Rainbow Six Siege: Don’t call it a comeback - Games Weekly

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Rainbow Six Siege: Don’t call it a comeback

Seven years removed from Rainbow Six Vegas 2, we’re still waiting for a proper sequel for the popular multiplayer shooter. Things were looking up when we featured the promising Rainbow Six Patriots on our cover in 2011, but after playing musical chairs with the leadership positions, Ubisoft shelved that game and instead committed to another project bearing the Tom Clancy name Siege. The multiplayer demo at last year’s E3 whetted our appetite for the game’s unique approach to tactical play, so we headed to Montreal to see how the development has fared since its debut.

Our second rendezvous with Rainbow Six Siege shared many similarities with the first a hands-on demo of the eponymous Siege mode. This asymmetrical mode pits two teams of five against one another in close-quarters, indoor environments. The defending team must protect the hostage at all costs, while the assaulters try to extract the VIP in less than three minutes. Each player only has one life, so if all of the members of one team die, the round comes to an end. Teams switch sides after each round, and the first team to four wins is victorious.

Before the bullets start flying, both teams have a small window of time to prep for the assault. After choosing where in the environment they want to hole up, the defending team has many tools at its disposal to fortify its surroundings, including barricading doors, reinforcing walls, throwing down barbed wire, and setting up deployable shields.

At the same time, the assaulting team sends in drones to scout the location and reveal the hostage’s position. Smart teams move their drones cautiously and position them in inconspicuous places, because the camera feeds can be used by dead players to provide intel to their team during the match. Jumping a drone onto a cluttered couch or sliding one under a bed is a great way to avoid detection; if a defender spots them, they can shoot out your feed.

Once the planning window closes, it’s time for the rush. Siege matches find a sweet spot between the frenetic firefights of Call of Duty and the tactics-heavy approach of Counter-Strike. Since you only have one life, your instinct is to move cautiously but you can’t lollygag too much given the three-minute deadline to complete the job.

The two maps we played both demonstrate how important procedural destruction is to the experience. The first is the same house featured in the E3 demo, but this time it’s set during the daytime. This allows the defenders to more readily identify where the assaulters are coming from outside and even engage them before they enter the house. Attackers have many breaching options they can rappel up to the second floor, use the main entrance, come in through the basement, or breach the garage door. Entry points aren’t limited to these natural choices teams can also breach through walls and ceilings. In one match, we blew through the ceiling above the hostage and quickly eliminated the unsuspecting enemies below.

The second map, simply titled “plane,” features even tighter quarters than the house. This Air Force One-style aircraft parked on the runway features four entry points for the attackers. You could breach on the upper level of the plane, enter through the front entrance by the presidential meeting rooms, come through the back door by the press seating, or sneak through the cargo hold. Given the tight quarters, vertical battles are more common, with firefights happening up the staircases and ladders or through the floor. Bullets don’t change trajectory when firing through the floor, but they deal slightly less damage.

The variety of tactics available for both attackers and defenders makes the Siege mode highly replayable. “We really wanted a game that’s all about exercising player creativity within a sandbox,” says game designer Andrew Witts. “The destruction was the first piece of that bending the environment to your will in terms of breaching and making new opportunities for yourself. But ever since then we’ve been developing these gadgets and operators with player creativity in mind.”

The longer players have to toy with these gadgets, the more clever their deployments are. For instance, savvy attackers may drop a flash charge down immediately after a  ceiling breach to blind the defenders, giving the attackers a temporary edge. Another forward-thinking tactic involves detonating the thermite charge and using the operative Sledge to hammer through another wall at the same time. Given the loud noise of the thermite blast, the defenders may not even realize two breach points were created at the same time.

Ubisoft still has much more to share about Siege in the ramp up to its fall release, including details about the player progression, campaign, and other multiplayer modes. If these modes rival the potential emanating from Siege mode, Rainbow Six could make a disruptive return to the multiplayer space.

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