Siege the moment…
Tom Clancy’s classic franchise finally returns, after a troubled development history and an abandoned concept in Patriots, does Siege live up to the series’ reputation, despite dropping the single player element completely?
Rainbow Six was always the slower, more tactical alternative to the fast paced twitch-based shooters, with Vegas and Vegas 2 being a particular favourite of mine. Those games were the antithesis of the “spawn, shoot, die, repeat” mentality that Call of Duty and the like brought to the table. One life, one chance. One wrong move and it was over. Seven years later then, we’re given the latest instalment. With the cancelled “Patriots” project shrouded in a fair deal of mystery, Siege was born.
Similar to the recently released Star Wars Battlefront, Rainbow Six Siege is almost exclusively multiplayer based. Just like its counterpart from a galaxy far, far away, Siege is also a hell of a lot of fun. Starting off with the “Situations” single player content (the only real solo stuff in the game), it gets you trained up with the mechanics to the point where you feel comfortable enough to jump into the organised chaos that is the multiplayer. These missions are fun little asides, but they only really serve to provide “Renown” points (the currency in the game that allows you to buy more weapons and characters). Possibly the most disappointing thing about the game, however, is that both the Situations and Terrorist Hunt run at 30fps. On its own, that might not be such a big deal, but given that the multiplayer is running at a buttery smooth 60fps, it’s a jarring experience to go back and forth between the two. It’s not really something I remember encountering during the betas either, which makes it all the more disappointing. I’ve barely touched Terrorist Hunt since playing it a bit for review, simply because of the drastic drop in frame rate.
However, the meat of Siege is in the multiplayer. And it’s fantastic. I’ve had a couple of matchmaking issues (parties not carrying through to games together), but they have been the exception rather than the rule, and on the whole I’ve been thrown into games pretty quickly. Once you’re in, you can choose from any of the operators you’ve unlocked, and depending on whether you’re attacking or defending, you get a different set of specialist “operators” to choose from. Be careful and quick with your choices though, as you can only have one of each operator on your team. There’s clearly been a lot of work put into balancing the abilities of the attackers and defenders, and each match feels genuinely tight and tense. Defenders get 30 seconds at the start of each round to fortify their positions and prep for the onslaught, whilst the attackers control a set of drones and guide them round the building in a frantic bid to locate the objectives and/or the five enemies, as well as any traps that they’ve laid.
Once the 30 seconds is up, the attackers lay siege to whichever building their foes are holed up in, with gizmos and gadgets such as breaching hammers, charges, shields, grenades and a whole host of other contraptions. To say things get tense is a massive understatement. The “one life and done” mechanic does wonders to slow the game down to a methodical and deliberate pace, with tactical play suddenly becoming second nature. Squads forming up behind a shield carrier as a breaching charge goes off immediately becomes the sensible option, with flashbangs and smoke grenades being deployed to hide your positions as you enter the building. Of course, if you really want to, you can just destroy pretty much any surface in the building to get to where you need to be. With the exception of a building’s ‘super structure’, practically every surface is destructible. Walls can be blown out, ceilings can be shot through, windows smashed, nothing should really stand in your way as you trudge mercilessly toward your goal. It adds an air of tension that’s sorely lacking from many games to the defending side, as you never know when the opposition will strike. However, as the defenders, you can control the CCTV cameras in the building to get a bead on where the other guys are, until they wise up and shoot them out, much to your frustration! Rounds are won by either completing the objectives (be it defusing a bomb, securing an area or escorting a hostage) or wiping out the other team completely, although there haven’t been too many of the former that I’ve seen in my time with the game.
Moving away from the gameplay for a moment, the other major complaint that I’ve seen with Siege is that there are a lot of microtransactions in the game. I’m getting to the point now where if I want to unlock another operator, I need to obtain a LOT of renown. If I want to do that quickly, I can purchase a booster using Rainbow Credits, a currency that is exclusively purchased with real world money. Aside from the Renown boosters, the only other thing I’ve seen that you need to buy with Rainbow Credits is weapon skins. The skins stuff doesn’t bother me all that much, but to pay real money for a boost to your in game currency is a bit galling. I guess it’s to expand the length of the game a bit more. If I unlocked everything within the first 10 hours I’d probably be sat here saying it didn’t have enough to keep me coming back! On that note, Ubisoft have said that all future DLC for Siege will be free, meaning all new Operators and maps will presumably be rolled into patches for the game and you’ll just have to unlock them with Renown. It’s a strategy that I’ve got to applaud, even in the face of the above complaint.
I was worried for the return of Rainbow Six after the news that Patriots had been cancelled. Fortunately, Rainbow Six Siege is a fantastic entry in the series that has enough depth in its gameplay to keep things fresh each and every time you boot it up. It’s currently my go-to multiplayer shooter, and that is genuinely not something I thought I’d be saying at the start of the year! Moment-to-moment gameplay is a real joy, and the balance is as close to perfect as you’d hope. I really wanted to score Siege higher, but Terrorist Hunt and Situations almost feel like an entirely different game because of the drop in frame rate, and there almost feels like a push toward microtransactions once you hit a certain point. It almost feels like Siege should’ve launched at £30. Still, if the promised free content is good and it can keep a good community, it’ll be worth it in the end.