein, the part when the narrator was reading off the computer in the vault in the chapter where I stopped reading was also quite interesting. The Fallout 3 computers, especially in the Vaults, were some of the creepiest parts of the game, and though what happened in the chapter Calamity wasn’t terribly scary, it was still cool, in the sense that there used to be this vault teaming with life, and all of the sudden it’s completely dead—a great homage to the game.

The moment in the vault (that is, the second vault, not Pip’s vault) where she’s with Calamity and he makes fun of her religion was a shocking, in a good way, moment. LittlePip got so angry, got so passionate about something, that it actually gave me a warm feeling, and it was really delightful to see the character reveal something about herself. This deep moment warrants a mention, considering what I’m about to say next:


I’m going to start off with the petty first and then work my way upwards to various degrees of bad.

There are quite a few spelling mistakes and using apostrophes with possessive pronouns, e.g., using “it’s” instead of “its” and quite a few times. I understand that this is a fan fiction, so I got through them, and they didn’t bother me too much, but it’s worth a mention.

There are some notable verb tense confusions throughout what I’ve read. There are odd uses of capitalization at times, e.g., not capitalizing the first letter in the first word of a sentence and things like that.

The characters seem too excited at times. One exclamation mark is plenty for onomatopoeia and when characters are surprised. If you need two (or more) exclamation marks to show that the character is really, really surprised or shocked, then you’re doing something wrong. Same goes for incredulity; one exclamation mark, or a question-exclamation-mark (?!) should be enough to convey this. I’m not a fan of the question-exclamation mark (?!), but you should not feel the need to have two question marks. Maybe you should rephrase what you want to say instead.

The author’s fondness for sentence fragments really started to wear on me very quickly. Alright, I admit that, especially in first-person stories, sentence fragments can be used cleverly. And effectively, at that. But they must be used sparingly. And with tact. If you have. Every other sentence. As a fragment. And worst. Of all. One. Word. Fragments. Then you. Disrupt, the flow. Of. Your writing. What? Was this story. Written to be. Narrated by. Christopher Walken?

I’m less attached to the main character than I was with Metro 2033’s Artyom—and that’s saying a lot. As I complained before, Artyom was an empty shell of a character—but I’m surprised to look back and see that he was much more substantial than I had given him credit for, when compared alongside of Fallout: Equestria’s LittlePip. There is nothing remarkable about LittlePip, and I feel absolutely no reason to care for her other than the fact that she’s the narrator. She’s so plain, and there’s nothing that I can see that separates her from anyone else in the vault. I really do feel like she’s empty, dead almost. In the five chapters, I saw in her only one spark of humanity, and that was when she got upset when Calamity questioned her religion—but that’s really just about it.

The formula for every protagonist in any adventure story (no exceptions) are prospects, dreams, a backstory; and an idea, something, anything that sets them aside for the rest (could be as big as developing some new, revolutionary technology like in Ayn Rand’s Anthem, or something as little as bothering everyone when he snores at night), as long as it distinguishes him from the people he surrounds himself by. And these are just the bare minimums to a character; any good character will have more than just that. And while I found that Artyom meets these requirements just barely, LittlePip meets them not at all or superficially in the first five chapters.

Prospects: Artyom wants to see the metro.

LittlePip . . . does she even want to go outside the vault? From what I could tell, she was very content working her menial job and living her pathetic life there.

Dreams: Artyom is plagued by chronic nightmares.

LittlePip has a crush on that singer.

Backstory: Artyom was one of the last human beings born on the surface. As a baby, his station was attacked by giant rats; and, just before his mom was eaten, she passes baby Artyom to a construction worker (who becomes the only family member Artyom has), who speeds off in a trolley cart while the station is ravaged.

LittlePip, like everyone else, was born in the vault like everybody else, was assigned a job like everyone else . . . and then that was it.

Character-defining idea: Artyom went to the surface as a child, a secret that he had harbored for his entire life, and he forgot to close the door on his way back; this one of the reasons he felt compelled to leave his station on a strange mission that he was told would save the metro—he thought that it was his fault that his station was getting attacked by so many mutants afterwards.

Fallout: Equestria is told from LittlePip’s view—if it wasn’t for that, there’s no reason to care about her.

