Humanity is dead. Help me save what I can.
― John, when asking Cole for help.
John White was a former undercover agent working for the National Security Agency, and was given the assignment to investigate the First Sons, along with Lucy Kuo and their inside associate, Sebastian Wolfe. Though, he was nearly successful in his time undercover, he was ripped apart and pulled into a vortex during a freak accident with one of the First Sons' inventions, namely the Ray Sphere.
After some time, his sub-consciousness awoke, and was reborn as "The Beast", a Conduit with immense power. He is the main antagonist when the player has Good karma and an ally when the player has Evil karma.
Not much is known about John's background or history, other than he's never been married and he has an extreme dislike for FBI agents. At some point in his life, he got a job as an undercover agent in the NSA, and was given the assignment of infiltrating the secret organization known as the First Sons along with agent Lucy Kuo, chosen due to their unique genetic code, possessing the Conduit gene. Kuo was stationed in New Marais while John was sent to Empire City.
The First Sons
I was carrying the Ray Sphere out of the lab when Kessler stopped me. It was...strange. He said that I had an important destiny, that I'd accomplish great things.
John first met up with a woman named Jane, and was told that he was a low-level mentalist. He was instructed to meet at a secluded place, but upon arrival was ambushed.
He infiltrated the First Sons after passing their initiation. Stationed at Empire City's chapter of the organization, John's primary task was to know what the First Sons have been doing that can be considered as a national threat. Able to get himself close enough to the leader of the group, Kessler, John was able to learn of the device called the Ray Sphere, and its capabilities of activating the powers of those who possesses the Conduit gene. John would later get promoted, able to know Kessler close enough, and was also given higher-tier missions, high enough for him to grasp the Ray Sphere. He would also be given simpler missions like escorting one of their scientists, Sasha, to an undisclosed location somewhere in the Warren. During his time, he'd relay the information to his associates at New Marais, informing them of his latest findings.
Through his findings, he was able to learn that the First Sons do possess materials that can label them as a national threat, with several experiments that involved Ray Field energy, which resulted in the deaths and abnormalities of subjects, both human and animal alike. He would also become enraged due to the lack of proper communications with their head branch at the NSA, making him lose confidence and trust for his employer. After some point, John has learned that Kessler has scheduled a delivery for the Ray Sphere as a package, with Cole MacGrath as the specific courier. Learning this, John quickly got off the facility in order to follow the package, and managed to catch up to Cole.
Following Cole, John was able to get behind him, though was too late to capitalize, as Cole made a reckless turn at a red light. John got off his bike and decided to follow Cole on foot, though he was too late, as the activation of the Ray Sphere was already done, which resulted to thousands dead, and the destruction of 5 city blocks. John made his way to Ground Zero and saw the Ray Sphere at the dead center. He retrieved it, and made his way to safety to the harbor in an attempt to get out of the city with the Sphere. There, he and several other civilians were attacked by those infected of the plague. After dealing with them, John left for the Warren, to hide and sleep in seclusion.
That night, as he slept, John was ambushed by several of the Dust Men, who came after the Ray Sphere. Outnumbered, the Ray Sphere was taken away from John, much to his disappointment. As he was wandering the streets after the Sphere was stolen, John passed by a group of civilians who were viewing the picture of a man who could "shoot lightning out of his hands". John abruptly made his way through the crowd and viewed the photo: it was Cole MacGrath along with Zeke Dunbar, with the former having electric currents coming out of his hand. John was extremely relieved to find Cole alive, as he scoured the city for his whereabouts.
As John observed Cole develop his powers from afar, John saw him as a very potential ally and a perfect counter-measure to the Conduit mentioned in Kessler's vision. After relaying some of his findings to Agent Lucy Kuo and Sebastian Wolfe, John established contact with Cole, and instructs him to meet by the old Adamson Building by the Warren. There, Cole's initial meeting with John was interrupted by a chopper sent by the NSA to extract John, though John believed it to be a hostile. Fleeing, John escaped the area and made his way to the northern section of the Warren. Cole followed him and the chopper, and was able to subdue the Golem Conduit that shot it down. After the conflict though, John escaped the area. Soon, John called Cole again, and told him that the Dust Men have the Ray Sphere in their possession, and told Cole to retrieve it along with a trustworthy associate.
I'm working with Cole to track down the Ray Sphere. That supersedes everything else. For all we know, the Ray Sphere could be the catalyst that creates the Beast.
