Over the weekend I got the chance to download and play the new beta for Rainbow Six: Siege. The game may have been delayed until December, but Ubisoft didn’t delay the beta at all. I actually think that this whole situation may end up being the best thing for the game. Pushing it back to December puts it right in the middle of Holiday shopping, plus gets it out of the super crowded late October/early November time period. Keeping the beta now also keeps the demand for the game up through the delay period. Of course we have to wait until December to really know if this is a return to form for the longtime classic series, but I have to think that we might be on that track after this beta.
We’ll start with what I didn’t like with the beta, because there isn’t a ton to talk about here – and the issues I have aren’t really deal breakers. In truth, my biggest issue is a personal one. In the PvP multiplayer, you only have one life. I have never liked game modes like that – Gears of War, Search and Destroy, and so on – just because my style of play is way too aggressive for it. In games like this where realism is a huge part of the play, it may make sense, but it also makes it super easy to die because of a tiny mistake. The margin for error is so small that it all but requires you to play slower and more defensive. But that’s not an actual problem with the game – it’s just a personal conflict with the mechanics.
In truth, I think the PvP actually works really well. It definitely better to go into the matchmaking with as close to a full squad as possible. This is a game where teamwork is paramount – lone wolf players will have a serious struggle, at least with what we have to play right now. Either side, attackers or defenders, need to coordinate their tactics in order to succeed. Attackers need to keep communication lines up to figure out not only where the enemies are, but also where traps are, and where they’re breaching and moving. Defenders need to coordinate how they’re setting up the defenses – which walls are being reinforced, where the barricades and traps are being set and making sure that if there’s a weak spot, everyone knows it. If there’s an actual gameplay critique here, it’s that the two different game modes really aren’t that different. TDM Bomb has the attackers diffusing a bomb – one player has to have the diffuser, while the other mode has attackers trying to find a biological weapon and then control the point for a set time. Not strictly bad, but I hope the final game has a few more modes in it.
Where I really think that Rainbow Six: Siege will shine is in the classic Terrorist Hunt mode. It’s a co-op mode for up to five players, tasked with taking out a set number of terrorists on a map. In the beta, we have two different maps – both feature in the PvP and co-op. Whether or not that’s going to be the case in the final game – in that the multiplayer maps will all feature as Terrorist Hunt maps – remains to be seen. Regardless, Terrorist Hunt is exactly what a game like Rainbow Six needs. There’s a reason that it was so popular in the two Rainbow Six: Vegas games. With the new feature of special operators in Siege I think that Terrorist Hunt could end up being the real meat of the multiplayer.
Those operators are all pretty cool – they essentially act as special playable characters. Each CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) has a selection of operators, and each operator has a special set of weapons and gadgets. They fit into heavy, medium or light archetypes too – heavy armored characters move really slowly, but can take a few more bullets. The opposite is true too – light characters move a lot faster, but are much more fragile. Getting to know how their actual gadgets does take a few games though – but could be cleared up in the final release when the operator videos are live. I assume that there will be at least a few more operators in the final build, per CTU – which means more options, which means more variety, and that’s always a good thing.
Ultimately, it’s really hard to say with certainty that Rainbow Six: Siege is going to be a winner. But I do think that it has a couple things going for it that set it up to succeed. There’s no other shooter this season that falls into that same “super realistic” style which means less direct competition. Pushing it out of the really crowded time frame adds to that – by the time the game launches, shooter players will have already beaten Halo 5, Star Wars: Battlefront and/or Call of Duty and they’ll have picked which multiplayer to stick with. Come December that should mean an audience that is ready for a new game, and Rainbow Six is dropping at that same point. We know nothing yet about the story – but Tom Clancy games are generally strong in that aspect. It’s a game that I think is set up for success and we just have to wait to see if it delivers.