How could you leave your friends and family, LittlePip? Don’t you know that they’d worry about you and—wait, come to think of it, where are your friends? Your family? You mentioned you have a mom—well, where is she? Do you have a dad? Or are they dead? If they’re dead, how does that make you feel? How does everyone treat you for it? How do you look on them, all things considered? What are you leaving behind in the vault? What’s your relationship with everyone? What’s at stake?

But, I'm actually okay with the fact that these questions are unanswered. I'm actually okay with the fact that LittlePip isn't that interesting. In fact, I'd go even so far as to say I'm ok with the sentence fragments, the spelling mistakes, and the tense confusions.

Or, rather, I should say that I would've been ok with all these things, had the book not had two very egregious shortcomings . . .


And this is why I had to take a break after five chapters to read something else:

Fallout 3 is not a perfect game by any stretch of the word. Character animations are some of the worst I’ve ever seen in a video game. Voice acting, with the exception of Liam Neeson, is laughably bad. There are a lot of incredibly aggravating glitches (Dammit, Regulator Chick, stop running away and let me give you my damn fingers!), some of which break some aspects of the game. And, if I might say, the fact that people are worried about being politically correct in the apocalypse is hilarious.

Likewise, Metro 2033 is not a perfect book. It’s guilty of many of the things I criticize Fallout: Equestria for: The English translation has great deal of typos. Artyom, like I said, is a boring character for the most part. What I also didn’t mention is that, ill of the book’s favor, Artyom also leaves his station for reasons that didn’t seem so important or compelling; and, for the longest time, I was wondering why this guy wanted to risk his life.

But the reason why Fallout 3 and Metro 2033 is one of my favorite games and my favorite science-fiction novel of all time respectively is that they do two things incredibly well. These two things are done so well, in fact, that I overlook every single one of their flaws.

Those two things are pacing and atmosphere.

What do I mean by “pacing”?

In high school English class, you learned (or will learn) that a story follows a certain “roller-coaster” of events, e.g., rising action, falling action, climax, etc. So, the best way to describe the “pace” of a story is by the derivative with respect to word count (assuming the function is continuous) of the position on the roller-coaster track, i.e., the rate at which the story is progressing. A story is said to be “fast-paced” if the story moves across the roller-coaster track in a few words and is said to be “slow-paced” if many words go by and barely any movement is made along.

Pacing is something that can make or break any story, and this is difficult to nail precisely, as there’s no single “right” or “wrong” answer as to whether “fast-paced” or “slow-paced” is better. It depends on the story you want to tell. For example, Rainbow Six is very fast-paced; in just one hundred or so pages, you’re already introduced to the entire team, supporting characters, antagonists, and the team has already engaged and neutralized three terrorist attacks. Whereas, on the other hand, The Count of Monte Cristo is slow-paced; in the first one hundred pages, just then is Dantès thrown in prison, whereupon he spends fourteen years in prison (about another hundred or so pages), whereupon he spends two hundred pages in Rome, whereupon he spends five hundred mingling with high society in Paris before even getting close to exacting the fatal blow of his revenge.

And this is appropriate. Rainbow Six is an action-packed terrorist-fighting story, and you’d expect there to be a lot of action; there are so many characters introduced so quickly that you can hardly expect to remember each one of their names—the enjoyment comes from watching them working together, filling their little niche roles, and killing terrorists. The Count of Monte Cristo is the archetypal story of revenge, in addition to being a damning commentary on high Parisian society; the whole point is that revenge is best executed after a long period of planning it perfectly and drawing it out—and it was saying how these nobles, so high and mighty and good and pure, all have skeletons in their closets.

Pacing is damn important. If it had taken the Rainbows five hundred pages to fight one terrorist, it would have been boring. If it had taken one hundred pages for Dantès to get out of prison, no one would’ve bought the “traumatized and changed man” thing. I say again: pacing is something that can make or break any story. When a story is paced too slowly, it’s said to “drag on,” and when it’s paced too quickly, it’s said to be “too busy.” And this can be extended to video games as well.

I remember the first time I played Fallout 3: I had spent a good hour in the vault, talking to everybody, and exploring. That was why it was so jarring, and rightfully so, when the alarms sound and you realize that your dad has left, when you have to pick up a gun and make that crucial decision to leave the vault. And it was another hour after that before I met my first raider.

