Back in October, I got stuck into the Beta for Rainbow Six: Siege and thoroughly enjoyed it. There was a limited range of maps to play through, but I could already tell that this was shaping up to be a very good shooter. Now that I’ve had a chance with the full game, I am happy to confirm that Siege is a very good shooter, but one that needs to find its feet.
As I said when I originally talked about Siege, the action is second to none with the Attack v Defence setup and some brilliantly designed destructible environments. Being able to blow your Embassy/Jet/House to pieces, or barricade it with numerous defensive emplacements give Siege a feeling of a next-gen Counter-Strike. I do feel though that at the moment Siege is struggling with an identity crises like Global Offensive did in its early years.
Global Offensive was given the difficult task of trying to bring together a fractured Counter-Strike fanbase between 1.6 and Source players. Siege is trying to reach back to the heritage of the Rainbow Six franchise and update it for the modern gamer while also making moves into the competitive scene. This is borne out through the presence of Casual and Ranked modes in the main multiplayer zone.
This all gets muddled up with the presence of Renown (in-game earned XP) and R6 credits which can be used to purchase Renown Boosters, Operators and weapon skins. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the presence of these two methods of progression, but to know that at launch someone with the Season Pass can unlock all of the Operators straight off the bat while others are grinding their way towards more Renown can be a bit jarring.
On the official blog, Ubisoft estimate that players spend 8-10 hours a week on their favourite FPS’ and should be able to unlock all the Operators in 25 hours of play. I love my games, but I don’t get anywhere near that much time to play in a regular week, so it will doubtless take me a while to unlock all the Operators. That wouldn’t be such a problem if there was an arena to try out all the Operators away from the action so you can get a feeling for who you should unlock next. With the Operators having such varied specialist tools, a firing range like what is found in Splatoon would work wonders.
This all might sound like minor grumbles, especially when you consider how much fun the action is, but these grumbles make it clear that Siege will take a few months of updates to become a fully rounded title. Ubisoft are aware that there is potential here, but that they will have to continue supporting the game. That much is clear with their recent announcement on the official forums that they will be introducing a Hardcore Playlist sometime next year. Maybe the push to get the game released before Christmas meant a few of the nice to have features were left for post-launch updates, but that is a problem with the industry as a whole at the moment, not Siege. I will commend Ubisoft though for ensuring the game is largely bug free with generally good connection times in the lobbies. Waiting times were a problem during the Beta, so I am very pleased they have been improved.
What I’ve enjoyed most about Siege are the Situations. These are ready made maps for you to tackle by yourself and are useful for learning the basics of the game away from the pressure of the online action. Each of the ten Situations put you in the boots of a different Operator across each of maps. Unlike a Terrorist Hunt level where you are clearing all the enemy or defending against waves of AI, the Situations give you tasks that you would fine online – defuse the bomb, rescue the hostage along with some defensive levels. You could consider the Situations to be a Tutorial of sort, introducing to some of the Operators and the techniques you will need to use out in the real world.
The way they’ve been packaged is most impressive of all, a cut scene introduces you to the Situation and a set of bonus objectives are lined up in each level which will let you pull in more Renown. On the Normal difficulty, the Situations are a nice diversion, once you push the difficulty up a tad, things start to get serious with the AI getting smarter and more deadly. You really have to be on your toes and use all the tools at your disposal.
While the Situations don’t make up for the lack of a singleplayer campaign, they are definitely worth checking out when you want a break from the frantic online action.
At its heart, Siege is a competitive online shooter and it comes with all the accompanying foibles. To get the most out of it, you will want to play with friends and execute your own strategies. That’s not to say you can’t have fun playing online with a random mix of other players, and the pain of being wiped out regularly isn’t as tough to take as in other games. The computer will call time on a sequence of matches with the same players if things are too one sided and send everyone back to be re-grouped. It’s a nice way to keep people playing on the Casual online mode.
If something like Counter-Strike is your worst nightmare in a shooter, you are best staying away. But if you are willing to broaden your horizons, there should be something in Siege to hold your interest. When it all clicks into place, few games can match it for intensity and great action.