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The Finals is getting blasted on Steam for slowing the game down, except the developer says it didn't change speeds at all

 The finals free-to-play FPS.
The finals free-to-play FPS.

The Finals, the highly-destructible FPS from ex-Battlefield devs, surprise launched at The Game Awards last night. The shooter had just recently ended a very successful open beta that attracted hundreds of thousands of players, but many (myself included) wondered if Embark Studios still planned to get the game out before the end of 2023. Now it's here, and launch day is going well: The Finals is one of the most-played games on Steam right now, peaking at over 200,000 concurrent players on PC alone.

There is one hangup, though—a lot of people aren't happy that Embark slowed down player movement between open beta and launch. The pushback is strong enough that The Finals currently sits at "Mixed" on Steam with over 3,000 negative reviews, and a lot of them are about movement.

"Y'all remember how buttery and smooth the movement felt in the beta?" reads a top-upvoted user review from Steam user ThatTimberWolf. "Yeah, they nerfed the movement speed for ALL classes by a very noticeable amount, and introduced delays in some of the animations. Everything feels extremely sluggish now, even while playing the Light class."

"PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE revert the movement changes. <3," reads another negative review.

"Revert the speed cowards," reads another.

Except, Embark says it hasn't changed player speeds at all since open beta, and isn't quite sure why players think it has. They do have a few good guesses, though.

"We have been investigating your feedback on the feel of the movement from Open Beta to now. It’s been hard to pinpoint because there was no change in the movement system or the movement speed between the two tests," wrote Embark community lead Dusty Gustafsson in The Finals Discord server.

the finals discord
the finals discord

"We have identified a few things that might be causing everyone to experience the gameplay differently. In the past month, we have made small adjustments to animations, sounds, and settings that, in combination, may be giving the feeling of slower movement—especially in light and medium archetypes."

Gustafsson also identified a specific setting that might be causing an illusion of slower movement. "Settings were reset as well, so FOV is defaulted to 71." Embark is working on rebalancing some of the animation changes mentioned, but Gustafsson suggests "for your part, changing your FOV can be really helpful."

I find this situation absolutely fascinating. It's true that FOV can have a huge impact on the perceived speed of a first-person game. Cranking the FOV up to max in an FPS widens your peripheral vision, creating a fish-eye effect that makes objects on the sides of the screen appear to move faster. The opposite is true for lower FOVs—the less of the world we can see changing around us, the slower we perceive it.

So let's check Embark's work. Here's the move speed of a Light class build from open beta vs. final release with the FOV set to the default 71 in both clips.

Looks the same to me. Maybe I'm missing some of those animation changes Embark mentioned, but I don't think this is the culprit. Here's what the difference between 71 FOV and 100 FOV looks like in the current version of The Finals.

It's night and day. FPS players tend to increase their default FOV because of the boost to peripheral vision, but a less-talked-about benefit is that many shooters just feel way better when we think we're moving faster. As evidenced by reactions to The Finals, our brains can detect a speed difference without even realizing it's a matter of perspective.

Higher FOV has a tradeoff, though. You can see more on your sides, but everything directly in front of you slightly shrinks, which can make it harder to track far-away targets in a shooter. That's why you'll often hear esports pros suggest lowering your FOV as much as possible to increase your accuracy, or even play in a smaller aspect ratio. We don't recommend either of those things, but you should play around with The Finals' FOV slider to find the visibility you're most comfortable with. For a game like The Finals with long-range firefights and lots of verticality, I'm probably gonna land right in the middle with 85-90 FOV.

Realizing that this particular backlash is probably one big misunderstanding, some Steam players are trying to undo the damage dealt to The Finals' review average with positive reviews that include a word of advice.

"The game is perfect, despite the 'mixed' reviews. Most negative reviews are from people who don't know how to change their in-game settings," reads one rebuttal from user .

"Literally put POV to 100," wrote user Silver Bullet.