Likewise, the first chapter in Metro 2033 is about Artyom and his friends on guard duty in the northern tunnels. The entire first chapter, literally, is them sitting around a campfire and telling stories of the Metro, while they listen to the creepy sounds coming from the darkness of the tunnel. Now, to be fair, there is quite a lengthy information dump here, but there is none for the rest of the book, and the world-building is done entirely through the observations of the main character. Artyom doesn’t leave his station for a few chapters, and we see what he’s leaving behind: his friends, his uncle, his job—which he leaves, after some nightmares and a lot of thinking, into this world that’s unknown to him as much as it is unknown to the reader. I don’t have the book on me right now, but I think he doesn’t leave until fifty or sixty pages in.

Fallout: Equestria is very poorly paced.

I know very little about LittlePip. Unlike Artyom, she has no backstory, no secrets, no fears, or desires. She’s incredibly empty. And this was because in the crucial opening parts of the story, no time was set aside to establish these little things that should make me want to care. This is partially due to the fact that the pace of the story, everything up to the first five chapters, is incredibly rushed.

Fallout: Equestria starts off with a near word-for-word copy of the introduction to Fallout 3. That’s fine, I suppose; it’s nice way to connect the game with the story. But, as soon as the story starts, it instantly assumes this frenzied, frenetic pace, like the author was afraid of losing the attention of his readers or something. No time is given to firmly establish LittlePip’s place in the vault; no time is given to show her relationship with all the ponies; and, worst of all, absolutely no time is set aside to describe why LittlePip is infatuated with Velvet Remedy i.e., the reason that LittlePip begins the adventure in the first place—the only explanation given is that everybody is. This only further establishes the main character as an unremarkable nobody, and gives me absolutely no reason as to why I should care about her or her crush.

When she gets outside the vault, virtually no time is taken to establish the surroundings. She encounters the raiders almost immediately, and this lengthy, fast-paced, hard-to-follow shootout scene ensues. Okay, I thought, maybe when it’s over, she’ll sit down, take in her surroundings, and think about the fact that she had just killed quite a few people. Maybe she’ll seek refuge in a building, find some food and a lost, bone-chilling story in one of the buildings, something that’ll give her some more to think about, maybe change her motives, and—nope! The very next chapter can only be described as a “clusterfuck,” (that is, the chapter before Calamity). Out of nowhere, she’s in some building, for god knows whatever reason, fighting some robots—at least, that’s what I think happened. I can’t be sure; my head was spinning, and not in a good way, at that point. Quite a few times, I flipped back to the beginning, scratching my head and thinking: “Woah, woah, what just happened? Did I miss something?” There’s a reason why Fallout 3 does not allow you to fast-travel until you’ve discovered the location; this is because the whole point of the game is exploring the desolated land and stumbling upon old shacks and lost stories.

This is one of the reasons I disliked The Dark Knight Rises: Since the thing is constant action, I get desensitized to it, since there’s nothing to juxtapose against it. That’s fine if you want some mindless violence (being clean from FPSs for years now, I understand the craving for them), but when you say “Fallout,” you kind of expect time taken aside for world building, exploration, and atmosphere right off the bat.

And because pacing is inseparably tied to a story’s atmosphere, Fallout: Equestria (again, I speak only for the first five chapters) has none.

What do I mean by “atmosphere”?

Have you ever found yourself reading a book or playing a video game, and then looking at the clock, realizing that you’ve been reading/playing for too long, and thinking that you should go do something else? Have you ever then told yourself “Alright, just one more page” or “Just one more level” before turning your nose back to the page/screen—and then turning back to the clock and realizing it’s been four hours later?

You lost track of time because of the atmosphere of the story. You found yourself so engrossed, so into it—as if you were not sitting on your chair or lying your bed, and were instead actually in the story, a part of the fictional world that had been created. Not once did you think, consciously: “I am playing a video game/I am reading a book.” You were living it.

If it was a shooter, you thought yourself as a soldier for justice. If it was an adventure game, you felt the sword in your hand and the gems in your sack. If it was a horror—and this is the most important—you feared the horrors in the darkness, and you worried for your safety. And you felt your heart pumping faster—even though if you stepped back and took a real, good, cold look at it, it’s the most ridiculous and irrational thing in the world. But you felt it anyway because of the atmosphere. You were immersed.

