The Finals: Esports’ Next Big Thing

Ashley_Buckwell
edited February 26 in Gaming

The Finals is a unique new free-to-play online FPS that has blown up in popularity in the last few months. The game was released on December 7, 2023, and has skyrocketed in popularity since then, topping charts the world over as players become all too eager to get a taste of its competitive action. The Finals sees teams of three battling it out for cash in hectic scenes of destruction and teamwork. Players must steal cash from vaults and exfiltrate it via cashout stations to win. Alternatively, players can kill other teams and steal their cash. The game’s moment-to-moment gameplay feels slick and is complete with satisfying weapons and gadgets, and 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 players create new blocks to bury and secure cashout stations or provide cover against threats. In short, The Finals is one of the most exciting new multiplayer FPSs we’ve seen in quite a while.

The Finals was created by and is the debut title from Embark, a Stockholm-based studio that was founded by senior Battlefield and Battlefront developers and is backed by Nexon. The studio’s two cofounders (Patrick Söderlund and Robert Runesson) both left their prior roles with Battlefield in 2018 and bring plenty of experience with large-scale urban combat.

The Finals storyline

The Finals is a competition set in a virtual world where contestants from all over the globe compete for fame. Contestants plug into the world while commentators narrate the events that take place. The game doesn’t have a traditional story mode—it primarily focuses on the multiplayer action component.

Tidbits of lore do emerge. For example, the commentators at certain moments mention that a certain team’s sponsors spoke highly of them. You really have to look for that lore though. As for whether or not The Finals will get more story content later on remains to be seen.

The Finals gameplay

With your group of three, the objective in The Finals is to try and withdraw cash from a vault (an ATM-like machine), bring it to a cashout station, and defend the cashout station while the cash is being withdrawn from the game. It sounds simple, except you have other teams gunning for that money. These other teams can steal the money you’re cashing out after a certain period unless you stop them.

What makes The Finals so unique is that it offers players multiple ways of traversing the map and of achieving objectives. The world is dynamic and impressively destructible. With explosives and special player abilities, floors or entire buildings can be demolished, allowing a vault or cashout station to fall to a different floor or to the ground amongst the rubble. It’s chaotic in the best way possible.

The game allows for so many avenues for attack that every match feels completely different from the next. For example, you can stand on the floor above a vault’s location and use a rocket-propelled grenade to break the ground below you, at which point you can descend upon an unsuspecting team and steal the vault they're defending before they know what hit them. You can use a grapple to fly through windows like Batman, use a goo gun to block off an area, or break down a zipline currently being ridden by enemies. The options are endless.

Three builds

Players choose between three contestant builds, each with their own unique abilities and sets of weapons and equipment.

  • Light build contestants: are best suited for close-range combat because they move the fastest; however, they have the lowest health, starting at 150 points. 
  • Medium build contestants: use short to medium range weapons and start with 100 more health points than do light build contestants. Medium build contestants generally provide support to other players. 
  • Heavy build contestants: move more slowly than do the other builds but arrive with a hefty 325 health points. Their focus is defense and demolition with heavier weapons.

Unlocking new equipment and weapons for the three builds is relatively easy, and the different weapons and builds are well balanced. That being said, going in with a well-rounded team works best. Teams that consist of three light builds may have trouble stealing vaults or cashout stations or surviving gunfights, whereas teams of three heavy builds will have a hard time getting to certain locations.

Four maps

The Finals features a handful of completely destructible maps for players to battle it out in, with four maps available in Season 1:

  • Seoul sees players battle it out across skyscrapers in the South Korean capital city. It’s a hectic map that encourages close-range combat. 
  • Monaco is a more open-ended map set on the streets of the titular city with far fewer buildings getting in the way compared with Seoul. However, it’s still completely destructible and caters to all playstyles. 
  • Las Vegas is packed with wide casinos, underground sections, and plenty of interiors to destroy. It can be a tough map, especially if you get caught out of cover or if your cover gets blown up. 
  • Skyway Stadium is a lot like the Monaco map but with less buildings. It has high rise office buildings to blow up and a section of low rise residential buildings. You can travel between the commercial and residential sections via bridges and jump pads.

Three game modes

The three game modes in The Finals are as follows:

  • Quick cash: players have to extract two of three vaults on the map. Each vault contains $10,000. Players fight in a trio against two other teams of three. 
  • Bank it: four trios compete in 15-minute rounds to collect as many coins as possible. The trio that first raises $40,000 or that has the highest amount by the end of the round wins. Bank it is the best game mode if you want a casual game that rewards kills. 
  • Tournament: unranked tournament mode involves an 8-team playoff bracket, and ranked tournament mode involves a 16-team playoff bracket. Four teams compete in each round, with the top two teams in each round progressing to the next round, and the bottom two teams dropping out of the match. Teams that place in the top 2 two games in a row (or three for ranked mode) reach The Finals—hence the name of the game—where they square off against only one other team.

Matchmaking in The Finals is solid, with rounds starting mere seconds after queuing. Thanks to the ping system, teammates can communicate with each other without having to resort to voice chat. The game has punishing spawn timers—if your team gets wiped out, the enemy can use the time you’re spawning to cash out or steal your loot, and you won’t be able to do anything about it. On top of that, you may spawn far away from your objective.

The Finals graphics and audio: a gorgeous free-for-all 

The Finals has a vibrant and hyperrealistic aesthetic that is well matched by its poppy and gameshow-like sound style. All four maps have a mix of realism and arcade-style aesthetics, with each map having a specific visual identity that makes it stand out in some way. As such, The Finals sells on the idea that it is a virtual competition hosted for people to watch.

Each team has a name assigned at the start of each match. The commentators use these names to narrate what happens during the game. It’s unique and adds an extra layer of exuberance to the match.

The Finals release date

The Finals is available now on Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, and Steam and supports crossplay functionality. It was released on December 7, 2023, during The Game Awards 2023.

The Finals: the next big esports game?

The Finals boasts immense esports potential. It is a multiplayer-focused game that provides a competitive spin on the “capture the flag” concept—a perfect foundation for an esports game. What’s more, the game is already set in a virtual esports game world, with sponsors, announcers, and all, featuring AI-powered, in-game commentators that break down the action as it plays out. The game encourages strategic team-based combat, and given the destructibility of the maps, no two games are ever the same. It’s high-octane, has obvious skill requirements, and with the mix of characters available, openly empowers different playstyles.

Given all these features, we believe The Finals is a solid contender to be the next big thing in esports. The game is a lot of fun to both play and watch, and with just a little more publicity, the game is likely to attract esports teams, leagues, and investors, propelling it to major tournament status.

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Ashley is a technology writer who is interested in computers and software development. He is also a fintech researcher and is fascinated with emerging trends in DeFi, blockchain, and bitcoin. He has been writing, editing, and creating content for the ESL industry in Asia for eight years, with a special focus on interactive, digital learning.

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