Come for the Multiplayer, Stay for… Well, the Multiplayer.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six has always been a hallmark entry in high-stakes, tactical FPS gaming. Ever since its inception back in 1998, the series has provided gamers with a number of entries across multiple console generations. After the long hiatus since its last installment, Rainbow Six Vegas 2, Team Rainbow is back with Rainbow Six Siege. While the lack of content leaves a significant bit to be desired, the core moment-to-moment gameplay is both challenging and satisfying enough to keep truly competitive PvP players coming back for more.
Remember Rainbow 6: Patriots? That cancelled Rainbow Six game that was to be primarily narrative-focused? Well, Ubisoft kind of went in the opposite direction with Rainbow Six Siege. This game is basically 80% multiplayer; the only single-player portion of this game comes from the 10 Situations that never amount to anything more than trial-and-error gameplay. The bonus mission, Article 5, teases a potential narrative, but otherwise there’s no true campaign. The cooperative Terrorist Hunt mode also makes a return, but it gets old pretty fast. If you spend any time with this game, it’s going to be online against other players.
Here’s where the justification for Rainbow Six Siege becomes difficult. On one hand, the gameplay is fantastic. On the other, it’s pretty much a multiplayer-only game, and I personally hate this trend in the industry. On top of that, the multiplayer itself only has three different scenarios: hostage, secure area, and bomb defusal. The lack of content is pretty substantial, so it’s ultimately up to you to decide if the gameplay is worth spending your money on.
As for the gameplay itself, I find it to be a breath of fresh air. It’s the best competitive FPS experience I’ve had since my Counter-Strike days. The game setup is you have two teams of five, attackers and defenders. The two teams switch sides each round, allowing you to change your operator and mix up your team’s strategy. The first 45 seconds of each round are allotted for the preparation phase. Here, defenders can reinforce walls and set up traps (such as signal jammers or trip wires) while the attackers scope out the area using drones. Once the action phase begins, the attackers get four minutes to either wipe out the enemy team or achieve the scenario objective.
This is the kind of game where the team that talks is the team that wins. Communication and strategy are paramount in Rainbow Six Siege, and the more coordinated team will almost always come out on top. The game’s learning curve is steep, as well; one tiny mistake is all it takes to cost you your life. Make a mistake early, and your team will suffer for it.
The slow, methodical FPS gameplay stands in stark contrast to the run-and-gun most of us are used to with titles like Halo or Call of Duty. You’ll need to crouch-walk to keep from being heard, check your corners when moving through rooms, and maximize your field of view while minimizing your exposure. Semi-destroyable environments can provide opportunities to make kill-holes and alternate entry routes, and the map design is intentionally claustrophobic. Tactical awareness is a skill involved in all multiplayer shooters, but it takes on a new level of necessity with Rainbow Six Siege.
The satisfyingly intense and tactical gameplay is just one side of the coin, however; while scoring headshots whilst rappelling upside-down from a window outside is even more satisfying than it sounds, the game’s unlockable content is shallow. You spend your Renown (the in-game currency) unlocking new operators and mods for their loadout equipment, but it’s not exactly cheap. You’ll spend a couple hours playing only to amass enough Renown to buy one operator and the mods you want for their loadout. Another annoying part is that those unlocks are all weapon-specific. For instance, if one operator has two different guns that can both have a red dot sight, you’ll need to spend the Renown to unlock it for both weapons separately.
There’s a pretty strong pay-to-win system in regards to the unlocks, and some of the weapon skins are only available via real-world cash. Additionally, while the DLC maps are free, the pair of operators that come with them are 25000 Renown or $4.99 apiece. On top of that, there’s a slew of bundles and Renown boosters you can buy to expedite the unlocking process. The gameplay may be great, but Rainbow Six Siege isn’t doing us gamers any favors with its emphasis on microtransactions.
As for the online experience, performance can vary, but by and large it’s solid. Most of the time I can find a match immediately, but occasionally it’ll take so long I wind up restarting the search. Glitches aren’t commonplace by any means, but they’re definitely not non-existent, either. It’s pretty lame to be killed because your leg was magically sticking through a wall. Also, the game can be incredibly arbitrary when it comes to headshots. I’ve had multiple instances of watching the killcam only to say, “Wait…. What just happened?!” It’s really not fun having to sit out the entire round because of a ballistic anomaly, but hey- they don’t call it the danger zone for nothing.
After the long wait, Rainbow Six Siege half-delivers. The gameplay is tense and satisfying, but its multiplayer-centric offering and pay-to-win setup is disappointing. If you’re into solo narrative experiences, move right along. If you’re into hyper-competitive tactical PvP, this is the game for you. Rainbow Six Siege provides a very specific kind of FPS experience, but for the right kind of gamer, it’s an experience well-worth the discounted sale price.