Atmosphere is as important, if not more so, than pacing. Atmosphere can mean the difference between tabbing to Reddit every fifteen minutes and staying up until seven in the morning.

Fallout 3 is a game that sucks you in; I’ve stayed up ’till seven in the morning playing it, terrified for my life, low on ammo, seeing red blips on my radar, hiding in a corner and waiting for my Action Points to regenerate. Metro 2033 is the same way—the chapters up to and including There Up Above had me shivering in my bedsheets, had me suffocating in the toxic air of Moscow, had me feeling the recoil of Artyom’s AK-47, feeling it shattering my eardrums, had me feeling the presence of the creature as it slithered up beside me and ran a slimy hand down my back . . . ooh, I really need to read that book again.

And it was because of the fact that I felt all these things was the reason I forgive Metro and Fallout for their shortcomings: they gave me the feelings that I crave out of every horror or post-apocalyptic story—one is of being completely alone in a hostile world, and the other is the mystery of that world, that feeling that its bigger, better, and worse than you ever thought. It’s that moment when you walk into a room, see some knocked over chairs, a hastily scribbled note, and your only thought is—what the hell happened here?

And Fallout: Equestria sets up some really good opportunities for these moments, but then either never delivers or rushes them out unsatisfactorily.

To be sure, the first word of the first chapter really caught my attention:


This was the only sentence fragment I didn’t mind. What a great way to start and to get my attention! Looking at the length of this story, I thought the first few chapters were going to be about the rigamarole of vault life, how it felt to be constantly surrounded by gray, how it felt to constantly have a roof over your head, and how it felt to have the walls so close to you that you felt like you were going to suffocate—and for the first few sentences, it looked like it was going to be that way. And I was waiting for the shock when LittlePip left this world, so firmly established and routine, into one of complete mystery.

But no: There’s no shock, no time to establish the environment of the vault, because it’s left almost immediately—and this surprised me, as the opening vault sections are some of the best in Fallout 3. “Nothingness!” LittlePip says upon stepping out of the vault—unfortunately, the impact that that moment could have had is lost since, because of the lack of description and time spent in the entire vault, the vault already felt like nothingness.

And after that frenzied rush to get out of the building, instead of having LittlePip ruminate on the strong feelings she no doubt must be having after leaving her home for so many years and seeing the darkness of the night, in come the raiders. She’s too busy blasting heads—and after the chapter is finished, blasting robot hulls—and she never takes the sufficient amount of time to simply observe, to listen, to think; and because the story is told from her point of view, this means the world doesn’t get any time.

The result is that the world didn’t feel like the remnants of Equestria; it didn’t feel destroyed, and it wasn’t a shock as much as it should have been, upon stepping out of the vault.

Some of the best parts in Metro 2033 are when Artyom thinks about life in the metro, philosophizes while walking in the tunnels; or when he overhears snippets, incomplete fragments, of the whispered retellings of stories of the war that destroyed the world. Fallout 3 is littered with the gentle mysteries such as this (the tape recording you find in that diner that has the girl crying right as the bombs hit comes to mind). Fallout: Equestria does have mysteries, to be sure, but they’re either forgotten about or blatantly obvious (e.g. Velvet Remedy’s disappearance is forgotten to go shoot robots and for the sake of exploring another vault. Everyone died in the vault they were exploring because they were killed by the things that attacked LittlePip and Calamity shortly afterwards. The mangled bodies that are strung around the Carousel Boutique were put there by the raiders, whom LittlePip proceeded to blast into smithereens with barely a second thought).

Remember when I said that Artyom and LittlePip were uninteresting characters? The reason why Artyom gets away with it is because the book is not about him; it’s about seeing the metro and the world he lives in. The book is called Metro 2033, not Artyom 2033. Metro is in the third-person, and Artyom was a very passive hero—he knew the appropriate times to get his boring self out of the way of the world.

