I’ve been a fan of the Rainbow Six series ever since the original debuted in 1998. Slower, more tactical combat was a priority over a more frantic style that many of today’s first-person shooters exhibit. While there are gameplay elements that are on the side of a Call of Duty, Rainbow Six: Siege exhibits shades of the series’ glory days of strong tactical play. Although it’s still unclear how much content the final product will contain, after playing the closed beta, I’m excited to see what’s in store.
There were not many game modes to choose from in the beta. Players had the opportunity to play two player-versus-player modes: TDM Secure Area and TDM Bomb, in two maps: House and Hereford Base. In Secure Area, two teams of five battle to maintain control of a given area. In Bomb, an attacking team of must defuse a bomb protected by the defending team. The objectives –at least in Bomb—seemed pointless because many of the games ended in a standard “Team Death Match” style with the opposing team being eliminated. This had to do with the fact there are no respawns after death. I’m a fan of no respawns, but it doesn’t really work in this situation. I did not enjoy these modes for that reason. It was a little odd that matches were 5v5 when 8v8 has been done in multiplayer from the very beginning of the series.
The game mode that occupied most of my time and found the most enjoyable was the return of the classic, “Terrorist Hunt”. Five players must work together to neutralize all AI enemies in the map. Players can choose between three difficulty levels: Normal, Hard, and Realistic. Realistic proved to be an extreme challenge that required teamwork and planning. I’ve only beat Terrorist Hunt on Realistic twice, and both times were with players constantly in communication while methodically clearing each room. Too many times players would storm into buildings with little regard for their surroundings. Each player has a remote control camera than can be driven around to tag enemies. It’s important to view the surroundings before entering a room. Needless to say few players do this. I often try to do it, but because other players make a ton of noise, they alert all the enemies, who then attempt to kill everyone inside and out of the building; this ruins the window of time granted to plan an attack. To give an idea of the value of teamwork, I’ve sometimes topped the leaderboard just by tagging enemies, despite not having a single kill.
Terrorist Hunt can get intense. Since there are no respawns, there is little room for mistake. Although it is possible to revive teammates under certain conditions, you may not have time or an easy path to get to them. Each AI enemy is dangerous and can kill you with ease, frequently flanking or sneaking up behind. They will lay C-4 traps and barbed wire to slow you down, rush to an area projecting a lot of noise, and even shoot through walls. By far the biggest danger is the suicide bombers. Just like the name implies, these enemies will pop up out of nowhere and instantly kill anyone in range of the blast. These enemies can be distinctly heard heavily breathing through an oxygen mask, leaving many players in a panic at the sound. Since both maps were rather claustrophobic, bombers could end a match in an instant. Many players expressed concern that suicide bombers took too many hits before dying, so we will see if any adjustments will be made. I personally thought they were great, but others were frustrated by them.
Before partaking in each match, players can choose between a number of different character loadouts from famous counter-terrorist units such as, FBI SWAT, SPETSNAZ, GSG 9, SAS, and GIGN called, “Operators”. Each group is divided into “Attackers” and “Defenders”. Each Operator comes equipped with their own unique loadout consisting of unique weapons, armor, and gadgets. “Sledge”, naturally has a sledgehammer that can be used to quickly destroy window reinforcements and weaker walls in one hit. The “Blitz” Operator is decked out in heavy armor and carries a riot shield that flashes intense light to blind enemies; the downside being he can only equip a pistol as his main firearm. The “Doc” Operator carries a Stim Pistol that allows you to instantly revive teammates from a distance. In the Beta there were 14 Operators to unlock through in-game currency called, “Renown” (which can also be used to buy attachments to guns); there will be more Operators available in the full game, but it’s uncertain how many more there will be. Only one Operator of its kind can be used in each match. I like this method because it prevents matches from being loaded with the “best” character. Many players considered riot shields to be too powerful for various reasons; I wouldn’t be surprised if they were tweaked in the end. Right now, only Attacker classes can be chosen for Terrorist Hunt. Hopefully Defender classes can also be available for the official release.
Perhaps the coolest feature in Rainbow Six: Siege is the dense environmental destructibility. As long as it’s not a concrete wall or metal framing, practically every inch of the environment can be blown to pieces. The aftermath of an intense battle can seem like a tornado ripped through the building. When the area becomes a mess, an additional explosion will spray every bit or stray debris in all directions, creating an impressive display that I’ve never seen in a game before to this degree. Destruction in Siege isn’t just for show. There are layers of tactical advantages that can be created from this. Know there are enemies near a wall, but don’t want to enter a deathtrap? Blow up the wall with a breach charge to create a new opening and possibly kill the enemy in the process. You can also just shoot through the wall to kill him outright or create a hole big enough to peak in and maintain cover. The carnage in Siege is a lot of fun and one of my favorite parts of the game.
Much of the environment can be reinforced to make such destruction more difficult. Windows and doorways can be boarded up an unlimited amount of times, but walls can only be reinforced two times per defender. Walls reinforced with a metal barrier cannot be destroyed. This mostly comes into effect during PVP play when an area needs to be defended. It’s a cool concept that adds another layer of strategy.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege is not a run-and-gun game like most other multiplayer FPSs. In most cases, communication and thought will prevail. I like what I’ve seen from Terrorist Hunt, but I need to see more from other PVP modes on other maps to make any conclusions. It was announced that there will be no single-player campaign, but there will supposedly be some single player elements. I’m not yet convinced that the multiplayer is strong enough to merit the exclusion of single-player campaign. It’s still early, but I’m also a bit concerned about online matchmaking. Matchmaking has been anything but stellar with constant crashes and uneven teams. It is a closed Beta after all, so these problems are understandable with time for improvement.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege is due out December 1, 2015 for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.