Interview: Scott Mitchell On Community And Beta Testing In Rainbow Six Siege

Rainbow Six has been on the lips of many a tactical shooter fan for the last few years, as the collective yearning for a new game in the series has gradually built. Ubisoft are answering those calls in December with Rainbow Six Siege, a multiplayer focussed bid to reignite the franchise with teamwork and level destruction at its core.

We sat and talked to Scott Mitchell, Art Director on the game, at EGX a week and a half ago. Since then, however, it has come out from other interviews with Scott that the game does not feature a traditional single player story campaign, and though you’ll see that we did ask about this aspect of the game, the rather coy response makes a degree more sense in light of that information.

TSA: It feels a bit funny to ask this so close to launch of Rainbow Six Siege, but what was it like to have the constant pressure and calls to make a new game in the series from fans? Was it a driving force? Maybe an annoyance because you couldn’t open up about the game for so many years?

Scott Mitchell: I think the most difficult part was realising how different we are, and when the players started speaking up about how much potential the game has and how they’re happy that we’re different, that we’re finally bringing tactics back, that the destruction is awesome, super dynamic and really tense, then that was extremely reassuring and we knew that we had made the right decision.

TSA: The main focus of what you’ve shown has been that multiplayer game, going through various different modes and the tactical play, but there’s always the worry that it’s not going to live up to what you’ve shown for most players when teaming up with other people they don’t know. Is there anything that you’ve done in the game to embed proper teamwork?

Scott: What we found, actually, at events like this [EGX], at E3, at Gamescom, is that people would meet each other in the queue, and that’s the first time that they will have played together. The first round, they find it kind of awkward, because it’s such a different experience to playing another shooter, where you’re in an outdoor arena or can go in solo, where our game really nurtures the teamwork element where you’re forced to communicate.

Often we do see one person who starts to initiate the communication, to take a kind of team captain role. They’ll start asking questions and it kind of breaks the ice a bit as people are running around, and then by the end of the round, everybody’s doing high fives and it’s amazing.

TSA: How do you handle that in a matchmaking sense online? Because people have things unlocked, different levels of experience and so on, but even then, if you’re not sat with a group you know, matches will very often end up like that first round again.

Scott: What’s planned for the matchmaking, and actually what they’re trying to test right now; part of the purpose of the closed beta is to test that. The matchmaking should be pairing you up with people of similar skill levels, so that you don’t see the imbalance of skill levels and it doesn’t feel as though, if you have a ton of Renown and have unlocked a ton of operators, that now you’re playing with a total noob that’s been placed on your team.

That’s what we’re trying to test to make sure it doesn’t happen.

TSA: Speaking of the beta at the moment, it hasn’t had the smoothest of starts… [This interview was held at EGX, in the first few days of the beta test that ended on Sunday]

Scott: What it has been is what we expected, and that’s a testbed, really.

You know, the closed alpha was such a positive experience for us, even though you do get lots of negative feedback. We spin that so that we can improve the game based on that feedback, and the closed beta is exactly the same thing for us. We’re expecting to get both negative and positive feedback we’ll be able to apply it later on.

That’s actually why we pushed the release date of the game back, so that regardless of the way things are going right now, it’s just the purpose of what a beta is.

TSA: Do you think it’s difficult to communicate what people should expect with an alpha and a beta? So often we see a beta that’s in the two weeks before launch to ramp up the servers, whereas this is quite a bit earlier in the process with earlier code.

Scott: It is a little bit different, but we’ve been open to the community for quite some time. The plan for the game is that we’re going to continue to be live – that’s the term we’ve been using.

After the closed beta and we’ve shipped the game, the door’s not closed, we’re not saying, “Oh, thanks for your money and all your great feedback!” as the door shuts. We’re not doing that.

The game will continue to be updated afterwards as well, so we’ll continue to take player feedback, we’ll continue to keep the community involved, because the idea is to get the community in there and to help them build us up so that everyone’s happy and there’s longevity with the product. So we’re not too worried about that, to be honest.


TSA: You also have the quite interesting spectator mode, Caster Cam, which feels like you’re quite deliberately reaching out to the Twitch community, the e-sports community, and feels like a cornerstone to building a community around the game, as you were saying.

Scott: It was actually suggested as a feature quite early on in the process, but because our intention wasn’t to go towards e-gaming – quite honestly we just wanted a solid online shooter – after the closed alpha, when fans and journalists alike were saying this has a lot of potential, we thought that maybe we should be supporting it more.

That pushes features like the Caster Cam up in priority, and when we announced it at Gamescom, it was just super well received, and now everybody sees even more potential for it. Again, it’s the community speaking up about the game.

TSA: It’s certainly better to come at it from that angle, instead of saying, “We want to make an e-sports game.”

Scott: I can’t really speak to what’s the best way to do it, but let me tell you, when you’re getting positive feedback on Reddit, and people on Reddit are defending early builds of the game, saying, “Hey, it’s not finished!” and they’re seeing it as an opportunity to help improve the game, that’s all we can ask for. So for us, that ended up being the right approach.


TSA: Finally, you haven’t really touched upon the single player so far, but is there a reason for that?

Scott: We’re not talking a whole lot about the solo experience in great detail. What I can tell you is that you can play lone wolf, you can play co-op with four other friends…

TSA: So you take in a team of five, then?

Scott: It’s a team of five, but you do not have AI teammates, if you do play lone wolf.

TSA: That’s an interesting move, because you did have AI teammates in the past.

Scott: In the past there was that, but there are multiple reasons, production reasons, technical reasons why it’s not happening this time around. But we have developed the maps and the experience to make sure that it’s geared towards the solo experience.

What I can also tell you is that you’ll be playing against enemy AI, and they have the same access to tools that your player has. So, they’ll have access to destruction, they will also react to destruction, so you won’t find typical pathing from past version of Rainbow Six AI, you’ll find them a lot more intelligent this time around.

TSA: I think that’s good to hear that there is the destruction all the way through the game, that there is that commonality between single player and multiplayer so they mesh together.

Scott: The destruction really is the main pillar of the game, and then behind that you end up with the team play and everything being super tense. You will find that same experience in both PvE and PvP.

Thanks to Scott for speaking to us about Rainbow Six, and we’ll have more on the game in the run up to its launch in December.


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  1. You can he didn’t want to just be honest about the lack of campaign with his slightly evasive answers on the single player. When he talks of fans saying they wanted tactical gameplay I’m pretty sure they’d have meant the single player.

    From what I saw of the beta it could’ve been the latest CoD and I’d have known no different.

    • I wish that from the start they just said it would be multiplayer only and that they would be concentrating on that, rather than waiting until just a few months before release before dropping the bomb.

      The devs on reddit and twitter love to make it out that they’re really listening to fans, when all they’re trying to do is as you say, make another COD with the destructive elements of Battlefield.

    • I played a few matches in the beta. Other than guns and shooting it’s nothing like COD. It’s slower, more realistic.

      • I’d agree with that. You can try and run and gun, but it won’t get you anywhere against a solid and well thought out defence. It is, however, a game that will be defined by who you play with.

  2. Opinions have certainly been mixed so far but personally I really enjoyed the beta and am looking forward to the final game.

    I put a huge amount of time into R6 Vegas but I only played through the campaign once (and that was only to get the achievements), so I can’t say the lack of single player in Siege bothers me.

    For me Rainbow 6 is all about online PVP and Terrorist Hunt :)

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