While I have many, many issues with last night’s Game Awards, one admittedly cool thing that happened was that after much speculation about when it would actually arrive, Embark Studio’s The Finals surprise launched during the show after previous limited time tests.
The Finals is a destruction-based game show-like multiplayer game that feels like a true breath of fresh air in the f2p shooter genre full of battle royales and extraction games. The aesthetic is great, the action is intense, the destruction physics are unrivaled. I played this in early testing more than a year ago, and I knew it was something special. Now that it’s here, the game is already starting to blow up and is on its way to potentially being a significant force in the space.
As I write this, The Finals is reaching higher and higher playercount totals. Right now it just crossed 200,000 concurrent players, the seventh most played game on Steam (it’s also on console). It’s still rising, given the fact that it dropped at close to 11 PM ET last night, and obviously it was going to start scooping up more and more players today as news gets out that it’s actually live.
Its Twitch viewership, in contrast, is still lagging behind. Despite 200,000 players it only has 20,000 viewers, outside the top 25 on the site. Though I would be extremely surprised if that persisted over the long term.
The Finals has run into some measure of controversy in one area, the fact that it was revealed that it was using AI voicework for its announcers in order to cast the action of the game. Here’s what I reported the developer saying a while back on the issue:
“They say that the technology is “far enough in terms of quality,” that it saves them supposed months of voicework to be able to record lines for new additions to the game within hours (and of course, they save money not paying actual voice actors). They also say that if there’s any sort of glitchiness or weirdness to it, well that plays into their weird game show world they’ve made.”
They went on to say their goal is not to replace voice actors “isn’t the end goal” for Embark, and I suppose we can hope that with the game live they might be able to go back and use actual actors for these parts, because “good enough” is not really good, when you really listen to how weird they often sound. But I’m not going to hold my breath.
It’s also an issue I doubt most players will notice, and the gameplay is going to be what attracts the most attention. I do believe that this is going to be a major player in the shooter space in short order, and I’ll keep checking back on its progress, in between playing myself, of course.
The Finals are the apex of competitive gaming and the past few months have seen a meteoric increase in the number of players competing, especially after the Surprise Game Awards Release.
Earlier this year, the Surprise Game Awards (SGA) released a host of brand-new titles that was met with a rapturous reception from the gaming community. A broad range of genres were presented, from unique puzzle-platformers and immersive simulators to straightforward shooters and fighting games. With the promise of intense competitive tournaments and potentially lucrative prize pools, players from all around the world scrambled to master the new games.
Soon afterwards, the Finals began accepting sign-ups and entry fees from competitive teams. The response was overwhelming as thousands of players literally flooded the Finals’ registration page. This was in sharp contrast to the past year where interest in the tournament had been waning.
The organizers hastily adjusted their plans to accommodate the influx of players. New servers were built to host the extended matches, and additional staff was hired to ensure the smooth running of the competition. On-site medical staff was also doubled to prepare for the contradictive conditions expected during the fiercely fought bouts.
The Finals have exceeded expectations with streaming platforms reporting record viewership from the first week of play. Both professional players and casual spectators were mesmerized by the intense nail-biting matches that developed thanks to the new slate of games and their excitingly unpredictable augmentations.
Clearly, the Finals have received an unexpected but well-deserved shot in the arm due to the overwhelming success of the Surprise Game Awards Release. Whether players dream of glory and prize money or simply enjoying riveting games, the Finals has become an unmissable gaming event for all.