Embark Studios have released The Finals update 1.4.0, a mixture of balance tweaks, quality-of-life improvements and crash fixes which is going down like the proverbial lead balloon among fans of the free-to-play shooter's Heavy class. I'm definitely here for the crash fixes - I can't get The Finals to run for longer than five minutes, which is a shame, because as Graham tells it, this is the most exciting new multiplayer FPS in years. Specifically, it sounds like a blend of Battlefield and Rainbow Six: Siege with a smashable toytown aesthetic. But enough about me and my computer's refusal to let me have fun. What's going on with those Heavies, then?
There are three classes in the Finals: the other two are Light and Medium. Each class gets different items and capabilities, though there's some overlap. Going by Reddit chatter - always a watertight source of grounded opinion on PvP balancing - the Heavy class emphasis on resilience and explosives is proving difficult to counter, particularly when one team rolls up with three of them. Amongst other things, Heavies get access to rocket launches and bubble shields; they can also plant C4 on throwable canisters. It all reminds me a little of tank metas in Overwatch.
The patch (full changelog here) makes life easier for struggling Light and Medium class players by significantly reducing C4 damage and explosive radius together with Dome shield health. It also nerfs mines (which both Heavy and Medium players can use) and the RPG-7 launcher, while giving the Light class a shot in the arm by increasing the range of the Stun Gun.
The Stun Gun buff in particular has provoked outrage from the Heavy faithful, who are abroad in the Steam comments claiming that the whole "Heavies r OP" thing is a perfidious lie promulgated by Light players who just want to stunlock everybody from behind. It's sort of like a scene from the National Convention in revolutionary France, except that instead of people calling for the guillotine they're yelling things like "BUFF THE CL40".
Less controversial, non-class-specific changes include an AFK warning for when you're about to be kicked from the game, the removal of the ability to place ziplines on map pick-ups, and a setting that lets you display player health bars in the squad's colour. I'm pretty sure those are uncontroversial changes, anyway. For all I know the zipline specialists are up in arms.
It's worth bearing in mind Graham's closing thoughts from his review, in which he points out that The Finals is in flux right now, and points to how the levelling curve affects perception of each class's strengths and weaknesses. "Right now, The Finals is new enough that its meta hasn't settled, and you'll see all character builds and team constructions whether you're playing a quick match or a more serious tournament," he wrote.
"I can imagine that players might discover in the coming weeks and months that a Heavy must always carry a Dome shield, a Medium always a turret, and so on, which might make it suddenly frustrating for new players running behind the progression curve, but I'm hopeful that the starting set of items are useful enough and the dispensing of credits rapid enough that it won't prove a serious issue."
It's also worth bearing in mind our guides editor Ollie's assessment of The Finals best builds. It turns out he's Team Light, and specifically Team Grappling Hook Light equipped with a V9S Pistol plus the Breach Charge, Stun Gun and Vanishing Bomb as gadgets. It's apparently a recipe for "an extremely potent 1v1 two-step combo that can easily take down even a Heavy character in moments".
Are you playing The Finals and if so, what do you think of the balance right now? Embark are also working on various anti-cheat mechanisms, which appear to be sorely needed.