The Finals is a chaotically fun first-person shooter

We had the chance to go hands-on with The Finals ahead of its Closed Beta.

Embark Studios

When Embark Studios first revealed The Finals, a game show-themed first-person shooter with fully destructible environments, audiences were curious to see how the game would actually feel in practice. With the Closed Beta kicking off this month, the developers invited us to play the game and get an idea of the all-out mayhem that players can expect to experience in the full game. The Finals is an incredibly chaotic shooter that’s brimming with potential.

The most dangerous game

A low shot of two characters shooting at each other in an alley way.

Source: Embark Studios

In The Finals, multiple teams of three fight to unlock vaults and extract the cash inside. The team with the most cash at the end of a game is deemed the winner. Players can thwart each other by stealing vaults and siphoning away cash while another team is in the middle of extracting it. The race to outscore your opponents can make for some heart-pounding sequences in the final moments of the game.

When creating your Contestant, The Finals allows you to pick between three different builds: Small, Medium, and Heavy. Small builds are faster, smaller targets with access to weapons like submachine guns and abilities that can turn them invisible. Medium builds are a more standard approach, with assault rifles, shotguns, and a nifty healing beam. Lastly, the Heavy build is essentially a tank class, with light machine guns, C4, and abilities that let’s them eat incoming damage.

Let chaos reign

A character leaning against a yellow wall that reads

Source: Embark Studios

Where The Finals really sets itself apart is in the endless ways you can go about acquiring a Vault and taking it to the Cashout point. Embark Studios promises fully destructible environments, and my time with the game delivered that in spades. My squad would blast through walls and destroy structures in order to make the perfect path from a Vault to a Cashout spot. This feature was always influencing gameplay and strategy. In one game, an enemy team was camping out in a Cashout room, with every entry guarded by a gun or turret. My teammate placed a C4 on the ceiling from one level below and sent them tumbling down.

The destroyed environments don’t just fade away into the ether, either. There is a physics system at work, and fallen debris becomes another obstacle to work around. My team once got stuck in a room because a series of explosions caused debris to pile up at the door, preventing us from escaping. We had to blow through the wall and make an action movie exit.

The developers at Embark also talked about their approach to level design in The Finals. The maps are modeled after real-world locations (i.e. Seoul). The conditions of these maps will change every game, creating new challenges and forcing players to adapt their strategies. These elements include time of day, weather, and other unique conditions such as “Under Construction” or floating platforms.

As a free-to-play game, The Finals has a strong emphasis on character customization and cosmetics. When building my character, I was able to customize just about every aspect of my outfit: hat, shirt, pans, shoes, gloves, glasses, etc. These items can be unlocked through the in-game store or through the Battle Pass. The Finals’ stylistic game show setup informs a lot of zany outfits that players can unlock. I spent most of my time with the game wearing an oversized panda head.


Coins falling around a character on a purple background.

Source: Embark Studios

The Finals is an ambitious new entry in the competitive first-person shooter landscape. It’s not a battle royale or deathmatch game, but somewhere in between. It will be interesting to see how audiences take to its unique gameplay loop and how Embark Studios expands upon it in the future.

These impressions are based on an early build of The Finals provided by Embark Studios. The Finals’ Closed Beta runs from March 7-21, 2023.

News Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Scream nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

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