Four years ago Ubisoft announced and started the early marketing campaign for Tom Clancy's Rainbow 6: Patriots, the next title in the long-running tactical shooter franchise and the first since the Rainbow Six: Vegas series concluded in 2008. Last year, that game was canceled and some of its top creatives removed from the project.
Out of the remains of Patriots came Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, a game that takes a different and much simpler approach. Rainbow Six Siege offers a unique and exciting competitive multiplayer experience that's absolutely worth your attention despite its issues and lack of content.
There's no story campaign in Rainbow Six Siege. Instead, core gameplay is designed around five versus five attack and defend scenarios. Both teams have 10 operators to choose from, each with different weapons and gear and hailing from different international agencies. Teams cannot double-up on these characters so individual players will need to spend Renown (the in-game currency) to unlock as many operators as possible, lest they be stuck playing the default recruit.
There are standout operators for each side of the conflict, with a few out of the game's launch lineup seemingly under-powered and arguably obsolete. Depending on play style preference, there's an operator for you and your role on the team which helps make Rainbow Six Siege arguably the most dynamic and interesting competitive shooter of the year. Siege isn't about running and gunning. It's about planning and execution. And it's about equipment as much as it is about gunplay.
Destruction is The Key to Rainbow Six Siege
Rainbow Six Siege excels in its destructible environments and player movement, and much of the equipment in the game centers around breaching into rooms to create new pathways, new shooting angles, and even distractions. The walls of key structures, in addition to designated spots in floors and ceilings can be blown open with charges (or a sledgehammer). The same goes for many of the little objects and decorations filling the interiors. All of the destruction, from explosions to smoke, look and sound incredible.
Barricades on doors can be smashed and shot through as well and the defenders can prevent that from happening by reinforcing fragile walls, barricading doors and windows, and setting traps. That's just one layer to the tactical gameplay and another is the ability to relay intel to teammates via cameras.
The attackers get a few seconds before reach round to explore the map with camera drones to locate the objective while the defenders setup shop (and try to shoot or block the drones). The defending team has access to cameras as well, but theirs are built into the map and are equally susceptible to bullet fire. Anyone operating a camera can tag enemies but to do so will notify the targeted player(s) that they're being observed, stressing the importance of using a mic to communicate with your team.
Communication is Everything... When It Works
Rainbow Six Siege strongly encourages communication and in-game voice is supported, although in the PC version, we've never played a match where sound wasn't an issue. The system is buggy and volume controls seem to have little effect, and are subject to conflicts with Ubisoft's Uplay client. Setting voice to push-to-talk may result in an open mic line randomly and some players will just always be too quiet even when settings are maxed out. Needless to say, it's a problem that exemplifies a lack of polish in the interface designs, one that extends to not being able to adjust weapon attchments between rounds and matches, being unable to click the map for choosing starting locations each round, and matchmaking preferences inexplicably hidden away in top-level menus. There's a bit of a learning curve in the first hours of play just to understand the setup.
When it works though, the game starts to deliver the experience it's really built for. A fully communicating team of five - although rare - taking on five other players is a wonderful experience and unique to this title in how tactics are rewarded and how unique gear is utilized, especially considering that there are no respawns or health pickups. For the most part, players invested in Rainbow Six Siege tend to be supportive of the the series and co-op element. More than most team-based competitive shooters in the genre, Rainbow Six Siege's competitive multiplayer doubles as a fun co-op experience in how players must work together.
The game also ships with an actual standalone co-op experience in its Terrorist Hunt mode, pitting a player with friends or with strangers via matchmaking against a set number of AI controlled opponents. They can play solo as well and these scenarios usually involve hunting down and cleaning the map of enemies but it can sometimes also involve a scenario, from rescuing a hostage to protecting a bomb. These are generally short and simple, and the maps (the same maps from the situations and multiplayer) are very intimate, but it's another fun way to play with the operators especially at the most challenging difficulty level.