― John White's reply to Kuo's request to bring Cole to New Marais. This was his last transmission with the team.[src]
During John's call to Cole, the latter asked John what he wanted to tell his alleged wife Moya, much to his surprise. John didn't know anyone named Moya, and was still single in terms of marital status. John told Cole that he was being duped, and pushed on his order to retrieve the Sphere. After this, Cole and his best friend Zeke tried to take the Ray Sphere, but failed after the latter betrayed Cole. From then on, John acted prominently as Cole's radio backup and main accomplice during missions. He had assisted Cole in the efforts of retrieving the Ray Sphere, through sabotage of the First Sons' equipment, and also reducing their overall morale. After several missions, they were able to deduce the Ray Sphere's location, and both converged to the location.
Cole arrived at the pier at the Historic District, with John right behind him. The former cleared the way to the Sphere, dealing with every soldier that has been posted, while the latter took cover from the ongoing battle. Arriving at the metal casing of the Ray Sphere, John talked about the aura he got from it the moment he held it in his hands. Not taking any chances, Cole destroyed the Ray Sphere with a Lightning Storm.
Thus the device cracked open, revealing a strong energy vortex. John was pulled into the vortex, every bit of his being torn apart, and faded into nothing. Cole escaped the area before he himself was affected. John was reduced to ashes, though his mind remained dormant, and unknowingly, was able to grasp the power found within the Ray Sphere's vortex.
Kessler told me about you! I'm not gonna let it happen!
― Cole MacGrath, seeing "the Beast" for the first time[src]
After a month, John's subconsciousness was reawakened, and the build-up of power within him caused a destructive vortex to appear nearby Empire City's Archer Square. Cole, who witnessed what had transpired by the docks of the city, rushed back to see what it was. After the initial rebirth, John was transformed into a giant pyrokinetic Conduit rendered in a molten lava-like skin or husk. During his initial rebirth, John's mentality was still fragmented, attacking all those whom he saw as a threat. The initial and most powerful threat at the time was Cole MacGrath, who saw John as the The Beast, a destructive entity seen in a prophetic vision by Kessler. John, while berserk, fought his former friend by a nearly destroyed harbor with his new powers.
Though he fought hard, John was subdued by Cole after the latter called forth a bolt from the sky. As he fell to the murky floor of the harbor, John was able to regenerate himself and managed to stop Cole before he got on the boat. As he held Cole with a killing grip, Cole called forth another bolt as a desperate attempt to be free of the Beast's grasp. With the upper part of his giant new body torn to pieces, both John and Cole fell into the harbor.
As Cole was able to recover from his injuries on board the escaping ship, John, now "the Beast", was able to rebuild himself again with his new powers. Returning to town, he used the strongest of his abilities and destroyed Empire City in a single blast, reducing it to ruins with a death toll in the millions, stated by the USTV with the devastation dubbed "The Empire Event". This resulted in the killing of every living thing without the Conduit gene, while activating the powers of those with the gene.
The destruction of Empire City had an ulterior motive, as John knew about the Ray Field Plague and how it had been ravaging the country, killing nearly everyone. Learning that Conduits are immune to the plague, a new idea began brewing in his head; activate all potential conduits before all of humanity dies from the plague. He decided to ask Cole MacGrath for assistance and went southwards to New Marais, all the while destroying one state after another, activating potential Conduits and killing normal humans. Among the activated conduits included Brooke Augustine and Celia Penderghast. All the while, the news and media were trying to deduce the nature of these deaths and destruction, attributing it to an unnatural phenomena.
John was able to reach New Marais, though he was stalled a few miles away by several hostiles that tried to defeat him.
As he fought them off, Cole and Zeke were preparing to attack the Beast with a nuclear missile while it was still far off from New Marais. After a slight dilemma, the missile launched, and hit John directly, causing him to crumble. As Cole and Zeke reveled in their success however, John was still alive, as another vortex appeared between the two cranes near Cole and Zeke, a sign of the Beast repairing itself. The instability of the vortex proved too much, as it caused an explosion as the two tried to leave. Zeke managed to stay up and followed the Beast into the Gas Works, though disappeared along the way.
You're not a ghost, you must be some sort of Conduit. Why are you here?
It was not until later that John appeared in his humanoid form, right before Cole, who was dealing with a shipment of the Vermaak 88 Conduit units. John tried to explain everything to Cole by improving his senses so he could see the infected plague victims, and directed him to the plague ward where all of the most critical victims were holed up. He made Cole see the victims that he deemed "dead" and directed him to the bearer of the Conduit gene, who was near death. It was there that John demonstrated his powers before Cole, revealing his true nature as the Beast. Witnessing first hand what John could do, Cole was left with the option to help John, who remarked that "humanity is dead" and that the Conduits were the only ones that could be saved.
