I think I heard footsteps…
I will happily admit to being a huge fan of the Rainbow Six Vegas games. I played the hell out of them and was rightfully excited when Patriots was announced. However, that Rainbow Six game just didn’t happen for whatever reason. Instead, towards the end of 2015, we get Rainbow Six Siege, a more tactical Rainbow Six game that focuses on the multiplayer experience and feels very different to the Vegas games that I know and love. It didn’t come as a surprise, from the very first announcement of Siege, it was obvious that this would be a different game. And it doesn’t mean that it is a bad game. It is just that I miss Vegas.
Still, enough about what Rainbow Six Siege isn’t. Let’s look at what Rainbow Six Siege is – beautifully tense and delightfully chaotic.
The vast majority of time spent in Rainbow Six Siege will be spent with the competitive multiplayer. Players will form two teams of five and go head to head. There will be an objective, such as a hostage, and one team will try to reach this while the other protects it. Each round has a time limit and play continues until the timer runs out, the objective is completed, or one team has been totally wiped out, as there is no respawning.
Before beginning, players get to choose their operator from the selection that they have unlocked. Players earn renown through play that is used to unlock new Operators from a stable of twenty. Only one of each operator can be present in the game, so players will often find themselves having to choose a back up if their favorite operator has already been chosen by someone else. This adds a certain amount of balance to the game, and forces players to concentrate their time on more than one operator.
There are ten different operators for both attack and defence, and each of them bring different abilities to the table. For the attackers, a firm favorite is Fuze who uses a very competent cluster charge. Other attackers might use a tactical shield with flash abilities or drones that can disable traps. The defenders have the likes of Castle with his ability to place reinforced barricades, or Doc who can revive teammates from a distance. The variety of operators is impressive will give each player a distinct role in the upcoming operation.
Before the real tension kicks in, players will then have a preparation phase during which the attackers can investigate the map with drones and mark out the positions of defending players. The defenders themselves can spend this time fortifying their position and laying traps for the attackers.
The maps are compact, often involving a single building, and enjoyable to play in. The random nature of the objectives ensures that there is only a certain amount of advantage to be gained from learning the maps, making it easier for new players to feel a worthwhile member of the team. The big thing in Siege is the destructible scenery, a feature we have seen in other games but never to this degree. Most of the surfaces in Siege can be breached, either with explosives or even simple gunfire, adding to the tactical level of the game, both for access and diversion.
After preparation has been completed, the tension really ramps up as the attacking team make their way towards the objective, while the defending team waits and covers all approaches. Sound plays an important part in building the tension, as hearing footsteps or other noises can reveal the position of an opposing player, or act as a diversion to focus attention while executing another plan. It is quite nerve wracking, and can often take quite a while for the first shot to be fired. Once it is though, chaos often follows. The gunplay is not as sharp as other shooters, and when combined with the destructible scenery, it isn’t long before bullets are flying all over the place and being hit by a stray bullet is as likely a way to be taken out of the match as any other.
The competitive multiplayer can be an exhilarating experience, but it does rely a lot on teamwork. Voice communication goes a long way to help a team work well together, although with the defined roles of the operators, even a silent team can still pull off impressive strategies. However, nothing can make up for players who neither communicate or play to their operators strengths, so the experience really does depend on who you are playing with.
Aside from the competitive multiplayer, there is also a token selection of single player missions and a co-op horde mode of sorts. The single player missions work as a good place to learn the game, but can be completed in only a couple of hours. The co-op mode will see the player, and co-op buddies if they wish, facing off against waves of AI enemies. It’s reasonably enjoyable, but a strange drop in frame rate from the multiplayer game is very apparent and reduces the fun.
Multiplayer shooters are plentiful, but Rainbow Six Siege’s teamwork and tactical edge make it quite unique. The game is not exactly packed full of content, and things don’t always work as well as they could, but there is no better feeling than a perfectly executed plan. Rainbow Six Siege may not be the game that players wanted, but it may well be the tactical multiplayer shooter that they need.