The Finals is a fast-paced first-person shooter that focuses on arcade-y game styles and game-show mechanics. What makes it unique is that everything, and I mean everything, can be destroyed. It’s a lot to take in, but after playing a bunch of it, all of the elements manage to work really well together when the game isn’t stuttery and buggy.
All For The Fame
The premise of The Finals is that you’re a contestant in a virtual combat entertainment game show. You compete for fame, money, and the opportunity to get generous sponsors on your side. Developer Embark Studios has said The Finals was inspired by The Hunger Games, Gladiator, and other arena-style competitions. You can customize your own Competitor, which is pretty cool though the options are fairly limited.
The maps in The Finals matches take place in real-life locations that have dynamic time of day and weather conditions like fog and rain that are randomized each time you start a new game. I played in Monaco, a more horizontal close-quarters map, and Seoul, a vertical map with lots of height and layers to play on.
Clock in, Cash Out
The Finals has lobbies of four teams of three vying for the most amount of money cashed in. So the only way to earn points for your team is to bank money. Throughout the map there will be Vault spawns that teams can capture. Once you unlock the cash in the Vaults you have to carry the box of cash in your hand, so whoever is carrying the cash cannot use their weapons, but does have free range of movement like climbing, ziplining, jump padding, and running.
With the box of cash in hand, you have to run it to a Cashout location where you can bank the money for your team and move up in the leaderboard. Securing the actual deposit for your team takes a long time. So you can choose to stay and defend it from enemy teams that may try to steal the upload, or you can try to run and grab more cash or steal someone else’s upload. While the actual deposit time seemed a little too long, I did really enjoy the aspect of potentially being able to steal someone’s $30,000 deposit from them last second because we were able to hijack the upload right before it finished.
In the Tournament mode, the matches are basically the same but they start with a Knockout Round where the top two winners from the lobbies move on and continue on till a winner is announced. So the matches are a bit longer in terms of time length just due to being roped into an actual tournament formatted game.
Adding to the Hunger Games-like competition, there are announcers who commentate on the game, noting which teams have been wiped, random events that may start, such double damage, and when a team has successfully cashed out. It’s a fun mechanic that I actually really enjoyed since it prevented any team from just camping out somewhere and hiding since the announcers would tell everyone in the lobby what was happening.
Insert Coin To Play
The Finals isn’t a battle royale; it allows for multiple respawns whether or not your team revives you through a timer that counts down and requires you to “enter coin” to respawn once that timer is gone. You have a limited amount of respawns, two per person in the Standard Quickplay matches, but again your teammates can revive you at any point. In Tournament matches, you have two respawns per person as well but can get one extra coin each time you qualify for the next round. To encourage your teammates to revive you, they can even drag your trophy around to get to a safer position to get you back in the fight.
Speaking of picking up trophies, you can pick up virtually (pun intended) anything in the environment. As with the usual game logic, you can pick up flammable canisters and throw them at walls to destroy them or throw them at players to injure them. There are also toxic gas canisters and The Finals’ signature Goo containers you can throw to utilize as well.
The Goo containers, grenades, and guns utilize The Finals’ concept of this weird expanding foam looking wall. It looks like a little plush cloud barrier that deploys and hardens as it lands and provides you a bit of cover. It seems pretty cool but I didn’t find myself using it too much.
The most unique aspect of The Finals is the fact that everything can be destroyed. All the walls, buildings, new Goo element… you name it. The destruction happens server-side, so everyone experiences the same destruction in the same lobby. It’s easily the most fun aspect of The Finals where you can run around and literally take the ground away from an enemy team and snatch their money from them.
This makes The Finals stand out from any other shooter where you have to be strategic with where you position yourself or breach a room from. Here, you can breach wherever you want and no corner is safe. You simply cannot play The Finals like your typical shooter and I love that about it. It’s chaotic and unpredictable which is really refreshing for a first-person shooter. No more camping out in corners when you can just RPG the floor and walls to expose the enemy team trying to cash out.
Of course, with fully-destructible environments, there is a good and bad side to the chaos that creates. The good side is that you can constantly confuse and terrify your enemies as you destroy the ground they stand on and bash through any walls between you and them. The bad side is that while you’re confusing your enemies, you’re probably also going to confuse yourself and create an environment where you can’t see a single damn thing around you.
There were several points in matches where there would be so much destruction I could not see my teammates or enemies or where I was and I was just always falling through the ground. I don’t feel that this is a terrible thing, but it’s a lot of visual clutter and will most likely be extremely overwhelming to new players trying to learn the game and get a bearing for how gunplay and movement work. Maybe with more time in the game it’ll get easier to understand, like with Overwatch or Apex, but it was definitely a lot when trying to get my feet underneath me.
