The Finals, the debut competitive first person shooter from developer Embark, ended its week-long open beta this morning, sending its new fans, myself included, into a spiraling depression.
“It has been exactly a minute without The Finals. I haven't slept since, and am visibly shaking. I'm wondering whether I'm hallucinating or whether this misery is real,” one user on the game’s subreddit wrote in a post titled “Agony.”
“Idk what to do with my life when The Finals goes away until release,” another user wrote.
Other users are expressing their pain in familiar meme formats, like Spongbob’s and Narcos’s waiting memes, or Wolverine lovingly looking at a framed picture of the game. “I am experiencing withdrawal, help,” another post said.
These users are just having good fun posting, of course, but not as much fun as we could all be having if we could still play The Finals, which I agree is the most surprising and fun multiplayer shooter I’ve played since Warzone first launched in 2020 (as has been publicly documented, 404 Media’s founders latched onto Warzone at the height of the pandemic as a coping mechanism).
To be honest, I am kind of surprised that Embark, a studio that was founded primarily by former Battlefield developers, actually took the game offline. This was The Finals second open beta, but unlike the first, it found a huge audience this week. It reached a peak of 267,874 concurrent players (the fifth highest on Steam), 7.5 million players overall, and was immediately picked up by many huge YouTubers who used to post Warzone videos.
It also feels pretty damn ready to go, but Embark is putting it back in the oven and does not have a clear schedule for when it will be released.
If you haven’t had time to play The Finals last week, first of all, I feel sad for you. Second, it’s surprisingly tricky to describe because no single part of it feels particularly new. Instead, it’s picking the best elements out of some of the most popular shooters of recent years and combining them in a way we haven’t seen before.
It has the destructibility of some recent Battlefield games, but with newe “server side” tech, which allows players to blow holes in the walls of a building until the entire structure comes crashing down with realistic physics. It has some “extraction shooter” structure, popularized by games like Hunt and Escape From Tarkov, in which multiple teams of three players each are competing for the same objective on a map, in this case “vaults” they need to deliver to “cashout” boxes to score points. It also has a create-your-own-class feature, where players can mix and match a bunch of abilities and weapons, many of which are clearly inspired by Team Fortress 2. And, finally, since it will be a free-to-play game, The Finals has a whole bunch of cosmetics that in the beta you could earn by completing challenges and ranking up a season pass, but which I sure will also be sold for real money once the game is released.
If this sounds like a weird combination of ideas, it is, but it works incredibly well. In one memorable match, my team and I were guarding a cashout, waiting for the timer to finish so we could get the points we needed to win the match. At any point, another team can steal the cashout from us, and the points, which keeps matches fluid until the very end.
The three of us were on the top floor of an apartment building with a turret in the corner and walls of good players can deploy to block entrances. Enemies could trickle in one by one, but we quickly took them out. It’s just in times like this, when you start to feel like you have a nice and secure setup, that The Finals really pops off. Suddenly, someone blows a hole in the ceiling and fills the room with a flamethrower. Then, a hole in the floor sends the cashout box down out of the room, where another team steals it. My team loses a firefight that ensues, and by the time we return to the apartment building it’s in a heap. As three teams fight for control of the area, I just sneak into the rubble and quietly steal the cashout back in the last second to secure the dub.
While tried and true competitive multiplayer modes like team deathmatch, capture the flag, etc, will always be popular, we have not seen a breakout format in the shooter genre since the battle royale craze, where Fortnite is dominant in terms of popularity. The extraction shooter genre seemed like it was going to be the next big thing, and there’s no doubt that Tarkov and Hunt have dedicated communities, but neither has broken through in the same way.
I don’t know that The Finals will, but much like these poor Redditors, I too am devastated that Embark has yet to say when we’ll get another taste.