The Finals review - demolition derby

2023’s slickest multiplayer shooter has arrived

The Finals
(Image: © Embark Studios)

TechRadar Verdict

The Finals offers an easy-to-learn FPS playground with a strong visual identity and some of the best destruction tech I’ve ever seen. Time will tell whether it can keep an audience, but right now it’s slick.


  • +

    Kinetic movement

  • +

    Superlative destruction

  • +

    Strong visual identity


  • -

    AI voice acting is unfunny and awkward

  • -

    Time to kill can feel sluggish

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Review info

Platform reviewed: PC
Available on:
PC, PS5, Xbox Series X|S
Release date:
December 7

Inside every player of The Finals there are three wolves of different sizes: small, medium, and large. Which you pick will severely change the way you play The Finals, a multiplayer first-person shooter developed by Stockholm-based Embark Studios. 

These wolves are the three different sizes of player character: Light, Medium, and Heavy. As you might expect, the Light class is smaller, moves fast, and has a scant few hitpoints. The Heavy is sluggish and a large target, but can soak up a lot of punishment. But weight isn’t the only trait, and each class has different roles too:  if you want to kill players you play as the glass-dagger Light class, if you want to support players you play as the medium and if you want to lay waste to the entire environment and shape the arena with the game’s destruction mechanics, you play as the Heavy. 

Things that make you go boom

The Finals

(Image credit: Embark Studios)

It’s this demolition that catches your eye first. Arenas in The Finals come apart like the buildings were designed by hungover architects, explosions blow chunks out of walls and toss detritus from place to place. Each match is in a self-contained gameshow set, all the way down to the fake sky boarded up above the arena, and the ever-present 'The Finals' branding on just about everything. 

Best bit:

The Finals

(Image credit: Embark Studios)

Every Cashout is a fast-paced firefight that brings in everyone in the match for a minute or so of carnage. No matter what happens, the surrounding area will be littered with statues that serve as gravestones for fallen enemies, and every manmade structure nearby will be shredded by explosives.  

This gameshow aesthetic runs through every part of the game. Respawning when members of your team are alive means surviving until the counter ticks down and then hitting a key to continue, all with the sound of a coin falling through an arcade machine. I’ve taken to calling this process coining in, and it feels like a much more active way to respawn compared to many shooters. The fact that there’s no blood and contestants perish not with a death sound but in an explosion of golden coins reinforces the idea that everything is a game. So you don’t have to feel bad when you frag someone with a rocket. 

The core mode is Quick Cash, which has players moving to a vault and setting it to open. After a few seconds, a box of cash comes out, and each of the three teams (four in the game’s ranked mode) will fight to get it into a Cashout device first. Two boxes are available at a time, and they’re put in flashpoints where conflict can easily rage. As you start a Cashout, you then have to defend the Cashout device against everyone as the entire game descends on one area, determined to try and steal this Cashout for their team before it’s completed. 

(Big) lads on tour 

The Finals

(Image credit: Embark Studios)

The Heavy might offer the most unique experience. Especially if like me you’ve been playing shooters a long time and have a good sense of the game, but are feeling your reflexes start to slip a little bit. Meanwhile, the Medium offers the best of both worlds with a focus on healing and creating new pathways around the arena, particularly with the way they can slap down a jump pad or grapple hook. Light will be the class many players gravitate towards, offering a high-risk high-reward playstyle that lets you put out obscene amounts of damage and only take a scant amount yourself before you’re turned into a shower of low-denomination currency.

Combat is frenetic, although the time to kill can feel sluggish when you’re not playing as the Light character. There’s a touch of Battlefield to the tight brawls, except instead of the resource-based combat endemic to modern shooters, everything ticks down on a timer and you have unlimited ammo, provided you can carve out a few seconds to slap a new magazine into your gun.

One of the biggest changes to usual shooter conventions however is the complete lack of fall damage, something that feels exceptional as you move around the arena at top speed. While this may have the distinct hallmarks of Battlefield in the design, it actually lifts a lot of design choices straight from Overwatch. But, instead of the cutesy low-stakes blasting, playing The Finals is a sweatbox, tightly competitive play meaning that playing with a pick-up team assigned by the game’s matchmaking means you’re probably about to eat a loss. 

It’s fun whether you win or lose though, and the tension of a tight steal is immense. Climbing up onto the firm yet temporary foothold of a goo grenade to steal a Cashout from below or using your bulk as a Heavy as a distraction with seconds left on the clock is something that feels as triumphant as the biggest esports moments of all time, even if it’s happening on a tiny scale in just about every match.

Part of this is smart objective placement: a Cashout box in an elevator is a multi-floored trip to the chaos dimension for example, but intelligent combat design also makes it fun and fluid to throw down with other players, even if balance at the moment feels a little bit spotty. The meta currently favours players with a cloaking device and sawn off shotgun, walking up to you for an instant kill at close range, often before you've even noticed they are there. 

Looking the part 

The Finals

(Image credit: Embark Studios)

Tying this in a ribbon are incredibly strong customisation options. My character is currently wearing half of an Elvis costume earned from a Battle Pass reward, with bright yellow trousers and a Christmas hat topping off the ensemble. However, none of the clothes clip together, and it’s all free for you to use in just about every way you want. 


The Finals

(Image credit: Embark Studios)

The accessibility menu contains several colorblind modes (Deuteranopia, Tritanopia, Protanopia), the option to turn on subtitles, change the size of the text, and even add background opacity and motion blur settings. There’s also the ability to customize your crosshair. 

These options also exist within their own menus, but putting them together in a single menu makes it easy to adjust the settings you need on the fly. 

When considering all these features, The Finals is probably my favorite multiplayer shooter this year. But that doesn’t mean the game has no flaws whatsoever. I’ve seen a few things to worry me during my two weeks of playing the game so far: hackers seem to be an increasingly large part of the player base and the fact it’s impossible to be truly competitive without at least a single friend does often leave me frustrated. But, there’s a distinct feeling that The Finals has something very special to offer players, and I’m keen to see if it can grow on that promise.

Playing on PC? You might want to see how this stacks up against our best PC games. If you just want to play a lot of shooters, we’ve listed the best FPS games too.  

Jake Tucker
Editor in chief, TechRadar Gaming

Jake Tucker is the editor in chief of TechRadar Gaming and has worked at sites like NME, MCV, Trusted Reviews and many more. He collects vinyl, likes first-person shooters and turn-based tactics titles, but hates writing bios. Jake currently lives in London, and is bouncing around the city trying to eat at all of the nice restaurants.