Pre-Release

This page details the pre-release era of THE FINALS (also known as "Season 0"), including initial ideas for the game, teaser trailers, playtests, and development insights.

Development

"...6 Embarkers on the 6th floor for 6 months..." That's how THE FINALS started (Or "Project Discovery", back then) - Rob Runesson

During the development of Embark's initial title, ARC Raiders, some of Embark's team expressed interest in making another first person shooter game. They discussed the idea, and accepted that they'd only make one if it brought something new to the market, something new to the genre, and something that could actually redefine the genre to the core. Eventually it was decided that they wanted to make a game that was extremely dynamic, and where players could both define their own playstyle, and could change the outcome of the game, not just by shooting, but by using the world, environment, and their imagination. The development of Project Discovery, later renamed to THE FINALS, was started in 2020.

Teases Before Announcement

Embark — our continued journey

In early November 2020, Embark Studios gave an update on the development of their games, ARC Raiders (Project Pioneer), THE FINALS (Project Discovery), and their Creative Platform. They announced that development had started for a team-based PVP shooter earlier in the year, and the game would put dynamism, physicality, and destruction front and center. The update also included our first view of some of the character concepts for THE FINALS.

Embark's Happy Holidays, 2020

In late December 2020, Embark Studios shared an image for their yearly holiday wishes that included characters from all three games.

Embark's 3 Year Anniversary, 2021

Embark Studios shared a short clip of THE FINALS on their Twitter celebrating their Third Year of operation. It shows various cosmetics, items, abilities, and mechanics; some of which have not appeared in any of the Alpha/Beta(s) yet: Wrecking Balls, Vehicles, and Fire Extinguishers.

Playtests

Embark Studios has hosted a number of playtests for THE FINALS during the game's development. The main purpose of these playtests is to get feedback from players so that developers can stay on track and in touch with the community. These playtests also generate awareness for the game and the studio developing it, attracting more players and media coverage. All patchnotes for playtests can be found here.

Closed Alpha

The first playtest for THE FINALS was a Closed Alpha held from September 29th to October 3rd in 2022. Two days before the Closed Alpha, on September 27th, a Pre-Alpha trailer was posted on the YouTube channel for THE FINALS. During this playtest, the players had to request access to the game, and were under a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with Embark, meaning that they could not record footage or take screenshots of gameplay. Because of this, not much is known about the early stages of the game as far as gameplay except the information that Embark themselves have given to the community. On November 1st, 2022, an infographic was posted in the Discord for THE FINALS, giving a summary of what the community had achieved during the Closed Alpha.

Closed Beta 1 (CB1)

After the Closed Alpha ended, on November 11th, 2022, a larger beta test was announced for early 2023. Anyone interested in the beta was encouraged to request access on Steam so that they could be potentially picked to be part of the next playtest. On February 23rd, 2023, the trailer for the Closed Beta was released, and a date was given for the playtest to start, March 7th.

On March 7th, 2023, the Closed Beta servers began to open, and players were slowly given access to the playtest through Steam keys given to them via email. Now that the game was in its beta phase, new players were not required to be under NDA, so screenshots and gameplay footage were being shared online. Additionally, beta playtesters were encouraged to give feedback through the Discord server, and a ranked leaderboard was also introduced.

Changes from the Closed Alpha included balance changes, new cosmetics, and a new map: Seoul. Balance changes and bug fixes were also introduced while CB1 was still live, showing the community that Embark cared about the players and listened to feedback. This playtest also gave contestants the chance to earn permanent cosmetics through the Battle Pass, where rare, beta-themed rewards would be tied to the player's account forever.

CB1 ended on March 22nd, 2023.

Closed Beta 2 (CB2)

After the end of CB1, players were left wondering what would come next for THE FINALS. No one was sure whether there would be more playtests, or if the game would soon be fully released. The only information about a release date for the game was that it would be before the end of 2023. After nearly three months of waiting, a second Closed Beta was announced on June 12, 2023. CB2 would last for 6 days; from June 14th to June 21st. In this playtest, players who played in CB1 would automatically gain access to the game without having to request access on Steam.

Similar to the first Closed Beta, there were changes from the last playtest. The game had been improved, polished, and balanced, and new cosmetics had been added. New weapons were added: the XP-54, FCAR, and Lewis Gun, and some existing weapons were renamed. This playtest also introduced the Quick Cash game mode and the unranked Tournament mode, as well as a new Game Show Event, Orbital Laser. A separate ranked leaderboard was introduced for CB2, and contestants were now eligible to earn rewards based on their rank at the end of the beta. Just like the first beta, players were able to earn permanent cosmetics by completing the Battle Pass.

After the second Closed Beta ended, as a token of Embark's appreciation to the players, a community highlight video was posted to THE FINALS YouTube channel. This video includes highlights that were uploaded to the official THE FINALS Discord by the community as part of a request from Embark themselves. In the video, the clips are shown alongside THE FINALS themes and branding, and even includes custom voiceovers from the in-game announcers, Scotty and June. Episode 2 and Episode 3 of the community highlights were posted a few weeks after the first.

Open Beta

After four months of waiting, an official announcement was made on October 25th, 2023 during Xbox's Partner Preview. An Open Beta playtest would start on October 26th and end on November 5th, available on Steam, Playstation 5, and Xbox Series X|S. The beta introduced the brand new Skyway Stadium arena to the map rotation, along with an all-new game mode - Bank-It. This beta also included a free Battle-Pass with 16 exclusive, permanent rewards that players could unlock and keep for launch. The Open Beta was the first playtest to feature cross-play and cross-progression between PC and consoles.

This beta playtest was so popular that Embark's game servers hit the capacity ceiling after only two days. After the server capacity had been expanded, THE FINALS reached a peak concurrent player count of over 250,000, putting it on the top five games on Steam at the time. Embark's team also dealt with other issues that arose during this playtest, such as frequent game crashes, anti-cheat effectiveness, and other server issues. By ironing out many of these issues during a playtest, Embark prepared themselves for the full release of the game, planned for the end of 2023. After the beta ended, THE FINALS posted a short thank you video on their official social media pages, thanking all 7.5 million of the players who participated in the beta.

As with CB2, a community highlight video was posted to THE FINALS YouTube channel on November 14th, 2023, a few days after the beta had ended. The video featured a compilation of gameplay moments that the community had submitted, narrated by Scotty and June and officially sponsored by OSPUZE.

Podcasts/Interviews

On March 16th, 2023. YouTube creator RockhoundBlack uploaded an exclusive Q&A with Rob Runesson, Embark's Chief Content Officer. It covered a range of topics, from CB1 performance, THE FINALS running on UE5, and what to expect in the future.

Meet The Makers is a podcast style interview with several of the team members involved in the creation of THE FINALS, hosted by Embark's own Dusty Gustafsson. At the moment there are six episodes, going from topics such as Maps and Audio, to a conversation with Chief content officer Rob Runesson, and Executive Producer, Jonathan Lindsay. Each episode was originally hosted as a live interview on the official Discord server, and was later uploaded to Spotify.

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