THE FINALS has everything it needs to be the next big thing
Launching a brand new live service first-person shooter in 2023 is no easy feat. With only so many hours in the day, carving out a piece of the pie in a player’s daily routine is a tough nut to crack.
THE FINALS has been on the radar for a while, with developer Embark Studios hosting several play sessions for the game throughout the year. Following a surprise stealth launch at The Game Awards 2023, it’s available to play right now, and we think it’s got absolutely everything it needs to be the next big thing.
The gameplay concept of THE FINALS is a bit of a competitive spin on Capture the Flag. Groups of three battle it out in replica environments of iconic cities, all encased in literal arenas that tower over the play area. Spurred on by the roaring crowds above, these teams must fight it out to collect deposit boxes of cash and deliver them to a cashout station.
The catch is that both deposit boxes and cashout stations are in limited supply, so teams are constantly scrapping for possession. Once you’ve delivered a deposit to cash out, the story doesn’t end there. You must defend these small towers for a good couple of minutes, otherwise, an enemy team can come along and steal the money.
Don’t tap it, whack it
This all sounds fairly run-of-the-mill first-person shooter action until you consider the incredible environmental destruction and gadgetry that’s on offer here, too. Anything in THE FINALS can be blown up or smashed through, be it a wall, ceiling, or entire building.
This opens up the skill ceiling massively - both literally and figuratively. You’re still going to come out on top if you have good aim, but in a recent preview, my squad was able to make it to the final round of the tournament mode based on mostly good tactics.
In one scenario, an enemy team had begun a cashout at a deposit box on the top floor of a building. While they were distracted by a third party, we decided to sneak to the floor underneath, blow through the ceiling with C4, and steal the cashout station once it had fallen down to our level. Ultimately, it won us the round.
In another instance, we were able to blow up the surrounding area of our captured cashout station to create an area that was far more defensible. Lining it all with explosive mines, gave us a far greater advantage in the ensuing gunfights. We might not have had an esports-level aim, but THE FINALS enabled us to use our nouse to counteract that.
There are only three maps at launch, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this might get a bit repetitive. Embark has also worked in plenty of random weather effects like sandstorms and different times of day to liven things up a bit. Additionally, random game modifiers might kick in at any time. In our preview session, we had the likes of a meteor shower and orbital lasers rain down from above, which really added to the tension.
What I love the most about THE FINALS so far is how energetic it is in its design and presentation. The game looks photorealistic, and you will need a fairly beefy PC to back those visuals up. However, both the character, map, and cosmetic designs are all dripping with colour and personality.
Taking a look at Season 1’s first season pass, we were able to spec out our characters to look like adorable fox characters or wacky aliens. It’s not difficult to see the inspiration taken from Fortnite, which also features equally bizarre cosmetic items. It all makes sense in the spectacle of the gameshow, however, and I can see Embark running a successful live service if it continues to deliver on these stunning designs.
As mentioned at the top of this piece, the Swedish team has a tough nut to crack if it wants to make THE FINALS a new mainstay in the shooter space. Thankfully, I think it’s almost certainly a winner. The gunplay feels tight and snappy, as does the movement. There’s a good level of customisation to both character loadouts as well as the way they look.
What’s more, every match feels uniquely different, and just as exhilarating each time. It reminds me of times gone by playing Battlefield when those organic water-cooler moments would happen purely because the sandbox of the game would allow them to take place.
This makes complete sense given much of the talent at Embark is derived from the DICE team of old - the one that made Battlefield 3 and 4, specifically. If there’s a team to put your trust in to deliver a hard-wearing shooter experience that will stand the test of time, it’s this one.
THE FINALS launches as a free-to-play title today, December 8th 2023, following its official reveal at The Game Awards 2023. It’s available to play on Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, and PC.
For more helpful THE FINALS guides, we have plenty more coverage here on GGRecon.