Review: Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six® Siege

It’s been 8 years since the release of the last major Rainbow Six game, but now it’s back in the form of the competitive multiplayer-focused Siege. Was it worth the wait? Seb Bowyer finds out.

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The core gameplay of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege is truly, properly excellent. It combines all the best bits of the classic search-and-destroy gametype (attackers vs. defenders, close quarters, no respawns) and adds a massive layer of tactical depth on top of that with the addition of special skills, gadgets and destructible environments. It’s a real shame then that this experience is spoilt by a lack of content and a number of serious server-related issues that serve to hinder replayability and really annoy you, in that order.

Credit: Ubisoft
Image: Ubisoft

Starting from the beginning Siege features three main modes of play: Multiplayer, the returning Terrorist Hunt and the campaign-lite Situations, the latter of which being the only game type that can be played offline. It’s essentially a series of tutorials – they serve as a nice intro to the game for new players but other than that it’s very much throwaway, with no unique environments, a completion time of less than two hours on the standard difficulty and little to incentivise veteran players to come back for another go. Without a doubt the real meat of the game comes in the form of online modes Multiplayer and Terrorist Hunt.

As mentioned, multiplayer plays like a much more in-depth version of the Search and Destroy mode you’d find in something like Call of Duty or Counter-Strike, with two teams working together to attack or defend an objective with no respawns and a number of rounds to determine the victor. Siege takes this premise and runs with it, adding Operators – playable “heroes” with individual skills a la League of Legends, a number of cool gadgets (like remote-controlled camera drones that let you scope out a location before going in for the target) and destructible environments that let you blow up or shoot virtually any surface to create new entryways or lines of sight. The end result of this is an extremely tense, tactical and most importantly fun experience that can play out in entirely different ways every time you go through it.

Credit: Ubisoft
Image: Ubisoft

For example, in one game I could take my personal favourite operator IQ (from Germany’s GSG 9) and use her electronics detector to safely destroy any hidden explosives or booby traps from a distance before going in with a powerful assault rifle and clearing the area room-by-room. This is just one tactic that you could use with a single operator – in the full game there are 20 you can choose from (10 for each side), each with their own special abilities, looks and weapons that change the way every round of every game will play out, which lends a staggering amount of replayability. And that’s just in multiplayer – the fiendishly difficult Terrorist Hunt gives you the same gear but tasks you with making your way through a building teaming with AI enemies, which requires you to make full use of everything at your disposal to stand the smallest chance of making it out alive. It’s a lot of fun but sadly on PS4 the frame rate suffers noticeably compared to the smooth 60fps of multiplayer, which dampened my enthusiasm for the mode considerably.

The game’s high level of replayability turns out to be its saving grace for the most part, as there really isn’t a lot there to replay. Following in the footsteps of other ambitious multiplayer-only shooters released in the past year or so (looking at you Titanfall, Star Wars Battlefront and Evolve) Siege is very much lacking in the content department. Whilst the number of maps and operators included with the base game feels reasonable, customisation is very minimal, with few attachment options and a small number of camos for your weapons that require either a lot of grinding or (surprise) the purchase of real-money R6 credits to unlock. What’s worse is that the best-looking camos in the game can only be purchased with R6 credits. This is something that would be fine in a free-to-play shooter, but Siege is not free-to-play. It costs £40, and with another £25 for the season pass microtransaction paywalls are a very bitter pill to swallow.

Credit: Ubisoft
Image: Ubisoft

On top of this I encountered a lot of server-related bugs, some of which being very severe, that served to really hinder my enjoyment of the game. My friend and I would sit down for a long play session only to find the game would frequently not reward us with experience or renown (the game’s non-real world currency), randomly disconnect us or worse completely freeze and force us to reboot the game. These are serious problems, and it’s very disheartening to see them still so common over a month after launch at the time of writing.

These are serious problems, and it’s very disheartening to see them still so common over a month after launch at the time of writing.

Despite its numerous and at times severe problems I would still recommend Siege. Ubisoft Montreal have crafted a fantastic and unique next-gen shooter experience that lives up to the Rainbow Six name and offers a ton of replayability, but unfortunately a lack of content, dodgy business strategies and nasty server issues serve to bog the game down and potentially jeopardise its long-term prospects. Unless you’re sure you’d love it, I’d suggest waiting until it’s on sale.

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