Ubisoft haven’t been shy in their ambitions for Rainbow Six Siege. They’ve even gone as far as to call it out for its potential to be the best FPS game on their roster – and coming from the company behind the Far Cry series, this is a pretty bold claim. So now it’s out in the wild after two open betas, how good is it?
We Can Rebuild It, We Have The Technology
I pretty much grew up on Tom Clancy games. I played the original Rainbow Six on Playstation 1 so much the disc broke. I spent most of my second year of uni playing Rainbow Six Vegas 2‘s terrorist hunt mode with my flatmate, to the point where I would pester him to play long after he’d lost interest. To me, there’s a strong link between the thrill of playing Vegas 2, and finding the right team of people in Siege. When everything is working as it should, it’s an undeniable thrill to play.
Siege manages to pull together the victories of its forebearers into an online shooter that stands apart from its competitors for all its gadgets, strategy and teamwork. The 10 or so domestic maps bring what would usually be considered fantasy, firmly into reality. A dockyard, an embassy in a busy urban city, and a ski chalet are just some of the environments that can be kitted out with a variety of deadly traps as two teams frantically try to outwit each other with the clock ticking down.
Friends With Benefits
Each team has a rich arsenal of weapons at their disposal to make life short for the opposition. As defenders, you can barricade doors and windows, set up laser trip-bombs and plant C4 to protect your hostage, bombs or biohazard container. As attackers, it’s your job to find the objective through any means necessary, be that with bullets or bombs. Environments get wrecked in spectacular fashion, sending splintered wood flying through clouds of dust and enemies, so camping is never a smart option.
The key focus of Rainbow Six Siege is that – like most shooters – grouping with your friends and using headsets, provides a tactical advantage over a team of randoms. Picking the right operators, timing your breaches to perfection, and ending the level victorious is not only satisfying, but also fairly simple when everybody pulls in the same direction.
Stop Playing With Yourself
While the multiplayer is the beating heart of Siege, there are questions to ask about the lack of a single player campaign. There is a hint of a story present, and there are 10 single player missions that – while fun – shouldn’t be thought of as anything more than glorified training missions. There are gorgeously crafted cutscenes for Operators, and an intro movie with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from Angela Bassett that leaves you feeling like there was a story here at one point.
Siege is clearly made to be a multiplayer game, but the lack of a single player story will leave many feeling like they’re not getting a full experience for the price, and justifiably so.
Ubisoft want you to play Siege with friends. The problem is, unless you can team up with four dedicated teammates every time, the game leans heavily on luck as to whether you’ll get a good team. After around 10 hours with the game (not including the betas), I lost count of the amount of times I would set up a barricade only to have a teammate tear it down or have somebody shoot a hostage, ending the round immediately.
It’s frustrating to have to rely so heavily on other people, especially when the game does nothing to incentivise solid teamwork. What it really boils down to is, if you and four friends have copies of the game, you’re going to clean up until you’re at least level 20.
There is a good amount of fun to be had playing randomly, and a healthy portion of the time you’ll get into a group that’s okay, fighting off against another group that are okay, resulting in some pretty intense cat-and-mouse-style battles. Too frequently I tensed up waiting for the room I was in to be breached, or methodically searched the map for an enemy ready to spring out on me at any second. It’s thrilling stuff at its core, even with the renegades.
As with many online shooters, balancing is always a problem. It’s something that Ubisoft have put a lot of time into trying to get right, and it pays off for the most part. There are 20 Operators to choose from – more to be added in the sequential free DLC – and each with their own pros, cons and special abilities that make them unique.
These Operators can be unlocked as you level up and earn in-game currency known as renown, which is pretty easy to come by. Each special forces team has four Operators – two attackers and two defenders – that can be purchased as you progress. The first Operator in each group costs 500 renown, the second 1,000, the third 1,500 and the final 2,000, but they can be unlocked in any order making it so once you’ve got your favourites, you’re good to go.
Saying that, there are clear favourites. A lot of people tend to go for the likes of Ash, Fuze and Kapkan, making them highly sought after. Only one person per team can be any one Operator, which can be pretty frustrating if all the ones you’ve unlocked are taken. You’re then forced to play as Recruits – who are perfectly usable – but don’t carry the same cool gadgets as their teammates.
To Protect And Server
During Siege’s two open betas, a recurring theme emerged. The servers suck, and unfortunately, this is something that’s carried through to the game on release. Servers have been up and down with a worrying degree of regularity, something that a game with a heavy focus on multiplayer ought to have sorted long before this.
While Ubisoft will undoubtedly get this sorted, it’s unacceptable that a game so heavily reliant on its multiplayer struggles to stand up to the stress of people playing the game online. If you’re paying big money for a big release, you expect it to work when you get it, but all too frequently in modern times this has not been the case.
There were high expectations for Rainbow Six Siege, set by both Ubisoft and gamers. It just misses out on being an incredible experience due to the server problems, and the fact that random people can ruin a fun game with a couple of dick moves. To their credit, Ubisoft have said they have plans to deal with preventing trolls from spoiling the game, and the servers will get better with time. Rainbow Six Siege is undeniably best enjoyed with friends, but there’s still enough here to keep players hooked for a good few months when tackled alone.