The chaos is fun to deal with when I can actually play, though. In the original first preview version I played that was only open to a few press and influencers, it ran perfectly and never stuttered – even with the wild amounts of destruction that took place around me. However, in the current Closed Beta that players can enter by registering on Steam, performance has a huge step back that I can’t believe is the same game.
I can barely get 30fps especially when any destruction happens. The game looked like a slideshow at times and even when turning everything down to low and on Performance mode, The Finals just couldn’t keep up. There was also this awful static noise that constantly ran in the background of the game sounds that gave me a headache after trying to battle frame rates and game issues.
Choose Your Contestant
The equipment, abilities, and competitors are all great but they do leave a bit to be desired. You can customize your Contestant, your character, and choose between three builds (classes basically). These three base body builds have different speeds in running, HP levels, and select access to items,weapons, and signature abilities:
Light, Medium, Heavy Builds
- Light Build
- 150 HP, Fastest running speed, Sniper and Sub Machine Gun specialty
- Medium Build
- 250 HP, Balanced running speed, Assault Rifle and Shotgun Grenade Launcher specialty
- 350 HP, Slowest running speed, Light Machine Gun and Grenade Launcher specialty
While the different abilities and signature weapons were cool, there was a heavy imbalance that was clear from the start. Having a build that is so small that the hitbox is almost impossible to hit was a huge problem, especially given that the Light build can run much faster than the other builds. So not only could they dodge bullets faster but they could also just dodge them easier with their default hitbox.
The Medium build had an issue where their healing stream was incredibly fast and efficient and would almost instantly heal your teammates. So if you had a dedicated healer, you could essentially never die. That and if you paired a Medium build with another Medium build, you could just have two healers on a Heavy build and never go down.
Speaking of the Heavy build, this is where the real problem lies. The Heavy gets access to a wall that basically is like Reinhardt’s shield where it stops bullets from hitting you but also allows your teammates to shoot through it. And the Heavy’s exclusive gun is the six-round Grenade Launcher that I found most players spamming since it knocks down walls, buildings, anything and also injures players heavily.
There was no cap on how many players in a team could be a type of class, so virtually you could stack all Heavy or all Medium, or all Light if you wanted with the same guns. So I ran into a lot of teams running one Medium and two Heavy players to spam the grenade launcher while their Medium healed the Heavies who were then shielding their team from damage. With each update that The Finals implemented, it seemed that the game really struggled with finding balance with weapons and Builds. In the current closed beta, there are far too many one shot weapons that completely suck the wind out of getting into a fair fight.
Time of Day Changes
The time to kill also never found its footing since the beta was completely different from the preview build and the balance kept shifting. I’d find myself having to switch to whatever gun was the most overpowered in that fresh update and use that while still getting one shot by the same weapon. I was incredibly frustrated just trying to spawn in and play the game and my teammates would often disconnect and just start a new game.
The Finals is also hampered by destructible environments and visual clutter adding to the time to kill, since it’s incredibly easy for enemies to run away and recover health when you can’t see anything.
Otherwise, though, The Finals is a fun, fast-paced game that I really want to enjoy and see succeed ,but the balancing issues are very noticeable and make it frustrating to play and enjoy. However, the team at Embark were very quick to take feedback and make adjustments to the balancing issues with guns and abilities that show promise of The Finals being able to survive in the FPS world.
I genuinely want The Finals to live in the current FPS space. The amount of ambition in the game is exciting to see and it’s fun to play but there is a big potential that The Finals will not be able to find its footing with balancing to last as a major FPS competitor. I have major concerns about the way the game is being “balanced” in each minor patch but it’s still in beta so I’m giving it a chance. There was also no mention of how much the battlepass will be or how much cosmetics will cost once it leaves the beta so how the monetization will work is unclear.
The Finals is at the very least a unique take on the FPS space with strong mechanics, movement, and gunplay, but the current bugs and performance issues make me want to stay away until I know I can spare my eyes from 15fps. It was a huge disappointment to see the preview build and public beta build be completely different and full of many more issues.
Embark being quick to adjust to feedback does make me hopeful, but live service games are extremely difficult to keep up with on the developer and player sides. We’ll see what kind of audience The Finals ultimately attracts and holds after the beta and the full release.
Stella is a Video Producer, Host, and Editor at IGN. Her gameplay focus is on competitive FPS games and she’s previously reviewed Apex Legends, Hyper Scape, Halo Infinite Multiplayer, and Battlefield 2042. She regularly hosts and shoutcasts competitive Apex Legends and Halo Infinite tournaments when she isn’t streaming on her Twitch channel after work outs. You can follow her on Twitter @ParallaxStella.
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