After a while, John contacted Cole through telepathy, trying to convince him further about his plan. John also explained why he attacked Cole during Empire City, stating that his first time of rebirth was too overwhelming, rendering himself uncontrollable, attacking any nearby forms he saw as a threat. Just then, Zeke contacted Cole, telling him about the Beast, who was killing all the lifeforms present at the rural areas of the city, which consisted mainly of the Corrupted. After this, John left it to Cole to make a choice: save humanity, or join him in saving the Conduits.
I have control now, consciousness. Sometimes it's too much.
― John admitting that he does not want to be a monster, but will do what it takes.[src]
Cole came to a final decision, and decided to fight John with the RFI. Before their final confrontation, John's former partner Lucy Kuo joined him to fight Cole, due to fear of death from the RFI. However, because of a hardware problem, the device needed to be recharged on several substations across the city. When Cole and Nix arrived at the first substation with the rebels, John was nearby, and destroyed the substation before Nix could get to it. The two opted for the second substation at Smut Triangle with the Beast on their tail, as he was able to sense the RFI's presence. John destroyed all of the rebel boats, killing Laroche and his men in the process.
Pursuing Cole and Nix to the next substation, John made his way to their location. With this, John and Cole battled for the second time. John held back, due to only wanting to destroy the RFI and not Cole, allowing Cole to subdue him for a short while. After John shrugged off Cole's Ionic Storm, Nix lunged towards him out of revenge for her pets, destroying herself, though it only stunned John for a moment. Cole, enraged, took the RFI to the last substation at St. Ignatius, after warning John that he was next.
After a few moments, John regained his composure and proceeded to pursue Cole, who had recharged the RFI device completely, overcharging himself in the process. Finally confronting Cole for the last time, both Conduits threw everything they had at each other, with John being utterly defeated in the midst of their battle. Overwhelmed by Cole's power, John stumbles down to the ground before the church, unable to go on fighting. After Cole met with an apologetic Lucy Kuo, John could only watch as Cole activated the RFI, killing most of the Conduits in the radius, including "The Beast" himself.
In Kessler's timeline John became The Beast and apparently carried out his plan to activate the potential Conduits. While Kessler could have stopped him in the early days he chose to flee due to fearing any harm would fall on his family. After years John caused untold destruction to the world and killed Kessler's family, causing him to travel to the past to rewrite history.
Cole I...can't. I can't do this anymore.
― John, after watching Cole kill Zeke.[src]
Cole was convinced that John's plan was the only way anyone would survive the plague, and took Kuo with him to meet up with John. John, who was waiting by the docks at Gas Works, transformed into his giant molten form in order to better amplify Cole's powers. As the two discussed their plans, John was attacked by Nix, who took the RFI before she left Zeke's roof. Cole left John's side and went off to deal with her, decimating a good part of the city. After her first defeat, Cole and John continued their path, along with Kuo.
As the trio arrived at Smut Triangle, John was attacked again by Nix, using the RFI. Cole dealt with her while Kuo covered John, and Cole manages to catch her at the rooftops of St. Ignatius. After one final battle, Cole reluctantly killed Nix and Zeke, took the RFI, and smashed it right before Kuo and John.
Seeing this, John stated that he could no longer handle what must be done. John, who saw Cole's conviction, gave his powers to Cole through his own unknown means. After all of his powers integrated into Cole's, John's body could no longer keep itself together, as he disappeared into nothingness. Cole, now taking on John's role as "The Beast", began traveling the country, activating and recruiting other Conduits to his cause.
Powers and abilities
As a human
John was an experienced agent for the NSA, professing in stealth and working undercover. He was also able to handle firearms, and very minor hand-to-hand combat. John was also an experienced helicopter pilot, as he was able to pilot one while looking for the Ray Sphere in Empire City with Cole. John was also able to rig several recording devices and other gadgets, being able to hide secret messages on audio transmitters all over Empire City, and also plant recording devices on some of the First Sons' facilities. He was also experienced in sabotage, as he was able to instruct Cole on how to take down several of the machines the two encountered in missions, such as the First Sons' air balloons.
As a Conduit
I had to pull myself back together. Do you have any idea how hard that is?
― John White, regarding his rebirth.[src]
- Pyrokinesis: The ability to control fire with one's mind. John and Cole both use this ability to attack with giant balls and pillars of fire that can sink ocean liners and destroy cities in a single blast. The Beast also projects an aura of fiery embers.
- Telepathy: Similar to Sasha's, the Beast can use this to talk directly to Cole through his mind. He could also “sense” the RFI somehow.
