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It's a good day for fans of ridiculous old-school shooters. The latest Humble Bundle weekly sale compiles a set of six FPS games from the genre's heyday, all for paying at least six bucks.
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Kotaku

I'm A Mormon. Pop Culture Often Mocks My Faith, But Fallout Treated It RightI'm a 31-year-old, fifth-generation Mormon (member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) from Salt Lake City, Utah and I love video games.



I've been playing since my parents brought home the original NES with Track & Field, Duck Hunt, and The Legend of Zelda. Unlike most of my friends I never "grew out" of video games and love them today as much or more than I did as a kid. Among my many loves (Demon's Souls, Half-Life 2, Total Annihilation, Mass Effect) stand two games I just can't get enough of: Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas.



I must say that I was surprised how my religion was featured in the most recent Fallout I played.



I had never heard of Fallout until 2010 when I noticed my friend's little brother had logged over 125 hours in Fallout 3 on his Steam account. Intrigued, I rented Fallout 3 and was instantly hooked in that rare and wonderful way that happens when you experience something truly new and wholly captivating. I plowed through it on my PS3. I would get up at 5:00am to play before the kids woke up and the work day started, logging some 40 hours in the 10 or so days it took me to complete the main story. When I returned the game I was dogged by how many locations and quests I had to leave unexplored and unfulfilled due to my limited rental window.



After building a gaming desktop for my birthday and getting both New Vegas and Fallout 3: GOTY on the Steam Summer Sale, I knew I was in for a pair of very special treats. I have since logged over 200 hours in Fallout 3 and another 130 in Fallout: New Vegas.



Mormons of the Wasteland


As a Mormon, I am much more accustomed to seeing my religion portrayed in unflattering and even disrespectful ways in entertainment media ("Fort Joe Smith" in Starship Troopers comes to mind, as does The Book of Mormon Broadway musical and HBO's Big Love series) than to seeing any positive or deferential representations. Hence, when I came across The Old Mormon Fort outside New Vegas it naturally piqued my curiosity as to how it would be featured. Would the game's developers at Obsidian take the well-worn road of clichéd irony by making The Old Mormon Fort some den of hypocritical debauchery or zealous extremism, or would they do something different?



I wasn't expecting anything necessarily pro-religion, let alone reverent. This is a Fallout game, after all.



I'm A Mormon. Pop Culture Often Mocks My Faith, But Fallout Treated It Right Photo via DesertUSA.com; screenshot by the author.



I was nevertheless surprised and impressed by what I found inside The Old Mormon Fort: a struggling but hopeful sanctuary for the lost and ill-fated souls of the Mojave wasteland. I found a people whose purpose very much in harmony with the aspirations of Mormonism and Christianity generally. (For those who may have heard otherwise, we Mormons worship Jesus Christ and consider ourselves Christians.) While Mormons weren't the ones running the show-it was the Followers of the Apocalypse who had set up shop there-their noble goals and purpose, connected as they were (at least nominally) to the Mormons, gave me a strong feeling of appreciation. They intrigued me.



I wanted to find out if there were more Mormon references in the Fallout universe, and were they as curiously sympathetic and respectful as this? Thanks to the exceptional collection of Fallout resources at falloutwiki.com—including numerous leaked documents from the pre-Obsidian studio Black Isle's cancelled alternate Fallout 3 project in which the Mormons of Vault 70 were going to figure rather prominently—I have been able to analyze Obsidian's Fallout Mormons from the perspective of a lifelong member, and am pleased to share what I found.



Some minor Fallout: New Vegas spoilers will follow




Joshua Graham: The Prodigal Son



I'm A Mormon. Pop Culture Often Mocks My Faith, But Fallout Treated It Right



Clearly the most significant Mormon character in the Fallout universe is Joshua Graham, also known as Malpais Legate and The Burned Man.



For those who don't know the lore, Joshua Graham was a Mormon missionary sent from New Canaan (post-apocalyptic Ogden, Utah) to preach to the tribes of Arizona. Like most real-life Mormon missionaries, Graham had to learn a new language in order to preach to the Arizona tribals and, like most real-life Mormon missionaries, was able to do so. I myself served a Spanish-speaking mission to the Mojave wastelands of San Bernardino county, California. And Utah boasts one of the highest concentrations of US-born polyglots-speakers of more than one language-in the country due to the Church's foreign missionary efforts, with 30% of Utah's male population and up to 75% of the students of the Church's Brigham Young University speaking a foreign tongue.