Likewise, it’s called Fallout: Equestria, and it’s fine for the main character to be uninteresting (well, perhaps I shouldn’t say “fine.” I’ll say “acceptable.”) as long as the world she lives in is—and it very well could be. In Metro 2033 the horror, that overarching mystery of the new world is established in the very first chapter (despite knowing none of the characters, not knowing who the protagonist was going to be, not knowing the antagonist, after the first chapter, I couldn’t put the book down), and this image only gets more lucid and more thick in the next few ones, all beautifully told through character interactions. Fallout: Equestria is in the first-person, and the character gets in the way of the world. Unfortunately, the oppressiveness of the new world is not sufficiently conveyed in the first five chapters of Fallout: Equestria; and, as of that point, I got fed up and dropped it for Rainbow Six.

Fallout: Equestria sets up the perfect scenarios for these but either forgets about them or explains them outright before the mystery is allowed to be built up. Those “What the hell happened here?” moments, those moments where you feel truly alone against a faceless horror is what I crave out of a post-apocalyptic story, and this is why the chapter There Up Above in Metro 2033 is by far, hands-down, the best chapter in the entire book—and moments like these are set up in Fallout: Equestria, but are quickly downplayed or completely forgotten about in the first five chapters.


Because there’s no atmosphere and no sense of pacing in the first five chapters of Fallout: Equestria, all that’s left is a story with quite a few spelling errors and an uninteresting, bland character with a nebulous motive, told through incredibly irritating sentence fragments. So far, I’ve encountered nothing that makes me think I should forgive these things.

I am not at all engaged with the main character. The whole thing with the mysterious disappearance of her crush is played up, excitingly, and then is cast away for some mindless violence. There are no appropriate breaks in action for the essential world-building that’s needed.

That is to say, this is the case for the first five chapters. The rest could be good, for sure—but this does not change the fact that the first five chapters could not hold my interest, and I must say that the fact that it could be potentially be good is overshadowed by the fact that the first five chapters were actually bad.

So, anyway, this is my thoughts on the first five chapters. I put this down for Rainbow Six, but you can be assured that I’ll be back. Considering the length of the story and despite my legitimate complaints, it just wouldn’t seem fair to pass complete judgment on the entire story just yet. I’ll give it another five chapters eventually, but I can’t say that I’m looking forward to it.

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Comments ( 8 )

A long time ago—that is to say, a shorter time period ago than I’d care to admit—I was your stereotypical crazed teenager with a high-pitched voice (didn’t hit puberty until the eleventh grade), foaming at the mouth, guzzling Mountain Dew by the liter, and insinuating to strangers on Xbox Live while playing Call of Duty that I had engaged in sexual relations with their mothers.

Yes, I was that kid. Oh, hoh, how times have changed.

I have a really hard time believing that... Not that I doubt you, but such a drastic change is just crazy. Maybe there's hope for humanity yet. :raritywink:

one exclamation mark, or a question-exclamation-mark (?!) should be enough to convey this. I’m not a fan of the question-exclamation mark (?!), but you should not feel the need to have two question marks. Maybe you should rephrase what you want to say instead.

I'm pretty sure that is called an Interrobang

Fallout 3 is a game that sucks you in; I’ve stayed up ’till seven in the morning playing it, terrified for my life, low on ammo, seeing red blips on my radar, hiding in a corner and waiting for my Action Points to regenerate. Metro 2033 is the same way—the chapters up to and including There Up Above had me shivering in my bedsheets, had me suffocating in the toxic air of Moscow, had me feeling the recoil of Artyom’s AK-47, feeling it shattering my eardrums, had me feeling the presence of the creature as it slithered up beside me and ran a slimy hand down my back . . . ooh, I really need to read that book again.

And that's why I loved Fallout for the PC, those realism/Immersion mods made it incredibly... immersive. Heheh.

In any case, I have gotta say (After reading through yet another informative review of yours! Even if it is just of the first five chapters.) that if you do have an issue with those very valid opening flaws you pointed out. One fan made story in the same universe: Fallout Equestria: Heroes
Not sure if you would be interested, but it seems alot more in line with what you liked about Metro 2033 while addressing the flaws you found in the original. Though that said, I've never actually read a Fallout Equestria fic outside of Heroes, and I do really love it. So take that with a grain of salt. (Assuming you decide to give it a look.)

