Before you comment an angry emoji face somewhere, hear me out after reading the article title. I love Call of Duty games as much as the next person, and I’ll always champion the highly underrated Battlefield Hardline on a daily basis. Yet, while I’ve enjoyed MW3 more than most, it does amount to that now age-old phrase: “It’s more Call of Duty.” That’s why The Finals feels like a revelatory experience to play, as Embark Studios begins to harness what the PS5 and Xbox are capable of.
Now, we’ve got to rewind this back a little bit before The Finals arrival. When the current generation of console was about to drop, shooters like Battlefield 2042 and Black Ops Cold War were poised to be the first taste of ‘next-gen’ FPS thrills. Sure, Black Ops Cold War had a great campaign, excellent Zombies and sturdy multiplayer, but it wasn’t quite the leap I was expecting. Battlefield 2042 could have met that expectation in October 2021, but a lackluster launch and uninspiring content just didn’t do it for me. Luckily, though, Battlefield 2042 has now become a worthwhile experience (albeit 2 years late).
Oh, and Overwatch 2? Well, I don’t think it was worth adding a 2 on the end. On the battle royale front, Warzone‘s recent launch of Urzikstan is promising, but it still isn’t meeting that reputation that propelled it in the best battle royale games around back in 2020 – and it probably never will again. So that leads me to The Finals, where Embark Studios, led by former EA DICE talent, uses that experience and lessons learned on the Battlefield franchise to deliver a promising new FPS standard.
And it isn’t just anyone from EA helming The Finals, it is none other than ex-vice president of Worldwide Studios in EA and ex-EA DICE CEO Patrick Söderlund behind the wheel. The Finals feel like the true next step toward evolving the current state of the FPS landscape. Booting into any match puts their identity right at the forefront. The beautiful, minimalist aesthetic of Mirror’s Edge presents itself through the studio’s splashes of color.
The majesty of diverse Battlefield-style locales is immediate, whether I’m battling in a gorgeous interpretation of Madrid or the dizzying lights of Las Vegas. The Finals is one of the more stunning looking FPS titles on PS5 and Xbox, outshining competitors like Modern Warfare 3 with ease. Each map feels like a realm of opportunities to exploit by using the Light build’s zip line or the Heavy build’s bombastic charge ability. It’s that kind of imaginative freedom that DICE injected in Battlefield 4, where we were all stunned seeing that skyscraper demolished in the Siege of Shanghai.
That’s all here in The Finals, as cashing out is anyone’s game, with the environment constantly shifting into different states of disrepair. Because the game doesn’t bother with weapon customization in the form of attachments or ammunition types, what you see is what you get. It feels fair in the sense that it is all based on your level of play. That’s what made earlier Call of Duty entries like COD4 such a joy to play online, because it was down to you to adapt and nail your play style.
The Finals classes allow that same mentality to shine here, with only a primary weapon, a couple gadgets and grenade types to experiment with. How you use them is up to you, but the chances to get extremely creative are already abundant. Yet, it isn’t just the visual front where The Finals delivers in spades. It runs really damn well on launch. It can often feel like we take this aspect for granted.
However, we live in an age where most new PS5 games or new Xbox games are guaranteed to launch with a giant day one patch. And while The Finals did implement a cheeky pre-launch update before the surprise drop at The Game Awards, it is nothing compared to most updates for other shooters. The mere thought of the size of a new Call of Duty update makes me shudder.
With a confident launch state to dive into, it amplifies just how enjoyable the whole experience is. Don’t get me wrong, the game’s mode aren’t completely original, but there’s enough deviation in The Finals aesthetic/design ethos to set it apart in the FPS scene. In one of the many multi-hour long sessions I’ve had on the game with friends, we came to a conclusion that The Finals actually reminds us of another multiplayer FPS that had a unique vision: Hyper Scape.
I can feel the sigh and eye-roll you just gave me there, but it is true. Though Hyper Scape eventually crumbled, it displayed the same attributes that The Finals is succeeding with right out of the gate. Both titles escaped from the trappings of the genre, seeking to offer revitalized gameplay and best-in-class map design. Some of the best multiplayer games have fallen quickly into the abyss this year, not just in the FPS genre. Marvel’s Avengers, Knockout City and others have all bid goodbye to their players, either ending official support or turning off the lights completely.
There’s always the danger this could be the case for The Finals in a year’s time, but with the game already smashing the charts, I’m hoping that this the start of an amazing era for the game and the FPS genre going forward.