In the game, it appears that Graham's linguistic abilities may have been pivotal in the formation of Caesar's Legion. Graham had been sent from New Canaan to preach to the tribes of Arizona and had managed to master a number of the tribal dialects. Meanwhile, The Followers of the Apocalypse dispatched a research party from California to study the tribal languages that were emerging in the east. They met Graham along their way and enlisted his help as a translator.



Shortly thereafter, Graham and the Followers were captured by the Blackfoot tribe, one of the weakest of eight warring tribes in the region. Fearing they would be killed along with their captors, a Follower named Edward Sallow determined that to survive they needed to remake the tribals into a capable fighting force. With his knowledge of ancient Rome, Sallow enlisted Graham's linguistic talents to help him train the Blackfoot tribe in the ways of total war.



Sallow and Graham went on to lead the tribe in conquest after conquest, with both men ultimately forgetting or abandoning their humble and humanitarian beginnings and getting caught up in the violent rise to power of their new nation.



I take no offense at the story of Graham becoming Caesar's first Legate and actually thought it was exciting to have a Mormon figure so prominently in the history of one of Fallout's principal factions. One big reason for this was because his fall was precipitated by very human failings (fear of death, lust for power, pride, etc.), not a failing specific to his religion. Consequently, Graham becoming a ruthless villain doesn't feel like an attack on Mormonism any more than Caesar forming the Legion feels like an attack on the Followers of the Apocalypse (which it doesn't).



But it is Graham's life after the Legion that sheds light on another reason why I appreciate Obsidian's handling of Mormonism so much.



Obsidian avoids the lazy cliché of religious people being hypocritically unforgiving and intolerant.

After failing at the first battle of Hoover Dam, Caesar has Graham covered in pitch, set on fire, and thrown into the Grand Canyon. Graham, already renowned for his resilience as much as for his cruelty, survives. Stripped of power, title, and purpose, he returns to New Canaan filled with remorse for what he had become and for the shame he brought to his people.



Here again, Obsidian avoids the lazy cliché of religious people being hypocritically unforgiving and intolerant and has the Mormons of New Canaan forgiving the penitent Graham, embracing him as a returning prodigal.



I'm not sure if Obsidian was touching on the general theme of sin, repentance, and redemption common in most all of Christianity or if they looked more specifically at Mormon history, but this type of story played out repeatedly in the early history of the Mormon church. There were multiple times that high-ranking Church members betrayed Church leaders by swearing false affidavits (i.e. Mormons planned to overthrow the government) which resulted in repeated imprisonments and even near execution, only to later have the traitors return seeking forgiveness and finding it extended by a magnanimous prophet and people (see W. W. Phelps, Thomas B. Marsh, Oliver Cowdery).



Regardless of what inspired the plotline, once again I appreciated that the core Christian tenet of repentance, forgiveness, and redemption figured so prominently in the story of saint-turned-sinner-turned-saint, Joshua Graham.



As a fun side-note regarding the fictional Graham and a famous real-life Mormon, Fallout: New Vegas project lead J. E. Sawyer said in an online Q&A that one interesting aspect of Mormon history is that John Browning, inventor of the M1911 pistol, BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle), and M2 .50 Cal Machine Gun, was a Mormon from Ogden, Utah. Joshua Graham, perhaps in a show of hometown pride and religious camaraderie, seems to be quite a fan of Browning's M1911 .45 Caliber pistols.




"Elder" Bert Gunnarsson & Driver Nephi



I'm A Mormon. Pop Culture Often Mocks My Faith, But Fallout Treated It Right



Until I started writing this I had overlooked that Bert Gunnarsson was a Mormon (probably due to most of the Mormon-related dialogue not making the final cut of the game), but I certainly had my suspicions about Driver Nephi.



While the name Nephi will not likely carry any significance to anyone outside Utah or the Mormon Church, to those in the Church Nephi is the first author of The Book of Mormon. For Fallout players, however, Nephi is one of the three fiend leaders that NCR Major Dhatri asks The Courier to kill in the Three-Card Bounty quest.



Bert Gunnarsson, on the other hand, is a ghoul medic and Mormon working with the Followers of the Apocalypse. He can be found helping NCR Captain Parker care for the poor and needy of New Vegas at the Aerotech Office Park.



