I’ve been playing the Rainbow Six series since the originals on PC, they were unlike other games at the time, tactical and meticulously planned. When we got Rainbow Six: Vegas during the last generation, the series took a pleasurable departure from the hardcore, tactical nature that the series was known for. Siege is a return to form for Rainbow Six, but rather focuses solely on competitive multiplayer. I was admittedly apprehensive if this could work, but it works so well that Rainbow Six Siege has become my favorite multiplayer shooter of the year.
While Tom Clancy is in the name, there’s actually almost no story to be found here. There’s a shell of one in the opening and ending cutscenes of the game’s Situations mode. Angela Bassett lends her face and voice as the director of Team Rainbow, but she’s criminally underused throughout. Sadly, there’s no Ding Chavez found anywhere in the game. Siege is light on story and heavy on blistering, explosive action. And that’s very okay with me.
Rainbow Six Siege is equal parts tense and rewarding, as those moments happen within seconds of each other. Sound is so, so crucial to a game like this. Being as quiet as you can be while listening for the enemy is fantastic. If both teams are being quiet, there’s an absolute jump scare moment when they breach from multiple spots to disorient you in the hopes of a blitz to the objective. Each operator is so fragile, as any amount of bullets or a direct explosion can have you eliminated. Siege provides a unique multiplayer experience that relies on communication and slower gameplay where there’s no respawns.
As it goes, this is a multiplayer-only game where a team of five terrorists versus five counter-terrorists must attack and defend on a variety of maps through rescuing a hostage, defusing a bomb, and securing a biohazard container. As stated already, there’s a solo mode called Situations that will get you acquainted with the tactics, and game modes you’ll experience online. And not only a fan, but personal favorite is the return of Terrorist Hunt. “T-Hunt” has its classic form of eliminating all enemies on a level, but also contains the game modes seen online giving variety to the action. Though I just prefer the classic game mode and can’t select it directly.
The flow of a match for attackers has them taking their pipebomb-looking drone with wheels around the map looking for the objective within the short time window. These can conveniently go under the exact space each door and barricade has open. Though they can be easily destroyed with a single bullet if spotted. The defenders during this time will be barricading doorways, laying down traps, and fortifying walls to preventing breaches. Sometimes the fortifications lead to the objectives, other times its a rope-a-dope.
Destruction plays a huge role. You can breach, blow-up, or smash your way through almost any wall. At least any that are made of wood or drywall. Metal walls have too much support to be completely taken down. Seeing the debris fly is as normal as breathing. It’s something you’ll see a lot of in Rainbow Six Siege, and the sounds can be deafening. The beauty of the deforming buildings, allows you to melee a small hole so that only you can see out of it, giving a tactical advantage should an enemy come into line of sight while protecting 95% of your body. You can even go prone, one version of the stance is you sitting with your legs forward, and then the other is you moving onto your stomach. Both provide more accurate shots and lower profile to be hit.
There’s a handy compass that tells you direction, and the name of your location is easily displayed so that you can best coordinate with your teammates at a glance. Communication is paramount in Rainbow Six Siege, as it is the best way for your team to win. It’s not always about the shooting, if you can communicate good strategy, that’s likely to keep the bomb away from the enemy long enough to win.
Across ten maps, and twenty operators, there’s something for everyone and while you may be seeing the same map, the ever-changing objective location and dynamic strategies the enemies and your team employ keeps things fresh and exciting. My favorite maps were the bank heist gone wrong and the airplane stopped on a runway. These, no matter which side, feel like you’re a part of a global threat.
Strangely on console, Terrorist Hunt and Situations, they run at a solid 30fps, but the multiplayer runs at a faster 60fps. It’s nothing if a bit jarring when switching between modes, but it’s nothing to be concerned with. It seems though, that Rainbow Six Siege was built with the PC in mind. It runs the best, looks the best, and in terms of controls, simply feels the best. However, the controls on consoles are no slouch. There’s a lean mechanic in the game, other games have used it, but I think Siege excels at its usage. When aiming down sights, you click the left or right stick to lean in that direction. It’s a toggle, and will hold even after you’ve brought down the sights, but it’s just so clever and intuitive. Other games have made this a mechanic, and here it feels natural.
Operators are character classes, broken up by country: FBI (US), SAS (UK), GIGN (FR), and so on. Operators for each organization are tiered in pricing. The in-game currency is known as renown, which is earned simply by playing matches, and more for playing them well. The first operator you buy for an organization or country is 500 renown. Out of the four operators, there are two attackers and two defenders. The last operator for that country costs 2000. At first, you’ll only have enough renown to maybe buy one operator. But you’ll likely have to slog through a couple of matches with a de-specialized class humiliatingly called “recruit”. If you play and complete all of the Situations, you can earn yourself 7500 renown.
As you continue to play, you’ll raise your clearance level and access more content, mostly cosmetic or attachments for your guns. Being leveled up, or earning renown is a bit of a slow burn, but it makes you learn operators while you work towards one that you want to try next. Each operator earned has a unique specialization and set of tools that are varied, useful, and provides something for everybody. There’s Pulse who has a heartbeat sensor to track movement, Thermite who can breach a fortified wall, or Blitz who has a flashbang attached to his shield. These operators don’t have a “winning combo”, but certain operators compliment each other in interesting ways. But it’s all in how you use them.
The long-lasting nature of Rainbow Six Siege is yet to be determined, but there’s nothing quite like it. It’s a hodge-podge of other games from the outside looking in, but when playing it, it is a tactical, heart-pounding take on multiplayer. Siege requires teamwork and communication, when that fails, it may be hard to enjoy at times. The diverse listing of operators to unlock for attackers and defenders does take a while, but it doesn’t feel like a grind amid the chaos of exploding walls and floors and the sound of gunfire. It’s a game that should not be overlooked or missed. Drowning in a sea of twitch shooters and run n’ gun gameplay is Rainbow Six Siege, a game worthy of the name “Tom Clancy”.
A uPlay PC code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.