With only one life per round, destructible environments, multi-layered maps, and a plethora of gadgetry that makes no two rounds the same, Rainbow Six: Siege offers a tense and unparalleled experience.
I have no issue admitting it: I am addicted to Rainbow Six: Siege.
Let me preface by saying that for the last five or six years, I’ve avoided most Triple-A titles that focus their attention predominantly on the multiplayer front. It’s no surprise then that some of my favorite games in those five to six years have been single-player focused experiences such as The Witcher 3, Max Payne 3, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Batman: Arkham City, and Fallout: New Vegas. It’s not that I’m against multiplayer gaming, I just felt absurdly burnt out by late 2010. Between splitting almost all my free time towards the end of 2007 and all throughout 2008 and well into the following year between Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Halo 3, spending a few fair months in early 2008 with Rainbow Six Vegas 2, then focusing on Call of Duty: World at War here and there throughout the summer months of 2009, and playing nothing but Modern Warfare 2 from its November 2009 release until mid-to-late 2010, and then dabbling in the first Black Ops installment and Halo: Reach in the closing months of 2010…I had just poured way too many hours into multiplayer games in just a few short years.
Looking back, the worst part was that as the games evolved — getting bigger — these complications slowly made each new iteration an undesirable experience. Call of Duty’s simplistic nature evolved into more than a dozen killstreaks — some obnoxiously overpowered — and multiplayer maps that were uninspired and bland compared to the original Modern Warfare installment. Similarly, Halo: Reach changed the multiplayer formula by including loadouts and “armor abilities,” both of which changed the social experience for the worse, and that’s not to mention the poorly designed multiplayer maps matches were to be played on for months.
My point here is that by the time Modern Warfare 3 (2011) and even Halo 4 (2012) rolled around, I just couldn’t get myself into their multiplayer modes for more than one or two weeks; just enough time for me to grab the game’s online achievements and part ways. The multiplayer felt stale. It felt overly complicated and yet somehow, poorly designed. Ultimately, I just couldn’t devote my attention, my care, and my time to it.
Fast forward to December 2015. My friend and I are looking for a new game to play cooperatively. Rainbow Six: Siege gets tossed around in the pool of ideas despite it being a multiplayer title. We think back to our days on Vegas 1 and 2; tactical shooting, slow-paced combat, teamwork, and coordination. We hadn’t devoted much time to a big multiplayer title in years, and Siege felt like a horrible choice given there’s no single-player…it’s entirely a multiplayer-focused game.
Well, we took the risk.
5 weeks and 172 hours later, I’m hooked. Rainbow Six: Siege is the best multiplayer experience I’ve had since 2010. At its core, it’s simple in design, which is exactly what I’ve longed for. The HUD is minimal. There’s no mini-map. There’s no killstreaks. There’s no respawning, no sense of “running-and-gunning.” It’s slow and requires thought. It’s slow and requires care.
For those of you who haven’t touched Siege yet, or don’t know much about the game at all, I’ll do the honors of giving you a brief (or maybe not so brief) rundown of the content within the game.
There are three modes: Situations, Terrorist Hunt, and Multiplayer.
In the Situations, you’ll tackle 10 short tutorial-like missions that cover the basics of the game. This includes general shooting and movement mechanics, taking on the role of a few of the unique Operators (there are 20) and handling their special gadgetry, as well as getting to familiarize yourself with the game’s 10 multiplayer maps. These situations are all solo experiences, and once you’ve completed the 10th mission, you will unlock “Article 5,” a tense, secret mission that pits you with four other players online. So while there’s no single-player campaign, these situations do a job just fine.
Up next is Terrorist Hunt, the fan-favorite mode of this series. You have four game types (Hostage Rescue, Hostage Defense, Bomb Defusal, and Classic T-Hunt) that can be played across all 10 multiplayer maps on three varying difficulty levels. Should you desire to play alone, you can do just that. If you have a group of friends in your party, you can start a match with your squad. If you want to team up with a few people online, matchmaking is available to fill that need. There’s plenty of options here and thanks to the intelligent A.I., T-Hunt actually poses as a challenging and thrilling experiencing on the harder difficulties.
Finally, there’s the game’s biggest and most intense mode: Multiplayer. Casual matches are played to a “Best of 5,” while Ranked matches (which open up at Level 20) are a “Best of 7.” There’s Hostage Rescue, Bomb Defusal, and Secure Area. In all three modes, the Defending team will pick their Operators and barricade the room the objective is located within. They’ll then use their special gadgetry and try their best to make sure the opposition doesn’t capture the objective or even get close to performing such a feat. Meanwhile, the Attackers will start each round with a short “Prep Phase” where they pilot drones around the map in search for the objective. Once the Prep Phase is over, they’re tasked with retrieving or capturing said objective within the allotted time. The best part is…every player only has one life. Between the three game types and 10 multiplayer maps, as well as destructible environments and ever-changing teams thanks to 10 playable Operators per side, no two rounds will ever truly yield the same experience. It’s riveting.
And that’s exactly why I can’t put this game down. No two rounds are ever the same. Even when my teammates pick the same Operators every single round, it simply won’t play out like the last.
