It’s been around seven years since we last saw a Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six game; in that time we’ve witnessed many an online shooter go through ups and downs. Trying to keep the gameplay feeling renewed and unique without alienating your core fans is a tricky thing to do, so let’s see what Ubisoft have come up with for Rainbow Six Siege.
When the Rainbow Six franchise began all those years ago, it was strictly a hardcore shooter, your enemies, teammates and you yourself died in very few bullets; thankfully this hasn’t changed. If you attempt, with any sort of aplomb, to approach this game like Call of Duty or Battlefield, it’s going to end badly. Whilst perhaps distancing your game from a greater market, this slower, more deliberate style of play does indeed feel like a breath of fresh air. Plus the parallels it draws with the incredibly popular Counter-Strike, suggest that yes, there is indeed a place for old fashioned, small team tactics in amongst the chaos of modern FPS’s.
Counter-Strike is probably the most relatable game with regards to Siege, and it’s clear that some ideas have crossed over. The game is almost entirely multiplayer focused, leaving only ten ‘Situations’ that span the breadth of your singleplayer fun. Whilst it’s not necessary to complete them before jumping headfirst into a hostage scenario, it’s highly recommended. Serving as more functional and progressive tutorials, each adds their own lessons to learn and take with you online. The AI can be a little ‘odd’ at times too, make no mistake though, if you turn the difficulty up, you’ll get punished, but they’ll not quite prepare you for the online play as much as you might hope.
Aside from the singleplayer portion (or lack thereof) there’s another mode that can help get you warmed up before going up against real opponents, and that’s the returning ‘Terrorist Hunt’. A predominantly coop playlist, although you can attempt it on your own. Terrorist Hunt borrows objectives from the main, competitive game-type and pits you and your comrades up against sets of AI controlled enemies. Once again, much like the ‘Situations’ mode however, repetition can kick in a little too quickly, especially considering how enjoyable it can be.
The third, and by far, most popular and enjoyable portion, is the competitive multiplayer, of which the entire game is built around. Featuring two teams of five, each party will alternate between attacking and defending certain objectives. Whether it be defusing a bomb or rescuing a hostage, the premise remains the same. Defenders will generally camp it out in one, heavily fortified room, leaving the attackers to seek out where they’re hiding, make a plan of attack and most importantly, see it through.
Whilst this might not sound too revolutionary or exciting, it’s the incredible amount of destruction available which makes it so compelling and difficult. Breach charges can be placed on doors, walls and even floors in order to make a spectacular entrance. Holes in connecting walls can even be made to a point where you can make your own lines of sight and get the drop on an unsuspecting foe. The addition of friendly fire can often be an issue in these scenarios too. Knowing an enemy is nearby is a tactile feeling, and knowing just when to raise your rifle to shoot them is another. Having an over eager teammate try to rush the door at that exact moment is something you’ll have to deal with, because it will happen.
The main problem revolves around teamwork, it’s a team focused game where rounds are won and lost based upon communication over gun skills. And that’s great when you’re with a group of friends, each of whom are talking and are all comfortable around each other. What’s not so great is that the entire precipice of the game revolves around it; having a couple teammates that go off and do their own thing is fine until there’s only one or two of you left. Then the lack of communication quickly becomes a loss.
When it does go right however, the game can be incredibly tactical and rewarding. Finding a group to play with is much more satisfying in the long run as you’ll learn what each other are both good and bad at. Whilst on the defending side, knowing that guy beside you has the eyes of a hawk can make quite the difference, however not as much difference as the knowledge that at some point he’ll spontaneously decide to get up and start playing aggressively without warning…
There are plenty guns and other toys to play about with, strutting ominously forwards with the riot shield is a brave but worthwhile tactic every now and again. As is fully utilising your teams’ set of gadgets whenever possible. The guns themselves feel weighty, as does your character, it actually took a little fiddling around with sensitivities before I got even vaguely comfortable with how you move, aim and shoot. It’s a small learning curve, but if you’ve come from other FPS’s, it will feel different.
Despite the game having a decidedly sparse amount of content as a whole, there are ways to extend your playtime a little with the ever present ‘Renown’ currency. Earnable by pretty much doing anything in the game, you can spend it on things like weapon skins, attachments and ‘Operatives’ which are the unique characters who possess special abilities like being able to deploy poison gasses. There are, sadly, micro-transactions available in the game too which stings a little and doesn’t seem entirely necessary, but they’re there and mercifully not required.
There’s a heavy prominence to the destruction in Rainbow Six Siege, without it, it’d be a very similar ordeal to that of Counter-Strike. With it however, Siege brings a whole new slew of strategies and tenseness to the genre. It’s not for those who can’t sit still and be patient; it’s going to be rough on those that don’t want to use a mic, and it’s certainly not the most expansive game around right now. Grab a few friends though, and before the weekends over, you’ll be calling out your pets location to no one in particular.