Rainbow Six Siege has been nothing if not divisive. An oft requested reboot of a beloved – albeit quite niche – game series, to my mind, there are a lot of similarities between this and Star Wars Battlefront. They certainly have a very different setting and completely different styles of play, but both games bring up the same questions.
Do you want an engaging single player experience? Well, those looking for a solo campaign will naturally be disappointed by the Situations mode. Instead of a cohesive set of scenarios, tied together by a story as you and AI or co-op teammates clear the corridors of a plane or embassy building, you’re presented with ten training missions, to introduce you to a selection of the 20 specialists in the game and how best to use them.
Considering that the normal difficulty AI are fairly dimwitted, it’s quite easily cleared in around 90 minutes, but Scenario mode is capped off by the most disappointing thing of all. It leads up to a Scenario with a story introduction that you play with match-made teammates and that is unlike anything else in the game. This mission is an indication of what could have been, and yet we’re given a mere glimpse of the newly formed Rainbows tackling a terror threat.
Yet there’s still a lot of merit and appeal to what Rainbow Six Siege has turned out to be. It’s fair to say that the game feel light on content, with a handful of similar feeling game modes that play across 10 maps, but whether in the co-operative Terrorist Hunt or the competitive multiplayer, playing together as a cohesive team is excellent. Chances are that you won’t manage to be as slick as Ubisoft’s press conference presentations, but even with just a fraction of the coordination and communication, the inherent satisfaction of the tactical play is easy to see.
You’ll be timing your breaching charges to go off at the same time, finding the weaknesses in a defensive set up, setting traps and choke points for enemies to be caught in, or even just following the shield carrier on point and shooting over their shoulder. Especially in multiplayer, there’s a real tussle between the defenders holding defensive positions as the attackers try to make use of the element of surprise.
A lot of it hangs on the pervasive destruction you can use to alter the environments, but it can also come from the specialists that you choose to use. Working in tandem, you might want to have Thermite use his special breaching charges to break through reinforced walls, before letting Blitz step through the hole with his heavy shield to soak up the bullets and Glaz’s marksman rifle picks people off. Defensively, there’s plenty of variety as well, with a separate group of characters to choose from that let you trip mine doors, electrify barbed wire, place down a high calibre machine gun, and so on, always trying to funnel and stall the aggressors with barricades, traps and reinforced walls.
This all means that you need to be working as a team in order to win, and being able to chat to your teammates is a vital part of that, as you coordinate your attack or defence, and call out threats to each other. It will live and die by the people that you play with on a regular basis, and while that’s easy to get when you’re sat in a large room with rows of computers, it’s much more difficult to achieve with the game at home.
Worse than simply being uncoordinated – you can simply let someone else lead, after all – playing the open beta showed that some people will always actively trying to ruin the game for others. That friendly fire is on means that you need to be careful of where you’re firing or warn others as best you can of the grenade you’re about to throw, but there are those who would gladly shoot teammates in the back, for some unfathomable reasons. Thankfully, Ubisoft have a plan in place to cut this out in the final game.
Beyond that, the open beta has been fairly stable for me, with only the oddities of not being able to take a party with you back to the lobby and a few instances of lag to bother me. The several stages of the alpha and beta testing haven’t exactly been smooth on the matchmaking front – and we’re waiting to spend time with the release game on final servers before we review, as a consequence – but the open beta could quite quickly find me a game to join.
Having been able to dip into the beta – when it’s worked – will certainly have helped people to already make up their minds for Rainbow Six Siege and if it’s for them. Between the lack of a story-based solo campaign and wanting to play with friends rather than strangers, there’s a number of reasons why Siege could be off-putting to fans of the series, but get past those disappointments and limitations, and there are plenty of fascinating mind games and tense action to be had.