Time flies by, it really does, and it’s scary how fast it goes sometimes. I’ve been dipping back in and out of Rainbow Six: Siege in recent weeks, and was thinking that the game must be two years old by now. But lo, I looked back at my in-depth thoughts on the game, and realised that it was released in 2015, and is a few short months away from its third anniversary. And yet, it’s as good as it ever has been.
It’s a game that is proving to be enduringly popular, regularly popping up towards the top of Steam’s play charts, while there are doubtless going to be further players using Uplay exclusively to get into the tactical shooter action. It is perhaps Ubisoft’s ability to turn the game into an esports juggernaut that is most impressive. In a world of online shooters that, to the untrained eye, is dominated by Overwatch and the old classic, Counter-Strike, we now have a well thought out esports structure for Siege players. For those that love their competitive action, either taking part, or watching, Siege should be something to check out.
I’ve played some very minor competitive esports action, back in the days of Battlefield 2 and the old -=256=- clan. We played a handful of competitive matches in a small European league, and regularly got our rear-ends handed to us. But there was a certain thrill to it, and if I was to spend the time forming connections and honing my craft, these days, Siege would be the game for me.
Generally though, I play games to have fun and enjoy myself, and the competitive nature of so much online gaming these days is off-putting. If there’s one thing that I’ll bemoan about modern online shooters, is that everything is setup towards matchmaking. The days of dedicated servers are long gone, and I will miss them for offering a sanctuary amongst the madness of the online world. Regular admins and players would foster a community spirit, and those who didn’t follow the expected behavioural standards would be promptly removed.
You don’t get the same moderation with matchmaking, although Ubisoft are taking steps to improve things for Siege. Whether it is enough, I’m none too sure. In my recent trips back into the game, I’ve been play exclusively on Casual mode. Judging by the name, you would think it is a more relaxed environment, and players would be (somewhat) nice to each other. How wrong I was to think that. I’ve seen random team killing, presumably someone taking offense at actions in a previous round. I’ve heard players berating others over voice-chat, and I’ve received a few words based on my (apparent) bad choice of Operator. I know online games have always had some level of toxicity in the community, and these days I don’t have the experience to compare Siege to the other big-hitters. It does make me dream fondly of the good old days…
Despite that, Siege is still a fantastic game. Ubisoft have done quite a bit of work over the years since release to make it friendly to newcomers. There are regular free weekends, often tying in with the Majors and new Seasons, and the Starter Edition provides a cheap entry point to the game. Siege makes good use of the various Editions to help keep the player base united. Everyone can ultimately unlock any of the Operators (even if it might take longer if you don’t purchase Season Passes), and the maps are available to all. Not splitting the player base is a key element of a game like Siege.
Having not played it for quite some time, I don’t know all of the new maps (of which there have been several), and the list of Operators I haven’t unlocked yet is substantially bigger than the list of those I have access to. But crucially, the balance of the game is so good that even the entry Operators are good enough to hang out with those that have been released as the Seasons have gone by. You can spend real world money to increase the speed at which you unlock Operators, or find some pretty designs to cover your weapons and armour with. None of this is essential, and the core mechanics of Attack vs Defence are understandable enough for anyone to jump in and get going.
The next Season update is Operation Grim Sky, this will come complete with new Operators and a reworking of the classic Hereford map. It’s good to see the home of the SAS getting some love, it is a pretty underwhelming map when compared to the other offerings. I’ll be dipping back in and out of Siege over the coming months, although I am under no illusions that I’ll ever make the step up from Casual to Ranked matches.
If you don’t have any problems with the usual nonsense that you get in online games, I’d recommend giving Siege a blast. It has long since taken the crown from Counter-Strike in my mind as the epitome of tactical shooters.