PC Minimum Requirements The Finals
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The Finals Review | Macrocosms of Mayhem

It's The Finals' Countdown

There aren’t many Gaming MemoriesTM I hold as dear as playing Battlefield 4 in my freshman college dorm that was, charitably, the size of a broom closet and packed with four stinky adolescent boys. But at least one of those stinky boys was my buddy, and we’d spend the quiet evenings raising hell in the modernistic, “aesthetically” glitchy war simulator.

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Our favorite map was one we lovingly called Operation Meatgrinder (that’s Operation Metro to normal people). This map is, essentially, a giant chokepoint. Two teams of way too many dudes line up at either end of a subway tunnel and take turns firing rockets, launching ordinances, and spraying blindly down a smoke-filled corridor at each other. If you were lucky, you didn’t die very fast. If you were really lucky, you got a kill or two.

The Finals’ most engaging moments are miniature Operation Metros. You and two or three other teams of three players each are laying mines, throwing grenades, and launching rockets into a space that’s usually no bigger than that freshman dorm room – desperately trying to take control of a small yellow vending machine that, in this moment, is your God.

That Little Piggy Went to Market

The Finals pitches itself on being like a game show. Whenever a competitive game does this, it’s usually a lie. But this time, I think they’re onto something. Picture this: your team and another team are two points away from winning a match, but the leading crew is about to score and wrap things up. They’re mere moments away from cashing out their prize, and as you approach their heavily fortified location, you see the other team. You look into their soul, and they into yours. You both turn away – you have bigger fish to fry.

When’s the last time you tried helping another team in a shooter just to stop the top team from scoring and ending the game for everyone? Admittedly, multi-team modes in games are rare, but The Finals’ decision to exclusively feature three or four teams leads to these deliciously nuanced moments. I’d find myself saying things like, “Okay, next point, whatever happens, we can’t let Purple score.” There’s a whole layer of mind games added onto the chaos of leveling entire city blocks that not many other shooters can offer. Oh yeah, you can knock over buildings, too.

Shelter and Location

The core of the game is Vaults and Cashouts. A Vault is just a collection of money, and a Cashout happens when that money gets thrown into a big yellow box that slowwwwwly converts it into points. Whoever has control of the Cashout in the final moment it finishes gets it all, regardless of who took the Vault there or how long they controlled the cash box prior.

“[You’re] desperately trying to take control of a small yellow vending machine that, in this moment, is your God.”

So how are you to take control of a cash box if it’s being closely guarded by a team of three capital G Gamers? Well, my favorite strategy is to come up from below. The Mole Man Strat, which I named just now as I was writing this, involves using heavy explosives to blow the floor out from underneath the cash box, causing it to fall haphazardly into your team’s lap. Of course, you have to then deal with everybody else who survived the blast, but the added confusion works wonders in disrupting an enemy’s defenses.

Of course, The Mole Man doesn’t always go to plan. Sometimes I’ll use the hulking body of my favored class, the “Heavy,” to decimate a few too many support beams, and the entire place will come tumbling down. Embark Studios, made up of ex-DICE veterans who worked on games like Battlefield 4, have some sort of server-based destruction technology that my brain doesn’t fully understand but very much appreciates. This leads to complexity of destruction I’ve never seen in a multiplayer game – entire skyscrapers can come crashing down without so much as a hiccup to the game’s action.

Development Wants, Development Gets

For all its chaos and spectacle, including various random events like alien invasions, meteor showers, or low gravity, The Finals does require quite a bit of strategy. The three classes, Light, Medium, and Heavy, all have several key abilities to choose from. You can run your Medium build as a dedicated healer, complete with a TF2-style healing gun, or you can go the defensive route and choose the auto-turret. No one class is pigeonholed into a certain playstyle, and it’s refreshing to try mixing and matching them with friends.

My only qualms with the class system really stem from the UI. Customizing a class’ looks, equipment, and weapons is kind of a hassle. Everything is buried in disparate menus, and although there’s a nice “Reserve” feature you can store equipment in to swap to before a game starts, you can’t change your key ability. That means if you’re set on playing Medium but don’t want to overlap with the other healer on the team, you’re out of luck.

Aside from this, the weapons feel mostly balanced. In the right hands, I’ve seen just about anything positively shred, but it comes down mostly to teamwork. The Garden Gnome class (Light) cannot take a one versus one fight consistently, so they’re heavily reliant on disruptive plays focused around assisting their teammates. This makes PUGs kind of a hassle since nobody wants to join VOIP to sweat and swear when they’re looking for some casual fun.

Still, these gripes aside, I adore the class design on the whole. There isn’t a class I dislike playing, though I do prefer the added health of the Large Lad.

Everybody Wants Somewhere

So, back to those clutch moments I was talking about earlier. You know that feeling you get in a Battle Royale when you’re up against two or three other guys at the very end? The Finals captures that feeling at least twice in every single game. Even just in Quick Cash – a bite-sized formulation of the typical “knockout”-style tournaments – when the cash box is ticking down to the wire, everyone’s gritting their teeth.

The hype may be imparted somewhat by the gussied-up presentation of the game’s matches, which all take place in arenas flanked by stage lights, crowds in bleachers, and narrated by announcers who are controversially voiced by AI. I do, for the record, take issue with this. The narrators serve such a distinct purpose – telling everyone in real-time how many people on each team are alive, if a team is eliminated (which is a key moment of breathing room), or when Cashouts are taking place – that I wish they had just hired some folks to do the job.

“It’s the “one more game” feeling I haven’t gotten from a shooter since Halo Infinite launched.”

The rest of the presentation is top-notch, though. I adore the weapon skins in both the Battle Pass (which I found worth the investment since it pays out quite a bit more than it costs in currency) and the shop because I am a sucker. The decision to include unique viewpoint animations in the Pass is also a creative and welcome addition because, once again, I am a sucker (at least for nice-looking FPS animations).

Alongside the usual bits and bobs of premium what’s-its, you’ll be progressing your Career Rank, which unlocks cosmetics to dress up your peeps with. The customization system is robust, so if you like playing dress-up, you’re gonna have a good time. Eventually, at least. More important are the credits you’ll passively unlock that allow the purchase of new guns, gadgets, and gear. These work a lot like a traditional Battlefield or Call of Duty, where you’ll save some up and spend them to permanently unlock new tools of destruction.

Overall, The Finals is a hit, at least with me. It’s the “one more game” feeling I haven’t gotten from a shooter since Halo Infinite launched. Speaking of which, I do hope The Finals can leverage its wonderfully tight formula into a larger variety of modes in the future. If you want a wildly chaotic shooter you can take as seriously (or not) as you’d like, consider this your new home base.

The Finals
The Finals' best moments are measured in milliseconds, and the time spent in between them is always a rush.
  • Exciting, chaotic gameplay
  • Solid class design and gadget variety
  • Nail-biting, fist-pumping moments
  • PUGs can be a pain
  • Lack of modes
Reviewed on PC.

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David Morgan
David is a pediatric asthma researcher at Cincinnati Children's Hospital by day, and Prima Freelancer by night. He always finds time for the games he loves, and then some more to tell you all about them.