Amidst the hordes of shooters in the gaming market, with intimate maps and massive battlefields, few capture the essence of teamwork required for a multiplayer title. The Rainbow Six Siege beta has given me a snapshot of how effective this formula is and how much work is still needed with Ubisoft’s latest shooter.
Right off the bat, let’s just say that Siege is a lot of fun. Squads of five players do battle in either Multiplayer (PvP) or Terrorist Hunt (PvE) game modes, with the latter containing AI as well as several spikes in difficulty. The Normal, Hard and Realistic difficulties have varying levels of in-game rewards and gameplay adjustments, such as increased penalties to friendly fire.
In Rainbow Six Siege, every teammate has a role to play regardless of their scorecard. The extensive list of player classes, known as Operators, allows players to tinker with lots of military gadgets leading to moments of really enjoyable gameplay. All ten playable Operators in the beta have their own list of unlocks specific to a particular play style, which is reflective of characters’ speed and armour stats. For instance, bulky Blitz has a riot shield and uses its Flash ability to combat his slow speed, whereas a more balanced Attacker like Thermite can equip an assault rifle on top of some high-explosive breach charges.
There are three levels in the Siege beta, each with different structural strengths and weaknesses. This was particularly evident when playing through an apartment building and a consulate level back-to-back. The consulate offered more reinforced walls and doors, with more cover for players. However, it also had more entry points, and while these were bordered up with plywood or sheet metal, they were no match for brute force in the case of the former, or Thermite’s special ability, the exothermic charge, in the latter.
The game looks great and the destructible environments add a lot to the overall immersion. It feels similar to Payday 2 in some respects, as a successful round hinges on teamwork, where communication is essential. Siege commands a lot of strategy with tight, responsive mechanics, as the AI in Terrorist Hunt in particular was spot-on.
In Terrorist Hunt, entering the stronghold through a particular entry point sets the tone for the remainder of the round. You have one life and must make it count; something that has made me play a bit more passively than usual. Rappelling up to the roof and upside down is very cool, even more so when you follow that up by bursting through a structurally weak window. Launching into an empty room, however, invites complacency, as enemies are likely swarming around your location without a hitch. When under fire, the AI crouch and re-position to a more secure location or return fire with commendable accuracy. Enemy classes don’t offer a lot of scope but always beware the Bomber, as it can kamikaze into a room and eliminate three or four players at once unless it’s quickly put down.
But the beta’s poor tutorial system had me scratching my head for a couple of rounds. Three quick videos on the effectiveness of reinforced walls, doors and floors is all there was from Ubisoft. The lack of guidance on how to properly manoeuvre through the maps is a major oversight, in my eyes, as is the omission of short beginner training sessions on how to use your character’s unique abilities and drones. Furthermore, the beta has been riddled with connection issues, which have limited my experience to using only the offensive Operators so far.
The game’s ‘Renown’/experience system also needs refining, as I feel as though the amount of unlocks and customisation available for your Operators is very limited. However, with 20 Operators confirmed for the full game’s release, I am hopeful that these shortcomings will be addressed.
Rainbow Six Siege also lends itself to a little bit of a content issue. While the beta integrates two PvP game modes, the PvE gaming community was only given one. Even though two rounds are never the same, as the AI constantly changes tactics, the absence of a dedicated story mode leaves a reduction in variety. A Hostage game mode or reverse-Payday scenarios, where sub-plots occur over the course of four or five levels, would account for this.
Rainbow Six Siege is shaping up nicely, but still has long way to go to provide PvP gamers with a stable gaming experience. But playing a game where the result hinges on teamwork, instead of aimlessly sprinting around stealing other player’s kills, is refreshing. Come full release, let’s hope content for Multiplayer (PvP) and Terrorist Hunt (PvE) is balanced, so the game can cater for the tastes of both types of gamers.