The Finals is like opening the door to a loud party and charging headlong into it. Also there’s a firefight, and glowing sigils in the sky that mean something. It’s a truly ridiculous game and at this early stage I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing beyond shooting every single person that isn’t on my small three-person team.
The chaos is total, an unending shitshow of gunfire and explosions as I wade through firefight after firefight, four small teams throwing down in pursuit of something. Still, The Finals is the first game that has let me realise my fantasy of tearing through an urban area as a big man clutching a rocket launcher, dressed as a panda. My character looks like he’s ready to rob a bank but the only real heist he’s managed so far is stealing my heart.
As I’ve only played an hour or two I don’t really want to pass any judgement yet: the guns handle well and the shooting itself is reminiscent of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, but there’s an inconsistent time-to-kill that makes me feel a little weird about every gunfight. Grenades go off with not a bang but a whimper, explosive barrels scorch the area but don’t crumble environments with the same ferocity promised in the trailer. Destruction doesn’t feel like it’s possible for the lighter class, which is all about hit-and-run tactics, or the medium-build characters who are more about spotting enemies and healing teammates than getting fully stuck into fights.
As the heavy class, my role is defence and destruction. This suits me perfectly, and means I don’t really worry about shooting people at all. The M60 in my hands takes me back to Battlefield: Bad Company’s 2 medic class, except this is an alternate universe where the M60 is firing nerf darts at enemies. And also in this universe I’m a fucking Panda.
But the real power is the RPG strapped to my back and infinitely regenerating pool of both rockets and C4, providing I can survive long enough for the cooldown to finish. The RPG and C4 at your disposal will blow things to pieces, like a radicalised Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. I can run through walls on a whim too, sometimes jumping into the air to smash down like Destiny 2‘s Titan, except when I land I bring down the building.
Tearing through interlinked skyscrapers as a big murderpanda, I don’t have to think about time-to-kill, and instead often escape from fights by blowing apart the floor beneath an enemy, sending them tumbling to their death hundreds of metres below, or at least dropping them into a server room a few floors away to give my team and I time to regenerate health, regenerate gadgets and even hightail it out of there with the box full of cash, something that is important for a reason I haven’t yet deciphered.
There are downsides to playing as the heavy class. I’m too big to get through the small air vent openings, I’m sluggish up close, unable to keep up with the zippy small class, and often outmanoeuvred by the medium class too. But, Murderpanda is a strong statement of intent for The Finals: I get to play around with the bigger destruction tools, and also the game is setting out its stall as a title that isn’t taking itself too seriously: silly costumes and the announcer crowing away put this a million miles away from the stern-faced military shooters that you might have expected from a game developed by DICE veterans.
Ultimately, The Finals is a game that will live or die on how satisfying the shooting feels and how epic the destruction is. It’s too early for me to pass judgement on this – I just wanted to write about this cool Panda cosmetic – but the promise that everything is destructible seems to be being adhered to, although it’s a little disappointing that the large-scale destruction of that cracking trailer is only available to the heavy class at this stage.
But, as someone currently playing the heavy class, I think I’ll get over my disappointment by blowing something up.