THE FINALS Season 2 lets players channel their inner Miley Cyrus

THE FINALS Season 2 lets players channel their inner Miley Cyrus
Images via Embark Studios

Written by 

Lloyd Coombes

Published 

13th Mar 2024 16:00

The history of gaming is littered with games that burned brightly but burned out too quickly. For every Apex Legends there's a Hyper Scape, for every Fortnite there's something close to The Cycle.

Few games hit harder last year on the free-to-play scene than THE FINALS, though, and developer Embark Studios certainly deserves its flowers. There's nothing like it, a destructive playground that's full of tactical (and architectural) possibilities. Ahead of Season 2's launch this week, I went hands-on with an early build, and left knowing for certain that Embark is truly at the top of its game right now.

Break the walls down

Horizon Map in The Finals Season 2
Click to enlarge

Destruction is core to THE FINALS, and that's always been one of its killer features. Defending a cash station is a lot harder when enemies can come from every angle, but if you were starting to feel a little like you'd seen everything the game has to offer then I have good news.

The new 'hacked' narrative setup in Season 2 isn't just set dressing - it plays a core role in the new equipment which is drastically more "off the wall" than your goo grenades and gas mines.

Take the data reshaper, for example, which can turn enemy mines and defences into random pieces of furniture. Heavys gain a new Anti-Gravity Cube that can let teammates float up to new areas, or keep anyone from getting close to the cash station.

Horizon map gameplay from The Finals Season 2
Click to enlarge

My favourite, though, is a new Dematerializer tool for Mediums that lets them slip a temporary hole in a wall or floor, drop a grenade through, and then close it up. You can also use it to drop the cash station before covering your tracks, which is ideal when the other two teams are duking it out and no one is watching the objective.

The best place to showcase much of this is the new SYS$HORIZON map, which eschews the current map theming of clean surfaces and a stadium interior to go full synth wave, rainbow backdrop and all.

It's a partially loaded virtual space, and that means there are chunks 'unfinished'; platforms hang in the air, glass is digitised, and I honestly think it'll be hard to go back to the prior maps just because it stands out so nicely.

Came in like a wrecking ball

Power Shift gameplay from The Finals Season 2
Click to enlarge

For all of the new equipment, weapons, and new map, though, the thing I'm most excited about in THE FINALS Season 2 is the new mode, Power Shift.

Think of it like a Push match in Overwatch, as players participate in a 'tug of war' to nudge a platform closer to their side of the map. The difference here though is that the path the platform takes, while predetermined, will move through buildings and eventually start to climb higher.

That makes this 5v5 mode drastically more chaotic, as players clamber aboard to set traps and hold their position, all while the bright yellow platform swings through buildings with reckless abandon, bringing whole structures down.

Click to enlarge

It's electric to see in motion, and more than a little chaotic, but by timing the moments you jump on the platform, keeping traps in your loadout, and knowing when to get out and snipe down on it, you can create these wild ambushes that will keep opposing players guessing. You can even take cover underneath the platform and wait for your chance to strike.

Given the technical detail that must have gone into having this game-critical objective move through platforms, it's astonishing Embark was able to pull it off - and that's without factoring in the 5v5 combat going on around it.

Final Thoughts

I've been enjoying THE FINALS on and off with friends, usually playing when we fancy something more objective-focused. Now, though, the inclusion of Power Shift may just make it a more permanent fixture for more casual gameplay nights, too.

It's been a while since I came away from a seasonal preview of any game with such a big grin on my face, but those crazy folks at Embark have done it again. The only challenge now will be topping this with Season 3 someday.

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Previewed on PC.

Lloyd is GGRecon's Editor-in-Chief, having previously worked at Dexerto and Gfinity, and occasionally appears in The Daily Star newspaper. A big fan of loot-based games including Destiny 2 and Diablo 4, when he's not working you'll find him at the gym or trying to play Magic The Gathering.