If you speak to Gunnarsson he reveals that he is ministering to the poor and needy of New Vegas and that he has some medical training from the Followers. However, the GECK (mod tool) reveals a number of lines of unused dialogue that more fully flesh out his character. In one of Bert's lines he explains that in the Church people call him "Elder Gunnarsson," the title borne by full-time missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, implying that Bert is a Mormon missionary.



Also cut from the final game was an option that allowed The Courier to ask Bert what brought him out of Utah, to which he replies, "Following a lost cause, I'm afraid. My old friend Nephi fell in with a bad crowd. Drug runners, raiders, probably worse things it's better not to dwell on. When his gang headed west, I followed. I thought perhaps I could turn him back to the Church." This obviously implies that the golf-club wielding fiend Driver Nephi is also a Mormon, albeit a seriously lapsed one.



Again, I find much to appreciate in these two characters and their stories. First of all, Bert Gunnarsson is a Swedish name. Scandanavia was the second most successful foreign mission in the early days of the Mormon church with 23,000 Scandanavian converts emigrating to Utah between 1852 and 1905. Consequently, Elder Gunnarsson may be a seventh- or eighth-generation Mormon, his ancestors perhaps dating back to those early Swedish converts. Did Obsidian know this historical tid-bit? I don't know, but their research into Mormonism so far seems to reflect a much deeper level of effort than is typically evidenced in entertainment media, so maybe they did.



I'm A Mormon. Pop Culture Often Mocks My Faith, But Fallout Treated It Right



Another way in which I feel Obsidian avoided a tired anti-religious cliché is in making Gunnarsson a ghoul.



In many media depictions, religious people are xenophobic and intolerant of the "other." In the Fallout universe, the group that most fits the persecuted "other" is the ghouls.



As Three Dog reminds us in Fallout 3, "For all you would-be bigots out there, ghouls are people too. See children, ghouls are simply humans who have been exposed to an ungodly amount of radiation and haven't had the good fortune to die...So if you meet one of the wasteland's many ghouls, leave your prejudice at the door, and your pistol in its holster." Three Dog reminds his listeners continuously about the unfair and apparently wide-spread anti-ghoul prejudice that exists among the humans of the wasteland. In this sense it is encouraging to see one of the only explicitly religious characters depicted as both a Mormon and a ghoul. This seems to indicate to me that the Fallout Mormons are not the xenophobic other-hating religious stereotypes featured in some media: Not only do they accept ghouls among their ranks but send them out as official representatives of the faith.



Lastly, it is poignant to me to think of this ghoul missionary following his wayward friend over 400 miles into the desert in the hopes that he might turn him from his self-destructive path.



It is poignant to me to think of this ghoul missionary following his wayward friend over 400 miles into the desert in the hopes that he might turn him from his self-destructive path.

In cut dialogue, Driver Nephi speaks ungenerously of his old friend and tells The Courier to tell Bert that he's never coming back to "his little cult." Bert admits to The Courier in another piece of cut dialogue that he was "never able to reach" Nephi, and that "drugs and hatred" have consumed him. In spite of this, it seems that Bert is determined to wait and hope for a change of heart that may lead his friend away from the fiends and toward redemption. Given that Bert is a ghoul and does not have an NCR bounty on his head, he likely knows he will outlive Nephi and seems willing to give as many of his long ghoul years as he must to offer his friend a lifeline back.



When death inevitably comes to Driver Nephi, likely at the hands of The Courier, if the player speaks to him Bert laments Nephi's passing (oddly, it would seem, given that all of the related dialog was cut) and expresses the hope that Nephi's soul is at peace.



"Elder" Bert Gunnarsson exemplifies the Mormon belief in the power of repentance and forgiveness, and that even someone as lost and sinful as the murderous Driver Nephi can be redeemed.



If you might indulge a film-based redemption analogy to further illustrate the point (*Pulp Fiction spoiler ahead*), it is as though Joshua Graham is Jules Winfield and Driver Nephi is Vincent Vega, with each of the former surviving a near-death experience and turning from their wicked ways to find forgiveness, and each of the latter persisting in their wicked ways and finding death.



Obsidian not only thoughtfully presents the concepts of repentance, forgiveness, and redemption in connection with Mormons but also the self-sacrifice, patience, and hope of the people seeking to extend those gifts to others as Mormon missionaries, like Elder Gunnarsson, work to do the world (or wasteland) over every day.




