In a nutshell, but we will delve into it with the interview we did with Matt Lowe, design director, which you can find below, THE FINALS is a game show, an online show in which contestants compete in virtual arenas to earn large sums of money. The sport? A team battle using machine guns and explosive charges to find and defend security depots. The team with the most money at the end of the round wins. There are three classes, light, medium and heavy, dozens of weapons and gadgets (such as a foam shooter that can block access to a door) and a myriad of possible combinations regarding the equipment to be deployed.
The gunplay is precise, the respawn timers are forgiving, the team dynamics are well balanced and, above all, every single piece of wall, roof or ceiling is destructible with RPG shots and explosive charges. Barricading yourself in the objective never works because each team has enough bombs with them to destroy every building. Building active defenses, patrolling and taking turns between those who shoot, those who heal and those who rebuild the barricades, however, is the strategy that works. We find no other way to communicate how well this game is made other than to tell you that the smile was always on our faces, whether victory or defeat, whether in casual games or in ranked tournaments.
Now that THE FINALS is out in the world and the first season has officially begun, we can only recommend it rush to try it. He is free to play, he has a battle pass and seasons system that will keep him updated and a development team behind him that is prepared, passionate and knows what he is doing. After our test period we were full of questions that we were able to ask directly to Matt Lowe, design director of THE FINALS, who gave us a lot of behind-the-scenes information and talked about the future (short and long term) of the game.
How did the idea for the game come about?
“The idea behind THE FINALS is to participate in a virtual television game show and it is an integral part of the foundations of the experience. It is a way of saying more yes than no to all the craziness we came up with to include : we can invent fantastic places, strange things like an alien invasion and crazy things like turning off gravity. In the studio we all come from experiences in franchises with a very solid lore, Battlefield for example, which can be cool but also a limitation. We wanted to start with a setting that allowed us to experiment, we wanted to be exaggerated but still coherent as an overall vision”.
How would you describe the atmosphere of The Finals in one word?
“Hyperrealistic; which to me means that everything you want to do and that the world allows you to do, you have to be able to do in a realistic way. The game is rooted in reality, we are in real places but presented in the most vibrant way possible and the outfits they are super colourful, a little over the top. To give you an example, in terms of gameplay our reference is Neo, the protagonist of The Matrix. Not the Neo of the second and third chapters who flies around the world but that of the first, hyper-realistic, in which it is almost natural that he is able to stop the bullets in the end.”
Tell us about demolitions in the game, have they always had such a central role?
“When we started designing THE FINALS we wanted to make it a real sandbox and destruction was one of the variables of expression of a player’s personality that we cared most about. We tested the introduction of vehicles (which we abandoned), weather dynamic (which we kept) and destruction and when we got it right we understood that we had found a keystone. This result, however, came after having designed and tested, I kid you not, at least 50 or 60 game modes to make it something natural. The other essential thing to make it work was the rotation of the objectives: when we tried to have just one it was obliterated in a very short time.
If everything can explode, then dynamism is the key in animations and movement. Since we wanted to do things well we put all these elements on the server side, a huge challenge to get right which took us a lot of time and a lot of tests: the last year was fundamental to understand where to go and what to fix. THE FINALS, grew up with a vision: to be a competitive puzzle game where competitors are armed and we hope we have managed to materialize it.”
Do you see a competitive future for The Finals? If so, what plans do you have to support it?
“When we started developing the game we said ‘no, we’re not going to make an esport, we’re going to make a competitive multiplayer game that’s fun and as refined as possible.’ It seemed like the best strategy because if you get the basic formula right and make the players have fun, then one competitive scene arises organically. To make this happen, however, the quality of the core experience must be impeccable so if players want to make it an esport they have everything ready. We are absolutely open to the direction the game will take and we intend to support it. The function for the creation of personalized matches and tournaments is already ready, which is the first building block of every competitive scene so that it organizes and manages its events autonomously”.
How did you choose the weapons to include in the game?
“We didn’t want a mountain of weapons in THE FINALS, we didn’t want 12 assault rifles each with minimal differences from their colleagues and with dozens of accessories. We were inspired by Halo, Quake and Team Fortress which have one weapon per category and are all different from each other. In the future this approach will continue to guide us: we started with familiar things but now it’s time for crazier ideas like bows and arrows. This is where the decision to make melee weapons like the demolition hammer comes from. To choose which weapons to include we started from the gameplay, we said to ourselves, for example ‘we want a precise medium range machine gun’. Then we went to our audio director, who is a gun fanatic, and from the group of 10 LMGs he proposed we chose the one we liked best, in this case the Lewis Gun.”
What will be the roadmap for the next few months? How often can the player expect updates and with what content?
“We want to be able to release a new season every three months and in each one we want to add a map or a game mode. Each map then has events (like the meteor shower) and variants (like the sandstorm for Las Vegas) different. In Season 1, which has just been released, compared to the beta we are adding a new weapon and a new gadget and we would like to maintain this pace over time to increase the possibilities available to those who play. Each season will have a battle pass with new cosmetics, a reset of the competitive rank and new rewards. On a macroscopic level we would like to do like Warframe, for example, which has a big update every year or every two years. We still have many ideas in store that did not make it into the finished product and that we would like to include in the game. We want to be quick in reacting to stimuli from the community, we practiced a lot in the Beta, also because the players are quite creative. For the next two seasons we will be particularly open to learning because we are a new studio, full of veterans, but It’s still a new studio and we know that live services are difficult.”
How will you handle balance in the future while keeping the game fun?
“Throughout the development period of THE FINALS there were times when we added things that some said ‘that’s the most broken thing in the game’ while others said ‘that’s my favorite thing.’ Our approach to balance has a name: Net Fun. In practice, our goal is to guarantee the fun of the person who eliminates and the person who is eliminated. During the beta, many players published clips in which they were killed but in which they laughed out loud. This That’s basically our goal. We want the game to be enjoyable, understandable, and watching it should make you want to play it. In addition to this more philosophical approach, we have a lot of real-time data and analytics to understand what’s going on. If a weapon gets 5 kills than another in each round then maybe it means there’s something to fix.”
How will you handle the cheater problem?
“We have Easy ant cheat, many people don’t like it, we know it, and next to it we have several additional systems active, we can’t say too much because otherwise hackers have too easy a life. We have a game secutiry team and their full-time job is to fight this battle by looking at the data and what cheats are for sale on the internet.”
Is the story? Will we see more?
“Yes! This is the plan and over the seasons we want to insert it in a solid way. There are already Easter eggs in the game that have not yet been discovered related to the story: they are very important because the narrative also helps to keep players engaged. We absolutely want to develop the story of The Finals and we know there is so much more we can contribute.”
-by Riccardo Lichene
The post first appeared on www.tuttosport.com