- Shape-Shifting: The Beast can grow into a gigantic lava-like incarnate, becoming tall enough to rival skyscrapers and dwarf the buildings of Empire City, casually leveling one by moving. The sky appears to turn a red hue and covered in black clouds when John enters this form. He can also turn himself into a Singularity.
- Weather Manipulation: Can drastically change the weather by transforming. He can cover the sky in dark clouds, and in Kessler's future the Beast could create blizzards, hurricanes, and volcanoes.
- Size Manipulation: Can shift his size from a normal human's height to building sized heights at will.
- Superhuman Strength: Was able to casually throw a giant, building-sized metal statue across Empire City with one hand after he had just reformed. Can casually tear apart an entire shipping dock with his bare hands. He is also capable of nearly killing Cole MacGrath by crushing him in his hands.
- Superhuman Durability: Can shrug off an onslaught of attacks from Cole, taking several direct hits from his Ionic Storm. He also took a direct hit from a 51 kiloton nuclear missile, and proceeded to teleport into the city moments later.
- Gravity Manipulation: Releases a wave of energy that instantly nullifies the effects of gravity within its surroundings. He can also create gravity singularities that suck in all matter and energy.
- Singularity: Creates a localized black hole in his palm to break down and absorb matter and energy. He can also turn his own body into a Singularity.
- Matter Manipulation: John can break down matter and energy and absorb it, being able to rebuild his entire body from a single atom. His Singularity can break down energy such as Cole's electricity, which is comprised of electrons. Can release waves of energy that instantly disintegrate all humans in a large radius. He can also alter the molecular structure of other Conduits such as Cole, so that his body could contain his powers.
- Transmutation: Can convert any matter or energy he absorbs into the lava-esque matter that composes his body.
- Regeneration: The Beast uses absorbed matter to heal any injuries he has sustained, releasing a destructive shockwave in the process. He also stated that he was able to regenerate from a single atomic particle after being torn apart by the Ray Sphere.
- Ray Field Blast: The Beast can channel large amounts of Ray Field energy into a powerful explosion similar to a Ray Sphere blast, activating potential Conduits while killing any nearby humans. The explosions are similar to the Empire City and New Marais Blast. It is possible he gained this ability as the Ray Sphere fused with his body. His blasts are powerful enough to destroy large portions of the U.S. at once, lay waste to the entire East Coast, as well as split the moon in an alternate timeline, and has been stated to be able to destroy the world multiple times.
- Radiation Manipulation and Absorption: The Beast is able to manipulate Ray Field Radiation, and naturally produce it from his body. He also is implied to have absorbed the radiation of a 51 kiloton nuclear missile, which prevented New Marais from being hit with fallout.
- Power Amplification and Nullification: The Beast can use his powers to amplify or weaken any nearby Conduit's abilities, such as Cole's Electric Drain and Static Thrusters. At the beginning of Infamous 2, he drained and broke Cole's powers, requiring him to absorb several Blast Cores to regain his previous level of power. His Singularity can draw in, break down, and absorb any matter or energy attacks that come in range, nullifying them and rendering them completely useless.
- Teleportation: An ability the Beast uses against Cole during their first encounter to instantly teleport across long distances. He also quickly teleported to New Marais after being hit by a nuke.
- Power Activation and Transference: Ability that allows the John to "upgrade" Cole's Radar Pulse ability, allowing him to see the Plague and Conduit Gene inside of individuals. In the Evil ending, John also uses this ability to give Cole the powers of the Beast.
- Flight/Levitation: Both John and Cole have showcased flight and levitation capabilities with the powers of the Beast.
After being trapped into the Ray Sphere's core, John's powers have been activated, and due to his prolonged exposure to the core, the level of his powers are beyond that of any other Conduit.
He possesses great physical endurance, and is the only known Conduit completely invulnerable to conventional weapons.
His most dangerous power is the ability to channel the energy of nearby individuals into a nearby bearer of the Conduit gene, which will activate the bearer's dormant Conduit powers. This ability is similar to the primary function of the Ray Sphere, being able to activate the powers of a Conduit once a sufficient amount of energy has been channeled. At the cost of normal humans, John is able to cause an extremely large and powerful explosion similar to the Ray Sphere Blasts that occurred in Empire City and New Marais, which enables John to convert all of the gene-bearers into Conduits in a short time. The frequency of the Blast can be controlled by John, as seen in his actions at the Plague Ward, where he was able to convert a single Conduit, only causing a small explosion. It is possible that he gained this ability as the Ray Sphere literally became a part of him after tearing him apart.
