I’ll never forget the first time I saw Battlefield: Bad Company and it’s destruction physics. I was taken aback watching players literally level the playing field. Literally nothing could stand in your way if you had the right equipment. Embark Studios’ “The Finals” gave me the same feeling when I played the open beta back in the fall. With its surprise release on December 7th, I was excited to jump into the game again.
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A Brief Introduction
The Finals is a squad-based shooter developed by Embark Studios, a studio composed of ex Battlefield and Battlefront devs. The game’s approach to combat and environments indicate this pretty clearly out the gate. You are a competitor in a virtual reality game show where contestants fight to win big prize pools, by any means necessary. That’s about as far as any story goes. Environments are nearly fully destructible, with entire buildings being leveled by the end of most matches.
Whether you loved cutting your teeth in the destructive environments of Battlefield or have an affinity for class-based shooters, there’s something for both sides in The Finals. You start by picking between three builds: light, medium, and heavy. Each class has their own unlockable weapons, gadgets, abilities, and playstyles. Wanna tank through structures with a sledgehammer and RPG? The heavy class is perfect for it. Maybe you want to be able to sprint across the battlefield and use a grappling hook to traverse rooftops. The light class is tailor made for that playstyle. Every archetype fills a space and the game never feels very unbalanced. Once you find where you feel comfortable within the competition, the sky’s the limit.
The Main Events
Your typical competition is divided into two modes: Quick Cash and Bank It. In Quick Cash, three teams of three players fight to capture and deposit cases. In the base version of the mode, the first team to deposit two wins. Players rush to the goal, capture it, then have to rush to a deposit box a la capture the flag. Once there, the team securing the objective must defend it for a period of time. This leads to some tense situations and close calls, as enemies can steal your deposit within seconds of it finishing. Bank It is a kill-confirmed take on this base formula.
In Bank It, four teams of three players must earn cash and drop it off for safekeeping to ensure victory. If you’ve played plunder in CoD Warzone or kill confirmed, this mode should be familiar. Like in the other mode, there are objectives you can capture for quick, large sums of cash. However, eliminating other players is a viable option too, as opponents drop any money they hadn’t stored yet. So don’t get too focused on stacking that money, because an opposing team can take everything in a split second. Both modes are equally chaotic and intense, thanks to the game’s battlefield-like destruction physics.
Graphics and Sound
If you’ve played a Battlefield game before, you know how cool a destructible environment can be. A lot can change in a match when entire buildings can topple onto you and your fellow combatants. I don’t know how much I can emphasize this, but the physics of everything in the environment is amazing. The satisfaction of throwing a gas canister at a building and watching an entire chunk of the wall go flying is absolutely satisfying. As far as the graphics themselves, they are pretty gorgeous in my opinion. The environments and characters feel detailed and realistic, yet stylized. While the visuals can be a sight to behold, the sound helps drive the game’s t.v. show aesthetic home.
Every sound effect in The Finals really makes you feel like you’re participating in a gladiator-esque game show. Hearing the cheers of the crowd as my team captured an objective and jackpot sounds after a successful capture is a satisfying dopamine rush. Shots sound punchy and explosions sound as impactful as they look. The music is fitting and well done, but the narration may be a problem. To put it briefly, Embark opted to use AI to portray its announcers. The ethics are this are questionable, but that’s a can of worms for another time. It does slightly dent my opinion on the audio in the game, I will admit.
So, how do I feel after my initial time as a contestant in The Finals? Pretty satisfied. I went in with some high expectations, and Embark Studios delivered. I couldn’t put the game down, and based on the player count many players seem to feel the same. The game takes an interesting concept and executes it chaotically, yet elegantly. My only real gripe is the monetization of cosmetic, but Embark has to make money from a free game somehow. Anyone that is a fan of Battlefield, class shooters, FPS’s, or just free games should give this game a shot. I think you won’t be disappointed.
- Free to Play
- Environments are nearly completely destructible
- A welcome, fresh take on FPS multiplayer
- An absolute blast to play
- Slightly steep learning curve for high-level play
- Self-expression (aesthetic customization) is monetized