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The Finals preview: chaos incarnate

The Finals is a new competitive shooter that does everything it can to be different

There’s no room for caution in The Finals. This is a shooter where you need to be going all-out at all times or taste defeat.

Four teams of three spawn on the map and they have to fight over two cash vaults. Once you reach a vault it takes a bit of time to unlock, then you have to carry it to a cashout point, which again, takes time to cash in your winnings. Of course, at any point along that lengthy process, another team can swoop in and steal your hard work, so you’ve got to have eyes in the back of your head.

This core loop is a lot of fun, and it forces you to switch between offensive and defensive gameplay in a flash. It doesn’t heavily favor one side. A good offensive team can set up ambushes that take out a team in a flash, while a good defensive team can utilize choke points and items like barriers to keep everyone at bay. That said, playing offensively is definitely more fun. This is a game that thrives on chaotic battles, and you lose some of that when you’re on defense – at least until the floor quite literally disappears from under you.

The Finals armed competitor in front of a barrier

Just about every floor, ceiling, or wall in The Finals can come crumbling down with enough force, letting you plot destructive attacks that are a blast to pull off. That said, they don’t come up as often as I’d like. In my experience walls or floors caving in only happened by accident during a battle, and while it did create some cool moments, it never presented itself as a useful tool when planning an attack, especially when some maps don’t make much use of them.

Matches have a great flow to them, and you’re constantly pushing back and forth against the other teams. Even if a team ambushes you and steals your vault. the cashout process takes long enough that you’ll probably have enough time to respawn and make an attempt to steal it back before it’s gone.

On top of that, it’s not uncommon for you to launch your attack, only for another team to suddenly show up and mess up your plans. There’s a big emphasis on adapting on the fly as the face of battle can change in an instant.

The Finals competitior in front of a billboard

This does lead to some frustration though because even though battles tend to be fast affairs, people are surprisingly tanky. I spent a bit of time using the standard assault rifle, and my team agreed that enemies felt like bullet sponges most of the time, and our view didn’t change as we adapted and got better at the game.

Eventually, I switched to the pump-action grenade launcher, and even that felt really weak because enemies could absorb direct hits without much issue. I realize that making player health too low would end battles way too quickly, but the way things are, there are some strategies that are far too powerful.

For example, you can choose one of three different builds for your character, heavy, medium, or light. Heavy characters have low mobility but loads of health. By far the most powerful strategy I encountered out in the field was a heavy character wielding a sledgehammer. The sledgehammer can kill you in a couple of hits, and they have so much health that there’s nothing you can do once they get close – even when I’m unloading grenades directly into their face.

The Finals explosion in an alley

Balancing takes time with a game like this, but after my time with the game, the dev team informed me that they planned to make weapons like the pump-action grenade launcher less powerful, which seems completely backward.

That said, throwing yourself into the fray is still loads of fun. You can bring a variety of tools out into battle like high-explosives, a zipline gun, or goo grenades that clog up the battlefield – changing the dynamic of a fight in an instant.

You’re constantly encouraged to get right into the heat of battle, and when an all-out war breaks out between multiple teams over a single vault, it brings out the quick-thinking, intense, and action-packed fun that made me want to keep playing. There are still some clear balancing issues that need to be ironed out, but the closed beta period – starting on March 7 – is sure to be a blast.

If you're participating in the closed beta, then check out The Finals tips and tricks to give you an edge.