Appearance and personality
- Cole: "You never told me you were the Beast."
- John: "That name is motivated by fear. Are you afraid, MacGrath?"
- ―A conversation between two old friends, through telepathy.[src]
Before his transformation, John was very dedicated, and shows a great sense of conviction towards his work, despite his lack of support. Due to his workload, his mental state has been a bit unstable, making him extremely paranoid and cautious about every action he makes, which has costed him some opportunities that would have been beneficiary for him (like his extraction from Empire City). Before his supposed "death", John wanted to destroy the Ray Sphere to make sure no more lives will be harmed. After his rebirth however, John utilizes the same power that the Ray Sphere is able to inflict, activating the powers of the bearers of the Conduit gene. Believing it was the best plan to save any lives before the plague kills every living being, John walks the country to convert everyone into Conduits, despite the odds being very uneven.
Despite killing thousands, he did show remorse, even admitting to Cole he was tired and didn't want to kill anymore. He also showed great faith in Cole, believing in his conviction. He showed his trust when cooperating with him to destroy the Ray Sphere, and later in New Marais, when he gives his powers to Cole (Evil karma) in order for him to continue the plan of creating new Conduits and save what was left of humanity.
Before his transformation, John wore an orange jacket under a dark gray coat, paired with jeans and shoes. John wore several headgear during his time undercover, namely a motorcycle helmet and an orange cap. After his transformation, John's iris appear a deep red, and several scars are now visible on his body, roughly matching the cracks in The Beast's skin. He now wears a dark red suit with no undershirt, and is now barefoot. When he transforms into his gigantic form, John appears as a gigantic humanoid made out of molten lava and rocks, with fire pulsing through his system, and his eyes appearing inflamed.
His tone changes between games. During the first game, he has medium-pitched voice and his talking speed is normal. He tries to talk calmly to Cole at times, but there are times where he talks angrily or impatiently, such as when he refused to get picked up by the helicopter in the mission Secrets Revealed. It is likely his tone was driven by a desire to keep calm, however his fear and frustration sometimes breaks through. In the second game however, his voice becomes low-pitched and he talks very slowly as if he has found an inner peace, though with many secrets to tell. His voice doesn't change by mood as it seems he doesn't care about anything anymore apart from awaking dormant conduits.
- John was voiced by Phil LaMarr, who also voiced Virgil Hawkins, the star of the TV show Static Shock; who (coincidentally) had electric superpowers. He also voiced Dr. Ragland in the video game Prototype, a similar open-world superhero video game.
- Hinted by the Dead drop Dr. Wolfe left behind, it is heavily implied that Kessler knew that John was going to be The Beast.
- It is also alluded in John's own Dead Drops in the original Infamous.
- John's appearance in Infamous 2 draws parallels with popular depictions of Satan; namely red eyes and red formal clothing.
- The Beast shares many similar traits to Dr. Manhattan of the Watchmen series:
- Both of them have god-like powers.
- Both of them progressively lost their humanity when gaining their powers.
- Both were torn apart and reformed molecule by molecule.
- Both look similar in physical appearance.
- The Beast also shares similarities with the Phoenix/Dark Phoenix/Phoenix Force from the Marvel comics
- Both have shown the ability to take away for weaken the powers of Conduits/Mutants.
- Both have shown the ability to activate power in Conduits/Mutants (however, the Phoenix doesn't have to kill others to activate the powers)
- Both can materialize.
- Both have two forms, human and "monster" form. While in human form they are considerably weaker and mainly stay away from potential threats, speak to protagonists (Phoenix-Wolverine and Cyclops, Beast-Cole), while in their monstrous forms they're nearly invincible.
- John can be made in the Infamous 2 UGC, but he only functions like a pedestrian with increased health.
- John is one of the three characters in inFamous 2 that dies in both endings. The others are Nix and Laroche.
- Before the release of Infamous 2, John was the most rumored character to be the Beast.
- John, as the Beast, appears briefly in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale where he appears in Evil Cole's Level 3 Super Attack. He is shown giving Cole the powers of the Beast and isn't seen afterward.
- Unlike other Conduits such as Cole/Kessler, and Lucy Kuo who have blue colored eyes upon having their Conduit power activated, John's turns a deep blood red.
- John/The Beast has received poor reception as a final boss, due to the large buildup of the character, only to have a simplistic, repetitive boss fight. Further complaints steam from Bertrand being the primary antagonist for the majority of Infamous 2, with fans claiming the Beast was downgraded to a secondary antagonist.
In Game images
- inFamous 2
- inFamous Post-Blast
- Wright, p. 272