Platforms PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Developer Ubisoft Montreal Publisher Ubisoft
Genre First Person Shooter Platform Played Xbox One
In the world of modern gaming there has never been a real shortage of first person shooter titles, however many of the AAA titles strive to accomplish similar things. Allowing the greatest number of players to battle at once, integrating RPG or MMO elements into the mix to keep players coming back, letting players show off their skill with a rank system, and becoming popular enough to be played in global tournaments are all relatively common goals in the genre. Rainbow Six Siege has taken a decidedly different route, embracing the history of the franchise and targeting a more niche community: the FPS fans who want a far more challenging experience with more emphasis on teamwork and communication.
The majority of Rainbow Six Siege is unsurprisingly based in online multiplayer, pitting teams of five players against one another. The squads are never more than this, placing even more pressure on the team to stay alive and make every decision count. One team will be inside of a building and given a brief window to fortify their positions, make preparations for the incoming assault, and make life difficult for the opposing team. In the meantime, the attacking team spends this preparation time controlling wheeled drones which allow them to sneak into the building and scout out surroundings. Both enemies and objectives can be identified during this time, giving the attackers a far better idea of what to expect when they breach the building. These drones are destructible, meaning that observant defenders can destroy them before much can be scanned, leaving the attackers just as blind as they were before the match began.
With the preparation phase complete, the teams are unleashed on each other, usually having wildly different outcomes based entirely on how prepared or organized players are. Once a player is killed, they are out for the round and may only spectate teammates, drones, or security cameras throughout the building. This ensures that even deceased players are still very much a part of the game and can play an integral role in the outcome, but are unable to actively engage with other players save verbal communication with teammates or tagging enemies seen on cameras. This may seem like a minor detail at first, but this can be equally as stressful as controlling a player, particularly if you were on the defending team. When defenders die, they may cycle through the building’s security cameras and control them, even going so far as to allow tagging of enemies. There were several rounds when I would be killed as a defender, but through using cameras, I was able to pinpoint the locations of remaining opponents or verbalize the path they were taking, giving my teammates a chance to re-position themselves or chase the enemies down.
Prior to each round, players are given the opportunity to choose their operator and loadout. Operators are specific characters with unique abilities, and the list varies between defenders and attackers. Operators must be unlocked through spending in-game currency, but they are what make every round of Siege unique. Teams can only have one of each operator in play in any given round, meaning that organization and teamwork can play a big part even before the round starts. Some defenders are able to construct mobile shields or provide extra body armour, and some attackers can break through reinforced walls or demolish entire floors and walls with a single swing of a hammer. When combinations of operators are chosen based on what they can provide in conjunction with the others, the chance of success skyrockets. There is no operator who inherently has an advantage over the others, as they each have weaknesses as well. Speed and armour are affected by what each operator offers, in addition to the selection of weapons available. Ubisoft Montreal has done a phenomenal job balancing characters and because of this, any team has the ability to succeed with any operators.
Players got a sampling of different levels during the Rainbow Six Siege beta, but the full game has many more maps and game types. Terrorist Hunt has a few variations such as hostage extraction, and will randomly assign the game type and map each time a mission is started. The same occurs when playing online multiplayer, meaning that people will not be voting for a map or type in the name of having an advantage. Regardless of which level is being played, there are no real safe zones for people to camp in. With such a destructible environment, planning out a defense or offense is absolutely critical. You may believe the room containing your bomb is safe because all of the walls are reinforced but your team will not have had enough reinforcements to barricade the trap door above you, leaving a significant weakness in addition to any doorways or windows. Each level seems to have a healthy balance of destructible and indestructible surfaces, ensuring that while not every wall around you will be turned to rubble, you must always be aware of your surroundings and watch for flying debris. The audio in Rainbow Six Siege is fantastic and provides players with another means of identifying where opponents may be. Even when using a television’s standard audio, you can easily estimate how far away an explosion was or which direction bullets are flying from.
Given that map selection is completely random, some players may not even be aware of a level’s existence for quite some time. I can certainly appreciate why level selection is random and not based on player choice, but for modes such as Terrorist Hunt with friends, or better yet, playing solo, choosing the level and game variation should at least be an option. I had absolutely no idea there was a level which resembled some sort of Christmas village until about an hour and a half into failing miserably at Terrorist Hunt. At level 5, the player unlocks the option to create custom games, but prior to that, the option is locked on the main menu so there is no way to specifically choose certain levels or game variants.
Given Siege‘s heavy focus on multiplayer, it may not come as a total shock that single player content is not found in abundance within the title. It still exists in the form of solo Terrorist Hunt and “Situations” which are never-changing scenarios which task the player with an objective and three optional challenges, but that is where the content ends. There would be more replay value to these scenarios if things such as enemy placement or the operator you control changed, but these remain identical each time, only allowing the AI to become more or less responsive as you modify the difficulty. The saving grace is that the AI is actually incredibly intelligent, particularly on “Realistic” difficulty, ensuring that the experience is never too easy. Solo Terrorist Hunt offers more variety simply because what you play is always changing, but unless you set out with the specific goal to master every game variant on every map, this may bore you after a dozen hours.
The server stability is also an issue which reared its ugly head from time to time. Those who played the beta know the server connection was always hit and miss, and the finished product is certainly higher quality, but there are still dropped games and matchmaking issues on occasion. I have also never managed to boot up the game and have it successfully connect to the Rainbow Six Siege serve on the first attempt, forcing me to wait at the main menu for another 10-15 seconds as it retries and eventually connects. This is most definitely not a deal-breaking issue, but a minor nuisance.
Many multiplayer-centric titles have experienced limited success on consoles when looking for teamwork and communication, with many gamers favouring the running and gunning Rambo approach, even in team-based settings. Rainbow Six Siege does not guarantee players will not attempt this, but the the history of the franchise and its deep roots as a tactical FPS series helps significantly in overcoming this mentality. I only experienced a handful of matches in which nobody else had their microphone plugged in, and in one of them, a few teammates even plugged theirs in between rounds when they realized I was attempting to communicate with them in the name of strategy rather than spewing random nonsense. There is a steep learning curve in Siege given how many gadgets and tricks there are to familiarize yourself with, but those with the patience to play a tactical shooter will likely have no problem dedicating the time required to become an efficient breaching machine. While the game is lacking in single player content and the server acts up on occasion, Rainbow Six Siege is easily the most strategic, intense shooter on the market and does the franchise proud.
- Phenomenal balancing found in operators and level design
- AI acts as unpredictably as human players on harder difficulties
- Deceased players may still be of assistance to team
- Rainbow Six fanbase allows for a more tactical, communication-focused experience
- Extremely limited single player content
- Slight server issues
The Score: 8.9
Eric is an Xbox editor for Analog Addiction where you can find all the latest gaming news, previews, reviews, and everything else that rhymes with those words. ‘Like’ Analog Addiction on Facebook to receive all of the updates as they’re posted.