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The Finals' first 5v5 mode is a brilliant twist on a Team Fortress 2 classic, and I really hope it takes off

 The finals season 2.
The finals season 2.

You have no idea how much I've wanted to love The Finals since it released in December. It checks all of my FPS-obsessed boxes—slick guns, fun gadgets, absurdly pretty maps—and goes beyond with genuinely innovative destruction tech that lets me make Swiss cheese out of any building and somehow sync it across a 12-player lobby. The fundamentals are great, but it's that 3v3v3v3 format that's been dragging me down. With small squads, long respawns, and the constant threat of getting third-partied, the "default" Finals experience is just too sweaty and unpredictable for my taste.

That "default" will be challenged in season 2 with the arrival of The Finals' first 5v5 mode—Power Shift, a "casual" take on payload with a brilliant Finals twist. It's really good, and I hope it takes off with fans.

Power Shift shares the same basic rules as payload in Team Fortress 2 or Overwatch: two teams fight over control of a floating platform that can be pushed in either direction, but instead of protecting a cart that wraps around city streets, the floating platform bulldozes straight through any building, crane, tree, or landscaping in its predetermined path. It's exactly as cool as that sounds.

I was briefed on the mode in a presentation to press before playing it and it was still a minor shock to see the game's central objective make a sudden beeline through the facade of an apartment building, bisecting the structure and dropping three floors of concrete, floorboards, and furniture on my buddies escorting the cart. Decorating the flanking rooftops were a mix of friends and foes trading potshots, lobbing grenades, and testing out season 2's new gadgets and guns.

I tossed the new Heavy class throwable, a cube that reverses gravity wherever you throw it, at the fresh wreckage near the cart, which floated the biggest chunks of rubble out of the way of my teammates just as intended, but also caught a few of them in the process. Oops.

Backup

Man, it's really nice to have more people watching your back in The Finals—or, maybe it's just nice to have fewer people trying to kill you. With all 10 players fighting over the same 3-meter wide platform I thought Power Shift would be the most chaotic mode in the game, but it's actually the most predictable and balanced. I chalk this up to the two-team structure—not getting third-partied by opportunistic squads means you can pick fights on even ground and see those fights through more often than not. It also means you're incentivized to play the game, not "strategically hang back" (hide like cowards) until someone else wins a fight and then kill them.

Gunfights and explosions are a constant in Power Shift, but the violence is evenly spread out, which gave me more breathing room than I've ever had in The Finals to experiment with gadgets, try offbeat strategies, and bask in the organized chaos of it all. The environment is electric, not unlike a massive Battlefield server.

Power Shift also potentially solves The Finals' solo play problem. The simple, singular objective keeps all five teammates on the same page without the need for Discord. A few other Power Shift elements I love:

  • Faster respawns: 10 seconds, hallelujah

  • Class swaps: You can swap both your loadout and class mid-match, making on-the-fly balancing easier

  • Map events: They're still in play, so while the cart's bursting through a promenade, the map might suddenly trigger meteor showers or an alien invasion

Embark told me that it's been wanting to make a two-team mode for a while now, and I can see why. The Finals was designed around teams of three, but it scales up surprisingly well in a casual context. Power Shift is planned to be a permanent mode for Season 2, but Embark says its future depends on player reception. I hope it's the first of many in the 5v5 format.

Power Shift is just one of many features of season 2, which starts on March 14 and includes three new guns, a handful of new gadgets, private matches, a new map, and a battle pass.