Skip to main content

The Finals is out now for free and we’re already loving it

The former Battlefield developers at Embark Studios used The Game Awards 2023 to surprise launch the studio’s debut game: The Finals.

Available now across PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X, The Finals is a team-based competitive first-person shooter with a gaudy game show-like aesthetic and emphasis on destruction. Several playtests have happened over the past year-and-a-half, with an open beta in late October garnering the most attention. Now, Embark Studios has decided to officially launch the game into Season 1 at The Game Awards.

At launch, The Finals Season 1 will contain four maps, including one based on Las Vegas that’s new for launch. It also features Cashout and Bank-It modes, ranked and unranked tournaments, a practice range, and a battle pass that players can use to unlock currency and a variety of skins to customize their characters and weapons.

Trending Deal:

Ahead of its stealth release at The Game Awards 2023, I went hands-on with the launch version. It retained the exhilarating spirit from my previous times trying it out, and I get the feeling that The Finals could catch on and become another mainstay live service game.

A player stands up against a wall in a The Finals screenshot.
Embark Studios

For those less familiar with The Finals, its primary mode, Cashout, has up to four teams of three compete to find cashboxes across the map and deposit them in vaults to redeem that cash. The team with the most money collected at the end of a match wins, but depositing into a vault isn’t instantaneous. Firefights will ensue when teams try to protect their vault or steal a vault for themselves at the last second.

That alone would be an enjoyable mode in most shooters, but The Finals spices it up with various gadgets, character archetypes, weapons, and an emphasis on destruction. Embark calls it a “hero builder” where players kit out their characters. I like to play as a medium-sized class with a grenade and sonar ability that lets me sense how many enemies are nearby. Some of these gadgets can be laid out in the world, too.

That led to one wacky situation during my recent playtest where an enemy team placed a jump pad underneath their vault, so getting close to and stealing it was tough. Each map in The Finals feels malleable due to the shooter’s impressive server-side destruction system. Almost every wall or building can be destroyed, so it’s possible to be flanked from any direction or to trailblaze a path to an enemy vault if they’ve found a way to block the map’s default way to it.

All of these system harmonize, leading to tense, nail-biting moments. I felt so proud progressing to the second round of a tournament during my prelaunch preview despite a total team wipe in the last 30 seconds because we’d fortified our vault just well enough that our cashbox was redeemed with just seconds to go. Moments like that make me want to keep playing, so I can see where it may gain popularity with like-minded players.

Destructive first-person shooter gameplay from The Finals.
Embark Studios

The only thing that worries me long term is The Finals’ potentially high skill ceiling, an issue that plagues shooters like Rainbow Six Siege. The more casual Bank-It mode, where the main goal is to collect points from killed players and deposit them in vaults, may serve as a salve to that. Embark seems willing to adapt its live service support too. Its developers explained in a prelaunch presentation that the top priorities are ensuring that The Finals runs well and that players have fun playing.

Executive producer Rob Runesson admitted that running a live service is hard, so the developers will keep a close eye on player feedback and not overpromise with a massive launch road map so its live service support can be agile. Embark also promises to hold some limited-time events and introduce more new outfits, weapons, and modes throughout the first season of The Finals. However, it’s not sharing specific details on those just yet.

The Finals is available now for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S. It’s free to play.

Editors' Recommendations

Tomas Franzese
Gaming Staff Writer
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
The best video game narratives of 2022: 7 stories we’re still thinking about
Art from Pentiment sits in front test that says The Best Video Narratives of 2022.

When this year’s Game Awards nominations were first revealed, the Best Narrative category sparked a bit of discourse. Nominees included giant games you’d expect like God of War Ragnarok, but one pick stood out: Elden Ring. Some were left scratching their heads considering that story isn’t front and center in the fantasy epic, while others defended the choice citing the game’s deep lore and worldbuilding.

There’s a specific reason that the moment was so divisive, though: 2022 was filled with experiences that raised the bar for video game storytelling. Elden Ring’s inclusion almost felt like it was doing a disservice to an excellent year for game narratives, taking a spot from other (often smaller) titles that built equally rich worlds while still having something profound to say about our own.

Read more
Competitive shooter The Finals will make rivals ‘panic,’ devs say
the finals preview destruction will make developers panic money rain

"I think that many other studios that are working on dynamic shooters will panic now."
That's what art director Rob Runesson confidentially told the press at a preview event for The Finals, the first game from Embark Studios (a team made up of many DICE developers who worked on the Battlefield series). In its current state, The Finals initially looks similar to other games in the genre, but one big difference that Runesson thinks will set it apart from the pack: almost everything is fully destructible.
THE FINALS Pre-Alpha Gameplay Trailer
The Finals was already shaping up to be a pretty intense team-based first-person shooter, but the amount of destruction that players can cause is truly astounding based on a hands-off look at the game I saw this week. DICE's Battlefield series is known for its impressive levels of destruction, but The Finals turns things up a notch above that. Enough explosive shots can make even a giant building completely fall apart and that kind of damage potential is pivotal in the strategy of any match. If its gunplay and environmental destruction live up to the hype, The Finals may become one of the most memorable shooters out there, if only because players will recall all the destruction they left in their wake.
The shooter genre's final frontier 
When introducing The Finals, the team at Embark claimed that the shooter genre has gotten too stale and that they wanted to spice things up. However, many of their inspirations and the primary game mode are quite familiar. Details on the story are scarce, but we do know The Finals follows players in a virtual high-stakes game show. Embark Studios cited The Running Man, Smash TV, American Gladiators, The Hunger Games, and the recent Netflix hit Squid Game as major influences on the narrative. Although some of those influences might lead you to believe this is a battle royale, it isn't.

Currently, The Finals' flagship mode is Extraction, where four teams of three try to collect and deposit as much cash as possible in eight minutes. It's a mode we've seen in multiplayer games before, but Embark Studios clearly hopes that the intense destruction will help make this game reinvigorate a stale genre. Embark Studios designed The Finals' maps, which are all based on real cities, to be fairly small and contained. As a result, it looks like players will constantly be caught up in the action and always be near something they can destroy to create a new path or block off an existing one. The early looks we got at the destruction system were truly impressive and something I've waited for a shooter to pull off for years.
Embark Studios says it was able to do this because of its unique "server-side" movement, physics, and destruction system. All of the destruction is taking place on servers Embark Studios controls, not the native hardware someone is using to play The Finals, and it will look the same for all players in a match. That means The Finals will only be around as long as Embark Studios decides to support the servers. It's something that I have wanted to see ever since early demos of Crackdown 3, which ultimately disappointed in terms of its destruction. Embark Studios even teased that this technology will also be present in Arc Raiders, the other title it is working on.

Read more
Electronic Arts CEO: We’re in no hurry to return to our offices
A man taking a picture of the EA logo.

Andrew Wilson used to be on the road almost every week. These days, he’s washing dishes, doing the laundry, and helping homeschool his children. But as CEO of Electronic Arts, he’s also overseeing the most massive and fast-paced overhaul of how the game publisher operates in the company’s history.

All of EA’s 9,700 employees are working from home right now -- and Wilson tells Digital Trends that the company is in no rush to get them back to the office.

Read more