- The Finals is an online FPS developed by Embark Studios.
- The Finals is the most addicting modern online FPS I have played since Overwatch.
- Embark Studios has employed its expertise from the Battlefield series to create an incredible multiplayer experience.
Like everyone else, I have been spending my free time lately with The Finals. An online FPS developed by Embark Studios, a studio consisting of ex-DICE developers (yes, the Battlefield guys). Also like many other players, I am finding it impossible to pull myself away from it. Every day I open my PC and I see it, like a phantom staring back at me, taunting me to entertain its whimsy and forget about the 5 massive RPGs I have in my backlog.
And that’s okay because The Finals is actually incredible. Unlike other online games, I don’t end a multi-hour session with a defeated and exhausted sigh. I end each session thinking to myself with excitement at the prospect of hopping back in the next day. However, that only makes some of my gripes with the game slightly more disappointing, but that’s a problem to be discussed near the end.
“The Finals” takes some time to properly click. If you’re unlucky like me then you’re not going to see much of its crazy destructibility in action in your earlier matches. You’ll think to yourself “Wow is that really the gimmick they spent all their time hyping up?” You’ll end gunfights angry and frustrated as the high TTK and the higher recoil result in enemies just barely making it past you with a sliver of health.
However, The Finals doesn’t waste much time in showing you what it’s about.
Deja Vu, I Have Been To This Place Before
If you’re familiar with the Battlefield games, you will feel right at home with the guns in The Finals. As a casual Battlefield enjoyer, when I shot my first AK in The Finals, I could immediately feel the similarity. The weapons carry the same kinesthetic feel with the recoil and the sounds as DICE’s iconic military shooter. You’ll see that a lot of Embark’s experience with Battlefield translates into The Finals and, that’s partly what makes it so good.
I also love that not only do the weapons feel powerful but are also genuinely lethal in practice. I was pleasantly surprised when I tried out Medium’s Revolver and one-shotted a light class with a well-placed headshot, or used the light’s double-barreled shotty which puts a heavy into critical HP with two well-placed blasts.
Speaking of classes, one of the aspects that makes The Finals so hard to put down is its class system. I think it’s where part of my inner rogue-like fan comes through. I love trying new playstyles and strategies every few matches. If I’ve played Medium class for the past 3 matches, maybe for this match I’ll shake things up and pick Light. If I get tired of a weapon, I’ll swap out my primary and reserve weapons for the next match and horribly regret it.
That’s part of what makes The Finals so engaging. It always feels fresh, there’s always something new to try out and (at least in the early hours) the progression system ensures you’re consistently unlocking new stuff. It helps that the game is very low commitment and easy to get into. I typically get into matches in 10-20 seconds and within a minute I’m in the game blowing things up and gunning down other players with an MP5.
The Secret Sauce
However, everything I have mentioned up till now is purely surface-level stuff. You could take out nearly everything I’ve said so far and The Finals would still technically work. This is because of two things that are at the center of this game. The destructibility and the game modes that facilitate it. Embark has taken what made Battlefield’s most iconic feature and has elevated it to an unprecedented degree.
It’s one of those moments that genuinely make me stop in awe and gawk at the sheer technological leap we’ve made over the past generations. Sure, we’ve seen the Eiffel Tower fall in Call of Duty and Battlefield has had its fair share of set pieces over the years but those moments were always scripted. The destructibility in The Finals is caused entirely by you and your opponents.
Maps feel like canvases that you paint through with modern explosives, and the ultimate result is always a building crashing down on itself, believe me when I say that it never, ever gets old.
If you haven’t played The Finals, it is something that truly needs to be seen to be believed. I previously said that in their first few matches, players will consider it to be a simple marketing gimmick, but the first time you use a breaching charge or an RPG to bring down the objective to capture it under the enemy’s noses, that’s when The Finals goes from good to a f***ing masterpiece.
However, none of this would matter if it weren’t for the game modes. There are two game modes in The Finals: “Quick Cash“, which works like a mixture of Capture the Flag and Domination, and “Bank It“, which is a more involved version of Kill Confirmed from Call of Duty. This piece will mostly deal with the former, as that’s the one I have the most time in.
Quick Cash has quickly become one of my favorite game modes in any game. It teethers gracefully between fast-paced action and slow-methodical gameplay. How Quick Cash works is that a vault spawns at a certain point on the map. The objective is to get there and activate the vault which takes a little while. Until then, every player can see that the vault is being taken and they’ll do their absolute best to ambush you and take it for themselves.
Once the vault breaks, a cash container pops out which has to be taken to a Cashout machine a good distance from the vault. You pop the container into the machine and then have to defend it from being stolen by other players. After this, every player on the map will immediately zero in on your position while you play defense forcing the winning team into slower methodical gameplay.
This is also where destructibility starts playing its role as an actual game mechanic. Smart players will use explosives to create openings and flanking routes to steal the cash. There’s nothing more satisfying than blowing a hole in the roof to bring the machine down to a lower floor while the enemy team is distracted, then quickly hijacking the machine and successfully getting the cashout at the last second.
It works particularly well as a game mode in The Finals because of how it tricks players to cooperate with each other. That’s because even random strangers have an actual incentive to play as a team thanks to the ingenuity of the respawn mechanic.
See, it works like this: If one of your teammates dies, they drop their emblem that you can revive. If no one can revive you, you’re out of the game for a good while, but things start getting spicy once the entire team dies. Say, your teammates are 5 seconds away from respawning, and you’re the last member alive, dying means that you just reset the respawn timer of your entire team. This puts more pressure on each player to play together.
If that’s all that was in The Finals I don’t think I would have much bad to say about it. Unfortunately, there’s more.
Robots And Battle Passes
While I hate battle passes in online games with a burning passion, I understand it a lot more for a game that’s free to play. The battle pass for The Finals features a bunch of really cool stuff, so it’s one of the rare times I have wanted to shell out the cash for it. But what I hate about this pass, is the sheer grind that it would take to level this thing to the max.
The way the battle pass works is that players have to do daily and weekly challenges that reset…well…daily and weekly. The problem is that it takes really, really long to level this thing up. It’s hard to get more than a single level up with the XP you get through daily challenges, and there’s no other way to gain Battle Pass progression as far as I can tell.
It’s a shame because The Finals is already the kind of game that I would play for a hundred hours and more. I already love this game enough to want to return to it every day, but I have zero motivation for it if it’s going to function like its own second job. I genuinely hope that Embark reconsiders their battle pass progression with future updates.
have people just given up on having a moral stance with AI stuff cuz idk like yeah the finals has interesting tech but there's also like 600 games you didnt play last year that are more interesting and don't very willingly support garbage labor practices
— Aura (@aurahack) January 5, 2024
My final major caveat is the voice acting. This might be beating a dead horse, but cutting corners to use AI voice acting in a game that gets so much right and is so rich with effort honestly confounds me. The only thing it does is add a major blemish to an otherwise great product.
Despite the caveats, I love The Finals. It is held back by some small problems like poor battle pass progression and atrocious AI announcer dialogue. While I’m sure that Embark will fix the Battle Pass, I fear that there is a lot less hope for them replacing AI with actual voice actors.
All-in-all, thanks to some truly novel ideas, The Finals feels like the “next big thing” in the online FPS market and I couldn’t be happier. I haven’t been this sucked into an online FPS since Overwatch in 2016. I truly hope the momentum of this game continues and it stays relevant over the coming years.
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