More Mormons of the Wasteland



There are a few other fair-minded Mormon Easter eggs in the Fallout universe, but they would take too long to explain and are relatively trivial compared to those presented here (but for those that are interested, see Jeremiah Rigdon, the rise and fall of New Jerusalem, Caesar's extermination order and Missouri Executive Order 44, Daniel from Honest Hearts and Ammon from The Book of Mormon).



I as a Mormon feel a deep sense of appreciation for the time and energy Obsidian clearly spent researching Mormonism historically, culturally, and spiritually.



Rather than taking the safe route in the entertainment industry of making Christianity, and especially Mormon Christianity, a punching bag or the butt of a string of jokes, Obsidian has shown that at least in post-apocalyptia, Mormons can get a fair shake.



Skip Cameron plays video games and goes to church in Boise, ID and has to make time to game before the sun and his kids are up. He posts screenshots of his adventures through the wasteland at viewfromravenrock.blogspot.com


Kotaku

The Most Awesome Video Game Dog CompanionsJust like cats, man's best friend is a returning character in every genre. We've selected those video game dogs—from games both old and new—which are usually portrayed as companions; sidekicks who can both help us with minor tasks and save our asses in difficult situations.





Rush (Mega Man series)


The Most Awesome Video Game Dog Companions






Angelo (Final Fantasy VIII)


The Most Awesome Video Game Dog Companions






The Not-So-Awesome Dog in Duck Hunt


The Most Awesome Video Game Dog Companions






K.K. Slider (Animal Crossing series)


The Most Awesome Video Game Dog Companions






Dogmeat (Fallout 1-3)


The Most Awesome Video Game Dog Companions






Bladewolf (Metal Gear Rising)


The Most Awesome Video Game Dog Companions






Sam (Sam & Max)


The Most Awesome Video Game Dog Companions






Poppy (Samurai Shodown series)


The Most Awesome Video Game Dog Companions






Boney (Mother 3)


The Most Awesome Video Game Dog Companions






Our Dog in Fable II and III


The Most Awesome Video Game Dog Companions



Which other dog companion would you choose as the coolest? You should post your picks with visual support in the comments below.



sources: lucasta's fanart on Deviantart, Metal Gear Wiki, FF Wiki, TASVideos, CuteFloor's LP, NintyWorld, Fallout Wiki, gametrax, batman9502's LP, TehVGG's LP


Announcement - Valve
Save up to 75% on this week's Week Long Deals on Steam, available now until February 25th at 10AM Pacific time!







Kotaku

This Fallout And Hotline Miami Mash Up Needs To Happen



Here's a scene from Fallout: New Vegas re-done Hotline Miami style. I wonder how a game like this would work? How would VATS come into the picture, if at all? Well, as long as I get to kill Super Mutants I guess!



Props to the artist, Reddit user Sliferjam.



Click the image up top for full size.



Via the Hotline Miami Twitter.


Kotaku

The Most Atmospheric Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Worlds



Post-apocalyptic worlds in video games don't necessarily have to be grimdark, depressing or colorless. There are many fine examples where the game's design either moves beyond these tropes, or develops them to perfection. We have collected a few of them below.





Enslaved: Odyssey To The West


The Most Atmospheric Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Worlds The Most Atmospheric Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Worlds source: Enslaved.uk



World Of Ruin In Final Fantasy VI


The Most Atmospheric Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Worlds source: veteran0121's let's play of the game



Half-Life 2


The Most Atmospheric Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Worlds The Most Atmospheric Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Worlds source: Half-Life Wiki



2,300 AD In Chrono Trigger


The Most Atmospheric Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Worlds The Most Atmospheric Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Worlds source: Xytrasx's walkthrough of the game and The Chrono Wiki



Beneath A Steel Sky


The Most Atmospheric Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Worlds The Most Atmospheric Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Worlds source: NormanJayden's let's play



The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker


The Most Atmospheric Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Worlds source: 50CALBR's gameplay video



The Dark World In Dark Seed 2


The Most Atmospheric Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Worlds source: Retsupurae



S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl


The Most Atmospheric Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Worlds source: The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Wiki



Fallout New Vegas


The Most Atmospheric Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Worlds The Most Atmospheric Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Worlds source: Fallout.bethsoft.com



Borderlands 2


The Most Atmospheric Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Worlds source: Borderlands2.com



Tokyo Jungle


The Most Atmospheric Post-Apocalyptic Video Game Worlds source: official trailer



Make sure to submit your own picks in the comments! With visual support.