If you like FoE reviews, I highly recommend this one: http://onemansponyramblings.blogspot.jp/2012/07/6-star-reviews-part-80-fallout.html — the comment section there is also filled with insightful critique

Anyway, part of this issue with Little Pip is that she, when leaving the vault, is more or less intended as a blank slate, thrown into a world she can barely comprehend. I can assure you that her characterization improves a lot, and is built gradually around her new roles as she start to comprehend the wasteland. The writing and pacing issues are also gone by the time chapter 15 or so rolls, and the story finally starts with its trademark Novel-length chapters.

Also, the most important plot device of the whole thing hasn't been introduced by this point. I won't spoil anything, but the way it is used in the writing is extremely clever, and brings the story as a whole to a new level.

Well, I must say, this is one of the more in-depth reviews of the story I've seen in a long time. The one thing I urge you to do is read on, she does develop an actual characterization, and so on a few more chapters in. It gets better. Also, Fallout 3's glitches weren't too bad, the flying corpses one was damn hilarious :rainbowlaugh:

This is a really good, thoughtful review. Especially because you provide context for your experience and compare and contrast the story with other works.

The FOE community would really benefit from having you as an active member so I hope you do continue and find that it develops in an engaging way that you might consider sticking with the community.

Nevermind the fact that loving caring friendship advocating ponies nuking an entire freaking planet is an incredibly unrealistic premise, and gets even more unrealistic once you find out the how and why, your review addressed several of my issues with the story.

All I can say is literally what everyone else has said already, in my own words and with my own anecdote:

A) This review is very thoughtful and thorough, and I certainly appreciate someone giving a hard, yet truthful and reasonable critique of the story and pacing. I was fearing the very same thing when I read the first 5 chapters as well. I actually didn't mind the Vault's description (or lack thereof) as much as you did, seeing as I had bought and played Fallout 3 not months before, and the feelings that arose during my first game washed over me as the story began, and I more or less was "playing the game again" by reading the story. Reading your review certainly helps put in perspective why I was already feeling iffy reading the story though. "People think this is a 6 star story? The best of the fandom? Really?" All of these thoughts ran through my mind the first time I read it. I know exactly where you are talking about, too, when you mentioned Littlepip having to fight robots in a factory - it was a very sudden transition that didn't make any sense, and at the time I was scratching my head just as much as you were.

As I was ending Chapter 5, I had to close the tab I was reading and I mentally put the story on the shelf - perhaps I'd come back to it later, I thought, but it just wasn't satisfying me right now.

Months pass, and I learned that I'd be taking a long road trip in the car without much to do. That's when I decided to give it a try once again; a thought came across me that perhaps I was reading it too fast, and that if I forced myself to slow down and become immersed in the reading, maybe I'd enjoy it better. That's when I picked up Scorch Mechanic's audiobook logs of the fanfiction and synced to my iPod - a car trip was as good a time as any to focus on listening to the book.

Which comes to my second point...

B) The story gets much, much better and is well deserving of the 6-star status after a certain while. The first time I read, the farthest I got was to the events of Old Appleoosa, maybe just a bit farther. I grinded just a little through the first chapters once again, but my vague familiarity with the story let me relax and take in Scorch's voice as he read along, this time pointing out details I hadn't caught before and overall giving me a better visual image of the situation (which is critical when I read any story, of any kind). I honestly couldn't tell you when it happened, chapter or story-wise, but I was hooked. My best suggestion, at the moment, is that eventually Littlepip stops becoming a blank slate for the reader, and the author finally gives her some real character development to stand on. She is anything but boring by the early 20 chapters, which is where I currently have stopped reading (and intend to pick up as soon as possible).

Maybe it was the fact that I was listening to the story instead of reading it that helped, but I didn't stop listening in the backseat of that car for at least a whole day. I vividly remember being in the car, getting out of the car to go to our motel room, and laying in bed while my family was asleep listening intently. I couldn't stop. Like reading a book and noticing that hours flew by, the plotline expanded and every singe character has some significant development by the time I reached Chapter 15. From there, I practically disappeared from my family (mentally, anyway) until we had arrived at our destination. Even then, I'd find time for myself here and there to keep listening since I didn't have a way to start visually reading again.

Right now, the #1 reason I haven't finished Fallout: Equestria is that the reader I had subscribed to simply hasn't produced anything beyond Chapter 24 (as of this review's posting). Life has forced me to do other things, as well, and if I do read any pony fanfiction at all, I read shorter and unrelated stuff because I know if I try to continue FO:E, it'd just be a timesink and I wouldn't stop until I was either physically exhausted or finished with the book all together.

