When Rainbow Six: Siege was announced some time ago, I was incredibly hesitant. I wasn’t too pleased with Ubisoft’s current direction, and Rainbow Six as a franchise has strayed far from its original formula and overall gameplay feel. The games started turning into cover-based action shoot’em ups as opposed to the heavily immersive, punishing, strategic gameplay that made the original games so popular. While I can’t say Siege fully realizes the original concept of Rainbow Six, I must say that it stands very well as its own tactical shooter; just don’t expect too much.
The Rainbow Six: Siege closed beta is the second testing period the game has seen. The alpha testing back in March(?) was met with lukewarm reception. Players complained about bugs, shallow gameplay, and an obnoxious forced open comms (You were forced to voice chat at all times and could not mute other players, basically). I didn’t have the chance to play the alpha, however I was very excited to try out this closed beta.
I didn’t exactly know what to expect as I hadn’t seen much footage aside from trailers, but I was delightfully surprised when I came to realize that Rainbow Six: Siege is a solid team-based shooter. With that said, it’s also got massive, massive problems. And I mean massive. Issues that are prevalent enough to turn me off from buying the full game if they’re not addressed by the time of release. But I’m getting ahead of myself; You may be asking, “What is Siege all about?”
Siege is easily described as a competitive, tactical shooter with some fairly “realistic” mechanics. It’s no ARMA, but it does have things like high bullet damage, destruction, and a heavy emphasis on teamwork. I didn’t think this game would really live up to the expectations surrounding it, as most games that try to be teamwork-based fail miserably, but Siege actually does it fairly well.
In this beta we have a bomb defuse mode for PVP — as opposed to the hostage rescue mode from the Alpha — and the classic Terrorist Hunt Co-op Mode. In the PVP mode, attackers must find and defuse a bomb in the map while defenders must defend it. The process for defusing the bomb can vary between simply capturing the bomb room like a capture point in a domination style gamemode, or bringing a defuser to the bomb site and waiting for it to successfully defuse the bomb.
Each team (attack and defend) has different operators (or classes) that all have unique abilities to help with the specific task at hand. Defenders can have anything from barbed wire to slow attackers, deployable cover, heartbeat sensors, and anybody can barricade and reinforce doors. Attackers come equipped with a variety of gadgets including drones, riot shields, and breaching charges. Teams really have to work together in order to succeed, as little to no communication can be detrimental. This isn’t a game that you can go lone wolf on because it’s incredibly easy to die in a matter of seconds if you make one false move.
The development team has done a great job of making each operator feel useful and unique in their own way, with no two characters feeling too similar. They each serve their own purpose and everyone can help the team out tremendously if they play correctly. I definitely recommend getting a group of friends you can work with and coordinate with because it really enhances the experience and makes every victory that much sweeter.
There isn’t a whole lot to say about Terror Hunt; It’s what we all know from games like Vegas 2. You work alone or with friends to hunt and kill several AI controlled terrorists in a map. The AI is fairly competent on higher difficulties (aside from the occasional group that would conga-line through a door to their doom) and really poses a threat, even if you’re only up against one enemy.
Rainbow Six: Siege is not without its problems, though, as I stated. One of the worst is the matchmaking issues. There were times that my friends and I would have to wait 10 minutes just to find one match. Other times we would back out of a match to find a new one, only to be stuck with the exact same people as before. Latency is also very bad for several people right now. Over the many games I played, I don’t think I ever saw a single person with a ping below 100ms during actual gameplay. This would result in infuriatingly cheap deaths left and right. Sometimes it would even result in me not getting any feedback that I was actually being shot; I would simply be dead without any warning. In a game where twitch reactions and constant concentration are key, this is a big deal.
A lot of guns seem very overpowered, as well. I realize that this is supposed to be more realistic, but when you can hip-fire a pistol at medium range while carrying a riot shield and manage to kill an enemy with no problem, you’ve got a bit of a balancing issue. Most fully automatic weapons also have next to no recoil. However, the crown jewel of ultimate balancing problems lies in one solitary slap in the face: The riot shields.
Riot shields often catch flack for being “noobish” in several games like Call Of Duty and, more recently, Battlefield, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen such blatant balancing issues in any game as I’ve seen with the shields in Rainbow Six: Siege. The riot shield makes you an impenetrable moving wall of death; there’s no real way of countering them unless you manage to pull off a good flank, a lucky shot, or use an explosive, but when you’ve got an impenetrable moving wall of death coming at you, you don’t have much time to think about any of those options.
The problem is that, as I already said, pistols are much too powerful when fired from the hip. It seems as though the shield’s one weakness is that you must expose yourself to aim down sights, but because of the hip-firing, this isn’t even necessary. If you crouch down while holding a shield, none of your body is exposed, so a player directly in front of you has no chance of survival. This is made worse by the fact that the shield is not in any way damageable (or at least not to a large degree). Battlefield 4 had the right idea when designing riot shields so that the glass could be shot out, thus exposing the enemy’s face. Siege doesn’t have anything like that. I can’t even count how many times myself or someone else died because someone with a shield simply walked up to them, cornered them, and blasted away, all while the enemy they’re cornering desperately tries to shoot them to no avail.
This is through and through broken design, and it needs to be balanced in some shape or form because it kills the experience a lot of the time. I believe that taking the Battlefield 4 approach would be the easiest and most effective by far; or simply not allowing shield carriers to use pistols with their shield up, or by balancing the hip-fire accuracy of pistols so that you have to aim down sights and expose yourself if you want to take a clear shot at someone.
Even with its glaring issues, Rainbow Six: Siege is a surprisingly excellent game so far, and I’ve enjoyed many late nights playing with my friends. If the problems that are present are addressed, I think it could make a phenomenal addition to the multiplayer FPS scene. I definitely look forward to seeing the full release and sharing my thoughts on that.