The Finals already has the best destruction physics I have ever seen

The Finals
(Image credit: Embark Studios)

The Finals beta kicks off for two weeks on Tuesday, March 7. During this time, developer Embark Studios hopes to showcase its team-based, free-to-play, so-called "virtual combat game show" shooter that it promises will "push environmental dynamism, destruction, and player freedom to the limits." In a Steam blog post (opens in new tab) promoting said closed beta phase, the game's executive producer talks about having "unlocked a developer's Holy Grail", before telling us that "with server-side destruction and movement, almost everything in The Finals can be wrecked." 

We're fed the same line at a digital preview event, Biblical motifs and all. To be brutally honest, it all feels like the words of marketeers keenly pushing a product. Which is fine, of course. The devs and the game's PR team are here to promote The Finals, and I'm here to play it. It's just… well, I feel like we've heard this spiel or similar a million times before. 

But when I take down an entire floor of a multistory building with an RPG missile at range 20 minutes later – and as I watch three enemies (and one team-mate) plummet from the now obliterated concrete canopy, dust and rubble and huge shards of glass showering down around them – I can't help but think: holy shit, these guys might be onto something.

Raze the roof

The Finals

(Image credit: Embark Studios)

Blockbuster set-pieces like this are what drive The Finals, you see. Similar to the online components of the dev team's wider back catalog – Embark Studios is composed of ex-Battlefield and Battlefront veterans – each round's unscripted, incidental player-instigated moments ensure spectacle stays high and your open jaw stays low as the world literally crumbles around you. 

The hows and whys of all of this are pretty simple. The Finals is a dystopian Hunger Games meets Smash TV-esque television game show where contestants must steal, protect, and deposit money boxes in teams of three. In your bloodthirsty pursuit of fame and fortune, you'll fight and kill opposing team members by whichever means you see fit – be that by sniping them at range, blasting their heads off with a 12-gauge up close, slitting their throats with a katana-inspired stealth attack, or, as noted above, destroying the ground beneath their feet with a well-placed rocket-propelled grenade. Variety is the spice of life, so goes the age-old adage, but in The Finals the same applies in death because success hinges on murder-by-mixing things up. 

That success is measured by the amount of money you and your teammates manage to bank during each round. Once the clock runs down, the squad with the most earnings are crowned victorious – and while the name of the game is locking down money boxes and successfully transferring them to specified safe points, a la the universal Capture the Flag formula, there's as much scope for griefing pirates to snatch the loot at the last minute whenever the opportunity presents itself.

I learned this the hard way during one particularly unfortunate exchange with an opportunist opponent. While transferring a money lockbox across the skyscraper-filled Seoul map – at present, The Finals has this map and another in old-town Monaco, on the banks of the French Riviera – I was spotted by two opposing crew members and chased up three flights of stairs. Met with a dead end and forced to think on the fly, I tossed a grenade at the exterior wall ahead without breaking stride. The explosion blew a hole in the building, and cracked open the adjacent glass skylight beyond. I continued sprinting, threw myself down into the next office block below, and was swiftly shot in the back of the head at point-blank range by a different crew member who just happened to be lingering there. I'd barely planted my feet after dropping in from above, and now my brains were splattered all over the room – and my unreasonably fortunate opponent took off with my stash.

Money, honey

The Finals

(Image credit: Embark Studios)

"But even with its super soft-touch on story, I'm already certain The Finals will either strive or dive in its circumstantial moments".

During another blockbuster failure, it was me doing the chasing. I'd located one money lockbox-carrying foe and tailed them undetected towards the edge of the map. Or so I thought. After scaling the side of a building and onto a cloud-scraping platform via a rappel line, I discovered I'd been lured into a makeshift assault course – thrown together with player-placed Rainbow Six: Siege-like barricades. By the time I'd headshotted the dude I thought was in possession of the money, I realized they'd made the swap with another teammate who'd circled me unawares and taken the same rappel line out of the danger zone. The old switcheroo had done me dirty. 

Away from the battlefield, a predictable but welcome slew of customization options promise hours of light entertainment, as does unlocking The Finals' wide-ranging arsenal of guns and the various loadouts that complement the game's suite of playstyles out on the field in either ranked or casual play. In narrative terms, this progression arc is framed by the idea that the highest-performing players of The Finals TV show will attract the services of top-dollar sponsors, in something that sounds similar to, say, 2K's NBA career mode. But even with its super soft-touch on story, I'm already certain The Finals will either strive or dive in its circumstantial moments; where players inadvertently bring down buildings and set the game world on fire, laughing all the way to the bank. 

The Finals kicks off its closed beta on Tuesday, March 7 (more info here (opens in new tab)), with an as-yet undetermined full release date. 

Big fan of big games with big numbers? Here are the best online games going big right now

Joe Donnelly
Features Editor, GamesRadar+

Joe is a Features Editor at GamesRadar+. With over five years of experience working in specialist print and online journalism, Joe has written for a number of gaming, sport and entertainment publications including PC Gamer, Edge, Play and FourFourTwo. He is well-versed in all things Grand Theft Auto and spends much of his spare time swapping real-world Glasgow for GTA Online’s Los Santos. Joe is also a mental health advocate and has written a book about video games, mental health and their complex intersections. He is a regular expert contributor on both subjects for BBC radio. Many moons ago, he was a fully-qualified plumber which basically makes him Super Mario.