Wow. I wrote a lot more than I intended to.

Here's a shorter TL;DR:

A) What you have written here, as a critique and review, is highly appreciated and very well thought out. I'm glad I wasn't the only one wary of the first few chapters. There are hiccups that can be ironed out if Kkat ever decides to go back and rewrite them. In return I feel that...

B) ...you need to give the story at least another 5-7 chapters to pick itself up and truly display an exemplary story. If you are having doubts about continuing to read (this applies to anyone reading my comment), just hang in there and try to get to about Chapter 10. If it seriously has not really caught your interest, it's probably not the story for you. Littlepip does become a much richer and more thoughtful, meaningful character as the story goes and the writing becomes much better. I wouldn't suggest skipping any part of the story early, of course, as from what I know, there are a couple Chekhov Gun's and other meaningful plot-points that set the stage for the rest of the novel. In short, it gets better. Loads better. This comes from someone who doubted the story at first.

TL;DR OF THE TL;DR: This first couple chapters kind of stink, but are important. Then, OP delivered.


Thanks for your guy's comments. Like I've said, I haven't written the book of completely, but also like I've said, "it gets better" usually doesn't hold any water with me.

Do you know Yahtzee Croshaw? The Zero Punctuation guy. He put it best. He's talking about video games, but the philosophy can be extended to all forms of entertainment as well:

The main thrust of the argument was that Monster Hunter Tri totally gets good once you've gotten past the tutorial, which takes about ten hours of gameplay.

Ten hours. Do you people listen to yourselves? Maybe if I had your kind of wealthy, privileged lifestyle and could spend most of my days idly playing Wii by the pool as a team of oiled bodybuilders fanned me with palm fronds, but some of us have jobs to do. Articles to write. Other, better games to review. Fun Space Games to avoid working on. As I've said time and again, "it gets better later" as an excuse does not wash for me. Even if the game is 50 percent poo and 50 percent mind-blowing envelope-pushing extravaganza, that's still mediocre on average.

I have a simple rule when playing a game to review. I play until the game is finished, or until I can't stand any more. And if the game ever falls below that point of tolerance, that's an automatic write-off. You know when you play Guitar Hero, and you're given a fail if you play badly for long enough for the crowd reaction to sink below the red? You don't get to play the rest of the song, and you don't get any points based on how well you might, potentially, have played it. I use the same approach for reviewing games. If I'm fed up to the back teeth, out the console you go. No buts. No reprieves. No more of it for me.

Besides, does the game really get better after ten hours, or is that just the point when you become numb to the pain? Unless at that magic ten hour mark the game goes "Ha ha, just kidding, here's a completely different game" and magically transmutes the disk into Shadow of the Colossus or something, I don't see how it could significantly improve.

Rocker: Ten chapters?

Soge: Fifteen chapters? Isn't that, like, half of them?

Though I didn't get to the point where "I couldn't stand it," I wasn't enjoying myself, so I picked up another book instead.

I think, for me, the draw was wondering what happened to the fun, happy, utopian society that FiM appeared to be. The concept of ponies raping and murdering each other was foreign to me at the time of first reading.
The characterization of Littlepip didn't bother me because I never bothered to read things analytically. I just wanted to see what happened next. However, I do think that Littlepip is written as a blank slate because we're supposed to project ourselves onto her at first, we're learning about the world just as much as she is.
I agree with you wholeheartedly regarding pacing. Even during my second read through the beginning could be really jarring. I'm happy to say that problem peters out relatively early, however.
I'm kind of mixed on the problem with atmosphere. While too little atmosphere is a problem, I find too much atmosphere to be an even bigger problem. All Paths Lead Home is my fanfiction example. It's very immersive, but it's at the expense of the plot, which goes by so slowly that I fall asleep multiple times a chapter. It's a real struggle to want to find out what happens next because I frankly do not care at that point. I guess it's just my style of reading. I'm willing to stick with a story for all its flaws in the beginning, so long as it gets better relatively soon, or at least stays entertaining. Fallout: Equestria accomplishes that relatively well.

I don't really know what I'm trying to say anymore. This is a great review though. I'm going to try to find and read Metro 2033 some time in the near future.

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