Competitive gaming is destroying the right ‘barriers’. And nowhere is this more true than in Rainbow Six Siege, the AAA rated, online multiplayer from Ubisoft, Montreal. With dozens of competitions with pro players from all over the world, Siege was one of the first, most immersive first-person shooter games, to present the idea that online gaming could be incredibly and life-devastatingly fun. My nephew is hooked to this game and I have made friendships with people who similarly enjoy the game.
Rainbow Six has changed a lot since it came and even though I have not played it when it was initially launched, even I (a single player experience lover) appreciate the way it has turned out. In R6:S you control various operators as you take turns defending (hostages or a bomb site) and attacking. There is a separate list of operatives suited to both tasks and how they play varies.
When you aren’t playing online you can take time to improve your operatives by arming them and changing their uniform and headgear. And even when that is done there is always the next operative waiting to be unlocked with game currency known as renown. A cool video of badass-ery shows as soon as you unlock a new operative. You do this by expending renown. You earn this as you play matches and take down opponents.
Canadian games have a lot of diversity with its characters and this is also true with the operators you can select in Rainbow Six Siege. There’s a Brazilian, there’s a Canadian, there’s a Spaniard, there’s a Korean, there’s a Moroccan (With the wild bastion expansion) and many other operatives of real-life countries and real-life elite units. The reason I mention these nationalities is because these are usually purposely ignored in the world of gaming.
Games are very parochially American today. If you are playing an army game (or even a crime game like Mafia or Max Payne) the Americans will not just be the focus of the entire game, but will also be much more likely presented as the good guy.
But there is no good or bad in Siege since there is no storyline, online or offline. But it does venture away from the strangle-hold Americans have over the gaming industry (Japan also has a lot of power in the gaming world but they don’t seem to be pushy about it pertaining to their military achievements. Europe tends to be lumped together on the other hand). And though it has American operatives, namely, Blackbeard, there are also ones from countries which you wouldn’t normally believe have an impressive military, or rather a well-known military (like USA, Russia, Britain, China and France).
This is interesting and we South Asians did wish there was a Desi character added in this jumble of operatives from several countries. But it will take time for countries in our region to grow and reach the point where there are enough gamers, from, say, India, so that developers feel they have to essentially cater to this market. And for Siege’s matter have a character from India. In fact since the theme is counter-terrorism operations, certain countries like Pakistan have killed thousands of terrorists.
Anyway if you’re interested in that argument there are entire threads upon threads on Steam demanding why certain Nations had their special military units ignored, especially countries that have been active in the fight against terror.
In any case the first thing you are most likely to do as soon as you step into the game though, is look at and arm your operators. These are from different countries and have unique traps, abilities or protection (like a rifle shield). Each operative can choose between two guns which you can also modify with suppressors, sights and more. It’s also great to be able to read about their background and how they joined the elite military unit of their country.
Then in matchmaking you are assigned to the orange or blue team, each consisting of five players in one team. You alternate as the attacker and the defender. The game rewards careful planning, teamwork and strategy. As a consequence you will be peeking a lot and advancing slowly as the attacker and guarding vital doorways and locations as the defender. The defender will be within the grounds of the building while the attacking team stands outside at the start.
Rainbow Six Siege is close quarter combat at its best and I can’t even once remember getting into a firefight with an enemy too far away. And even in real-life, elite soldiers make use of similar strategies and technology when eliminating terrorists, criminals or drug-lords who reside in urban areas. In fact such warfare is the focus of the modern age and militaries are moving from waging conventional warfare to CQB (Close Quarter Battle).
But there is something that makes Siege different from anything I have played. The capability to establish and design your own cover in the form of barricades in front of various entrances, doorways and windows is something no other game I have played offers. Similarly the destructible environments work a little different here than say Battlefield. You can break through wooden walls with your fire-power and shoot through barricades but this does not play like Battlefield. This bullet-penetration and punching through walls is a great strategy for taking down defending enemies lurking in those buildings and rooms.
At the start when you are attacking you have access to a vehicular drone which you try to rapidly steer through the enemy hideout to mark enemies and the bomb or hostage location. It is a welcome addition and adds balance to the game, since enemy defenders will be heavily fortified. The action then begins and you have to either kill all five opponents guarding the bomb or hostage or control the area for a while.
For the defenders the focus is rather on establishing barricades at key doorways and windows from which attackers may enter. They can also lay traps, if that particular operative has access to them. I found the welcome mat predominantly useful.
As defenders you will be making use of cover and aiming at the door you believe your opponents are most likely to appear from. You can aim your firearm to a right or left angle which can help takeout enemies near barricades and entrances like doorways. Perfecting this angled shooting takes time since I still haven’t gotten used to the benefits of leaning. And I always had the inclination to rush through as an attacker which never did me any good.
A certain problem I had playing here in Sharjah was that sometimes in even fifty minutes of wait time, the game could not link me with a team for multiplayer. This was usually at the 8-12 pm timing.
The game encourages the player to use teamwork and strategy other than good aim. For example with a friend you can flank an enemy by using two different enter points at the same time to sandwich him. And your strategy can be defined by the operative you choose. Some can even launch grenades and make use of deadly breaching charges.
Teamwork is the basis of Rainbow Six Siege and this has been stressed even by the developers. The best tactic in this regard is to attack the enemy from two different fronts in the way we mentioned before. You can even create diversions with your friend and then hit the enemy from behind yourself. With multiple entry-ways you don’t always feel handicapped as an attacker. In fact the balance between attacker and defender is perfect in Siege.
All operatives don’t just have different weapons but also a certain unique ability or piece of tech. Cavierra can interrogate opponents about the whereabouts of their allies. Valkyrie has the gyro camera. Jager has the ADS that can destroy enemy projectiles. With so many of these operators there is always a new play-style to master.
Also there are many maps and having map-knowledge can be useful. But this takes time and since some maps are gigantic it will definitely take hours of immersion to get used to. But all the maps are intricately and well-designed.
Siege’s real problem is that it lacks a narrative driven campaign which could have appealed to players who are still not invested in multiplayer games (Like me) yet. Some people just do not enjoy competitive gaming. But the majority of young gamers really enjoy this type of game and this opinion is cemented further with the growth of Critical Ops, PUBG, Fortnite, Apex Legends and Overwatch. This multiplayer is one of the best experience available right now. And I should not even begin talking about the friendships you make while you play.
Rainbow Six Siege breaks barriers. Physically you punch through barricades but you also do so metaphorically. With a few dozen operators to select from wide parts of the world, Rainbow Six is not stubbornly stuck with American war-fervor, something we see in so many games today. The ability to use teamwork and strategy, the capacity to destroy or shoot through barricades and wooden walls, and finally the ability to unlock, select and upgrade your operator doesn’t just break the barrier, but also tears it up into tiny splinters. Siege is a must try for every form of gamer.
Review Platform: PS4
- Teamwork is the focus of the game. You should not rush in solo, without preparing in Siege.
- Strategy and tactics are vital. Instead of good aim it might be better to attack from two entrances at the same time with your friends.
- The attackers nor the defenders seem to have an advantage. The balance is just right.
- Destructible wooden cover and destructible barricades don’t just add to the ‘strategic play’ element but also present a unique approach to shooters not tried before.
- Breaks barriers with its international roster of operatives, some from countries without a renowned military.
- Allows you to build new friendships from all over the world.
- Well designed maps, some of which can be very large.
- Match-making wait times can be a little frustrating.
- Doesn’t have operators from some of the country’s worst hit by the terror menace.
- Does not have a campaign, online or offline.