On the Attacking side, you have an Operator that wields a sledge hammer capable of tearing down drywall in one swing, EMP grenades that can disable enemy electronics, breaching rounds that are fired from a distance via a grenade launcher, exothermite charges to blow through reinforced wall barriers, a mini shock drone that not only disables enemy gadgets with a single dart but also shocks the enemies themselves for small points of damage, an extendable riot shield, cluster grenades, a high-powered sniper rifle, a riot shield with a flash charge mounted to its face, and a wrist-mounted RED that can detect enemy electronics in the vicinity.
For the Defending team, you have Operators that carry a handful of toxic gas canisters, signal jammers to block off the opposition’s breaching charges and drones, bulletproof armored panels, a heartbeat sensor to track down roaming enemies, a heavy bag of extra body armor, a stim pistol to revive teammates from afar, claymore trip wires, a deployable LMG, deadly shock wire to place behind or within mechanical equipment, and magpies that can shoot out enemy grenades before detonation.
While some Operators synergize better with a specific other (such as Mute’s signal jammers and Castle’s armored panels or Thatcher’s EMP grenades with Thermite’s exothermite charges), there’s really never any “wrong” team set up regardless of the game mode or map. And as previously mentioned, even when a team uses the same Operators every round of a match, the rounds will never play out in the same fashion due to the changing spawn locations of the objectives, and most importantly, the destructible environments.
Then there’s that feeling of uneasy tension, when 45 seconds remain on the clock and your team is defending a scared hostage. But you’re the only one left. And the opposition is still kicking with Sledge and Ash and Blitz. You’re boarded up in the master bedroom with the hostage and while your team may be dead, they made sure to barricade the windows and all the entrances to the bedroom the best they could. There’s barbed wire spread across the room. You hope it can slow down their advances should they enter the room. There’s a deployable shield on your side, covering you from what could be the inevitable spray of bullets from a surprising attack.
At any moment however, Sledge could come tearing down the drywall on your exposed flank with his mighty sledgehammer, tossing two well-placed frags into the corners of the rooms as a means of flushing you out — while avoiding crossfire with the hostage — forcing you to change your positioning. Ash could fire a breaching charge from the outside garden towards the bedroom’s rear window, destroying the wooden barricade and drawing your attention away while Blitz creeps into the area from the master bathroom, sending off two flash charges from his shield, blinding your eyes as he snatches the hostage. He makes a run back through the bathroom — avoiding the barbed wire covering the front entrance — out into the main hallway, and down the front staircase that’s littered with the bodies of fallen teammates. Once your vision is restored, you see nothing but a thick cloud of smoke; Ash has thrown two of her three smoke grenades from outside into the now-breached window. You lose your barrings, sprint in one direction, hit a reinforced wall and there’s only 10 seconds left. Before you know it, you’ve lost the round, maybe even the overtime match point, and your teammates are graveling over the mic at your performance, while respectfully praising the enemy team’s coordination and tactics. In the post-game stat screen, seven of the ten players choose to have a rematch with a simple button click, and within a couple seconds, you’re at it again. This time, you’re prepared for the worst.
This is the exact experience I had this morning while playing on one of the game’s most popular maps, House.
And to believe I could recount upwards to fifty or more different experiences (and that’s just on House alone) where my nerves were rattled, my blood rushing throughout my body at speeds unknown before, and my chest tight with fear, excitement, confidence, or shame.
It’s been years since I’ve enjoyed myself this much with a multiplayer focused title. Six years. And even throughout 2007-2010, not many matches of Halo, Call of Duty, Rainbow Six Vegas, or any other title I tried out even for a few hours has given me the thrill Rainbow Six: Siege has done over the past five weeks. Looking back at my older profile, I had 32 days played on Modern Warfare over the year or so I spent with it — that’s around 770 hours. It’s only been five weeks and I’ve already logged in 170 hours on Siege. And I’m okay with that.
On top of all this, there’s one last thing that makes me appreciate this game and value my time with it, and that’s the community. Whether it’s discussing tips and tricks between Operators and maps, sharing game clips of round winning kills or memes and ideas for future DLC content (all of which is FREE!), the Rainbow Six subreddit is an all-around fantastic place to be if you’re yearning for like-minded players who love everything Rainbow Six. Then there are YouTubers, like Serenity17, who offer in-depth guides for the game’s Operators — giving players the know-how on playing each Operator to their fullest extent. Lastly, the in-game community itself; players who more than often use mics to communicate effectively, give insight on map control and choke points, and are generally just friendly in their own right compared to most online communities.
I never expected to gravitate to this game so quickly, or at all. I thought, “Once I grab all of the game’s achievements, I’m going to move on to something else…a single player game.” I completed Rainbow Six: Siege two weeks ago, and here I am still finding time to revisit Siege’s multiplayer. If you haven’t tried the game out yet, do yourself a favor and at least rent it — put a few hours into the multiplayer over a weekend and see how it feels for you.
I might not be the most skilled player, I might not even have my buddy online to play with all the time, but at the end of the day, nothing changes the fact that every round and every match, regardless of who you’re playing with and who you’re playing as, is an unparalleled multiplayer experience.
I’m addicted to Rainbow Six: Siege, and I’m okay with that.