Finals offers a rare innovation in the competitive multiplayer genre, encouraging creative strategies impossible in other titles due to its vast environmental destruction, physics-based hazards, and arsenal of whimsical gadgets. This first-person shooter takes place amid a digital game show where different counts of three-person teams fight over collections of money in an objective-focused format. Finals are unpredictable in the best way: gameshow events like meteors or orbital lasers reshape previously memorized routes, map variants like moving platforms or suspended structures can obscure objectives, and your team’s best defensive plans are often disrupted as explosives obliterate buildings. around you.
Developer Embark Studios showcases its mastery of the Unreal engine with gorgeously lit, fully destructible level designs that are awe-inspiring to manipulate. The four maps at launch – Monaco, Las Vegas, Seoul, and Skyway Stadium – require different strategies and feature random elements to make each match impressively dynamic. You can load a map and find it under construction or unrecognizable, such as when sandstorms cover Vegas with enormous dunes.
The game consists of three distinct classes: heavy, medium and light. Heavies can equip a rocket-propelled grenade, flamethrower, energy shield, massive sledgehammer, or glue gun that allows the user to create temporary walls and cover. Mediums more closely resemble a support role, featuring a healing beam, automatic turret, zipline systems, jump pads, and the option to equip defibrillators for quick resuscitation. Lastly, the Light class specializes in grappling hook traversal and multiple invisible gadgets. Each character is satisfying to explore, offering numerous possibilities for emergent gameplay. Witnessing amazing synergies such as using a heavy rocket to bounce an object onto the medium’s well-equipped jump pad towards the opposite side of the arena – an ATM-like mission – energizes and intrigues me. Ultimately, team collaboration is critical to finding success in The Finals as the skill ceiling is greatly increased with these powerful tool combinations.
Disrupting an enemy team’s attempt to steal an objective (an ATM-like device) by blasting the ground from below with an RPG or C4 pack and ambushing them as they drop unexpectedly low is incredibly satisfying. On the flip side, you can avoid a dangerous fall with a well-timed goo grenade, which creates a temporary floor or bridge that didn’t exist before. The reactive, high-level tactics that the physics system facilitates remind me of the steep decisions that define the best fighting games.
Ignoring current multiplayer trends, Finals features sturdier health bars, longer respawn times, the exclusion of multiple weapon slots, and the lack of scopes on most guns. While sometimes tricky when using iron sights on larger weapons like the M60 light machine gun because the optic’s alignment marks obscure my view, I appreciate Embark’s commitment to innovation through these options, as they reinforce the focus on gadgets, environmental degradation, and creativity. Strategies emerge from the intersection of those features.
However, in a game with so many well-designed features, Embark’s generative AI use of text-to-speech voicework is unimpressive. The gameshow’s characters sound believable at best but fall broadly flat due to one-note performances and mediocre writing. Additionally, I heard fake voice lines multiple times, rendering the developer’s use of generative art largely pointless.
Notably, cosmetic microtransactions are fairly priced and offer robust character customization. Whether earning a new skin through the Battle Pass or buying it from the in-game shop, you can equip different parts of the outfit and combine them with others. Despite the slow progression of the Battle Pass, which I hope will be adjusted in the future, the mix and matchmaking nature of its rewards makes them exciting to unlock.
Finals gave me my favorite multiplayer moments of 2023. Whether actively engaging in vertical combat or excitedly scaling rooftops on the way to the next target, navigating the environment is incredible and the thrill of seeing the ground beneath my feet is amazing and never gets old. In a year of amazing video game releases, The Finals is another highlight.