Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Genre: Tactical FPS
Release Date: December 1, 2015
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Writer: Li Kuo
Biography: Rainbow Six Siege is a tactical shooter that involves two teams of 5 facing off against one another and using weapons, gadgets, drones, cameras and explosives to either attack or defend an area.
Rainbow Six Siege is a difficult game to jump into. Making your way in the game, particularly solo can be disheartening as players with superior knowledge and skill punish you for your newbie status. On PC in particular the standard is very high and you’d be forgiven for feeling a little lost after your first few matches. This feeling of being outmatched never really goes away as you’re nearly always up against someone who has played more matches or has better map knowledge. Nevertheless, the game can be incredibly rewarding as victory in Rainbow Six Siege really does take some effort.
First released in December 2015 on the back of the historic Tom Clancy games, Rainbow Six Siege received a somewhat lukewarm reception upon release and has since adopted a live or games-as-a-service approach and gone on to garner a passionate community of players, a highly competitive e-sports scene along with new maps and operators added to the game every season to spice things up. This approach has steadily rejuvenated the title and in 2017 Ubisoft reported the game had 25 million registered players, a significant achievement for a game that didn’t blow people away out of the gate.
If you’ve played games like Call of Duty or Battlefield there’s little that will give you an advantage in Rainbow Six Siege. There’s no campaign but instead single player mini missions called Situations which allow you to use a specific operator on a specific map against bots. The game also possesses a Terrorist Hunt mode where you can choose any map and difficulty of enemies, solo or with friends to complete an objective such as defusing two bombs, rescuing a hostage or simply taking down all the enemies. To compete in multiplayer you pretty much need to play the bomb mode exclusively as this is where most of the action takes place online. The premise is that two teams of five compete against one another, one team defends the bomb with gadgets, reinforced walls and cameras while the attacking team uses gadgets, explosives and drones to enter the area and either kill all the other team or defuse one of two bombs before time runs out.
After playing a game or two the challenge in front of you becomes pretty obvious. Initially you won’t even know where you were shot from until you see the kill-cam. Experienced players will ‘peek’ out of certain windows on maps to try and pick an unsuspecting player or two off before you can even enter the building. While some players defend the bomb site others will ‘roam’ the buildings to get the drop on the attacking team. Default destructible cameras are also utilised by the defending team to spot where players are entering and breaching. Death isn’t the end of your role though as on defense you can use the cameras to ping or call out to teammates where enemies are and the same on attack with drones. Spectating your team mates is also advised early on so you can pick up on some of the tactics, areas to hold or push and how to best utilise certain operators.
Communication is key in this game and even when matchmaking with strangers, many will be offering direction in the game’s chat. Where possible it’s advisable to team up with some players who are more experienced and can offer advice and help guide you through the game. Knowing not to reinforce certain walls or where default cameras are located can be valuable insights from someone who knows what they’re doing and prevents needless frustration from other members of your team. For example, while useful the ping system notifies the player they have been spotted which usually leads to them destroying said camera – being able to communicate a player’s position without pinging is another valuable aspect of teamwork in Rainbow Six Siege.
Gradually certain hallways or parts of maps will become familiar and you may start to get a few kills here and there. Sites like R6Maps.com can help you learn the ropes too. This is especially satisfying when the kills are perfect headshots or you know the exact angle to hold on defense to have the upper hand or you flank someone on attack. If you’re smart stick to a couple of operators initially on attack or defense to get used to their weapons and gadgets. When used effectively gadgets can be a lifeline not only for yourself but your team too. Even with some knowledge it’s not uncommon to finish last in a game or occasionally not get any kills at all so perseverance in this manner is key and knowing when you’re up against almost pro level players.
This cycle of punishment and reward is strangely addictive and results in some great stories. Whether your team communicates perfectly on attack to plant the defuser and edge out your opponents or you emerge victorious from a 1 vs 3 much to the delight of your teammates there’s plenty of happier moments Rainbow Six Siege has to offer. There are some intense firefights at times particularly when you are 1 vs 1 and tremendous pressure since you know all your teammates are watching. Learning not to panic in these situations is a key lesson that you will learn over time. There are also places online you can track your stats to a great depth and as with any FPS watching your kill/death ratio slowly improve does wonders for confidence. It’s not all about kills though, the MVP of the game will be the player with the highest points which can come from all manner of things including assists, destroying gadgets, finding or defusing a bomb and more. Some games you may not get any kills or assists and die a lot but you are still able to be useful to your team.
Once you become comfortable, experimenting with different operators to find your favourites is a lot of fun. While the operators or characters themselves have very little in terms of backstory it’s their relationship to the wider community that truly matters. Players are quick to pick up on if a character is buffed or nerfed by a game patch and there are always operators such as Twitch or Sledge that are popular with the player base. Meanwhile some characters like Tachanka (who can set up and sit behind a turret) are pretty much derided to comical effect. Ubisoft does a good job overall of maintaining a balance and giving the operators personality and useful quirks or animations.
The ultimate test for multiplayer comes in Ranked where you will receive a rank after a certain number of matches based on a rating called MMR which accounts for a variety of factors like your points, kill/death ratio and win/loss ratio. The mode has been tweaked over the years but the basic premise remains the same: it’s where the best players face off. Only certain maps are provided and you are punished for quitting early or being AFK. This mode is where the most intense gameplay can be found and even small actions are scrutinised by your teammates. Victory in ranked against a well organised team feels fantastic but a lack of map knowledge can be punished severely by those who play the mode regularly.
Overall, Rainbow Six Siege offers some of the best stories around in multiplayer FPS games. Tales of victory and loss, triumph and glory or miserable defeat. The best part of these stories is that they all revolve around choices made by the player, sometimes in a split second and although the game can be punishing, learning from your mistakes and finding a solid team to work with can have fantastic entertainment value.