Hands-On With ‘Rainbow Six Siege’, a Modern Shooter for Sharing with Friends

Ubisoft's multiplayer FPS is a lot more enjoyable than its somewhat generic screens suggest, as I found out at a London preview event.

Oct 21 2015, 3:59pm

Have you ever been playing a shooter and found yourself wondering, "Why can't I just shoot through the wall at my targets, seeing as wall is not stronger than bullet?" Well, you've been able to do that in some games for ages, but I'm going to ignore that in order to say: now you can. Step forward, Ubisoft's Rainbow Six Siege. No, there's no colon.

Siege is a Tom Clancy-prefixed multiplayer-only tactical team-based shooter coming in December, and I've now had a whole day with it, playing what I think are all the modes the game has to offer. And I think it has the potential to be great, so long as you're playing with like-minded folks and not imbeciles who go at the game like it's part of the Call of Duty series, hammer and tongs and bravado and bullets, without engaging their brains.

And unlike Call of Duty, there's no proper single-player mode here. There's some training to go through, and you can take on Terrorist Hunt solo (more on that in a sec), but Siege hasn't been made to play on your lonesome. So get some friends involved if you do want to do it properly.

The main attraction here is joining a team of up to five players and either tackling a couple of dozen computer-controlled terrorists or up to five human-controlled opponents. A simple setup, sure, so let's get more complex.

First, you have to choose your mission Operator from a selection of around 20 (the final number's still up in the air, though a bunch of them are listed here), and each has a different ability that can be used to your advantage. For example, one character can kit the rest of the team out in extra armour, while another is able to use their drone (which everyone has for reconnaissance) to stun enemies. Simple.

Then you move in, either attacking or defending as the case may be, tasked with eliminating all the baddies, rescuing a hostage, disarming a bomb or the opposite of all those things if you're on the other side. Still pretty simple.

Where things get really interesting is Siege's destruction mechanics. They actively change the way you play, at least after you're up to speed on the fact walls and doors and stuff can be utterly obliterated. Less simple.

See, normally, in other shooters, you're forced to approach a situation according to how a map is laid out. As such, a defending team would be able to survey the limited areas of engagement, create a bottleneck and shoot the shit out of you when you walked around the corner.

Instead, Siege lets you make your own door by blowing up a wall, or a floor, or a ceiling. Or maybe you've sent in your drone and have seen where the enemy is camped out, so you decide instead to just shoot them through the wall. Maybe you're defending and are worried about these tactics being used against you. In that case, create a broader line of sight for yourself and your team by tactically smashing holes in things.

It seems like so little, but it opens things up so well – once you're past the initial "who the fuck shot me how the fuck could they see me?" thing that everyone playing the game at the same preview event as me went through.

The Terrorist Hunt part of Siege is more focused on co-operative than competitive play – while I believe you can play against other people (it may have been in the modes I mentioned above), what I experienced was focused on pulling together and operating as a team, five players versus a shitload of computer-controlled baddies.

This puts a different spin on things, as you can always game the AI – so the challenge is more about working well together and as a well-oiled machine than it is outwitting your opponent. The computer does set traps and is vulnerable to the gadgets you use, but they're never going to be as cunning as Real People. As such, Terrorist Hunt felt like a step down in quality: fun, but not a reason alone to buy Siege.

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This is still a first-person shooter, so there remain elements that will annoy those who avoid online games of the genre – camping, bunny hopping, ludicrously skilled bastards who make things the opposite of the fun you're supposed to be having. But generally speaking, Rainbow Six Siege feels to me like an interesting addition to the pantheon of multiplayer shooters, with enough originality to stand out from what can sometimes feel like a wholly homogeneous crowd.

It's not the super-tactical SWAT 4, nor is it the multiplayer legend that is Counter-Strike, but so long as everything achieves a level of balance that makes it, basically, "not a piece of shit", Rainbow Six Siege will be well placed to carve itself a niche in the online gaming world. I wasn't too fussed about the game until I played it, to be honest. But now, having felt it in the flesh, I'm actively looking forward to it.

Rainbow Six Siege is released on December 1st for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. More information at the game's official website.


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