Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege (2015, PC)

By ownosourus / March 29, 2017

Straying from previous titles in the acclaimed Rainbow Six saga, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege sees the debut of storyless multiplayer missions in which players are tasked with a range of objectives, from obtaining a vulnerable hostage to deactivating a volatile bomb. It is this variety of game modes that allows players to experience a unique battle every match.
   Multiplayer is the key word for this game, because you will gain nothing from Siege if you are looking for a single-player experience. Terrorist Hunt features an offline Lone Wolf mode and the game’s “Situations” comprise of ten single-player missions, but that is literally all there is. Situations are polished tutorials where the game will demonstrate certain mechanics, with you needing to complete an objective against AI opponents. Judging these missions as tutorials, they are actually very strong. Each one teaches something new, lets you experiment with multiple operators, and rather than forcing the player to press their way through explicit instructions, it plays an intro cinematic, and leaves you to your own devices.
   Levels in these situations are adjusted to not have as many options available to the player as in the full multiplayer game, but at no point does it stop you or take control away from you in order to make its point. The designers understand that mechanics are much easier to memorize through direct use instead of making the player read text, which is a good thing, because there are a lot of things to memorize here.

   Siege, at the time of this review, features 13 multiplayer maps and 26 unique operators. Each of these operators has a special quality that makes them ideal for certain scenarios, but this is when the game begins to reveal its depth. For example, Kapkan is a Russian Defender, his ability being placing laser tripwire explosives on windows and doors. For balancing purposes, they are very visible to the enemy, as long as they are paying attention to each entrance. This means that if you want to eliminate enemies with these charges, you’ve got to try and get in their heads. Instead of hiding the lasers behind barricaded doors, you can leave them visible, encouraging the enemy to proceed down another path that you will lay in wait for. You can place wires that slow them down in one path, and your explosive trap down another that appears to be quicker for the enemy.
   This mental game is something that seeps its way into every round of Siege regardless of the operator or map, from the planning phase to the final ten seconds. Its 5v5 structure is key to this. Because each team has so few players, and no respawns, it immediately puts the pressure on every operator to perform well. Every death in this game is significant; death means fewer vantage points, less fire power, less Intel, and one less ability that could end up being very crucial to your success. Anything can happen at any second, no matter the circumstances. A team that’s down by three points in Ranked Matches can still come back, a single player can kill five opponents, a defensive plan that you meticulously crafted can be utterly destroyed in seconds.
   That tension is something I’ve missed from modern shooters. After PlanetSide 2 was released and publicly humiliated any shooter bragging about playercounts, I hoped that it would encourage developers to go back to experimenting with smaller, tighter, more focused designs. That’s been happening in smaller games out of necessity, but Rainbow Six Siege is the first big-budget game I’ve experienced to take this approach.

   Probably the biggest example of something that Siege does that a smaller studio simply does not have the budget for, is the destructibility. Battlefield is the franchise that popularized this mechanic in shooters, but since Bad Company 2, and failing to impress people with Battlefield 3’s micro-destruction effects, we’ve seen it used more for spectacle than as an actual mechanic.
   Siege takes that consistent and fine-tuned destruction from Bad Company 2, while successfully combining it with micro-destruction on small maps. Every weapon can damage destructible walls and floors, and the game is very consistent about what you can and can’t destroy, which allows players to properly use the destruction as a tactical tool.
   Defenders can reinforce walls to force the enemy down a path, but the attacker Thermite is capable of breaching these, not allowing the defenders to forget about them. It’s this depth and strategy that mitigates the relatively small number of maps. There’s also no level in this game that I would classify as “bad”, which is very rare in a multiplayer-focused title, as it’s expected for them to have a couple duds.
   Thankfully, all of the important post-release content is being released for free, without the need for a season pass and not dividing up the community, a trend that I’m glad to see is spreading. I’m certain that this lack of paid DLC maps is what has led Ubisoft to implement micro-transactions for certain skins, and boosters. Thankfully, the micro-transactions are not required to enjoy the game.
   Optimization is much better than in previous Ubisoft games, but that’s really not something to be proud of. Considering the size of the maps, and the small number of players and NPCs in Terrorist Hunt populating them, the game really should run smoother than it does on lower-end machines. For higher-end PCs, there are a lot of options for people to adjust, which is refreshing.

   Then there’s the netcode, which sucks. The poor hit-registration is probably the greatest flaw. It’s not rare to be killed behind solid cover, headshots to go undetected, and to watch your enemy paint the walls with their lost blood, only to see they still have full health. I’m not sure who or what is to blame for this problem, but in a game where intense situations are frequent, it’s infuriating to feel like you lost when you know for a fact that you shouldn’t have. I think what makes these flaws even more frustrating is that, for the most part, the game avoids that. Nearly every lost round in Siege is deserved, and in turn, so is every victory.
   It’s this quality that makes the game so addicting, and will keep you playing round after round, long after you should’ve gone to sleep. I’ve had matches in this game that left me with shaking hands and a pumping heart; every 1v1 duel ends with both players exhaling their long held breath.
   Be warned that while I am an avid supporter of this game, I’m aware it’s not for everyone. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege is a stressful and downright punishing game, it takes no prisoners, one little mistake or overlooked detail on your part can be the cause of your team’s demise. That kind of experience is not something every gamer desires. But if you’re like me, and you’ve been waiting for a squad-based shooter that pushes you and your friends to the edge, demanding your full attention, and rewarding you with victory that is truly earned; grab your buddies and get ready to plan, fortify, and execute!

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege is runner-up to Insomnia's 2015 Game of the Year.