Kotaku

A New Vegas Mod That Makes Your Favorite My Little Pony Character Into A Companion You know what the Mojave desert was missing? My Little Pony, of course. My Little Pony buddies, to be precise. Here's a mod by Kuroitsune and Riven1978 on New Vegas Nexus that allows you to have the MLP protagonists as your companions. Not all ponies are included—for now, there's only Luna, Celestia, Twilight, Fluttershy, Applejack, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Ditzy/Derpy and a few others. Perhaps the best part about this is that the ponies come with specific perks.




Littlepip - Stable 2 - Whenever Littlepip is your Pony Companion, you will receive +10 points to Science, Medicine, and Repair and 1 point to Charisma, at a cost of 1 point of Agility and Strength, and -5 to Guns, Melee Weapons, and Unarmed Weapons.



Luna - Mare of the Moon - During the night as long as Luna is your Pony Companion, you will slowly regenerate health. Luna will also gain a 20% combat effectiveness.



Celestia - Mare of the Sun - During the day as long as Celestia is your Pony Companion, you will receive 30 points to Energy Weapons, at a cost of 10 to all of your other offensive skills. Celestia also gains a 20% damage potential.



BonBon - Friendship Is Magic - When Bon Bon's health gets below 30%, Lyra will appear to help out in the battle.



Lyra - Friendship Is Magic - When Lyra's health gets below 30%, Bon Bon will appear to help out in the battle.



Twilight - Studious - Twilight's intelligence is par none. While she is your Pony Companion, your accuracy, spread, and critical chance improve by 20%.



Fluttershy - All Creatures Great and Small - While Fluttershy is your Pony Companion, every creature in the Mojave is your friend, at the cost of your human relationships.



AppleJack - Apple Cider - While Applejack is your Pony Companion, she will give you Apple Cider every time you give her 2 Apples.



Rarity - Rarity & Charity - While Rarity is your Pony Companion, you will find more caps or hard to find weapons on fallen foes only she kills.



Rainbow Dash - Speedy Arrival - While Rainbow Dash is your Pony Companion, you will be 10% faster at everything you do, at the cost of 30lbs of your total carry weight.



Pinkie Pie - Party Time! - While Pinkie Pie is your Pony Companion, you will find more chems on your fallen enemies. But you will be 20% more likely to become addicted to chems.



Derpy - Muffins! - While Derpy is your Pony Companion, she will give you 3 Muffins every time you use a campfire once a day.



Trixie - Trixie's Greatness - While Trixie is your Pony Companion, you gain +10 to all of your skills that are under 50 skill points.



Vinyl Scratch - Bass Cannon - Whenever Vinyl Scratch is your Pony Companion, any explosive based weapon you use will have three times the power, at a cost of -20 of your sneak skill.




You can download it here, though I'm a little sad that they walk upright. I mean, that kind of makes it more hilarious, but still!



My Little Pony Follower [New Vegas]


Kotaku

This Real Fallout 3 Shotgun Will Make You Yearn For An Apocalyptic WashingtonHarrison Krix, aka Volpin Props, is continuing on his never-ending quest to bring video game equipment to life. And he's doing one hell of a job.



His latest job is this Terrible Shotgun from Fallout 3, which as you can see (in these pics by Dan Almasy) is about as far from terrible as something can possibly be. Forget what it's called in the game, this thing should be called the Wonderful Shotgun.



The piece was made with more than just eye-candy in mind; it was minted for web series Nuka Break, which as you may remember was pretty damn good.



Terrible Shotgun [Dan Almasy]

Combat Shotgun (Fallout 3) [Volpin Props]



This Real Fallout 3 Shotgun Will Make You Yearn For An Apocalyptic Washington This Real Fallout 3 Shotgun Will Make You Yearn For An Apocalyptic Washington This Real Fallout 3 Shotgun Will Make You Yearn For An Apocalyptic Washington This Real Fallout 3 Shotgun Will Make You Yearn For An Apocalyptic Washington This Real Fallout 3 Shotgun Will Make You Yearn For An Apocalyptic Washington This Real Fallout 3 Shotgun Will Make You Yearn For An Apocalyptic Washington This Real Fallout 3 Shotgun Will Make You Yearn For An Apocalyptic Washington This Real Fallout 3 Shotgun Will Make You Yearn For An Apocalyptic Washington This Real Fallout 3 Shotgun Will Make You Yearn For An Apocalyptic Washington


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