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I’m already hooked on The Finals Season 3’s Power Rangers fueled fun

I’ve been hands-on with The Finals Season 3 and Embark’s new update gets off to a strong start, albeit with a couple of stumbling blocks.

The Finals Season 3: An image of the Virtual World Warrior skin in The Finals Season 3.

The Finals is easily the finest FPS around on Xbox and PS5, but Embark’s polished game-show shooter hasn’t caught on quite how I hoped it would. Each update makes the right plays and nearly every content offering for the game has been leagues above what most triple-A competitors are putting out. The Finals Season 3 is no different, and this feels like The Finals update that is perfect for cementing its energetic appeal. 

There’s something bold about Embark Studios playing the strong synth-wave card with The Finals Season 2, considering how early that update came in the FPS game’s lifespan. Adorning PS5 and Xbox players with neon-drenched drip, glossy 80s-inspired weapon skins, and a gorgeous cyber paradise on the map SYS$HORIZON almost feels like Embark laying down all their cards too early. When I found out Season 3 was abandoning all that, I was concerned that it wouldn’t be able to follow that. Although I have some concerns, Season 3 is off to a promising start.

Kyoto 1568 is a glorious addition to The Finals map rotation. Trading in the modernity of locales like Skyway Stadium or Seoul for the stunning shoin-zukuri style architecture of feudal Japan is tonal whiplash for sure, yet it sets the stage for a battlefield that is Embark’s most grandiose yet. This map is a grand amalgamation of verticality and standard interior firefights, with towering bamboo forests and large watchtowers giving me opportunities to strike from above, leaning into the Shinobi fantasy Season 3’s aesthetic is reveling in. For the majority of my preview, I threw hands with Embark devs and content creators in the new World Tour mode.

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Using Cash Out as the mode’s foundation, it offers thrills akin to Ranked Leagues, but with less of the commitment to clinging onto your Ranked status. Because of that, World Tour encourages all-out sweat-fest chaos, and it rocks. Small tweaks like a fresh player-card design now display your Ranked League progress properly, and just how stylish you can be better than ever. UI improvements to gadget logos better distinguish what gear is at hand, helping me avoid easy blunders in the heat of battle.

On the topic of weaponry, Season 3 isn’t interested in adding new guns to The Finals classes – but that’s okay. Embark’s fresh slate of gadgets and melee-focused weaponry will push your playstyle in other directions. Variety is the spice of life in any decent multiplayer game, and using additions like the Dual Katanas or Winch Claw proves that sometimes bullets aren’t good enough to get the job done.

The Finals always make me feel like an action hero, with cinematic moments occurring every five seconds thanks to Embark’s incredible utilization of Unreal Engine 5. You and I both know that The Finals’ destruction is an incredible sight to see. As I rip through enemies with the Dual Katanas, I’m not just trying to attack with a chaotic approach, but I’m trying to read my enemies strategically. Can I bait them into wasting their magazine while in the defensive stance? Can I cause them to panic as I deflect bullets back at them? This is ground that The Finals hasn’t explored before, echoing the efficiency of dueling seen in the equally excellent Chivalry 2.

The Finals Season 3: An image of the Kyoto 1568 map in The Finals Season 3.

Meanwhile, Heavy players can combine the Spear and Winch Claw to truly devastate opponents like never before. The Winch Claw, well, you don’t want to underestimate its range. I can’t count the number of times I screamed with terror as this gadget pulled me to my doom, as I watched our chance of cashing out for victory disappear behind me. Not only does the Winch Claw drag me into near-certain death, but the Spear is a rip-roaring weapon that slashed me into a million arcade coins. I’m not mad about it, though, because I see a combination that is ripe for striking fear into the hearts of Light class players hiding in Kyoto’s bushes.

All of these menacing arsenal additions can be taken in Terminal Attack, which returns as a permanent playlist in Season 3. If you’re not a fan of Call of Duty’s classic Search and Destroy mode, then Terminal Attack likely isn’t going to convert you. However, Kyoto feels like a map that compliments Terminal Attack better than SYS$HORIZON ever did. Destroying Kyoto is more of a visual feast than the Season 2 map is, and that enriches the sense of tactics between you and your squad. Season 2 gadgets like the Dematerialzer shine on Kyoto, using the map’s hidden pathways and under-house routes to one-up the other team.

Season 3’s gameplay is in the right place to kickstart the update with a high-energy jolt, but it is the changes to Ranked Leagues and progression that have me concerned about Season 3’s long-term appeal. With most players, like myself, hitting max rank on the standard career circuit, I wondered if Embark would up the ante by increasing the rank exponentially. From exploring the preview build’s menus, Season 3 expands the max rank by a meager nine extra levels. Although these levels will give players access to a set of new free cosmetics, it is somewhat disappointing considering that Season 4 will likely arrive by October at the earliest. Whether this is changed as Season 3 progresses is unclear, but I was hoping for at least a jump to rank 80.

On the Ranked Leagues front, not running Cash Out and Terminal Attack simultaneously is still a bizarre choice to me. I get that Cash Out is the bread and butter of World Tour right now, but Ranked Leagues’ iteration of Cash Out is part of the game’s competitive DNA. According to Embark, this change is meant to reflect  “a more tactical and competitive experience.” But The Finals isn’t Counter-Strike 2, Valorant, or Call of Duty. Many of the best games out there gleefully take influence from genre titans, but Embark has shown many times it can think outside the box. Fresh spins on tried-and-tested modes like Season 2’s Power Shift, a rejuvenated version of escort playlists found in Overwatch 2, are where The Finals is often at its strongest.

When you’re not fighting for Ranked Leagues’ Diamond crushing Ruby tier or smashing up Kyoto into oblivion, Season 3’s battle pass and array of Career Circuits will be keeping you busy. If there is one element that The Finals has never missed, it is undoubtedly the cosmetics. Season 3 is another feast for the eyes, bringing a sensational collection of cosmetics inspired by anime, Wuxia cinema, Saturday morning cartoons, and even the ‘real world’ that exists in The Finals lore.

The Finals Season 3: An image of the yellow power range style skin on The Finals Season 3 battle pass.

The latter feels like an excellent way to push forward the twisty-turny narrative that runs behind the scenes. One set of clothing on the Season 3 battle pass is a clear nod to the Power Rangers, or more appropriately their source material, Super Sentai – and yeah, it looks as awesome as it sounds. At present, I can’t get access to what the Masters Circuit holds reward-rise, but if it is as good as the Kinetic Flare AKM skin from Season 2, well, I say cook Embark, cook.

While design choices related to Ranked Leagues and progression are certainly odd in my opinion, I’m hoping Season 3 is the update that displays just how strong of an FPS juggernaut The Finals can be. I still firmly believe that Season 2, at least for me, cemented it as the king of free shooting games on the market right now. So while Season 3 may not have that same surprise factor this time around, it is still beginning on extremely solid ground. More of a good thing is never a bad mantra to follow, and in the case of this update, Season 3 expands The Finals’ core strengths for maximum Kyoto carnage.

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