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Rainbow Six Siege Review

by William Schwartz

Rainbow Six Siege is a competitive, tactical shooter, the likes of which is becoming a rarity in a genre that leans more towards the casual market as each year passes.  The Rainbow Six franchise has always been a more tactical shooter, but it’s been on hiatus while the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield have been dominating the console shooter market.  Instead of emulating, Rainbow Six Siege tries to innovate, pulling players into a game that requires tactics, communication, and teamwork.

What Ubisoft has here is an interesting premise with Rainbow Six Siege.  While the game features some single player situations to tackle and some cooperative terrorist hunt missions, the real star of the show is competitive multiplayer.  Here players square off as attackers and defenders, with unlockable characters that have unique abilities.  A class based shooter isn’t anything new, but the pre-game preparation, destructible maps, and tense, fast-paced gunplay make for something very interesting for shooter fans to digest.

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Players square off in Rainbow Six Siege as attackers and defenders, but that’s not a great description.  The defenders are usually the bad guys, defending a hostage, a bomb, or an area from the attacking team that is looking to disarm said explosives or save said hostage.  Defenders are given time before the match starts to prepare their defenses by using things like barbed wire, re-enforced walls, boarded doors, barricades, and other traps or devices to fortify the objective they’re looking to protect.  At the same time, attackers are using cameras to find out the location of the objective, any traps that may lay in wait, and enemy locations.  It’s almost perfection for tactical shooter fans, this preparation phase is one where teammates must communicate with each other to get their game plans together before the first shots are fired.

This pre-game mode really starts at character selection though.  There are a number of unlockable operators, each with unique abilities that feel really balanced against each other.  It’s a cat and mouse game, if you will.  Some characters can cancel out others’ special abilities, which vary wildly and can be incredibly helpful on both the attacking and defending sides.   While these operators have a preset loadout, they can be customized somewhat.  Different guns, attachments, optics, can be added to better suit a specific playstyle, but the abilities that they have are their most important asset. For example, some defensive abilities include a mounted machine gun, door traps, armor that the team can use, toxic gas grenades, and others.  While attackers have special abilities of their own, like an EMP grenade than can disable defender traps and electronics, a sledge hammer that breaks through walls, a breaching round that blows out walls, variations of shields one which can be used to blind enemies.  There are quite a few others that weren’t mentioned here, and it can make for an incredibly diverse experience.

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All matches are played in indoor locales, these range from homes, to warehouses, and even a plane.  At the beginning of a match, Defenders select an area of the map they’d like to defend, and then its up to the attacking team to find them.  The good thing about these indoor locales is that the action is fast when enemies are encountered.  Walls can be blown out to offer strategic breaching points, ceiling panels can be destroyed.  When the shit hits the fan in Rainbow Six Siege the fight is usually over in a matter of seconds.  Using a combination of intel and FPS skills, is the path to success in this game.  Knowing where enemies are, which walls to destroy, or not, is paramount.  Not everything can be destroyed in Rainbow Six Siege, but enough of it can to the point of you never quite knowing where the enemies will come from.  There are ton of different strategies to employ in this game, and it makes each round feel entirely different.  Rainbow Six Siege is a refreshing change of pace for shooter fans that want a bit more reward for using strategy and team work.

Siege can be a lot of fun, and it’s one of those games that overcomes some of its other limitations because of its better features.  Those limitations are quite a few, unfortunately.  You could easily call Rainbow Six: Siege a “janky” game.  It’s got some awkward animations.  The shooting and hit detection feels off sometimes.  You’ll see graphical glitches and weird things constantly.  And the absolute worst part about it all is that even if you can overlook some of this stuff, getting together with friends via Xbox Live to play via the in-game party system can be hit and miss in the first week it’s been live.  That’s a serious problem.  It’s not unplayable, we’ve played quite a bit actually.  But people being dropped, matchmaking not working, it puts a real damper on any fun that’s being had with the game.

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Rainbow Six Siege is a full-priced game with a ton of gross microtransaction stuff in it too.  It’s some of the worst we’ve seen from Ubisoft in recent years.  The whole game’s progression system seems tied to these microtransactions and simply preys on the player’s desire in wanting to unlock everything as quickly as possible.  Everything costs currency, and it really feels like a grind at times.  From scopes and gun attachments to new characters and skins, it all costs in-game currency and some of it is priced exorbitantly high.  There’s two sides to that coin though, if you want a “deep” progression system that will take you a while to unlock everything, R6 Siege has that.  Unfortunately, it can totally ruin the experience for players.  Say you only have a single character unlocked, if someone else uses that character you’re SOL.  You’ll need to use a recruit character that has no abilities.  It can put you at complete disadvantage, and just reeks of the type of things that free to play games do.  That said, you can play this game without ever purchasing another thing.  It’s just gonna take you a little while, and you’ll even get some XP boosts if you’re playing on a team where there are people who are boosting.  There’s an additional team bonus for people who purchase the items, which stacks with the more players who are boosting.  The good side to this is that Ubisoft isn’t double dipping here.  Future maps and other content will be made free to the community so don’t expect it to be disjointed in a couple of months if you don’t purchase the Season Pass.

Despite it’s faults there’s nothing really like Rainbow Six Siege.  The game does try its best to give you the currency you need to unlock new characters, and I’ve actually had a ton of fun playing the multiplayer with friends.  Playing with random players isn’t nearly as fun, as communication is an absolute must in this game.  The progression system stuff isn’t that bad, if say, you’re working with a team who knows who your characters are and isn’t going to snag them in pre-game.  The multiplayer is definitely the showpiece here, but you have to be willing to delve into the other modes and tackle specific challenges if you really want to earn the in-game currency quickly.  There’s a single player situations mode that is a glorified tutorial that’ll have you learning the ropes, and there’s a terrorist hunt mode that allows you to play either as a lone wolf in hunting down AI enemies or via matchmaking/with friends.  These are by no means a viable replacement for a full blown single player game, but it is something else to dig into and the added benefit of earning currency to purchase items and better your online arsenal are certainly a reason to try them out.

This is Rainbow Six Siege

The Verdict

There’s nothing quite like Rainbow Six Siege competitive multiplayer for shooter fans.  It can be incredibly fun despite some its shortcomings, but those shortcomings are visible in a number of important areas that keep this good revival of the popular Rainbow Six franchise from being great.

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Rainbow Six Siege

  • Available On: Xbox One, PS4, PC
  • Published By: Ubisoft
  • Developed By: Ubisoft Montreal
  • Genre: First Person Shooter
  • US Release Date: December 1st, 2015
  • Reviewed On: Xbox One
  • Quote: "There's nothing quite like Rainbow Six Siege competitive multiplayer for shooter fans. It can be incredibly fun despite some its shortcomings, but those shortcomings are visible in a number of important areas that keep this good revival of the popular Rainbow Six franchise from being great."
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