A Breath of Fresh Air for a Stagnating Genre
While I occasionally enjoy playing first-person shooters, I’ve always felt that the genre has become stagnant. Recent releases like Call of Duty and Battlefield games seem to offer little more than repetitive, fast-paced gameplay on forgettable maps. That’s why The Finals is such a refreshing change. With its longer time-to-kill, unique objectives, and focus on level destruction, it breathes new life into the genre.
Developed by Embark Studios, this multiplayer shooter is a significant departure from the norm. The effort required to defeat opponents and the ever-changing map means that no two matches feel the same. I recently had the opportunity to get hands-on with the game, and I can attest to the thrilling and emergent moments that organically arise during each match. These experiences have made The Finals some of the most memorable first-person shooter matches I’ve played in years.
If you’re a fan of destructible environments in FPS games and appreciate innovative competitive shooters that don’t simply follow trends, then The Finals is definitely worth checking out.
Map Mayhem: The Primary Mode
The primary mode in The Finals, called Extraction, presents itself as a game show where four teams compete to earn the most money. To achieve this, players must locate vaults on the map, collect cash boxes, and deliver them to the cash-out station. Kills also reward extra money, but a team’s total is halved if they get wiped out. While the basics of FPS gameplay are familiar to anyone who has played games in this genre before, the game’s longer time-to-kill adds a new dynamic and allows players to appreciate the dynamic and reactive world.
I had the chance to play on two maps during the Closed Beta preview build, inspired by Monaco and Seoul. Each map features points of interest connected by indoor arenas and outdoor corridors, typical of FPS maps. However, this layout only remains intact for a short time. Once explosives come into play, the map transforms as buildings crumble and the environment reacts to players’ actions. This transformation is permanent, thanks to Embark Studios’ server-side technology, which tracks and accommodates changes to the map.
The level of destruction in The Finals is unparalleled. While the developers at Embark Studios hope that this technology will make other developers panic, it’s clear that The Finals excels in this aspect. Unlike games that have attempted similar feats, such as Crackdown 3 or Battlefield 2042, The Finals makes destruction not only a technical achievement but also a catalyst for unique and organic gameplay situations.
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For example, while retrieving a cash box and heading to a cash-out station, a building was crumbling under enemy fire. An opponent’s rocket destroyed the pathway my teammates were in, leaving me stranded. Determined to prevent the enemy team from getting the cash box, I threw it across the gap to my teammate, sacrificing myself in the process. I then held off enemies as they delivered the box to the station. Every aspect of the environment reacts to players, especially when flamethrowers or flame grenades are involved. In one memorable moment, my team set most of a park on fire, forcing the opponents into vulnerable positions. Floors crumble, staircases can be destroyed, and the chaos of the map adds excitement and uniqueness to each match.
Leaving Your Mark: Customization and Tactical Elements
The destructibility of The Finals creates compelling dynamics that make players feel like they are actively shaping the world during each match. Customization options allow players to personalize their characters with outfits and special loadouts. Some of these options provide the ability to set down jump pads, ziplines, or use a grappling hook for improved mobility. Additionally, players can equip turrets, barriers, and mines to strategically direct the flow of battle and herd opponents into specific areas of the map. A standout moment for me involved my team calling two elevators in Seoul, only to find that another team had placed a turret in one and occupied the other.
Due to the fluidity of matches and the currency-based objective, teamwork is crucial in The Finals. Players who simply focus on racking up kills won’t find success here. However, skilled players are still rewarded for their abilities, further reinforced by the game’s permanent destruction. This aspect gives each level in every match a personalized feel and adds depth to the overall experience.
Surviving in today’s multiplayer space is a daunting task, especially when the biggest franchises rely on iterating and refining existing ideas. As someone who has struggled to connect with recent Call of Duty or Battlefield games, The Finals’ unexpected gameplay opportunities and impressive destructibility have piqued my interest. I’m excited to give it a try on day one and potentially make it my go-to multiplayer game.
The Finals is currently in development for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X. A Closed Beta for the game will be held from March 7 until March 21.
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This article is written for OnSpec Electronic, Inc..