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The online shooter space has never felt so contested. With studios both new and established attempting to woo gamers with battle passes and cosmetics, the competition is cutthroat. New titles crawl over the spent shells of once-thriving shooters. The Finals arrives as an interesting mixture of the two, thanks to the ex-Battlefield and Battlefront developers at Embark Studios. It’s got plenty of destruction in its DNA but that’s just one part of its combat loop.
Every second is charged with the spirit of The Finals’ 3v3v3 tussles across its coin smash-and-grab modes. With each burst of adrenaline comes an opportunity to steal an opponent’s victory or become a part of it. It didn’t take long for me to wonder if lacking a dull moment was a bad thing. After all, many games take their time to flesh stories out around their setpieces. But in The Finals, every moment feels like a setpiece of your own making.
Its moment-to-moment gameplay feels slick, complete with satisfying weapons and gadgets. Gone are the mouthfuls of assault rifle names like those in Call of Duty. Instead, The Finals keeps each weapon distinct like those of Halo Infinite (RIP Needle Rifle). Destruction plays a big role across its modifier-riddled maps. Watch out for meteors or a massive rubber duck that can terraform the entire map. Walls are dropped, roofs broken into, and entire buildings can be leveled to confuse an enemy team. Goo grenades and barrels let you create new blocks to bury and secure the Cashout Station or provide cover against threats.
Pair that with less offensive vandalism like shooting off ladders or drawbridge buttons and there’s a lot of player agency here. Explosions sound as crunchy as you expect alongside recognizable gunshots and enemy callouts. Controversial AI voice usage aside, Dice’s former sound director Andreas Almström and their team have worked wonders here. But despite these map modifiers, the maps tend to feel stale after a couple of rounds compared to the likes of Team Fortress 2 and Overwatch.
Fortunately, the two core modes available in The Finals don’t let you pause to smell the roses. Quick Cash tasks your team with collecting a vault and depositing it at a designated Cashout Station. Both of these tasks cost precious seconds, moments enough for a rival team to contest your claim. A shared win condition means that things get heated right from the get-go. Stealing the deposit doesn’t reset the timer, making thievery a rather tempting proposition.
Bank It is the second mode and it offers even more potential for chaos. In addition to vaults, player kills drop coins that can also be banked at Cashout Stations that appear at random for a short time. By rewarding combat directly, expect more firefights over valuable players than regular vault-hunting in Bank It. Depositing players are vulnerable pickings for coordinated teams, especially vultures that haven’t had much luck with deposits themselves.
While losing your hard-earned progress can feel infuriating, diving back into the game and pulling off a near-impossible comeback is downright euphoric. This cat-and-mouse business forms the crux of The Finals’ PvP game loop. Much of the standard multiplayer busywork is tossed out. There’s no ammo to keep track of, no supply boxes to restore throwables. Every Contestant gets access to three gadgets that simply work on a cooldown.
As for how team composition is settled, players get to pick from three classes: Light, Medium, and Heavy. Each has three specializations that offer unique abilities that aid specific playstyles. While the beta had players largely preferring the Heavy’s massive health pool and explosive grunt, the game’s ironed out most of its balance issues now. While the Light class has as much health as a housefly as they zip about with a grappling hook, a sniper, a shotgun, or even a sword let them dish out some serious punishment.
As for the Medium class, it gives players a chance to pick between a healer, defender, and support character. Players are comically reduced to plastic figurines on death, letting teammates revive them as the toys roll across the floor. Defibrillators do this instantly and the Medium class can pair this with a Healing Beam to become a field medic. But if you don’t want to babysit, their Gas Mines and Jump Pads can be used for zoning or mobility too.
After some flamboyant swordplay and medic duty, I settled on the explosive Heavy. RPG launchers tend to be rare in most shooters but The Finals gives you one with infinite ammo on a cooldown. In addition to a large health pool to tank hits, the Heavy class can also charge through walls or create a barrier of his own that lets friendly bullets through. In the weapons department, Heavies get to pick from LMGs, a flamethrower, and a sledgehammer. I grew fond of the Lewis Gun that trades the M60’s ammo count for accuracy and damage. Each class puts your Contestant on a game show podium, ready for a challenge.
Matchmaking is solid, with rounds starting seconds after I queued up. Thanks to the ping system implemented at launch, I could communicate with my team without resorting to voice chat. Sure, not everyone listened but the occasional patch of teamwork or a stealthy revive felt great to witness. The generous upgrade system gives you the gear you want in a couple of matches. As for the battle pass and paid cosmetics, nothing felt out-of-line for a free-to-play game. The only downside I noticed was that matches didn’t refill squads when a player left, making for uneven matches with little hope for glory.
The Finals’ live commentary tiptoes between comic relief and being obnoxious. But I’ll admit that it helps with map awareness, particularly when teams are wiped and revived. That’s important because a lot is going on in every second of a match. Buildings crash to the ground, turrets and mines go off on unsuspecting players, and windows shatter with Contestants holding onto vaults like a basketball. A lot of it feels inspired by Battlefield and Apex Legends but The Finals weaves its funky charm around that sense of familiarity.
I expect more modes and weapons to arrive with time since the current offering of two modes feels sparse. Picture Halo’s Grifball mode but with vaults that need to be held at specific locations to score points. Turning them into a melee weapon would be sweet. The tournament mode with its limited revives and costly team wipes across its qualifying ladder felt a little too sweaty for my taste. But those constraints made victory even sweeter when we knocked out a team just as skilled as mine.
Few games pair destruction so well with moving objectives and its aesthetic choice feels fresh even amidst other vibrant online shooters. With loadouts to assemble and coordinated teams laughing to the bank, every breath of The Finals’ destruction does justice to its game show ambitions.
Reviewed on PC.