First Impressions: Nexon’s THE FINALS blends the best features of Overwatch, Valorant, and Titanfall


As a true gamer through and through, I’ve played my fair share of games. By now I’ve probably played every genre of video game that has ever existed – yes, even those games. but let’s not get into that. And if you were to look through the history of my columns on the site, you’d see so many types of games represented. However, you may also noticed there is a distinct shortcoming in a particular genre: FPS games. It’s not that I don’t like them; it’s more that I’m not particularly good at them. And when a PvPer is not good at a PvP game, well, that’s a recipe for disaster.

However, last week Nexon’s Embark Studios invited press including me to play THE FINALS ahead of its launch, and I’ve got to say I was impressed. In fact, the game surprise-launched for everyone last night at the end of the Game Awards Show, and I bet that as you’re reading this, I’m even in there playing now. Even on my old clunker of a machine, the game played smooth and worked so well. I honestly had a lot of fun and really can’t wait to get back in there and play it again.

Shooting stuff, zooming across maps, and blowing up walls

If you take the coordination of balancing your team composition from Overwatch, the tactical necessity and skilled play of Valorant, and even the feeling of zooming up and down a map by sliding across ziplines from Titanfall, then you’ll begin to understand the vibes you get while playing THE FINALS. Now, that isn’t to say that THE FINALS is derivative, but a lot of what you’ll experience in THE FINALS has been tried before but not successfully. Here, it’s actually realized.

The elevator pitch is that THE FINALS is a game where you compete with other players in a game show to win an FPS arena fight against other teams. Teams are made up of three players; each will pick a class and loadout for the match. You play not as premade heroes but as characters you choose and design yourself – a huge boon for this genre. And then the big twist feature that really makes this game stand out from other entrants is that basically everything is destructible.

Walls, floors, doors, trees, and anything else that gets in your way – you can take it all down. And there is really something incredible and immersive about blowing the floor right out from under your opponents and watching as they scramble around. Just as impressive is the moment one of the enemies bulldozes through a wall knocking you out. It’s just fun.

The connection I get to Overwatch comes primarily from the types of skills players are able to use. They aren’t really skills so much as they are the effects of using different sorts of guns, bombs, and mines, but the results are the same. Healing beams to support your allies and sticky grenades that create giant foam walls to provide cover fire from enemies are just a couple that stood out to me.

The game is releasing with only a few modes, but because of the way Embark implemented some random arena events (such as orbital lasers, weather, the time of day, and alien invasions), the matches shouldn’t feel stale too quickly. By my count there are at least seven different events that can trigger, and they all add a new element to the match. When the building I was running through began to turn green and my ally was yelling about aliens outside, I was losing it.

The arenas themselves are designed after different cities too. Currently Embark has built out Monaco, Seoul, and Las Vegas. In my demo time, I played in the Monaco and Las Vegas arenas, which were both pretty distinct. In Monaco there was a lot more roof jumping and window hopping. Las Vegas mostly involved running through big rooms and buildings as we were going through the casinos themselves. Both cool, but in different ways.

Of course, from a game mode perspective, THE FINALS offers up Quick Cash and Bank It. During my play time, I felt like everything was happening so quickly that it was a lot for me to take in at once. What I gather the difference between the modes is that in Quick Cash the first team to successfully pickup the cash at the ATM and then also run it over to the drop off ATM is the winner. In Bank It, I believe the individual players need to deposit points they earn from kills at ATMs until a team has hit the limit. The wrinkle is that the more cash you are currently carrying, the longer will be the coin trail behind you as you run – so it’ll be that much easier for other players to find you.

No heroes here

One thing that I am absolutely impressed with is that THE FINALS uses not prefab heroes but rather characters you can design. That’s so big for any MMO player and should be for all players. I don’t want to repeat myself too much, but it sure does make it difficult for me to feel fully invested in a game when I’m just playing the same character eleventy billion other gamers are playing. However, if you let me design my face, my clothes, and all the accessories around my character, then I’m instantly invested in the game – at least to a point where I feel I can be represented how I want to be.

Now, what we get from the character customization in THE FINALS isn’t hyper-sophisticated. You don’t have some of the very fine-grain control I’ve seen in many Eastern imports like Black Desert Online – the sort where you’re able to move your eyes in and out or up and down, your nose bridge to extend so far, or the corners of your mouth to curve up sharper or not. However, for the options it does have, you’re able to mix and match without restrictions. Rather than choose the male or female body type then be funneled to the male hair styles and faces, you can choose either body type you want and any faces and hair styles you want. I think I’m looking quite fly.

Stepping back a moment, I want to talk about classes too because they are a core aspect of the gameplay – but also of the character customization. You have three classes: heavy, medium, and light. Each has specializations that will wildly change your playstyle.

The heavy build is a big bodied bruiser with extra HP and slower speed, but heavies are able to body their way through opponents and readily destroy walls and obstacles. Light players are much quicker than the other two, but I didn’t play one to know the specifics. Medium players have access to some turrets and even a healing beam, which I mentioned had a very Overwatch-y vibe. There was one team we played against that consistently followed their heavy around and kept a healing beam on the heavy throughout our fire fights. It was a tough combo to overcome.

One last thing to say before I move on from the characters it that the heavy character can be thicc, and I appreciate some variety of realism for our characters. We don’t always have to look like pristine, muscular models.

You can play for free but you might want those shinies

THE FINALS is setup as a free-to-play game, which really makes the most sense for this sort of shooter. I suppose the only FPS PvP games that can get away with even a box price are ones that typically include a solid PvE story as well.

As with any F2P game, there’s going to be some ways of monetizing and making the game make sense. Here we have some familiar faces in the Battles Pass and Stores. The game has just released, so there isn’t an over abundance of loot to buy and collect, but what’s on offer is somewhat striking. A few outfits and gun skins fill out the majority of the shop’s products. There are also a number of different accessories that you can wear on your person to add some sense of flair. It’s superfluous, but it can be fun. For the demo I ran around in the bright pink and white cute kitty attire, which in hindsight might have not helped me be very sneaky at all.

Embark has said that it plans to add a lot of additional content outside of the battle passes as well. The devs specifically mentioned skins, characters, new modes, weapons, and more. They wouldn’t go so far as to give a detailed roadmap for what’s to come as they anticipate addressing and building the game with the community as a live service. As the team explained, when they set out to build THE FINALS they wanted to create a universe that allowed them to say “yes” more often than “no” – something they would love to play as much as other gamers would.

Having listened to the developers give some of these heartfelt descriptions of the game, I really believe they intend to make this game something special. Hopefully, they are able to do just that. THE FINALS is available and F2P on Steam, Xbox, and PlayStation right now, and if you jump in, maybe you’ll even see me in there. (Just look for cats.)

Every other week, Massively OP’s Sam Kash delivers Fight or Kite, our trip through the state of PvP across the MMORPG industry. Whether he’s sitting in a queue or rolling with the zerg, Sam’s all about the adrenaline rush of a good battle. Because when you boil it down, the whole reason we PvP (other than to pwn noobs) is to have fun fighting a new and unpredictable enemy!
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