If The Finals wants a good solo mode, it'll have to try a lot harder than this

The Finals
(Image credit: Embark Studios)

The Finals got its first ever limited-time mode today in patch 1.5.0, continuing developer Embark's uncommon strategy of surprise content drops untethered from a public roadmap. The mode is Solo Bank It, a new take on normal Bank It that trades four teams of three for one big 12-player free-for-all. 

When some people see "limited-time mode" they might envision a flashy new map or wildly different rules, but this isn't that. Embark is framing Solo Bank It as an "experimental twist" that it wants your feedback on. Let that lower your expectations here a bit. This is just bog standard Bank It with a minor rules tweak. It feels kinda thrown together, probably because it is—The Finals players have been begging Embark to add some sort of solo-friendly mode since launch, and this the first crack at one. My early impressions? It's not very good.

Yes, it's great that The Finals has a mode where solo players aren't at a major disadvantage. It should've had one from the start. It's nice to start 1v1 fights that don't end in 1v2, and not having teammates relieves the personal pressure to perform. For the first time in The Finals I'm running around maps at my own pace, picking fights when I feel like it, and taking my time learning the game. Solo Bank It is not the constant sweat fest that the team modes are, but unfortunately it's not a good casual mode either.

For one, having no teammates messes with balance in ways you can probably predict. Over half of the matches I've played so far are full of Light players who, unshackled from Medium and Heavy teammates, are free to skate across the map and hoover up cash boxes. As the most mobile option with weapons that are great in 1v1 scenarios, it's not even a question which class you should play if you wanna win. 

Meanwhile, the Medium's heal gun is useless and the mobility-challenged Heavy has even fewer options than before to reach the rooftops. Even though Solo Bank It has the same 12-player limit as the normal version, The Finals' huge maps suddenly feel very empty. You can probably chalk that up to the overabundance of bland building interiors that make it easy to hide. The prominence of the Light class also means fewer Heavy players with the tools to blow up those hiding places throughout the match.

It seems like Embark is already running into the same problem that competitive team games like Overwatch 2 and Apex Legends face when trying to branch out: forcing a game designed to play exactly one way to be something else is almost always awkward. The Finals' equipment-gated classes that rely on each other to succeed are the square peg against Solo Bank It's round hole. 

If The Finals wants to offer a permanent casual mode at some point, it'll probably have to start from the ground up: maps with longer sightlines and tweaks that make every class viable would be a good start. I'd also rethink the focus on free-for-all. A solo-friendly mode doesn't have to literally be a solo mode. It can be as simple as 6v6 team deathmatch, capture the flag, conquest, or any other variety of classic FPS modes that have been all-but abandoned by every shooter that isn't Call of Duty or Halo Infinite. Modes on that scale take a lot more resources and testing than a limited-time variant of Bank It, so maybe that's more of a Year 2 kind of a milestone.

For all the other changes in patch 1.5.0, including a nerf to the popular "nuke" strategy, check out the full patch notes.

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.