Seven long years after Rainbow Six: Vegas 2’s release, Rainbow Six Siege is finally continuing on in the popular tactical shooter’s name. However, this is a very different game to what went before, releasing into a world where online multiplayer often comes first, a fact which has clearly had a major impact on the direction Siege has taken during development.
The single player centric nature mooted for the long abandoned Rainbow Six: Patriots is gone and in its place a concerted focus on multiplayer, co-op and little else. It only came out recently that Siege wouldn’t feature traditional single player, and with the unveiling of Situations mode, Ubisoft have finally demonstrated what it is that this means for the game.
Playable solo or online with friends, it’s effectively a training ground. Each mission is preceded by an introductory video that details the key abilities of the operator that you’ll be playing as, as well as the mission objectives ahead of you.
There’s an assault against a group of terrorists holed up on a grounded plane, hostage rescue and extraction, defending a hostage from waves of attackers, and so on. Each scenario is tailored to the operative, so that GSG9’s IQ is sent into building riddled with explosives and booby traps that her wrist mounted electronics scanner can highlight for you. The operators all fit into just a handful of archetypes, but within those, there’s plenty of variation so that you’ll quickly hone in on the fact that you prefer the guy with the extendable shield, versus the one with flashbangs on the front.
Scenarios mode is an effective training ground for the co-op and competitive multiplayer modes, but it’s little more than this and something of a waste of Angela Bassett’s voice work in the role of Six and completely devoid of plot. Certainly it will do little assuage the fans that were disappointed by the lack of a single player story mode.
Those multiplayer modes are rather a lot of fun though. Terrorist Hunt comes in two different varieties, so that you can head into hostile territory to try and defuse a bomb or play the classic mode where you hunt all the AI terrorists.
Even against AI, you need to cement your teamwork and pick complementary classes. One of the handful of guys with shields will always be tasked with going through a door first, to take as much of the gunfire as possible – though they’re not exactly invulnerable, even with the shield up – while another with breaching charges is ideal for making new entrances on the fly and circumventing defences.
The AI does a decent job, but won’t be likely to win too many awards, from what I saw. They’re good at tucking themselves into awkward corners to try and catch you unawares, and do move around a bit to keep you on your toes if you’ve gone through and pinpointed them with your drone, but they’re not particularly clever, all too eager to rush straight towards you once they’re down to the last few men, and have that unerring ability to know exactly where you are as soon as a compatriot has spotted you.
They mean that the game doesn’t punish you enough early on for being too gung ho and throwing caution to the wind, but it’s compounded by an ever so slightly forgiving approach to the “one hit will kill” gameplay of old, and that can seep through to player attitudes in the multiplayer. When playing Hostage in particular, rounds were determined a little too often by a grenade being flung into a room with little consideration, or an over eager sniper shooting them in the noggin.
Yet it does reward the kinds of tactical play and the kinds of preparation and mind games that the series is known for. Properly setting up your defences to funnel an attack in a manageable fashion is vital, but on the other side, so is analysing the various entry points for danger and trying to catch the defenders unawares.
This is really where the pervasive level destruction comes into play. Defenders can knock small peepholes in walls to keep an eye on a key stairwell or lay an ambush, but attackers can use it in just as devious and unexpected ways, perhaps coming in via a breaching charge, shoving a grenade launcher through a breachable wall to create a kind of hell on the other side, or lying on the floor and shooting through holes low down at the defenders’ feet.
As the two teams of five flip back and forth between attack and defence, tactics and ideas form as you gain familiarity with all the tools at your disposal – I was very often first through the door with a shield in my hand – the levels and the potential tactics. Playing with friends and communicating will quickly lead to an evolution of how you play the game, and organised teams will have a clear advantage over those pulling in different directions.
While it might not be quite what fans of Vegas expected, and there’s a missed potential to have a truly great offline experience that bends and adapts to the dynamic level destruction, Siege still has a lot going for it. Playing with friends and people you know is a blast, amidst the trappings of a multiplayer focussed tactical shooter that rewards clever and considered play.